Capitol Connection: Starting the Conversation

January 15, 2015

Last week marked the official start of the 2015 legislative session. With the pomp and circumstance of an inauguration and the swearing in of Connecticut’s lawmakers and leaders, Connecticut opened another important chapter in our modern day history.

It is the start of a conversation; the start of a discourse that will lead us to new bills, updated laws, and legislation that I hope will improve Connecticut for our families, our children and our futures.

I’m ready to discuss the key issues at play in our state, and ready to tackle state spending, rising healthcare costs, burdensome taxes, and access to the best education. I’m also ready to put forward some ideas that I know will brighten our futures. Here’s a closer look at just some of the ideas I plan to propose legislation for this year.

Making Healthcare Accessible
We know that access to mental and behavioral health care is a challenge for many people. I am proposing a bill to establish a task force to study the behavioral health services available to young adults in Connecticut. Studying the situation is vital to identifying the best ways to help young adults access the care and treatment they need most.

Reducing Taxes
If you work a full time job as well as a second part time job, I believe you should be exempt from income tax on that secondary job. I am proposing a bill that outlines this concept.

Protecting the Environment
Recycling is a growing priority in our state. This year, I’m proposing legislation to establish a tire recycling program to take a proactive approach to reducing trash and waste.

Improving Higher Education
As a new Ranking Member on the General Assembly’s Higher Education Committee I have a lot of new ideas to bring forward, including the following.

  • I am proposing legislation to establish a pilot program at the University of Connecticut’s Torrington campus to stimulate enrollment. My idea involves selecting, by lottery, up to 100 students enrolled in a four year degree program at the school to pay a reduced tuition price. Making four year programs more affordable will give our local university an edge and make education more accessible to residents in the Northwest corner.
  • State colleges and universities should allow administrators to conduct criminal background checks on all new hires and discipline any professors who engage in criminal conduct while employed. I am proposing a bill that will put these checks in place to hold professors accountable as state employees and role models for all students.
  • College education is expensive, and forcing students to buy the newest books each year puts additional unnecessary burdens on all students. I will put forward a bill that prohibits higher education institutions from requiring college students to purchase a new edition of a text book if the initial edition is less than 3 years old.
  • College credits should also be available to those who complete specific training programs in their communities. I will seek to specifically reward those who participate in volunteer firefighter training programs with legislation that gives appropriate college credits to those who complete Firefighter I certification.

Over the next few months, I’ll provide further updates on many of my proposed bills as well as information about upcoming public hearings and other bill proposals from fellow legislators.

If you have questions or concerns, I encourage you to contact my office throughout the legislative session. Together, we can start the conversations, explore new ideas, and improve life across the state for us all.

Next week I will bring forth proposals that addresses our tax structure and business environment in Connecticut – so stay tuned!