It’s a privilege to represent you in the legislature. This year, we accomplished so much. I am proud I was able to author, introduce, and pass dozens of laws to help you live, work, play, and stay safe in Connecticut.
This year, however, it’s also the legislation that didn’t pass which deserves attention. On your behalf, I worked to defeat plans to regionalize our schools, and stopped legislation which would transfer the teachers’ pensions to towns (and raise property taxes by hundreds of thousands of dollars). I helped defeat the budget proposal which would have overturned my 2017 law that phases out the income tax on social security and pensions, so now seniors can rest easy that I’m keeping my promise to make Connecticut more affordable for retirement.
I also boldly informed the governor that I cannot support the current toll proposal because it disproportionately affects the middle class. I will continue to work to find a plan to fund our roads and bridges without overburdening the middle class, or saddling residents with decades of debt.
Between the legislation we passed (and what we didn’t!), my annual Air Conditioner Drive for disabled and elderly residents, free self defense training for women, and offering multiple scholarship opportunities for students in my district, I’d say it’s been a pretty good year, and I hope you agree.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions or concerns. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call my office at (860) 240-8710.
Leading the Committee on Children
Safe School Climates - Anjelita’s Law
This past December, our community faced an unimaginable loss with the death by suicide of Anjelita, a sixth grader in Cheshire. With the blessing of her family, I worked to turn their loss into a tribute to Anjelita by writing a law that will improve school climates for our children by promoting social-emotional learning, preventing bullying, and increasing suicide screenings in our schools as early as third grade. The bill empowers families victimized by bullying, and helps kids who bully find the help they need. Working with educational, mental health and behavioral stakeholders, we are developing a model school climate plan for local Boards of Education. This will enable local leaders to focus on mental health, intervention, and safety. Our children need a safe environment in order to learn and grow, and Anjelita’s Law will provide that. PA 19-166
Keeping Kids Safe From Predators
As Chair of the Committee on Children, I strengthened and clarified internal regulations to allow DCF to contact a school superintendent if a contractor working with the school system has been investigated for child abuse. It’s already working — just this June, this new regulation resulted in the removal of a child predator from the cafeteria staff at a private school in Connecticut.
As a member of the Education Committee, I stopped the governor’s implementation of school regionalization. We have much work to do for education equality, but the regionalization plan would not have achieved the desired results, and would only serve to hamper our kids’ education.
A bill I introduced to allow BOEs to increase recess time in grade school was passed into law. More recess reduces stress, and studies show it can also reduce the need for ADD and ADHD medication. PA 19-173
Supporting Our Veterans
As a member of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, we continue to support our servicemen and women with a new law that says Connecticut must grant in-state tuition rates to spouses and children of service members stationed in the state who may get orders to move elsewhere. PA 19-172
In 2017, after then-Governor Malloy cut funding for Military Honors at Veterans’ Funerals, I led the charge to reinstate funding; I’m happy to say these services are still being funded by the state, ensuring no veteran goes without the honors they so rightfully deserve.
The Value of The Budget
Making it easier for residents to reside in Connecticut:
- Rejected the governor’s proposal to shift teachers’ pension costs to the towns, which will protect Cheshire, Southington, and Wallingford from exorbitant property tax increases and decreased funding to our schools.
- Phase-in of the income tax exemption for Social Security and pension income continues as planned, helping our seniors retire comfortably here in Connecticut.
- Rejected many of the governor’s proposed sales tax expansions on items such as groceries, non-prescription drugs, and legal and accounting services.
Making it easier to do business in Connecticut:
- Repealed the Business Entity tax starting next year. This will help small businesses and encourage start-ups.
- Expanded the Angel Investor tax credit to small businesses, minority and women-owned businesses, and more industries.
- Created a new tax credit for craft beer breweries to help grow this booming industry. There are many craft breweries in our district, and I hope you take the time to visit them!
Keeping Property Taxes Down in Cheshire, Southington and Wallingford
This year, I’m proud of legislation passed which specifically helps the towns I represent. First, Cheshire is set to receive land from the DOT, at no cost, in the north end of town for economic development. This will increase the grand list, thereby taking pressure off of residents and limiting property tax increases in town. For Southington, we increased education funding by nearly $250,000 over the next two years. And finally, we expanded the time for Wallingford to apply for reimbursement from the state for the upgrades to the Wastewater Treatment Facility, granting Wallingford $176,332, instead of charging that back to residents through property taxes. Also, our victory of eliminating the teacher pension cost shift from the state budget resulted in savings; Cheshire and Southington each saved over $800,000 and Wallingford saved over $1.2 million!
Increasing Revenue Without Increasing Taxes
As Chair of the Children’s Committee, I was able to pass a bill which leverages additional funding from the federal government through simple changes in policy. We will now receive an extra $50 million each biennium, or $25M a year, through the federal Family First Prevention Act. This $50 million goes straight to the General Fund, allowing us to fund DCF with less of your tax dollars, achieving a department savings every year for the foreseeable future.
Our state’s workforce is not adequately prepared to take on 21st century jobs. So, this year, we’ve taken actions in order to help our residents succeed in today’s industries, including increased funding for the Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative and the Jobs Funnel Program, and allocated funding for a new Green Jobs Pipeline. Additionally, I once again hosted my annual Student to Manufacturers Connection Fair at the Capitol. The event has connected over 1,500 students to local manufacturers to begin pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships, as manufacturers look to fill open jobs — some with a starting salary over $65,000 and no student debt!
PTSD Coverage for First Responders
This year, I fiercely advocated for a new law which will provide workers’ compensation benefits to police officers, parole officers, and firefighters who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing a traumatic event in the line of duty. I also wrote a provision in the bill which paves the way for EMTs and Corrections Officers to receive the same benefit. We owe it to our first responders to protect them with the same ferocity with which they protect us. PA 19-17
Pre-existing Conditions Insurance Coverage
A bill I co-introduced will require additional health insurance plans to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions. Passed unanimously, this protects Connecticut residents against any changes to federal law. PA 19-134
Lower Drug Costs
We passed a bill I co-sponsored, HB 7267, out of the House, which would have allowed Connecticut to import prescription meds from Canada, cutting the cost of many prescriptions in half. Since the bill was not called in the Senate, I will work tirelessly next session to get cost-saving measures like this signed into law.
Debt-Free Community College
Student loan debt has a detrimental impact on our overall economy and we need to identify ways to relieve families from accumulating significant amounts of debt. We have directed the Board of Regents to create a debt-free community college plan in which the state would pick up all fee costs for the first 72 credit hours after scholarships, grants, and other aid awards are applied. This is one way we’re working to help middle class families afford a quality education here in Connecticut, and allow young adults an easier start after college.