May 6 Newsletter: Recapping the End of the 2022 Session

May 6, 2022
SINE DIE! (Latin for "Without a day," which is how each legislative session is adjourned until a start date for next year's session is announced.)

From our work in the Banking Committee aimed at promoting access, equity and stability in our banking system to passing a budget with historic tax relief, we accomplished a lot over this short, three month legislative session which concluded on Wednesday.

Over a whirlwind final few days of the 2022 session, we passed several bills which may be of interest to you that I have included here (and which I supported).

Photo top left: Rep. Doucette with Banking Committee ranking member Rep. Delnicki
Photo top right: Members of the Banking Committee
Photo bottom left: Members of the Judiciary Committee
Photo bottom right: Rep. Doucette in the House chamber during one of the final days of the session

Protecting Reproductive Rights



Although this leaked opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court concerning the overturning of Roe v. Wade isn’t a surprise, that doesn't make it any less disappointing and troubling.

I am proud to say I joined by colleagues in the Connecticut General Assembly last week to pass the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act (H.B. 5414) and send it to the Governor's desk for his signature. This legislation expands access to a safe and timely abortion, allows for advanced practitioners for whom abortion care is part of their scope of practice to perform abortions, and enacts protections for individuals seeking and providing abortions.

During these terrifying times, I will continue to fight for the right to choose, protect practitioners and keep Connecticut a safe place for all.


Bills Recently Passed in the House

The General Assembly has continued to support our children's wellbeing. SB 1 establishes several initiatives to better address student's mental and physical health including supporting and expanding school-based health centers, assisting efforts to hire additional social workers, equipping schools with Narcan, supporting minority teacher recruitment, and building out mental health plans for student athletes.

SB 2 addresses the pandemic impact on childhood depression, anxiety, and developmental delays by making necessary investments in comprehensive support services. Our children have faced increased stress and anxiety as we worked to combat the pandemic and attending school can serve as a refuge to many students.

Like other states across the country, Connecticut has seen an increase in the theft of catalytic converters. With the passage of SB 256, we are working to interrupt the process of profiting off stolen catalytic converters by aiding law enforcement in the tracking and identification of potential criminal activity.
An important bill passed in the House and is headed to the Governor’s desk. With this bill we are doing our part here in Connecticut by investing in and encouraging wide-scale electric vehicle use and thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Here are some of the priorities of this bill:
🔌 Investing in charging infrastructure
🚲 Providing tax rebates for e-bikes and electric motor vehicles
🔋 Making battery-powered transportation more practical and affordable for renters and lower-income commuters.
🚦 Using smart traffic lights
🚌 Tightening deadlines for electrifying transit and school bus fleets.

The House passed HB 5417, An Act Concerning Juvenile Justice and Services by a vote of 129-17. It makes some reasonable and needed changes to our state's existing criminal justice statutes. The bill was nearly two years in the making and I was proud to participate with a broad bipartisan coalition of my colleagues to draft it.

This bill focuses on:
➡️ Expanding services and diversionary programs for youthful offenders
➡️ Working with the Judicial Branch to speed up juvenile arraignments.
➡️ Permitting GPS monitoring for repeat juvenile offenders.
➡️ Providing flexibility with the 6-hour hold at a community correctional center or lock-up if an arresting officer is in the process of seeking a detention order.
➡️ Treating car theft uniformly, punishing it by the number of offenses instead of the value of the car stolen.
➡️ Requiring local police to be notified when applicants for gun permits do not pass background checks.
➡️ Expanding Special Juvenile Probation for serious offenses
This was an emotional and at times contentious issue over the last few years and, as with most compromises, it is certainly not a perfect piece of legislation - but the process worked here and I am pleased we were able to see it through.

We passed an historic, bipartisan bill aimed at addressing the immediate, intermediate, and long-term needs of the children's mental and behavioral health system in Connecticut.

Simply put, I believe this bill will save lives.

HB5001, An Act Concerning Children's Mental Health, is a transformative piece of legislation that responds directly to the youth mental health crisis, which has been exacerbated by the impacts of the pandemic, presenting itself in the form of increased rates of depression, suicide and self-harm among adolescents.

Emergency rooms across Connecticut are inundated with patients awaiting placement into inpatient psychiatric beds. Schools across the state are facing a shortage of mental health professionals and are sounding the alarm on the need to expand access and support services.

This legislation addresses these varying issues immediately and long term by:

  • Enhancing the Behavioral Health Workforce
  • Creates a partnership with Connecticut Children’s to co-ordinate a training program for pediatricians to treat early-stage mental health concerns.
  • Provides funding for the recruitment and retention of child and adolescent psychologists to address the state shortage.
  • Expands License reciprocity for out of state mental health professionals to increase the number of providers and establishes a need-based state licensure fee scholarship with a focus on diverse applicants.
  • Establishes grant program for local school boards, youth camps, and summer programs to hire mental health specialists.
  • Creates a screening tool for pediatricians and emergency room physicians to recognize mental health concerns in children for early intervention.
  • Expanding Behavioral Health Treatment Facilities Across the State
  • Creates an intensive outpatient counseling pilot program in Waterbury for a federally qualified health center to provide treatment for adolescents with behavioral health needs. The program, slated to open before Fall 2022, will serve at least 144 children per year.
  • Supports opening of the new DCF Urgent Crisis Centers specializing in meeting urgent pediatric behavioral health needs.
  • Expands ACCESS Mental Health to provide up to three follow-up telehealth visits
  • Eliminates prior authorization for inpatient psychiatric services in certain circumstances where there is imminent danger in the patient's health or safety, or the health or safety or safety others.
  • Requires individual and group health insurers to cover intensive evidence-based services used to treat mental and behavioral health conditions in children and adolescents.
  • Requires individual and group insurers to cover collaborative care for behavioral healthcare.
I am also so proud to pass HB 5216 - Connecticut's new approach to limiting the impact of account overdraft and other account fees - and send it to the Governor's desk.

This continues to be a timely issue - U.S. Senators Warren and Warnock held hearing just this week in Congress. CLICK HERE to read more.

Connecticut is now a leader in this realm. I thank my colleagues on the Banking Committee and in the House and Senate (36-0!) for making this happen. I want to also thank Connecticut Voices for Children for their advocacy on this issue over the last few years.

HB 5045 passed in the House last week. Here's how Connecticut will use federal funding to address the lead crisis:

✅ Lowering thresholds for blood levels
✅ Reporting of lead poisoning cases to DPH and local health departments by health care institutions and clinical laboratories
✅ Informing of parents about a child’s eligibility for Birth-to-Three, and lead poisoning dangers / risk reduction, as well as lead abatement laws
✅ Conducting of epidemiological investigations of the source of a person’s lead poisoning
✅ Conducting of on-site inspections and remediation for children with lead poisoning by local health directors
✅ Requiring primary care providers to conduct annual lead testing for children ages 36 to 72 months who have been determined by DPH to be at a higher risk of lead exposure.
✅ Requiring DSS to seek federal approval to amend the state Medicaid plan to add services deemed necessary to address the health effects of high childhood blood levels.

Mitigating the effects of climate change is an urgent matter and hitting our target of zero greenhouse gas emissions in the electric sector is one of the more meaningful steps in addressing this problem. SB 10 reaffirms our commitment to slowing the acceleration of the climate crisis by codifying a set target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed SB 350, recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday. 

The bill now heads to the governor's desk for his signature.

Juneteenth is the oldest known commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. The day is also sometimes called "Juneteenth Independence Day," "Freedom Day," or "Emancipation Day."

On June 19, 1865, about two months after the American Civil War, Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom and that the war had ended. This announcement came two and half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. 

We cannot understate the importance of Juneteenth. It is a celebration of resilience, of culture and American history. It is emblematic of freedom for African Americans and for us all. It is a reminder of how far our country has come, and how far we still have to go.

On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth became the 11th Federal holiday when President Biden signed it into law.

With the governor's signature, Connecticut will be among a handful of states in distinguishing Juneteenth as a state holiday.

Celebrating National Teacher Appreciation Day/Week




Thank you to all Connecticut teachers who help shape and inspire our children every day. During National Teacher Appreciation Week, be sure to thank a teacher for all they do!

Teachers can celebrate  Teacher Appreciation Week with these deals all over the state: