The past Legislative session was extremely challenging at the capitol. This, as you know is my first year so juggling schedules was interesting but fortunately I settled down into a smooth routine quickly. The committee meetings and public hearings were the order of business in the earlier part of the session. From April on we were in the Assembly. Long days, long nights, many a times ending at 2 or 3 in the morning and then back the next day. I felt I was back to my medical residency days!
The major emphasis of the session was on the biennium budget.
The largest tax increase in state history was passed; increase of income taxes in all brackets, sales tax increase to 6.35%, elimination of the tax exemption on all clothing and the long painful list goes on and on. As I am sure you have all observed that income taxes are retroactive to Jan 1. Despite my strong opposition to these tax increases, they were passed by the Democrat led legislature and Governor Malloy. Then began the long drawn-out drama of the union concessions.
In October the legislature held a special session to deal with the lack of jobs in Connecticut. I am happy with the outcome and the overwhelming bipartisan support both in the House and in the Senate. The bill created a number of job creation programs, made additional loans available and created incentives to lower our unemployment rate. The process by which this bill was crafted was a shining example of democracy at its best. The leadership of both parties in the House and in the Senate along with the Governor’s office were in constant dialogue. The exchange of ideas and discussion was done in a bipartisan way. On this occasion we all came together for Connecticut.
I spent a lot of time visiting local businesses this year and the message I got from them was simple and consistent: we need to help businesses stay in Connecticut, grow in Connecticut and succeed in Connecticut.
What I heard from small businesses is that they need government to stop making things more difficult. The regulatory environment is a hindrance to their growth and entrepreneurs did not believe that they have the freedom to innovate. We need to educate and train people to meet the needs of employers. It is often too difficult to do business with the state. This message resonated throughout the state and is addressed in the jobs bill. Government cannot create jobs but can create an environment which is conducive to business growth. This jobs billed achieved that.
It is reassuring to know that all the monies for these initiatives will come from existing bonds authorizations. The bond money to implement this bill will be in lieu of and not in addition to the states annual bonding allocation. This pro-business legislation will help Connecticut get back on its feet by promoting and creating jobs. Our work in improving the business environment in Connecticut is not over and I will continue to focus on pro-business legislation in the coming session.
I would also like to reflect upon some of the major legislation I supported this year.
Supporting legislation for a safer Connecticut, the DNA bill- This new law requires a DNA sample be taken from repeat offenders of serious felonies before they are release from custody. I believe the new law will help keep dangerous criminals off the streets while limiting the amount of innocent people kept behind bars.
Strengthening bullying laws- this year we expanded the type of conduct that constitutes bullying and included cyber-bullying in the law. This is a proactive step toward making our children safer in school and improving the learning environment.
Establishing a cord blood bank-we passed a bill to promote the collection of cord blood stem cells for public use. These cells can be used to treat a number of life-threatening medical condition including cancer, sickle cell disease and multiple sclerosis.
We also passed legislation to expand the UConn Health Center and establish a bio-science collaboration program. In discovering the genetic basis for preventing, treating, and curing human disease lays the opportunity for the future. Promoting bio medical research is the cutting edge and is the space Connecticut needs to be in. Personalized medicine is the way of the future. This is the only way we will be more effective in our treatment and at the same time contain the costs in managing our patients. Connecticut is already a pioneer with stem cell research taking a firm hold here. The bio science collaboration program will hopefully lead to the wonders of tomorrow!
Naturally there were several bills that I could not support. Here are just a few:
- The early release of violent criminals- I felt this was bad public policy and the wrong way to go about saving some money.
- I opposed the captive audience legislation which was bad for businesses. Many business owners told me this concept could be devastating for business owners. Instead, we should focus on pro-business legislation.
- Decriminalization of marijuana. I believe this change in the law sends the wrong message to our children.
Issues pertaining to Glastonbury
As we all know the ferry season is officially over. The Ferry work group in conjunction with the DOT is working on shaping the future of Connecticut’s ferry services. While the ferry was put in jeopardy due to budget constraints, we were able to protect this historic landmark for the time being. We must remain vigilant to make sure we never come so close to losing the ferry again.
We were hit not once but twice by storms this year, each individually left more customers without power than any storm in our history. The town leaders and emergency operations people rose to the occasion and did an outstanding job. I was very impressed by the sense of community I saw among people in our area and the residents who went out of their way to lend a helping hand. I visited the emergency shelter at Glastonbury High School on a daily basis, which was a life saver for so many. I kept in constant contact with town officials and communicated regularly with the CL&P representative in town to get the daily plan of action. I am looking forward to reviewing the full report that CL&P will provide us in due time and looking into how we can change the culture in CL&P to make sure something like this never happens again.
In keeping with my campaign promise I have been contributing my salary as a state legislator to charitable causes.
The concept of “listen, learn and lead” has served me well in my first year as an elected official. I hope to continue to use that as we look forward to 2012 and beyond and together we can continue to make Connecticut and Glastonbury a much better place. Please do not hesitate to contact me at (860) 240-8700 or at Prasad.firstname.lastname@example.org