Capitol briefs


Rebimbas among featured speakers on ‘Politics Matter’ panel

State Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-70), left, served as a panelist at the ‘Politics Matter’ forum last week at Quinnipiac University. –CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — State Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-70) served as a panelist at a forum involving over 125 high school students about the value of political awareness and community involvement.

The “Politics Matter” forum took place at Quinnipiac University last week. Rebimbas, who was among several speakers, spoke about how their efforts within the political system have led to meaningful changes in the community and state. A question and answer period followed each panelist’s statements.

“It is extremely important for us to help facilitate a lifelong interest in and appreciation for politics and public policy among our young people. Civic engagement is one of the cornerstones of our democratic process, and I was encouraged by the high level of excitement the students demonstrated for learning about how they can become more engaged,” Rebimbas said in a news release.

Rebimbas focused her initial comments on how she got into politics, why she pursued public office, and why it is important to be aware and engaged in the community.

The students, who came from Hamden High School and the Metropolitan Business Academy in New Haven,  remarked that the conversation was helpful because it gave them a chance to hear firsthand the beliefs and thoughts of public figures in a candid setting, the release stated.

Rebimbas supports bills to help youth

HARTFORD — State Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-70) voted in favor of two bills aimed at retaining and protecting the state’s youth late Monday night.

Rebimbas co-sponsored and voted in favor of SB 78, “An Act Concerning the Learn Here, Live Here Program,” which expands the types of educational institutions eligible for this program to include private schools, in addition to public universities and vocational-technical schools as the law currently stands.

The Learn Here, Live Here Program allows graduates to set aside 100 percent of their state income tax liability into a special account. The funds in the account can be used for buying their first home, paying off school loans, or starting a business in the state of Connecticut.

“I am pleased to see that this bill not only makes it easier for young adults to finance the purchase of a home in Connecticut, helping to stimulate the private housing market, but it also will help attract educated and skilled young adults, and entrepreneurs to stay in the state. This initiative is a win-win for our state economy and our young adults who often struggle to make ends meet in Connecticut,” Rebimbas said in a news release.

The bill will help curtail the occurrence of young people getting their education in Connecticut and then leaving the state to avoid the high cost of living, the release stated.

The bill went to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

Rebimbas also co-sponsored HB 5504, “An Act Concerning Commercial Sexual Exploitation of a Minor,” which makes it a crime to knowingly publish, disseminate or display an advertisement for a commercial sex act with a minor.

These “escort ads” are used to match adults with exploited children for the purpose of committing sexual acts, forced prostitution, and other forms of sexual deviance, the release stated.

“Sexual advertisements featuring minors generate increased exposure to and promotion of statutory rape and child pornography. These disturbing advertisements put our young people at risk for victimization, exploitation, and human trafficking. We need to protect Connecticut’s youth and fight back against this horrific avenue for perverse denigration,” Rebimbas said.

This bill comes on the heels of a prostitution arrest in Simsbury in last November, in which the prostitute solicited customers through advertisements on the internet and featured photographs of “young” Asian girls.

Bill to increase animal cruelty penalty passes

State Rep. David Labriola (R-131)

HARTFORD — State Rep. David Labriola (R-131) hailed passage of his bill that will increase the penalty for repeat animal cruelty offenses.

Labriola introduced HB 5289, “An Act Increasing the Penalty for Subsequent Offenses of Cruelty to Animals.” The bill, which passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and state Senate this week, increases the penalty for a second offense of cruelty to animals by reclassifying it as a felony punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to five years in prison.

Under existing law, violators may be fined up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in prison for first and subsequent offenses.

“There is absolutely no justification for cruelty to animals, and repeat perpetrators should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I am pleased that under this bill, those with a history of mistreatment will receive a stronger punishment that reflects the seriousness that this dangerous pattern of behavior demonstrates.” Labriola said in a news release.

The types of abuse are defined broadly to cover cases of neglect, poor living conditions, torture, starvation, mutilation, the baiting of animal fighting and harassment.

Crisco supports education reform bill

State Sen. Joseph Crisco, Jr. (D-17)

HARTFORD — State Senator Joseph Crisco, Jr. (D-17) voted with a Senate majority for a comprehensive package of public education reforms earlier this week.

“As an integral part of a sustained economic development strategy, public education reform is properly placed in the spotlight this year,” Crisco said in a news release. “These meaningful changes address everything from school readiness for young children, to the turnaround of failing schools, to teacher certification and evaluation standards, all with the goal of preparing students for the 21st century’s global marketplace.”

Crisco said the bill represents a compromise among many of the Governor’s original proposals, priorities of legislative leaders, and suggestions from stakeholders such as teachers, administrators, parents, reform advocates, and policy experts.

According to the release, the bill includes 1,000 new school readiness slots, at least 20 new or expanded school-based health clinics, at least 10 new Family Resource Centers, and two new literacy initiatives.

The bill also allows for direct intervention of the state Department of Education at underperforming schools, incentives for and evaluations of ever-improving, professional teachers and administrators, and modest funding increases for vocational/technical and vocational/agricultural schools, charter and magnet schools, and a kindergarten through eighth grade science initiative.

Senate Bill 458 advanced to the House of Representatives for its consideration and action.

Crisco ushers through bill to study P.A.N.D.A.S. syndrome

HARTFORD —  State Sen. Joseph J. Crisco, Jr. (D-17), ushered through the Senate his bill to compel a study of Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) earlier this week.

Crisco, who is Senate chair of the legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee, said language of the bill requires an exploration of the, “research on, diagnoses made and treatments prescribed” for the syndrome.

According to a release issued by Crisco’s office, PANDAS seems to be caused by strep or other infections, when antibodies made to fight the infection mistakenly attack instead the portion of the brain the controls thought and muscle function.

“The incidence of PANDAS, while still rare, is increasing at an alarming rate and compounding our concern is the suddenness with which it strikes. I read about one case in which parents sent their child to school one morning without a worry and then were called mid-morning about their child’s acute case of PANDAS,” Crisco said in the release. “This bill will launch an examination of this phenomenon with results due back to the General Assembly by next Jan. 1.”

Crisco explained that one of the first obstacles to a complete understanding of PANDAS is the fact there is no test for the condition but rather, doctors use a combined diagnosis of up to five individual criteria. PANDAS

“In order for our state to better understand this emerging condition and prepare itself to help residents stricken by it we simply have to learn more about it and this initiative sets in motion that exploratory phase,” Crisco said in the release.

The bill was sent to the House of Representatives.