Posted on January 28, 2019 by Greg MacKinnon
To the Editor,
The 2019 legislative session is underway. My primary goal in Hartford is to make improvements to the state’s financial policies so that families and businesses prosper here in Canton and Avon. I am also committed to improving our schools and creating a healthy, safe environment for our kids to grow up in, which must include making essential healthcare services more accessible to women and children.
Years of fiscal instability compounded by the two largest tax hikes in our state’s history within the last decade have driven too many people away from Connecticut, impacting population and home values. Our town leaders work hard to develop responsible budgets, and to support their efforts, I have submitted a proposal requiring the state to provide municipal aid amounts to each municipality by April 1st of every year. Our towns will be able to develop their budgets more accurately and effectively because state funding numbers will be known early in the process. This stability and predictability will make the state and our towns more attractive for residents and businesses.
Another important way we can make our towns more attractive is to create safer environments for our children. I have legislative proposals that will help keep dangerous drugs out of our schools and to make vaping materials less accessible to minors. The opioid crisis has an incredibly negative impact on all of us. While great efforts are being made to curb this epidemic, it is still affecting our towns. My proposal seeks to increase penalties to those convicted of dealing fentanyl, a highly toxic cutting agent that is commonly mixed with other street drugs to make doses more potent, and very often, fatal.
We are seeing a marked increase in the use of vaping devices in our schools. It is clear that companies producing these products are interested in selling products to minors. Research has not yet determined if vaping may be helpful to smokers looking to quit, but it is not a habit that should be targeted to young people. It certainly has no place in our schools. Therefore, I have submitted a bill that will raise the legal age to purchase vaping cartridges and products from 18 to 21.
In order to help families manage either planned or unforeseen health issues, availability of paid family medical leave is an important benefit. This option to take time off from work is valuable for new parents, someone facing extreme illness, or an immediate family member providing care, in order to address their personal health, care for a close relative, or be at home with a new child. My proposal would incentivize businesses to provide paid a family medical leave benefit, with the costs to the employer offset by a tax credit for those that opt-in to this program.
As the legislative session progresses, I will keep you updated. If you have any questions or concerns, I can be reached at 860-240-8700 or at Leslee.Hill@housegop.ct.gov.
State Representative, 17th Assembly District