By JEN CARDINES
With the current Connecticut General Assembly (CGA) session past the halfway mark, Southington’s state legislators are working in various capacities to represent the town and Connecticut as a whole.
For Joe Aresimowicz (D-30th), it’s standing at the podium with the highest ranking title in the state house of representatives. As Speaker of the House, Aresimowicz appoints House chairs and committee members in addition to his role as state representative for Southington and Berlin.
This term, the Democratic caucus proposed 10 bills that focused on job growth and economic development.
“These bills reflect our long-term vision for moving Connecticut forward, and represent the hundreds and thousands of conversations every legislator had this fall with their constituents and local businesses,” said Aresimowicz.
Southington’s only other Democratic legislator, Liz Linehan (D-103rd), is in her freshman term at the Capitol working towards similar goals. She announced that a student-manufacturer connection fair will be held at the State Capitol on Monday, May 22 to connect local manufacturers with technical high school and college students.
“Our goal is to bring together students who will be entering the workforce soon with manufacturers who need skilled workers to help grow their businesses,” Linehan said in a press release.
Earlier this month, the House passed Bill No. 6260, introduced by Linehan, to create a state-wide police training program on best practices for locating and communicating with children with autism who wander from home. Many children with autism spectrum disorder attempt to wander from a safe, supervised space. Known as elopement, autistic children engage in this behavior at a rate much higher than their peers and often wander towards water, leading to higher rates of death by drowning.
After hearing about Logan Gibbons, a 16-year old autistic boy from Southington with a history of wandering away from home, Linehan advocated for this legislation. Logan and his family testified in favor of the bill in front of the Public Safety and Security Committee in February.
John Fusco (R-81) is also in his first legislative term, representing the largest section of Southington. He was appointed to the Human Services, Public Safety and Security, and Aging Committees.
“I cannot thank the people of Southington enough for electing me to represent their interests in Hartford,” Fusco said.
During the session, he supported numerous bills to help the elderly community, including an act exempting social security benefits from state income tax (HB 6987), a bill to increase funding for elderly nutrition programs to help lower copayments for participants (HB 6993), and a bill to allow state income tax filers to deduct premiums from long-term care insurance policies (HB 6986), and others.
Aside from his committee appointments, Fusco is part of the nine-member Conservative Caucus which aims to make fiscally-responsible decisions regarding legislation. One of Southington’s representatives, Rob Sampson (R-80), is chairman of that caucus.
“This year, I introduced legislation to repeal all taxes that cost more to administer than they return in revenue,” Sampson said. “Another was to eliminate the social security tax to provide relief to seniors and encourage retirees to stay in Connecticut.”
Sampson is currently working on proposals to properly fund the state’s fire training schools, reduce unnecessary regulations on businesses including property owners and real estate professionals, eliminate mandates on towns that drive up property taxes, among others.
“I will always try to do the right thing and work honestly and fairly on behalf of my constituents,” he said.
In the state senate, Joe Markley (R-16) currently serves as co-chair of the Human Services committee, vice chair of the Planning and Development committee, and a member of the appropriations, public health, and judiciary committees.
With a deadline of midnight on June 7, Markley said the CGA is busy trying to put the state budget together.
“It is going to be a real scramble,” he said.
If the lawmakers do not pass a budget by the session’s end, there will have to be a special session, but Markley said he isn’t convinced that will be necessary.
“We won’t know more in August than we will in June,” he said.
All of Southington’s representatives, along with contact information, proposed legislation, and information about the current session can be found at www.cga.ct.gov
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.