Monday, July 28, 2008

Message to District 52 from State Rep. Penny Bacchiochi

Regular legislative session ended, in-district activities rolling along

The 2008 regular legislative session has wrapped up, and the General Assembly did have its share of significant achievements. After much debate, the legislature passed S.B. 671, which strengthens our state’s persistent dangerous felony laws, to allow prosecutors to send repeat violent criminals to prison for longer sentences. It includes $10 million in funding.

Funding for public housing and the low and moderate income tax abatement program was also shored-up . The new law restores $4 million in rental assistance programs and requires housing operators to refund any rent increases that were erroneously eliminated in the 2008-09 budget last year.

In the wake of a number of teen driving tragedies, we passed a bill that enacts tougher driving restrictions on 16 and 17-year olds, increases instruction time for prospective drivers, increases the penalties for teenage drivers who carry unauthorized passengers in their vehicles, and increases penalties for drivers charged with racing, reckless driving, speeding and cell phone use.
To honor veterans, the legislature passed a bill exempting the $10 fee currently charged for the issuance of Gold Star Family license plates. The plates are issued to immediate family members of Connecticut state residents who were killed in action while performing military duty in the armed forces. We also voted to allow issuance of “Support Our Troops!” license plates. Funds raised from the plate will go to various organizations to help veterans, active service members, and their families.

To assist towns in attracting volunteer firefighters, we passed a law that bans municipalities from entering into contracts that would prohibit paid firefighters or paid emergency personnel from serving as active members while volunteering during their personal time for the fire department of the city or town where they reside.

Throughout the district, I have been busy. At the request of a prison guard union, I toured the Northern Correctional facility in Somers. Northern was originally designed to house death row inmates and other serious offenders only, but it now houses several levels of segregated inmates, gang threat inmates and inmates with mental health issues. The tour was eye-opening . Our correction officers deserve recognition for the difficult work they do each day.

I also attended the 50th anniversary celebration of the Union Fire Department , which looked back at the history of the Fire Department and recognized several of the past fire chiefs. Union faces challenges because it is a small department, yet charged with providing fire and rescue service to hundreds of acres of state forest.

In May, I organized the first Rx-Express bus visit to the Stafford Town Hall. The mobile Social Services office came to town and offered immediate applications and approvals for a variety of programs, including ConnPace, Husky and Food Stamps.

I attended the Eastern Regional Women in Government conference and was elected to serve my second term as a State Director. Women in Government focuses on improving healthcare for women, and we are now focusing on breast cancer, cervical cancer and heart disease. I will be participating in several local public service announcements urging women to know their numbers, good cholesterol, bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

With the price of gas on everyone’s minds, I continue to urge legislative leaders to reduce the state’s portion of the gasoline tax. I have started a new newsletter. If you are interested in receiving it, please email me at penny.bacchiochi@cga

No comments: