I’m proud to have used my position in the Governor’s Office to push hard for a number of policies that matter a lot to Hartford — and to all Connecticut cities. Here are just a few:
Second Chance Society. First, I took a leading role in crafting the Second Chance Society legislation, which passed this year. This law aims to reform the criminal justice system by making our drug laws smarter and reducing the barriers that ex-offenders face in entering our community. The impact of shortsighted criminal justice laws and a culture of permanent punishment has been disproportionately felt by young men of color, including thousands here in Hartford. After leaving the Governors’ office, I advocated for this bill at the State Capitol, and I was thrilled at its passage. There’s still much more to do. But the Second Chance Society law is an important step forward — and one that was long overdue.
Gun Control. Second, I was involved in developing and passing the gun control legislation that implemented stronger background check requirements and the nation’s toughest ban on assault weapons. That law made it a lot more difficult to own or use guns designed to inflict maximum harm. Of course, there’s a lot more that we need to do to try to take illegal handguns off the street in our cities — something I’ve talked about in my public safety plan at www.lukebronin.com/publicsafety.
Diversity on the Bench. Third, as the Governor’s chief lawyer, I was his main advisor on the appointment of judges, family support magistrates, and members of the Board of Pardons and Parole. I’m proud to have pushed for some of the most diverse groups of judicial appointees in Connecticut’s history, including Supreme Court Justice Robinson, Appellate Judge Raheem Mullins, and a number of African American and Latino appointees to the Superior Court. That increase in diversity provides a more representative government, expanded opportunity, and diverse role models for our Hartford community.
Combating Homelessness. Fourth, I pushed hard for an initiative to end homelessness in Connecticut, encouraging Governor Malloy to commit to end chronic homelessness for veterans by the end of 2015. The problem of homelessness affects far too many individuals and families here in Hartford, and veterans’ homelessness is just one part of the challenge. But I’m proud to say that we’ve made huge strides in moving to end veterans’ homelessness. I hope to use the lessons learned — and partnerships built — from that effort to tackle the broader problem here in Hartford.
Minimum Wage. Fifth, I’m proud to have been part of the team that proposed and fought for an increase in the state’s minimum wage — which has helped and will continue to help many Hartford residents who are currently working for the minimum wage. I’d like to see our nation raise the minimum wage higher across the board, but I’m proud that Connecticut has taken a lead.
Cleaning up Hartford’s Air. Finally, I pressed hard and negotiated hard for a re-invention of the trash-to-energy power plant that sits in Hartford’s South Meadows. That power plant is decades old and is inefficient, wasteful, and bad for Hartford’s air. The plan we set in motion would redesign the plant focus on forward-thinking material waste management, making the power plant more environmentally friendly. My ultimate goal is to have the plant relocated altogether, and as Mayor that’s something I plan to fight for – something I discussed during a series of posts during Earth Week of this year. But we took a big step forward to try to get a more efficient, cleaner plant.
Hartford Public Library. Beyond my work in the Governor’s office, I’m proud to serve on the Board of Directors of the Hartford Public Library. The Hartford Public Library, dating back to 1774, offers more than just books. It’s a dynamic institution that hosts debates and public fora, provides immigration services, and opens its doors to the community for safe, quality programming and computer access. And we do this work in nine branches all over the city.
Amistad Center for Arts & Culture. I’m also proud to serve on the Board of Directors of the Amistad Center for Arts and Culture, an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting African American art and art produced by others of African descent. The Amistad Center has a collection housed inside the Wadsworth Athenaeum. I believe that promoting Hartford’s cultural assets needs to be an essential ingredient in our economic development efforts — and the Amistad Center is a huge asset to Hartford.
Persuading my wife to come to Hartford! My wife is from Texas. It’s not easy to get a Texan to stay in New England. But I did, and after we moved to Hartford in 2006, she — like me — became committed to Hartford’s promise. She’s now the volunteer Chair of the Planning & Zoning Commission and the former President of the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association, and she’s served on the Hartford Charter Revision Commission and Historic Properties Commission. So maybe getting her to move to Hartford with me was one of my biggest contributions so far!