Serving as the State Representative for Guilford and Branford is the honor of my life and, as always, I wanted to share a few highlights of what I was up to this year in my annual Year in Review. Thanks for reading!

Ethan’s Law

With Kristin and Mike Song moments after the House passed the bill 127–16. Kristin is holding a copy of the roll call vote.

A few days after the Ethan Song tragedy, I told Ethan’s parents, Mike and Kristin, that if and when they ever wanted to do something legislatively in Ethan’s memory I would be there to help them. A few months later they reached out and said they knew what they wanted to do and wanted to get to work.

What they wanted to do was to close a loophole in current Connecticut law that prevented the police and prosecutors from charging the owner of the gun used in Ethan’s case with improper storage of a firearm. Under the previous law, it was illegal to store a loaded firearm around minors. Now, thanks to Ethan’s Law, it’s illegal to store any firearm — loaded or unloaded — in Connecticut around minors.

With the help of Rep. Vin Candelora (R-North Branford), we crafted a truly bipartisan bill — the first gun bill ever passed with overwhelming support from both parties — that closed the loophole.

Working with the Song family to write and pass Ethan’s Law is one of the proudest achievements of not just my time in public service but my entire life.

Mental health and addiction parity

Shaking Governor Lamont’s hand after he signed the bill

Like many families, my family has a long history of addiction.

Sadly and far too often we pretend this isn’t the case with our families and we shy away from talking about it. That’s wrong.

What’s also wrong was the fact that insurance companies treated covering services for behavioral health differently than physical health. This year, after a two year fight, my bill (originally introduced in 2018 with then Sen. Ted Kennedy, Jr.) creating Mental Health Parity passed.

From now on, no one with a disease of the brain can be treated differently than someone with a disease of the body when it comes to insurance.

Pre-existing condition protection

Leading the House debate on pre-existing conditions (Photo credit: CTNewsJunkie)

One of the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the section that protects people with pre-existing conditions from discrimination.

Unfortunately, the ACA is under attack in Washington and by the courts. To make sure that pre-existing protections won’t go away even if the ACA does, I sponsored and passed a bill putting the protections into state law.

Leading the fight for a public option for insurance

This year, I led the fight along with my Insurance Committee co-chair, Sen. Matt Lesser, to create a public option for health insurance in Connecticut.

We spend a lot of time talking about how Connecticut needs to be a more business-friendly state. But most of the time that conversation focuses on taxes and regulations when, in reality, health care is almost always the single biggest expense for a business.

As the son of a small business owner, I saw this first-hand growing up. My mom rarely had health insurance for herself and if she did she was paying outrageous prices for it.

That’s precisely why Matt and I introduced the public option.

Meeting with small business owners about health care costs at the State Capitol in May

As you might have guessed, the bill was met with universal and strong opposition from Hartford’s powerful insurance lobby and, because of that opposition, the bill sadly never came up for a vote.

Will it ever? Yes. Why? Because the need for a public option only increases by the day as more and more individuals and small business owners get shifted into high-deductible health plans that cost more and cover less.

The people of Connecticut deserve an affordable option and I’m going to do all I can to give it to them in the future.

Lowering the cost of prescription drugs

Roundtable on prescription drugs with Attorney General William Tong in Guilford in August

In 2018, I wrote and passed Connecticut’s first prescription drug price transparency legislation. Starting next year, this bill requires drug companies to justify large price increases to consumers.

And while transparency and accountability is great, I know my constituents need relief from high prices right now and this year I introduced legislation to do just that by allowing Connecticut to import safe and cheap drugs from Canada.

According to AARP, this would save the average American 30–50% on the cost of their drugs.

My bill passed the House 112–28 but did not come up for a vote in the Senate before we adjourned for the year though I plan to make this proposal — and several others related to drug prices — my biggest focus in 2020.

The year in pictures

Getting sworn into a new term in January
Marching in the New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March
Serving as emcee and Chief Horrible Pronouncer of Words at the Guilford Fund For Education Spelling Bee
Kicking off the Guilford Little League season in April
Trying not to let Sen. Cohen’s trash talk phase me in a game of whack-a-mole at Guilford Earth Day (for the record, she did beat me)
Talking to the press about our pre-existing condition bill. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (left) and Majority Leader Matt Ritter (right) look thrilled to be there!
A quick selfie in May with the Guilford Girls Field Hockey team when I hosted them at the capitol for winning the State Championship
With Rep. Comey and Sen. Cohen, we welcomed the Branford Boys Hockey Team to the capitol in honor of their State Championship win later in May
Watching one group debate the state budget at my second “Citizens Budget Workshop” where citizens work together to balance the state budget and solve our deficit. In this age of hyper-partisanship, it’s incredible and inspiring to watch people from different parties solve problems together.
Debating the prescription drug bill on the House floor in June
Kicking off the 40th Annual Branford Road Race with Rep. Comey and Sen. Cohen in June
Touring the Thimble Islands shellfish beds with Connecticut Commissioner of Agriculture Bryan Hurlburt and Sen. Cohen in August. Several years ago I worked with the Ag Department to fund a pilot program in the Thimbles to foster growth of the industry off the coast of Branford.
Making new friends at the Guilford Fair in September
Marching in the Greater New Haven Columbus Day Parade in Branford in October
My final Community Conversation at the Guilford Library in December. Out of all I do, these meetings are one of my favorite parts of the job, especially because they are always civil dialogues compared to what people expect from political meetings these days.

And the winner for the most important thing I did this year goes to…

Becoming a dad! My wife Meghan and I were blessed to welcome our son Jack into our lives in September. He’s awesome in every way and we are over-the-moon excited to be his parents.

State Representative for the 98th District (Guilford & Branford)