2018 was a busy session for me and the legislature. Here’s a quick recap of what I was up to during the legislative session that ended last week.
The most consequential piece of legislation this year was the adoption of an adjustment plan for the state budget. After negotiations, legislative leaders announced a compromise budget plan that was based largely off of a proposal that Republicans unveiled the week before.
The compromise budget passed on a bipartisan vote in the House and Senate shortly before midnight on Wednesday. While I believed the Republican budget plan, which included more long-term structural changes and paid down more of our unfunded liabilities, was the better option for our state, the compromise budget ultimately preserves funding for Fairfield without raising taxes.
The budget also fulfills several of my priorities for this session, including the protection of Fairfield’s ECS funding, fully funding the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) for seniors, adds money for the teachers’ healthcare accounts, and increases funding into the Special Transportation Fund without rail/bus fare hikes.
My caucus was able to negotiate several provisions from our original budget proposal into the final legislation, including a hard hiring freeze on new state employees that saved $7 million dollars.
We also secured language in the legislation that would inhibit Gov. Malloy’s ability to cut funding for towns and cities as he did under his authority following the passage of the bipartisan budget last October.
Expanding Benefits for Veterans with PTSD
Advocates say the passage of SB 284 makes Connecticut the first state in the nation to ensure equal benefits for veterans with “bad paper” discharges resulting from the effects of trauma.
The passage of SJ 35 means a constitutional amendment to protect state land from being sold or given away without public input will be on the 2018 ballot for voters to decide.
To get on the ballot the resolution needed to be approved by a three-quarters vote of both chambers. It passed the Senate 35-0 and the House 118-32, just four votes more than the three-quarters needed to get it on the ballot.
Banning Bump Stocks
Connecticut will be join other states that have already taken action to ban bump stocks, which are devices that increase the rate of fire for semi-automatics.
Lawmakers were prompted to pass HB 5542 following the October 2017 shooting at a Las Vegas concert that left 58 people dead and hundreds of others injured.
The Senate sent the bill to Malloy’s desk on a 26-10 vote after the House had approved it 114-35.
Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence
The passage of SB 466 means that Connecticut police will have the authority to determine the “primary aggressor” in domestic violence situations, rather than arresting the victim along with the abuser.
Groundbreaking Prescription Drug Reform
A bill imposing stricter reporting requirements on pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy benefit managers easily passed the House and Senate.
The law would require drug companies to justify any prescription drug price increase exceeding 20 percent in any year. Additionally, drug companies will have to justify any price increase of more than 50 percent over a three-year period.
Compassionate Treatment for Rape Victims
The legislature unanimously passed “An Act Concerning Procedures Related to Collecting and Processing Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kits” to improve the processing of sexual assault evidence kits .The bill, SB 17, improves upon a 2015 bill that started to address a large backlog of nearly 900 untested rape kits in Connecticut.
Expanding the Good Samaritan Law to Protect Animals
The Good Samaritan protections for people entering cars to save animals in imminent danger passed. HB 5312, Section 22 adds “animals” to the same protections in existing law for people rescuing children.
Improving Protections for Students with Life-Threatening Food Allergies
The governor is expected to sign a bill I advocated for to make schools safer for students with potentially life-threatening allergies.
I started work on this process years ago when two Fairfield moms reached out to me for advice on changing the Life Threatening Food Allergy policy in Fairfield. I believe every child has a right to equal access regardless of disability or medical condition. I am encouraged because this is a bill that protects the civil rights of children with life threatening food allergies.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
I was proud to vote to make Connecticut the fifth state in the nation to pass pay equity legislation. The bill, HB 5386, prohibits employers from asking job candidates about their salary history, a major driver of the existing pay gap between men and women. Having passed both chambers, it awaits the governor’s signature.
I hope you find this update helpful and please feel free to email me at Brenda.Kupchick@cga.ct.gov if you have any questions on any other legislation from this past session or to share your thoughts. For information on other bills that passed or were discussed this year, you can visit cga.ct.gov.