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Legislative Session 2018: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Posted on June 18, 2018 by admin


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Like any other year, the legislative session in Hartford this year was a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

Last year, my Republican colleagues and I achieved something nearly impossible and passed a remarkable and responsible budget plan through the legislature with the help of a few Democrats crossing over to join us, only to have it then vetoed by Governor Malloy. The result was a new “compromise budget” that included tax increases, expanded government, and cut education aid to the towns I represent – all things I vowed never to support. I voted no.

Fast forward to this year. After a lot of effort from myself and likeminded colleagues, (many of us who were very upset at the previous budget and the Governor’s even larger cuts to our towns), we were able to pass a budget adjustment package that corrects many of the mistakes made last year. We were able to restore funding to the towns and fund the Medicare Savings Program, which helps over 100,000 seniors pay for medical care and prescription drugs. We also fully funded scheduled transportation projects with existing revenue rather than resorting to highway tolls or increasing rates for public transportation. Finally, we funded the Retired Teachers’ Healthcare fund, which has been promised to them for years.

We also managed to pass some other good policy measures. PA. 18-41 a bill I cosponsored, will help control rising drug costs. The bill increases transparency in the pharmaceutical industry, helping to lower costs. Although I am opposed to government interference in the free market, I believe this bill responsibly addresses a major issue faced by many, especially seniors living on fixed incomes.

Another bill I helped pass was P.A. 18-135, which cracks down on spoofing and those annoying solicitor phone calls we all receive. This bill would make such crimes a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Finally, the legislature passed P.A. 18-47, which expands eligibility for certain benefits to individuals with other than honorable discharge who suffer from PTSD, brain injuries or other trauma. These benefits include education and housing assistance, veteran status on identification cards, tax benefits, and more. These veterans put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms and way of life, and for many, their struggles do not end on the battle field, often following them home. Passing this legislation was the right thing to do.

The Bad
As the ranking member of the legislature’s Insurance committee, I have been committed to reversing many of the poor policy decisions that have caused the problems we now face in the healthcare and insurance arena. I am very proud that I was able to stop the implementation of one of the worst parts of Obamacare in Connecticut law, the “individual mandate,” which is basically a tax or fine for choosing not to purchase insurance.

However, several other bad bills were passed that will ultimately raise insurance premium rates for consumers. Democrats will take credit this fall for passing a so-called “women’s health bill,” but the truth is the bill has little to do with women’s health since it really is nothing more than inserting Obamacare into Connecticut law on the chance that somehow these provisions are repealed by Republicans in Washington. Another bill makes pregnancy a qualifying event for purchasing health insurance. A sympathetic idea, of course, but it essentially forces all other insurance consumers to pay the additional premium to cover it.

The Ugly

Finally, we have the “ugly.” Followers of my columns know that my biggest complaint about politics is the insertion of political gamesmanship into important public policy.

Perhaps the ugliest example from the 2018 session has been the majority party’s efforts to turn public safety into a political tool at the expense of real solutions. During a debate on gun control in the Judiciary Committee, I offered an amendment that would reverse the misguided $500 million bailout for the city of Hartford and instead would set those dollars aside for municipal grants for school resource officers – the first line of defense against an armed intruder. It also would have provided for additional mental health beds and resurrected the Statewide Firearms Trafficking Task Force – a genuine step towards getting illegal guns off the street sadly funded for only one year after the tragedy in Newtown.

Unfortunately, my colleagues across the aisle rejected this amendment on a party line vote, 19 yeas to 20 nos. and it never made it out of committee. I tried again during a debate on the House floor and this time my amendment was ruled out of order in a procedural move to prevent Democrats in the House from having to make this “hard” vote.

I could list quite a bit more under each category and promise to do my best to keep growing the “good” and shrinking the “bad and ugly.” As always, you can reach me at www.repsampson.com.

Rep. Sampson’s June Column – End of Session Budget Update

Posted on May 15, 2018 by admin


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As many of you will remember, I voted against the so-called “compromise” budget that was passed last October. The plan contained new and increased taxes, cut aid to towns, and contained questionable priorities like cutting funding for seniors while simultaneously bailing out the City of Hartford. Its biggest failing was that it was out of balance even before it was passed, with little attention to changing our current course. I just couldn’t support it.

Fast forward to the final hours of the 2018 Session with the legislature up against another deadline and needing a resolution to correct at least the immediate imbalance in Connecticut’s books. This time, I am happy to report that cooler, more lucid minds prevailed, and all parties came together to pass a budget adjustment that begins to erase some of the terrible mistakes made in the compromise budget – restoring millions of dollars in aid to small towns across Connecticut (including the towns I represent, Southington and Wolcott) who were shortchanged in the previous plan and then mugged again by Governor Malloy’s executive authority.

This budget “fix” also restores much of the cuts made to the Medicare Savings Plan, which helps over 100,000 seniors. Maybe most importantly, it revokes a substantial amount of the executive authority the Governor used to circumvent the will of the legislature. Best of all, this plan contains no new or increased taxes.

Despite those positive attributes, this is still another imperfect document that fails to address our long-term problems, particularly our growing debt and pension obligations. I voted yes as did nearly every other member because of the positives above, and because unlike the previous budget, it was the result of a genuine compromise with an attention to good public policy as opposed to election year politics that seems to infect every move the legislature makes lately.

During the debate, my Republican colleagues and I offered an even better alternative plan that charts a wiser course going forward, but it failed on a nearly party-line vote. I am looking hopefully to next session and a potential change in leadership to see those ideas come to fruition.

That vote was one of the final acts of the 2018 legislative session. Next month, I will share a recap of what happened. I am thinking of titling it “the good, bad, and the ugly.”

Until then, I am available whenever you need me. Please feel free to call my office at (800) 842-1423 or email me at rob.sampson@housegop.ct.gov.

Rep. Sampson Believes Hidden Tax is Not a Solution to Crumbling Foundations

Posted on May 11, 2018 by admin


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CT State Rep. Rob Sampson (R-Southington, Wolcott), Chairman of the legislature’s Conservative Caucus and Ranking Republican Member on the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, spoke on, and ultimately voted against, H.B. 5209, An Act Concerning Long-Term Care Insurance Premium Rate Increases.

Sampson believes the bill is a hidden tax on residents and that the funds collected would not be enough to help those with crumbling foundations. In addition, Sampson argues that this is unfair to insurance companies as well as residents in other parts of the state who were not affected by this issue.

Finally, Sampson notes that the title does not reflect the language in the bill since the original language was entirely removed and replaced at the last minute. Long-term care insurance refers to products individuals can purchase to assist them with extended medical care, while the crumbling foundations legislation is more applicable to home owners insurance.