Dear Friends and Neighbors,
House Democrats led the way in passing significant legislation during the 2016 session of the General Assembly to help protect and improve the quality of life for Connecticut families. This was a session dominated by the budget. Although there were no easy solutions, we approved a budget that is balanced, without borrowing and without tax or fee increases.
We had to make some difficult decisions with the state budget, but I fought to protect our town. The state budget made deep cuts to overall spending, but slightly increases funding to Windham.
Our efforts during this session included help for Connecticut businesses to expand our economy by growing jobs. We also included additional protections for our firefighters, veterans, senior citizens and children.
Assisting Connecticut Businesses
Legislators have always understood the importance of promoting job growth in Connecticut. To improve the state’s business climate, we passed several bills this session that:
Establish an Entrepreneur Learner’s Permit Pilot Program
- Covering the initial costs associated with starting up a business for first-time business owners
- Encouraging entrepreneurial start-ups in the area of information services, biotechnology and green technology [SA 16-1 Effective Date: 7/1/2016]
Encourage careers in manufacturing
- The state will develop programs to introduce students and their parents to careers in manufacturing
- The Department of Labor will update their website to provide information on apprenticeship opportunities [PA 16-114 Effective Date: Upon Passage]
Address teacher shortages in technical high schools
- The Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS) superintendent will have the ability to clearly state the staffing needs of the Technical High School System and request new hires without the approval of the Commissioner of Education. We also gave the CTHSS superintendent the same latitude with respect to hiring recommendations that superintendents throughout Connecticut have[PA 16-42 Effective Date: 7/1/2016]
Adopt the Connecticut Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (UCLLA)
- Connecticut will join the growing number of states who have adopted the UCLLA, a set of rules to regulate the formation and dissolution of limited liability companies (LLC’s)
- More modern and business friendly for entrepreneurs than current LLC Act [PA 16-97 Date Effective: 7/1/2017]
Protecting Our Children
This year the House passed numerous bills to promote the wellbeing of children in Connecticut. We’ve worked to keep kids safe and healthy by passing legislation to combat childhood obesity and ban toxic chemicals from kid’s products. We’re also ensuring children receive a high-quality educational experience by safeguarding student data used by schools and making improvements to the Office of Early Childhood, such as improving notification to parents when a childcare facility is unlicensed. [PA 16-132 Effective Date: July 1, 2016; PA 16-189 Effective Date: 10/1/2016, and the provision regarding (1) contracts is applicable to contracts entered into, amended, or renewed on or after that date and (2) directory information takes effect 7/1/2016; PA 16-100 Effective Date: Upon Passage except, OEC licensing July 1, 2016 and waiver of licensing October 1, 2016]
Promoting Clean, Reliable Energy
We are making a great deal of progress in promoting clean, reliable energy. Several bills provide incentives in the form of credits for excess electricity generated through clean sources such as solar and wind. These monetary incentives will help to expand the use of clean, renewable energy while keeping our environment clean. Other energy accomplishments include tracking the number of electric vehicles registered in Connecticut and making sure the electric system is capable of handling demand. [PA 16-216 Effective Date: 7/1/2016; PA 16-135 Effective Date: 7/1/2016]
Tackling Connecticut's Opioid Epidemic
In recent years, Connecticut, like other New England states, has seen a heartbreaking increase in fatal opioid overdoses. Earlier this year we passed ground breaking legislation to combat this crisis. This lifesaving law will allow any licensed healthcare professional to administer drugs that reverse opioid overdoses, require municipalities to equip their first responders with the opioid reversal drug Narcan, and cap first-time opioid prescriptions at a seven-day supply. [PA 16-43 Effective Date: Various]
End The Sales Tax On Parking In State Parks
Helping municipalities to meet their budgetary needs and keeping taxes in check have always been priorities - this measure accomplishes both. To relieve the cost associated with collecting the current sales tax on parking fees, we exempted seasonal parking lots with over 30 spaces or parking lots operated by the federal or state government from the sales and use tax. This not only aids the municipalities, but also will save consumers money. [PA 16-72 Effective Date: Upon Passage].
Accessibility For Voters
The legislature took another step this year to ensure that everyone can exercise their right to vote. We expanded Election Day Registration to include anyone in line on Election Day at their registration location by 8 PM. In addition, we moved back the deadline for online registration to seven days before a regular election in line with mail-in and in-person procedure. [PA 16-53 Effective Date: Upon Passage]
We have passed legislation to ensure that all Connecticut college and university students have the same level of protection against sexual assault. The legislation will require that all public and private universities adopt policies establishing ‘affirmative consent’ as the standard definition of consent in their investigations of sexual assault. Affirmative consent is defined as an active, clear, and voluntary agreement by a person to engage in sexual activity with another person. [PA 16-106 Effective Date: 7/1/2016]
We addressed important consumer protection concerns this year by providing increased privacy for cellphone and internet subscribers, controlling the disclosure of customer information in criminal investigations, and requiring filling stations to post a notice informing customers if a 24-hour hold will be placed on their credit or debit card account. [PA 16-148 Effective Date: October 1, 2016 PA 16-50 Effective Date: October 1, 2016]
Protecting Our Animals
This year, we sent a message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated in Connecticut. We passed legislation that makes malicious and intentional animal cruelty a class C felony, which carries the potential of jail time or a fine of up to $10,000. The legislature also approved a law that aims to increase animal cruelty conviction rates by allowing judges to appoint volunteer legal advocates to assist prosecutors in animal cruelty cases. [PA 16-30 Effective Date: 10/1/2016]
The legislature has passed a bill that will allow consumers to receive cash back on gift cards with a remaining balance of less than three dollars. This is a simple and fair measure to help consumers hold on to more of their own money. [PA 16-140 Effective Date: 10/1/2016]
Benefits For First Responders
Firefighters risk their lives every day to protect citizens within their community, but the risk does not stop once the fire is out. Each fire burns toxins into the air that firefighters absorb, even while wearing proper protective gear. These toxins highly increase risk of certain cancers each time a firefighter is exposed. Prior to this legislation, firefighters who contracted cancer had to return to work while still recovering because they did not have proper compensation as they already cannot receive short/long term disability or social security. I proudly supported the establishment of a self-sustaining relief fund to cover lost wages, without raising taxes. Now, both volunteer and career firefighters will be able to take necessary time to recover from cancer they’ve contracted while on the job, protecting us.
This year we made a number of changes to increase municipal efficiencies and regional cooperation, which include laws that require municipalities, COGs, and OPM to consider, when updating their respective plans of conservation and development, the need for technology infrastructure in their respective jurisdictions. [PA 16-144 Effective Date: Upon Passage]
Standing Up For Veterans
We stand by our veterans. The legislature passed measures that will facilitate veteran employment with a resource network for specialized skills in the Department of Labor and preferences in state contract bidding for veteran-owned small businesses. We also broadened the scope of the law that bars discriminatory practices in our state’s armed forces, and approved a resolution to our nation’s leaders to recognize Blue Water Navy Veterans’ exposure to Agent Orange. [PA 16-184 Effective Date: 10/1/2016, HJ 25]
Taking care of our older citizens is a priority. We passed legislation that creates a residential stair lift technician’s license. This will make it easier for homeowners to have stair lifts installed in their homes by allowing more contractors to be licensed to perform these installations. We also passed legislation that allows the elderly or disabled who want to live in state-assisted public housing to pay their security deposits in installments instead of the usual lump sum before being allowed to move in.