Time to fix Connecticut’s law to exonerate the innocent

People often ask me why I am not angry about spending 17 years in prison for a crime I did not commit. I actually consider myself lucky in a way, because DNA eventually proved my innocence. However, DNA is unavailable in 90 percent of cases, and here in Connecticut it is almost impossible to overturn a wrongful conviction without it. In our state, while new DNA evidence can be presented at any time, new non-DNA evidence must be introduced within three years of a conviction.

CSCU needs new management and leadership

As the legislative session draws to a close, the budget debate continues but in a much different environment than last year. Hopeful predictions for the future are changing the discussion from “slash and burn” to restoration and rebuilding. As you search for common ground in a budget that will demonstrate government’s responsibility to ensure the quality and availability of public services, we urge you to invest in public higher education by preventing the threatened closure of community colleges.

The General Assembly can — and should — contain the cost of prescription drugs

As a physician, far too often, I see the consequences of unfair prescription drug pricing on patients in our community. One of the first patients I ever cared for at the primary care center where I currently practice was a middle-aged man with poorly controlled diabetes. His diabetes is in part uncontrolled because he cannot afford to pay for the medications and supplies needed to manage his condition. The Connecticut General Assembly has the power to contain the cost of prescription drugs and it’s time for them to act.

Tracking non-fatal opioid overdose — time to get ahead of the curve

Every non-fatal opioid overdose represents an opportunity to help curb Connecticut’s opioid crisis, but we know little about the number and location of such poisonings. By mandating confidential data collection for suspected prehospital opioid overdose, Senate Bill 511, An Act Concerning Opioids, aims to address this issue. Since 2012, Connecticut has witnessed a 400 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths, and the number of non-fatal overdoses is certainly greatly increased too. Targeting opioid interventions to groups and communities experiencing high rates of non-fatal overdose may prevent future deaths.

Let’s hold health insurers accountable for the contracts they sign

All business should have to honor their contracts. So why do we let health insurance companies off the hook? If you sign a one-year lease, your landlord can’t raise the rent six months in. This makes sense. Yet, we allow health insurance companies to change their prescription drug coverage midyear, when consumers are already locked into their plans. Commercial health insurers in Connecticut are free to make coverage changes in the middle of the year that reduce or eliminate prescription drug benefits, forcing people onto less expensive – and often less effective – medications.

HB 5473 — Bad policy and in conflict with federal labor law

Where do our rights to free speech start and end?  Specifically, where does free speech at work start and end? If one particular bill was to become law in Connecticut, the answer to that question would become much more difficult. There is a bill before the General Assembly that would restrict employers’ speech rights. It also runs afoul of federal labor law.

Without privacy protections, you’ll be giving more than money to CT tolls

Picture your daily commute. Now imagine making that drive with Connecticut’s government tracking where and how fast you are going every time you drive through a toll. In this world, the federal government also sees that information and can use it to pinpoint your location and travel habits. Thousands of detailed scans about your travel habits are kept in a state database, without rules for how the government secures or shares them. If Connecticut lawmakers don’t act soon, this could be reality in our state.

Connecticut State Senate must pass ACA protections

Supporters of access to health care at Planned Parenthood were thrilled to see the House pass HB 5210 with huge bipartisan support 114-32 on April 26. Thanks go to Rep. Sean Scanlon, House chair of the Insurance Committee, who led this bill to victory in the House. In partnership with many women legislative allies of both parties, we are now one step closer to ensuring the 10 essential benefits of the Affordable Care Act, and women’s preventive health, are protected in state law regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C.

Employers are the key to developing workplace harassment solutions

The workplace is shifting, and it’s clear that what has been tolerated in the past will no longer be acceptable. That’s a good thing. Everyone deserves to work in an environment where they feel safe, and employers must be part of the solution. As it stands now, Connecticut is a leader in creating safe workplaces. Our sexual harassment prevention training laws are some of the most stringent in the nation, and we should all be proud of that.

Connecticut’s chance to save net neutrality is now

Ever since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed its net neutrality rules last year, there has been massive public outcry. Net neutrality is the principle of open access to the internet. It enables users to access the services they want without interference from their internet service provider. Without the FCC’s net neutrality rules, internet service providers are free to block websites, deliberately speed up or slow down traffic from specific websites, or charge customers special fees for improved access.

Connecticut can’t afford NOT to pass paid family medical leave

I am writing to counter recent arguments that Connecticut’s economic woes mean that we can’t afford to pass ‘compassionate’ bills like House Bill 5387, AN ACT CONCERNING PAID FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE, despite strong bipartisan support inside the legislature and outside in the real world. Frankly, I am surprised by the lack of vision shown by opponents of the bill. How can we move forward and build our economy without creative solutions? The House passed HB 5386 last week by a vote of 142-4 and I would urge the Senate to move quickly to send it to the governor’s desk.

Support homegrown solar energy this session

Last week the General Assembly advanced a flawed bill that would put Connecticut’s growing solar industry on ice. While Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s bill aims to increase clean energy in Connecticut, it undermines the ability of residents and small businesses to contribute to a more renewable future. Senate Bill 9 eliminates “net metering,” a simple policy that pays solar households for the excess electricity they share with their neighbors.