As we see every year, the legislative session ends with both good laws and bad laws for the State of Connecticut. Now that the session is over, I thought we might take a look at some of the good and some of the bad, not only for the state as a whole but for Enfield and the rest of the 7th District. The following are just a few examples.
We all know that Connecticut needs to create more jobs, but in this fast-paced world sometimes it can be hard to know what types of jobs we need to promote. We established a task force this year to identify what areas we need to focus on when it comes to workforce training to enable the people of Connecticut to find work in the 21st century economy. Additionally, we also expanded and already successful committee to create an apprenticeship pipeline that helps funnel young talented people to the fulfilling and necessary new jobs being created in our state.
Unfortunately, the legislature also passed two bills that will seriously hinder job growth in our state. By raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, the Governor and the legislative majority have put serious pressure on small businesses and these higher costs will force businesses to lay people off. At the same time, they have imposed a mandatory payroll tax on every employee in the state, simultaneously putting money in one pocket and stealing from the other.
When it comes to Enfield, we were luckily able to do some good. We passed a bill to ensure that the Department of Corrections reimburses municipalities at the same rate they reimburse private providers of ambulance services for inmates. Specifically for the 7th District, this will help mitigate the considerable costs of providing ambulance services to surrounding correctional institutions.
Avid readers of my column may also remember the issues surrounding the closing of Blair Manor. I helped pass a bill in response to require there be a public hearing during receivership proceedings. By ensuring residents can have the voices heard, it is my hope that this more transparent process will both ease the minds of nursing home residents and help to reach the best possible resolution.
At the behest of Enfield’s own Kid Mayor, Olivia Nuccio, we also passed legislation to allow for local boards of education to provide an additional 20 minutes of undirected play. I encourage all our local schools to take advantage of it to promote physical well-being and focus in the classroom.
I also helped shepherd a bill to protect our kids from skin disease by changing an oddly restrictive law that prohibited children from applying their own non-prescription sunscreen before going out to play while in school.
One of the most egregious bills that will certainly not keep our children safe is the legislation passed to expand the Trust Act to make Connecticut a super-sanctuary state that restricts local and state cooperation with federal immigration officials regardless of an illegal immigrant’s threat to the safety of our communities. With this bill, we abandoned the few exceptions that ensured protection from these most dangerous individuals.
There were also significant achievements and defeats in what was not passed. We defeated each and every toll proposal (for now at least), but were not able to institute the Republicans’ more responsible long-term transportation proposal. Although we did not allow for school regionalization, a shift of teacher pensions onto municipalities and the legalization of recreational marijuana, the budget for the next biennium is full of more tax and spend ideology that will seriously hurt Connecticut’s chances of real growth and recovery.
State Senator John A. Kissel
Previously published in the Enfield Press
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