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Sen. Fasano, Reps. Candelora & Kokoruda Meet with Constituents in Durham

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Senator Len Fasano, Representative Noreen Kokoruda and Representative Vincent Candelora spoke to a group of constituents at the Durham Firehouse on Friday, February 23. The state lawmakers held a Coffee Hour event to provide a legislative update and give residents an opportunity to bring their concerns and questions to their state lawmakers. The discussion focused on top state issues including the state budget, economy, and transportation funding. For more information or to contact your local lawmaker visit www.senatorfasano.com, www.repcandelora.com, or www.repkokoruda.com; or call the Senate Republican Office at 800-842-1421 and the House Republican Office at 800-842-1423.

OPINION: Connecticut’s Gun Laws

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After another unthinkable school shooting in Florida, social media has exploded with calls for more gun control laws. While people are advocating for marches across the state, I think it’s important for residents to know Connecticut’s current laws.  Not only does our state have the most restrictive gun laws in the country, we have led the charge on school safety reforms.

In Connecticut, any gun purchaser must have a permit and background check, which is conducted for every purchase. The permitting process requires a “suitability” exam, which checks a person’s mental health and criminal background.  These permits are revoked if a person is alleged to have committed certain crimes and felonies or undergoes certain mental health treatment.  Anyone who is involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital in the past 5 years and anyone who is voluntarily committed to psychiatric hospitalization in the past 6 months is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm and ammunition.  Psychiatric facilities also are required to report to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services individuals who are admitted for mental health services.  This information is shared with the Department of Emergency Services, which maintains the gun permit lists.  The Florida shooter would never have qualified to purchase or own a gun in Connecticut.

Connecticut has already banned AR-15s, the weapon used in the Florida school shooting, and has banned a host of weapons deemed to be an ‘assault weapon’. In addition, magazines over ten are prohibited in Connecticut.  Large capacity magazines, which are necessary when using a ‘bump stock’, can no longer be sold in state.

North Branford paved the way for the discussion of armed guards in schools when the board of education sought to implement that policy over five years ago.  I had authored the bill, SB 1099 An Act Concerning School Safety, establishing requirements for municipalities or boards of education to hire active or retired police officers to provide armed security at public schools.  Under our law, a retired police officer may be hired if he or she retired from an organized local police department or the State Police, left service in good standing, was authorized to make arrest prior to separation, and met the active duty qualifications in firearms training in the 12 month period prior to hiring.

Some people have called for arming teachers in schools. Based upon my experience and research from our 2013 legislation, I don’t believe that is a viable solution for Connecticut schools.  Putting aside how a particular teacher would feel about being trained to use deadly force in classrooms; studies suggest that guns within the classroom raise the risk of accidental discharges of the firearm which outweighs any safety measures.

The missing piece for Connecticut is mental health funding and treatment. Connecticut’s private providers do not have enough resources to properly treat mental illness.  It is probably the most difficult issue to address, and yet the most important because all the gun reform laws in the world will not prevent someone’s desire to kill.  The recent incident at Middlesex Hospital demonstrates that concern.  As a society, we have to come to terms with how to treat mental illness effectively and look at the impacts that television, social media, video games and digital video streaming have on the developing brain.  I fear that gun bans are used as an expedient answer to a much bigger problem.

Sen. Fasano and Rep. Candelora Hold Wallingford Senior Update

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 On Wednesday, February 14, 2018, Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano and Deputy House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora held a legislative update at the Wallingford Senior Center, located at 238 Washington Street, to discuss issues impacting elderly and retired individuals in Connecticut. The meeting was an opportunity for residents to express concerns and ask questions about specific pieces of legislation or issues that affect Connecticut seniors.

A large part of the discussion centered on the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) and the legislature working in a bipartisan way to restore funding for the program after Gov. Dannel Malloy vetoed a bill to protect the funding last month. Together, Democrats and Republicans voted to override the governor’s veto and restore funding for the current fiscal year. This allowed the state to restore the program for over 100,000 seniors and disabled individuals. The Medicare Savings Program uses Medicaid money to help individuals pay for medical expenses that Medicare does not cover, such as co-pays and premiums.

The lawmakers also discussed top issues at the State Capitol and the heavy focus on the state budget during this year’s legislative session which commenced on February 7. They answered questions about the budget proposal released by Gov. Malloy earlier this month.

“I want to thank everyone who was able to join us for an open dialogue about the issues that impact seniors in Connecticut most directly,” said Sen. Fasano. “While lawmakers were successful in restoring funding for the Medicare Savings Program this year, we have much work ahead of us. The governor’s budget proposal contains many elements that are harmful to seniors. For example, it would eliminate the $200 property tax credit for elderly individuals and would result in higher taxes on retirees by eliminating newly passed tax breaks on social security and pension income. Gov. Malloy’s budget also proposes cutting funding for certain core services and does not provide funding to maintain the Medicare Savings Program. As lawmakers, we will be standing up for seniors again this year and remain dedicated to adopting budget policies that do not add more unmanageable burdens to elderly and vulnerable populations. I am hopeful that the bipartisan courage which allowed us to override the governor’s MSP veto will prevail this session.”

“I’d like to thank the Wallingford Senior Center for hosting such a great event,” said Rep. Candelora. “This event gave the people of Wallingford and surrounding towns an opportunity to learn about happenings at the State Capitol in Hartford, especially since the 2018 legislative session started on February 7. This year, my colleagues and I in both the House and Senate have worked diligently to ensure that legislation is proposed to assist seniors in particular. It was great to meet so many individuals to gather information from our local community in an attempt to better represent people in the district.”

Photos attached. Additional photos available here: http://ctsenaterepublicans.com/2018/02/wallingford-senior-center-legislative-update/

 

Area Legislators Announce Durham Coffee Hours

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The public is invited to Coffee Hours with State Representatives Vincent Candelora and Noreen Kokoruda along with State Senator Len Fasano on Friday, February 23, at Durham Firehouse, Meeting Room, located at 41 Main St., in Durham from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

This meeting is an opportunity for residents to express any concerns they may have and to ask questions about specific pieces of legislation or the state budget.

This event is free and open to the public.

SHORELINE LEADERS CALL ON DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO RESCIND PROPOSED SHORE LINE EAST CUTS

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GUILFORD— On Wednesday, a bi-partisan group of shoreline state legislators and First Selectman held a press conference to oppose proposed cuts by the Department of Transportation to the popular Shore Line East commuter rail line.

The group, organized by State Rep. Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford), came together after the Department of Transportation announced they would be eliminating weekend and off-peak train service starting on July 1.

“People depend on reliable transportation options and these cuts hinder that. We need a much more innovative way to manage our economic crisis – and this isn’t it,” said Rep. Vincent Candelora (R- Durham, Guilford, North Branford and Wallingford).

“For almost three decades Shore Line East has played a significant role in reducing congestion on our highways, with almost 2,000 people a week using it. Much of its success can be attributed to shoreline towns working with the Department of Transportation in urging residents to take advantage of rail services and stay off the highways. As Connecticut looks to create more opportunities to create public transit, these proposed cuts are going in the wrong direction,” said Rep. Noreen Kokoruda (R-Durham, Madison).

“Shore Line East is a pivotal economic fixture for our small towns. Commuters are relying on us to support a robust mass transit system that gets them to work, on time, every day,” said Rep. Jesse MacLachlan (R-Clinton, Killingworth, and Westbrook). “We should be working to expand access to transit oriented development as rural and suburban communities increasingly look to travel into urban centers for employment. Cutting shoreline east is a step backward for our economy and should be opposed.”

“I believe Shore Line East is the wrong place to cut,” said Rep. Devin Carney (R- Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook). “Commuters and residents who live along the shoreline have relied on this service for work and weekend trips as an easy, more efficient way to travel. The state has invested in both Old Saybrook and Westbrook with new rail stations and should make improving the public transportation currently in place a priority, instead of cutting Shore Line East.”

“For over twenty-five years Shore Line East has been a tremendous asset to our constituents and communities,” said Scanlon. “People in 2018 want reliable public transportation options besides sitting in traffic on I-95 and almost every town on the route is currently working on economic development surrounding transit oriented development. To scale back service now is a huge mistake and I’m proud to stand with my colleagues from both parties to strongly urge the Commissioner to rethink these cuts.”

“The cuts proposed to DOT will weaken the shoreline’s transportation infrastructure and damage our state and local economy,” said Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingly, Madison, North Branford). “Nearly 2,000 people commute on Shore Line East during the weekend and off-peak hours. These cuts will harm residents of the shoreline commuting to their jobs or visitors coming to our communities to work or patronize our businesses. This does not solve a problem; it creates a new problem and moves our state in the wrong direction. I urge DOT to reconsider these proposed cuts.”

“A vibrant Shore Line East, complete with weekend service, is crucial to our economic growth and development. In addition to serving our workforce, including health care workers who frequently have weekend schedules, Shore Line East is essential to competing for the high tech, bio tech and manufacturing professionals being sought after by shoreline businesses,” said Rep. Lonnie Reed (D-Branford). “They demand the kind of mass transit service that can get them where they want to go when they want to go there. Let’s stop killing the things that work.”

 

“The proposed reduction to Shoreline East services is distressing on several levels,” said Guilford First Selectman Matt Hoey. “Many Guilford residents have embraced the service and depend on its continued viability as commuters to jobs and cultural centers in New Haven and beyond, thereby reducing congestion on an already overburdened highway. The state has made significant investments in the Shore Line East infrastructure that should not be abandoned and I urge the administration and the legislature to refrain from making any cuts.”

“Many years ago, the Chambers of Commerce along the shoreline lobbied hard to convince CT DOT to invest in expanding the rail service provided by Shore Line East,” said Madison First Selectman Tom Banisch. “Having been involved with that effort and seeing the growth in ridership over the years, I’m disheartened by DOT commissioner Redeker’s determination that service should now be cut by 50%. What is the point of Transit Oriented Development if you’re going to cut the service?  It behooves the legislature to find alternatives to these drastic cuts to this much-needed alternative.”

“The announcement by Governor Malloy regarding the postponement of transportation projects affects major rail and road projects that were scheduled in the Town of Clinton,” said Clinton First Selectman Christine Goupil.  “The long-awaited renovation to the Clinton Railroad Station at a cost of $18,000,000 will been delayed indefinitely.  The project included adding a platform on the north side of the tracks, an over the track pedestrian bridge with associated elevators and upgraded parking. Our timetables have been cut over the years due to the limited platform access.”

“The proposed reduction in Shore Line East services would have a very detrimental effect on Westbrook,” said Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop. “Approximately 4 years ago, with funds from the State of Connecticut, a new train station was opened and subsequently increased the number of our residents using this station each day to commute to New Haven and other destinations.  We have several local businesses that are highly dependent on the daily services of Shore Line East.  It is imperative that we continue to fully support this vital transportation rail system for the residents of Westbrook and our surrounding Shoreline communities.”

 

Shoreline Law Enforcement Diaper & Wipe Drive

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I want to make you aware of an upcoming community effort to benefit a great cause that is critical to shoreline families. From February 1 – 15, Shoreline Law Enforcement will host a “Diaper & Wipe Drive” for Bare Necessities Inc. All donations collected will be used to help shoreline families in need.

Please review the flyer below for more information, consider sharing this information and donating!

For more information visit: www.barenecessitiesct.org.

Upcoming 2018 Legislative Session

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In a few weeks, the 2018 Legislative Session will be starting. On February 7th, the General Assembly begins the legislature’s “short session.” This three month session only allows bills related to budgetary, revenue and financial matters to be considered, bills on other subject matters may only be brought up by committees.

I encourage you to stay up to date with legislative activity by checking the following resources:

CT-N– follow committee meetings and House debates as they unfold live on Connecticut’s public affairs television network, CT-N, or by streaming the proceedings online here.

The CGA Website– the Connecticut General Assembly website provides a variety of resources including bill search and a daily calendar of events happening at the Capitol. To visit the website, click here.

Prior to the beginning of session, the state’s non-partisan Office of Legislative Research (OLR) issued their annual report on important issues the General Assembly may face during the 2018 session. To view the report, click here.

I will also send updates and information throughout the legislative session so stay tuned. I am here in Hartford to represent your voice and the interests of our community.

Please feel free to contact me at Vincent.Candelora@housegop.ct.gov  or 1-800-842-1423. You can also follow my legislative work at the Capitol and in town by visiting my website, www.repcandelora.com.

I hope this information is helpful; I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Rep. Candelora Announces North Branford Town Hall Meeting

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North Branford – The public is invited to a Town Hall Meeting with State Representative Vincent Candelora on Monday, January 29, at North Branford Town Hall, Council Chambers, located at 909 Foxon Rd., in North Branford from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

This meeting is an opportunity for residents to express any concerns they may have and to ask questions about specific pieces of legislation or the state budget.

This event is free and open to the public.

Candelora Votes to Restore MSP Funding

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State Representative Vincent Candelora (R-86) on Monday, January 8, 2018, voted in support of a bipartisan plan that would provide funding for the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) through the end of the fiscal year.

 

MSP is a Medicaid program that helps seniors and the disabled pay for Medicare co-insurance, deductibles and premiums. Connecticut was one of five states whose income eligibility limits exceeded the federal minimum level. In adopting the budget in October, legislators reduced the eligibility to the federal minimum, which in turn reduced or eliminated coverage for many of the program’s thousands of participants. In December, the state’s Department of Social Services announced it would delay implementation of the eligibility reduction by two months, giving concerned program participants a reprieve from an unexpected jump in their healthcare costs as lawmakers worked to find $53 million to fund the program through June.  

“Years of mismanaged funds and irresponsible spending have unfortunately landed Connecticut in the fiscal crisis it is now in,” said Candelora. “The reality of our situation has made effectively operating our state nearly impossible, and consequently important resources such as the Medicare Savings Program are not off the chopping block – so to speak. These cuts are driven by massive budget deficits and a sluggish economy and unfortunately difficult decisions must be made. However, I am glad that we were able to reach a fix today to help seniors with critical funds that they depend on. There is still more work to be done.”

Realizing almost 86,000 low-income seniors would be disqualified and another 27,000 would have their coverage reduced, members from both the House and Senate of the Connecticut General Assembly petitioned the Secretary of the State to call them back into special session in order to restore the previous cut.

Among the methods used to restore program funding is a requirement that Gov. Malloy reduce the number of managers and consultants—a provision included in the adopted budget ignored by the governor. Other components include moving human resources-related functions of some state agencies into the state’s Department of Administrative Services, and requiring the governor to find savings in Executive Branch functions while limiting his ability to cut more than 10 percent from any one program.

The MSP plan was approved in the House through a 130 to 3 vote. State senators approved the plan 32-1 in a vote later in the day.

The 2018 legislative session, which is referred to as a short session begins on February 7, and its primary focus is to deal with all issues tied to the state budget and all proposed legislation must be fiscal in nature.

 

New Laws Taking Effect on January 1st

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Please note that this is provided as information, and inclusion in this message does not indicate my support or opposition to an individual measure.

As 2017 comes to an end, we prepare for a number of new laws to take effect starting January 1, 2018. These new laws may have an impact on you, your business, or our community. I therefore encourage you to take a look at the full list of laws that can be found by clicking here I have listed some of the more noteworthy legislation below.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or clarifications regarding the implementation of these laws.

AN ACT PREVENTING PRESCRIPTION OPIOID DIVERSION AND ABUSE – Public Act No. 17-131 – requires prescriptions be transcribed electronically to safeguard against over prescribing, reduce the maximum number of days for a prescription from seven to five for minors and allow patients to request drugs other than opioids be prescribed.
Summary

AN ACT CONCERNING WITHHOLDING WORKERS’ COMPENSATION INCOME FOR CHILD SUPPORT – Public Act No. 17-27 – requires an employer promptly notify the dependent (i.e., spouse, former spouse, or child owed the support) or judicial branch’s Support Enforcement Services, as directed if an employee whose income is withheld to enforce a child support order makes a workers’ compensation claim.

Summary

AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEFINITION OF A VETERAN FOR A CERTAIN HONOR AND CERTAIN BENEFIT – Public Act No. 17-83 – broadens the eligibility criteria for certain veterans’ benefits, allows additional people to receive a service ribbon and medal, be buried in a Connecticut veterans’ cemetery, or have veteran status indicated on their driver’s license or identity card.

Summary

Please pass this information along to those who may benefit from knowing what to expect in the new year in the State of Connecticut.

New legislation typically goes into effect on January 1st, July 1st, or October 1st in a calendar year, although a few laws go into effect immediately upon passage.

I encourage you to contact me regarding any state or local concerns at 800-842-1423 or Vincent.Candelora@housegop.ct.gov.

Best,