WHAT WE DO

The Legislative Committee of the Yale College Democrats partners with other progressive groups on and off-campus to fight for progressive legislation that represents our generation's commitments to inclusivity, equality, justice, and fairness. We write letters, make phone calls, hold rallies, host education panels, and travel to the state capital in Hartford to meet with legislators and make sure our voices are heard. Through our work, we have been able to develop close ties with our Connecticut Senators and Representatives.

In the past, we have supported issues such as expanded access to higher education for DREAMers, reducing carbon emissions, increasing the minimum wage, and criminal justice reform. In 2018, we were finally able to help pass a bill that guarantees institutional aid to undocumented students in the state of Connecticut. This bill comes at a crucial moment for undocumented Americans who have been feeling pressure under the Trump administration. In 2015, after two years of hard work, the Dems helped to pass juvenile justice legislation that ensures that minors in Connecticut will no longer be sentenced to life in prison without parole. This spring our issues include institutional aid for undocumented students, equal pay, an individual statewide mandate and paid family leave.

In 2014, as the Affordable Care Act's rollout was underway, Legislative Committee made expanding healthcare coverage in Connecticut a priority, running off-campus sign-up canvasses in coordination with the New Haven Board of Alders and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro. We collected the signatures of hundreds of Yalies who supported juvenile justice reform and testified before the state legislature to to demonstrate student support for ending life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders. At the end of the semester, we sent a large delegation of Dems to Hartford to meet with legislators about these issues, as well as the national popular vote in presidential elections. A number of bills that we advocated for passed, including the establishment of an Office of Early Childhood and an increase in the minimum wage. 

This semester, our weekly Legislative Committee meetings take place on Monday evenings. If you have any questions about our work or getting involved in Legislative Committee, please contact our Legislative Coordinator Kaley Pillinger '21.

Fall 2019 Legislative Agenda:

Restoring Electoral Rights of Convicted Felons and Department of Correction Reform

Following some of our work in previous years, Dems is researching potential reform of the Department of Corrections and legislative initiatives that could help previously and currently incarcerated individuals gain the right to vote.

Restricted Open Primaries

In Connecticut, you must be registered with a party in order to participate in its primary. Dems is researching a potential change to this policy, allowing independents to vote in the primary of their choosing each year.

Affordable Housing

Nearly 50% of renters spend one third of their income or more on housing each month. Many of these are low-income individuals and families who struggle to find affordable places to live. Dems is researching opportunities to improve housing access for thousands of families in Connecticut.

Housing Discrimination Against Ex Offenders

In Connecticut, many formerly individuals leave jail only to find themselves struggling to secure and afford for housing. In part, this is because Connecticut allows landlords to discriminate against formerly incarcerated individuals when they search for housing. Dems is hoping to promote legislation to improve this situation for the many Connecticut citizens who leave prison each year.

Reducing Black Maternal Mortality Rates

Women of color die of pregnancy related colors at nearly three times the rate of white women across the country, and in Connecticut. By pushing to improve training for healthcare professionals and increase representation of women of color in medical fields, Dems is hoping to improve this disparity.

Lowering the voting age to 16

The United States has one of the lowest voting rates among developed countries in the world. By lowering the voting age to 16 voting would become a habit for more Americans, driving up participation rates for decades to come. Dems is hoping to push for Connecticut to consider amending their state constitution to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote.

Helping Rural Connecticut

From healthcare access to funding for public schools, certain rural areas in Connecticut are lagging behind their urban counterparts. By taking a closer look at the specific needs of rural Connecticut, as well as the state's overall budget and financial structure, Dems hopes to work towards best serving rural constituents.

Carbon Pricing

Faced with the impending climate crisis, many economists have announced support for carbon pricing as the best economic solution to start combatting climate change. Connecticut has considered a similar type of legislation each of the last three legislative sessions, so Dems hopes to continue pushing for it.

Gun Control

Ever since the terrible disaster at Sandy Hook in 2012 Connecticut has been a national leader in pushing for stricter gun control bills. Yet there is still more work to be done and Dems hopes to push for improvements to the current laws.

Moratorium on new non-renewable energy production

In wake of the climate crisis there is an urgent need to stop producing carbon and other dangerous fossil fuels. One way Connecticut can contribute to this solution is by placing a moratorium on all new, non-renewable energy production, which Dems hopes to push for.

Free Menstrual Products in Connecticut Public Schools

Students all across the country miss classes or full days of school when they're menstruating because they don't have access to adequate period products. The bill Dems aims to push for would simply require that menstrual hygiene products be available for free in all bathrooms designated female or gender-neutral in CT public middle and high schools.

Land Acknowledgement for Indigenous Peoples in Connecticut

While there are some historical records and acknowledgements of the history of Native Americans in Connecticut, there are no examples of a public and continual effort to inform the general public about the histories of discrimination and the work to amend for past injustices.