Working on Solutions for Connecticut
Throughout my time in public service, I have always made an effort to work across the aisle. I was proud that last week, four bipartisan bills that I authored with Republican colleagues were signed into law as a part of the Bipartisan Budget Act. These are all commonsense, bipartisan initiatives, and they were all inspired by constituents in Connecticut.
- The Honoring Hometown Heroes Act is the result of the efforts of a local Hartford firefighter, Jim McLoughlin. Jim brought to my attention that the U.S. Flag Code did not allow for the lowering of the flag to half-staff if a first responder fell in the line of duty. First responders are the nation’s front-line of defense here at home. When a first responder makes the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our communities, their service deserves to be recognized by our nation’s flag. I worked closely with Republicans, Democrats, and first responder groups to amend the flag code so we can honor our fallen hometown heroes.
- The Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act is legislation that I’ve worked closely on with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the Connecticut-based Center for Medicare Advocacy, Team Gleason, and the ALS Association. Steve Gleason is a former NFL player, who is now a champion for individuals with ALS after being diagnosed with the same disease in 2011. It has been an honor to work with his team and Connecticut resident Judy Stein, the Executive Director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, on this legislation to ensure that a Medicare beneficiary, who suffers from a degenerative disease, will have continued access to their speech generation devices, which allows them to communicate with their loved ones.
- Companies like Newman's Own and the work of their President Bob Forrester, who donate 100 percent of their proceeds to charities like their own, Hole In The Wall Gang Camp for critically ill children and their families, should be recognized for their philanthropy. That is why I worked to pass the Philanthropic Enterprise Act, along with my colleague Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA). This bill provides a small technical fix in the tax code that will support, rather than stand as a barrier to, socially-responsible companies like Newman’s Own and the dozens of other philanthropic businesses they h ave inspired.
- The Wrongful Conviction Tax Relief Act, which I spearheaded with Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) received an extended deadline for wrongfully convicted individuals to apply for tax relief. The story of East Hartford resident, James Tillman, was the inspiration behind this legislation. Mr. Tillman served 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He was exonerated in 2006 and was my guest at the State of Union in 2016. The Wrongful Conviction Tax Relief Act ensures that those who have been wrongfully incarcerated and have lost years of their lives, which they will never be able to get back – will no longer have to suffer a further injustice by paying taxes from their settlement payment.
- Finally, Connecticut is home to the world's leading fuel cell manufacturers and I have heard from the businesses and workers in this industry about the importance of extending the fuel cell Investment Tax Credit. Fuel cells are a cutting-edge, clean energy technology that utilize the most abundant element in the universe: hydrogen. They enhance grid resiliency, provide reliable backup power to critical facilities like hospitals, and they can power zero-emission vehicles, just to name a few of their applications. As a founder of the Congressional Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Caucus, I was proud to vote to extend the Investment Tax Credit for five years, which will provide parity with other clean energy technologies and allow this industry to grow jobs in Connecticut.
John B. Larson