Happy New Year!

January 5, 2012

This past weekend was full of festive celebrations ringing in the New Year, and I hope that you had a chance to enjoy it with your family and friends. Now that 2012 has arrived, it is a good time to reflect on the past year and to plan for the next legislative session.

As we all know, 2011 had its fair share of both rewards and challenges. Last January, I was privileged to be sworn in as your State Senator, and I have learned much during my first term in Hartford. Connecticut inaugurated a new Governor and adopted a budget that included a billion dollars in new spending and the state’s largest tax increase on middle-class families, which I opposed. On a positive note, the General Assembly did come together on a bipartisan vote to adopt a jobs bill in the October Special Session. The bill created numerous initiatives to improve training and education for unemployed and middle class workers, as well as, incentives for small business that create jobs.

Our state also suffered two debilitating storms, Tropical Storm Irene and the October Nor’easter snow storm, that left many families and businesses without power for a week or more. As Ranking Senator on the Insurance & Real Estate Committee, we held public hearings with representatives of FEMA and the state’s Insurance Department to see how the insurance industry responded in the aftermath of these storms and to obtain information on possible solutions to avoid the problems many residents faced.

On an encouraging note, last session the Select Committee on Aging was raised to a full legislative committee in recognition of the importance of aging issues. As the Ranking Senator on the Aging Committee, I advocated for laws and initiatives to encourage aging in place and improved home care alternatives to nursing home care. AARP recognized these advocacy efforts for “outstanding leadership on home and community based services” that help seniors remain independent in their own homes and communities.

As an attorney with more than 25 years of experience in elder law, I have always worked to improve the lives of our senior citizens. In the past session, I focused on improving home care options. After holding health and wellness fairs in our district and attending elder care conferences, I plan on bringing the ideas that many of you shared with me to the next legislative session as we continue to educate the legislature on the importance and benefits of making home care a reality for everyone.

Unlike the full-time U.S. Congress in Washington, the Connecticut General Assembly is only part-time and Connecticut legislators maintain full-time employment elsewhere, which I believe keeps legislators closer to the people they represent because we experience the same issues you do.

Each year, the legislature holds a regular session between three and five months long, and, on occasion we meet in special session to focus on a specific issue that are too important to wait until the next session. Next month, the legislature will come together for a short three-month session starting on February 8th and ending on May 9th. Among the many issues facing our state, the new legislative session will focus on reforming educational opportunity for our children and to close the achievement gap, proposals to improve Connecticut’s storm preparedness and efforts to increase the efficiency of government operations as highlighted by the allegations of D-SNAP fraud and abuse. In addition to those issues, I will continue to focus on creating more jobs in Connecticut, fighting for middle-class tax relief and advocating for our seniors.

As legislators, we learn a great deal from talking with you and listening to your concerns and ideas. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about any issues you believe could be improved through legislation. Please feel free to share your ideas regarding the upcoming session by sending an email to [email protected] or calling 1-800-842-1421. Happy New Year!