HARTFORD – A bill protecting the due-process rights of undocumented immigrants in Connecticut passed narrowly in Senate 20 to 15 and in House 79 to 61 last week. State Representatives Richard A. Smith (R-108) and Stephen Harding (R-107) were amongst the 61 lawmakers that voted against this bill.
Connecticut’s Trust Act was passed in 2013 and prohibits local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration officials. It was established to create trust between local law enforcement officials and undocumented immigrants so residents of that community would be more willing to come forward, without fear of deportation, to report crimes or cooperate with police.
Senate Bill 992 revises the 2013 policy by including the following individuals under its protection:
Individuals with C and/or D felony convictions or charges
Those with pending criminal charges in the state where bond has not been posted
Persons with outstanding arrest warrants in the state
Federally identified gang members
Persons subject to a final deportation order
Someone who local police view as an unacceptable risk to public safety.
HARTFORD — House Republicans, including State Representative Richard Smith (R-108), late last night voted against a mandatory payroll tax from Democrats that installs a new government-run paid family and medical leave program. The bill (S.B. 1) passed through the House on a party line vote 79 to 69.
The concept of paid family and medical leave allows workers to take paid time off from their jobs to deal with personal issues such as a sick family member or the birth of a child – a concept that has bipartisan support. However, the bill that passed forces every private sector worker to cough up one-half of one percent of their salary from every paycheck to support the program whether they intend to use it or not, with no choice to opt out. The mandatory payroll tax is expected to raise $400 million in revenue, and carries $13 million in startup costs. It would be run by a new quasi-government agency, which would hire more unionized employees to process paperwork, spend startup money on television advertisements and mailers, and dole out generous wage replacement benefits for up to 12 weeks of leave.
“When you ask folks on the street about paid family and medical leave, they tend to respond that they are in favor of it,” said Rep. Smith, who serves on the Labor Committee. “But when I tell them about the details about the bill, like the mandatory 0.5% payroll tax on every employee across the state, or the task of temporarily replacing an employee on leave for 12 weeks – and then having to pay that temporary employee unemployment benefits when they are let go, they very quickly change their outlook and ask me, ‘Why are we doing this?’
Connecticut is the proud host of the largest National Trails Day grassroots celebration in the nation! On the first weekend in June, the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA) brings together about 250 volunteers to lead events like hiking, biking, paddling, letterboxing, trail work parties, equestrian rides, and trail experiences of all kinds to get Connecticut residents outside and away from household chores, television, and the internet for a day.
I encourage you and your family to get outside and celebrate Connecticut Trails Weekend with CFPA! Enjoy a sense of community, tradition and stewardship for the environment.
200+ events will be taking place in more than 100 towns in Connecticut on the first weekend of June, but here is a list of some local events to participate in:
What: Trail Maintenance Where: Tarrywile Park, 70 Southern Blvd, Danbury Date: Saturday, June 1st Time: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Pre-Registration is recommended. Click here for more information.
HARTFORD – State Representative Richard A. Smith (R-108) said on Thursday that the state’s business community can’t afford the crush of anti-employer policies pushed by Democrats and voted against a controversial proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 over a four and a half year period.
Cheering was displayed in the House Chamber both when House Democrats cobbled together to roll out a ramshackle bill (H.B. 5004) late Wednesday, providing neither Republicans nor the public adequate time to review a proposal that will drive state spending hikes and trigger cost increases for businesses small and large, and when it was passed this morning – a reaction deemed inappropriate according to House Rules.
“I wonder if we will hear those same cheers as businesses continue the exodus out of Connecticut? I wonder if my Democratic colleagues were cheering when the reports came in that we lose 3,400 jobs in the first quarter of the year? Should we cheer that we have only recovered 80% of the jobs lost starting with the 2008-2010 recession, making us the only state in New England to not have reached full recovery, while Massachusetts is currently experiencing a 600% job growth spurt,” asked Rep. Smith, who said that he respects the differences shared across the aisle but found this behavior to be disrespectful.
Paid Family Medical Leave (FML) is a program that allows employees to take paid time off in order to heal from an illness or care for loved ones and close family friends. Current proposals to implement this type of program in Connecticut call for it to be funded by a 0.5 percent payroll tax, which based on the answers from a recent online survey, the majority of my constituents say they cannot afford.
Of course, if the 0.5 payroll tax is not enough to fund the program, the Commissioner of Labor can increase the amount deducted from your paycheck. Under the current proposal, if more than two percent of the labor force uses the program, it will become insolvent, thereby requiring the tax to be raised.
All private-sector employees in Connecticut would have to contribute to this state-run trust fund from which qualified employees on leave would draw their salary for up to 12 weeks. Concerns regarding the sustainability, cost of administration, and potential fraud and abuse of the program have majority leaders at odds even with their own caucus as to how to make paid FML happen.
DANBURY – House and Senate Republican ranking members of the Transportation Committee, State Rep. Laura Devlin and Senator Henri Martin, were invited to Danbury last week by their colleagues, State Representatives Richard Smith (R-108), J.P. Sredzinski, Mitch Bolinsky, and Stephen Harding, to present a transportation funding plan to their constituents that does not rely on tolls or tax increases.
“I am grateful to Rep. Devlin and Sen. Martin for coming out to my district to meet with my constituents,” said Rep. Smith. “Please contact me at 1-800-842-1423 or Richard.Smith@housegop.ct.gov if you have any further questions regarding tolls, our alternative plan, and the future of transportation in Connecticut.”
My colleagues, and Ranking Members of the Transportation Committee, Rep. Devlin and Sen. Martin want you to know the true facts about the toll plans proposed by Governor Lamont and the Democrat majority party. They are taking a tour around the state to hold informational forums that discuss the plans and answer your questions. Reps. Bolinsky, Harding, Sredzinski and I have asked them to make a stop in Danbury to meet with all of you.
When: Monday, April 1, 2019 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Eversource will be conducting some emergency tree removal work on Route 37 Northbound and Southbound in New Fairfield this weekend.
As a result, Route 37 will be closed between Warwick Road and Route 39 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 19th.
Modifications or extensions to this schedule may become necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions. Please drive safely through this vicinity and seek alternate routes if necessary.
DANBURY – Elected officials and non-profit leaders from all over Fairfield County met at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury on Friday to work on closing the opportunity gap in Southwestern Connecticut. State Representative Richard A. Smith (R-108) participated both in table discussions and as a panel member.