Focus on Issues

 

 

Connecticut created the Special Transportation Fund ("STF") in 1984 to pay for the construction and repair of roads and bridges -- without resorting back to tolls -- via money raised primarily through our nationally-high gas tax (now over $.50 per gallon). Unfortunately, our legislature has treated the STF as a private piggy bank, raiding it to pay for budget shortfalls caused by fiscal mismanagement and reckless spending. The result: bad roads, heavy traffic, and the return of tolls!

As a state legislator I proposed multiple bills to protect the STF account and related funds, including ones to create an STF trustee to guard the funds from the legislature for the benefit of the taxpayers (see LCO 8514 (Jan 2015); LCO 5184 (Feb 2016). The bills received support from both parties but did not become law (due in part to legislature's desire to have access to all funds rather than cut spending).

As Attorney General I can and will complete this work through the appointment of a Special Transportation Fund Trustee/Guardian directly through my office. The STF is the people's money, and as the people's lawyer, I will protect your money ... and in turn secure better roads, less traffic and no tolls.
We are a nation of immigrants, and we should celebrate this proud and enduring history. The federal government is starting to move in the right direction on immigration reform but is moving too slowly. As a nation we should stay away from blanket amnesty because giving a “free pass” to undocumented and/or illegal aliens is unfair to those folks who are going and have gone through the immigration process.

Instead, I have always supported a “step up and stand out” approach. Undocumented immigrants should identify themselves as such, whereafter they will be charged with a technical violation of the law. The penalty for the violation, however, can be suspended and eventually erased if that person registers with proper immigration authorities, pays a small fine, pays taxes going forward, and thereafter goes through the immigration process from the back of the line. During this time period, these folks should not be subject to deportation unless they violate other laws or otherwise depart from the process.

Of course, immigration reform is a federal job. While I will protect and enforce Connecticut’s rights and authority under our federal construct, the federal Constitution specifically charges the federal government with immigration responsibilities. States and municipalities should not, and legally can not, openly thwart federal law by promoting enclaves for people not here legally. At the same time, however, we can and should act with appropriate sympathy toward folks who are trying to be part of the American dream by promoting their return to lawful behavior and a lawful path to citizenship. The Attorney General’s office can do both through policy initiatives, litigation choices, and interaction with the state and federal government.

We need action and solutions, not more political rhetoric and headlines.
I am a gun owner, hunter, former NRA member, and represented NRA board member candidates in a corporate governance dispute.

While serving as a State Representative for Easton, Redding and Weston in 2013, I also supported the Mental Health, School Security and Gun Control bill passed that session. As a parent, lawful gun owner and resident of northern Fairfield County, the tragedy that prompted the discussion (and the more recent incidents of school violence) weigh on me as they do all citizens. Throughout the bill process in 2013 my consideration and calculus was to focus more on people rather than devices -- and specifically, how we can best protect our children and neighbors from those who choose to use a gun to commit violence, without vilifying law-abiding citizens who choose to own a gun pursuant to their inalienable rights.

I supported the final bill because, in the end and on balance, the bill: (a) evolved away from blanket confiscations and bans to minor burdens and inconveniences; (b) finally focused on the enforcement of illegal gun trafficking laws; (c) created more effective background checks, mental health screening and safe storage laws; (d) created a funding mechanism for school security measures; and notably (e) was supported in my district at nearly 6 to 1. Of course, there were/are still some unnecessary device control measures passed into law that we, as the minority party, were able to diminish but not delete.

Sadly, many of the mental health reforms have since stalled due to the majority party's failure to fund the initiatives due to their continued fiscal mismanagement. (Yet another reason to elect republicans this fall.) We still have more work to do of course. As your Attorney General, I will insist that the federal government take the lead role in thwarting the main source of "gun violence" in our state – the illegal shipment of handguns across state lines and into Connecticut. We need to stop vilifying lawful gun ownership and refocus on the known and preventable illegal activity to actually save lives and make communities safer. As your Attorney General I can and will force our federal government (and our state authorities) to enforce the laws that already exist and will work if enforced.

Again, we need action and solutions, not more political rhetoric and headlines.
As a State Legislator in 2016 I moderated an Opioid Crisis Awareness forum in Fairfield County that it was a huge success. We filled the room with concerned citizens looking to hear from experts in drug addiction, treatment and law enforcement. We looked at why we are facing this crisis, and what we can do to help prevent more addiction and more tragedy. What we learned there is still relevant eighteen months later.

What is Happening?

Opiates are the organic derivative of the poppy plant and produce drugs such as heroin; whereas opioids are synthetic forms of the same type of drug, and include OxyContin, Vicodin, and similar prescription pain killers.

Opioid abuse is fast becoming the most prevalent form of drug abuse and addiction in our communities. The suburbs are being affected just as severely as cities.

Many opioids (and other prescription drugs) are also being mixed with Fentanyl, a very powerful opioid, and sold on the street and in our schools. Fentanyl is estimated to have 100 times the potency as pure, pharmacy-grade heroin and about 80 times the potency of morphine. Such combinations have proven deadly, leading to many fatal overdoses.

Why is it Happening?

The primary driver of the current opioid crisis is ease of access and overuse caused by (i) over-prescription of opioids by doctors, and (ii) the subsequent mishandling of unused prescription drugs. Indeed, the primary source for drugs these days is our own medicine cabinets, not a dealer on a dark corner.

Moreover, our society's overuse of prescription drugs for anxiety, sports injuries, learning disorders etc. has created a “pill culture” that has removed the stigma and/or fear of taking pills. Together, this has led to addiction and death. Simply put, more and more kids are dying from pills, not needles.

How do we Stop/Control It?

At the outset, we all must do a better job handling and discarding prescription medications – especially opioids. If an opioid prescription can be avoided or minimized, we should all do so. Our communities also have unused prescription drop-off boxes and/or programs in place. When in doubt, bag up the pills and drop them off at the local police department for disposal – no questions asked.

Next, local Prevention Councils can help, as do School Resource Officers (SROs) or similar resources. Lastly, we must all work to raise awareness of this crisis.

What is the Government Doing?

I was proud to support PA 16 - 43, which tracks and limits the number of pills that can be prescribed in Connecticut. We were also able to secure a small $1 million “grant” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve opioid addiction treatment. Lastly, law enforcement has been a crucial partner in this fight, working to prosecute true dealers while helping true victims. This law has since been strengthened.

As your Attorney General I will continue the work I started in the legislature by calling drug companies, insurance companies, legislators, law enforcement and the medical community into a direct conversation and combined task force focused on addressing the over-prescription, ubiquitous supply, and proper disposal of opioid drugs. Absent rapid progress via discussions, I can and will use the power of the AG’s office to seek appropriate injunctive and monetary relief to protect our communities.