Advocating for progressive change and reform.
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.
2018 Legislative Agenda:
Institutional Aid for Undocumented Students
This year, the Dems are continuing our fight to expand access to financial aid for undocumented college students in the state of Connecticut. S.B. 17, and its sister bill H.B. 7000, would give public colleges and universities permission to give undocumented students to access to institutional aid, which is funded by students' tuition payments. Currently, undocumented students are subsidizing the education of their peers, but are unable to receive this form of aid even though they pay into the funding stream. So far this semester, the Dems have collected 1,475 signatures in support of the bill and submitted 31 written testimonies to the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee for the bill's public hearing. For more information about how you can join the fight to expand educational opportunities for undocumented students, contact legislative captains Juan Otoya-Vanini and Julian Assele.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
The Dems are working to strengthen Connecticut's equal pay protections by working on H.B. 5210, a bill which will ban employers from including questions related to an applicant's previous salary on job applications. Such questions contribute to the continuation of the gender and racial wage gap by enabling employers to determine a new employee's salary based partially on their prior pay, which may have been the result of pay discrimination. The bill will also protect the seniority of mothers and fathers who take maternity or paternity leave, making it easier for parents to balance their work and family obligations. If you want to get involved in our efforts to create more equitable, fair workplaces for all of Connecticut's workers, contact legislative captains Anna Milliken and Cece Crews.
Paid Family Leave
With the new Republican government in Washington, the Affordable Care Act is under attack. Republicans are especially dedicated to removing the part of the ACA that ensures access to no-cost, no-copay birth control under insurance plans. S.B. 586 will guarantee that crucial reproductive health services will remain covered under insurance plans in the state of Connecticut, even in the event of an ACA repeal in Washington. The bill would also expand the kinds of birth control included in coverage. To find out how you can get involved with protecting reproductive rights in Connecticut, contact legislative captains Leah Smith and Sanoja Bhaumik.
Individual Statewide Mandate
Connecticut is currently facing a 1.5 billion dollar a year budget deficit. The state currently loses approximately 550 million dollars a year due to the fact that hedge fund managers' income is taxed at the capital gains tax rate, even though it should actually be subject to the much higher income tax rate. H.B. 6554 functions as a compact with Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island to correct this error in the tax rate while preventing capital flight from our state. If you want to work on the future of progressive tax reform in Connecticut, contact our legislative captains Liana Wang and Albin Quan.