Opinion by: Senator Paul Cicarella
While summer is in full swing, topics like the mechanics of the legislative session, or what laws your elected leaders supported are unlikely to be front and center at your next cookout or family vacation. It is still important to keep in mind that what happens during the legislative session has a direct effect on you and your family.
My approach as your state senator continues to be to listen, learn, and make decisions that best serve the families in the 34th District. This approach guides me in every decision that I make under the Gold Dome.
Working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle has been critical to positive measures that we advanced in 2023. I am proud of the work that we did and the laws we passed that benefit families in our district and state. A prime example of this collaborative spirit is my efforts to bolster our state’s workforce—in particular, our emerging workforce.
The core of workforce readiness is financial literacy. I introduced this concept to provide an opportunity for all high school students receive financial literacy education before graduation.
I was also pleased to work across the aisle to co-sponsor a commonsense law that strengthens protections of our personal information. It also bolsters protection for children in this age of social media.
Unfortunately, when bipartisanship is missing from the process, problems often arise.
It should be incumbent on the majority to recognize the importance of collaboration. With the great power that it holds through its large numbers in the Senate and House, comes great responsibility to do right by all families in Connecticut.
Look no further than the issue of public safety.
Far too often, families and business owners in the 34th District have fallen victim to the rise in crime. Ongoing catalytic converter thefts are a prime example. Criminals brazenly steal these valuable parts from vehicles, often leading to violent encounters. We even saw a violent incident in Wallingford where the criminal fired gunshots.
As a member of the Public Safety and Security Committee, in 2022 I proposed balanced solutions, including increased penalties for criminals along with stricter regulations for auto parts dealers and metal recycling businesses.
However, the Majority focused only on restricting private business owners, enacting laws that increase penalties and impose additional regulations. Will these measures alone change criminal behavior? Placing restrictions on law-abiding residents will do nothing to solve the problem. Then, in 2023, another half-measure was introduced that establishes a ‘task force’ to study the existing laws and look at a regional approach. I did support this measure because supporting it is better than not acting.
However, rather than address the problem directly, the majority choses incomplete solutions that bring unintended negative consequences for people who follow the law. In short: criminals continue to get a pass.
There are many examples of this type of legislation.
From a public safety standpoint, what is missing is the recognition that we already have laws in place to prevent this illegal activity. Through the majority, we are not enforcing these laws and are instead burdening everyday people through increased costs, additional regulations, or both.
What can we do? I have never been a person to criticize an idea without offering a solution. I’ve written many times about my efforts to meet with local law enforcement professionals and other stakeholders to bring their ideas to Hartford—presenting these ideas in our Better Way to a Safer CT plan. The same holds true for my approach to workforce development.
This summer, I continue to work with local police departments and community leaders to find solutions to these issues that plague our state.
I remain optimistic and believe collaboration can solve problems for families in our district. We have seen, though, that the minority’s voice is seldom considered. This is unfortunate, as I represent over 100,000 people whose voices matter.
How can we bring about change? The only way to accomplish this is by having the votes through a balanced legislature. I will continue the fight to implement these policies in Hartford and work with all stakeholders. In the meantime, I encourage you to share this column and my ideas with your friends and coworkers. Change begins when people like you come together and hold all elected officials accountable.
Paul Cicarella is a member of the Connecticut State Senate, Representing the 34th District
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of Connecticut Inside Investigator.
Have an opinion to share? Email your opinion submission to firstname.lastname@example.org