State Senator Will Haskell joined us for a live Q&A Zoom at Noon on Sunday, January 24.
Questions from the community and answers from Senator Haskell covered a wide range of topics.
The video recording runs 52 minutes. If you would like to see specific topics, scrub through the video to time locations summarized below. The times are in minutes and seconds. Or refer to subtitles at the top of the screen that appear as we change topics.
Times and topics
0:18: Senator Haskell remembers the late Harvey Bellin.
2:02: The senator discusses the challenges of a legislature conducting business remotely much of the time, but also the opportunity it presents for citizens to be more engaged.
5:51: Asked about major legislative initiatives, the senator said the top priority will be recovering from the pandemic in terms of public health and the economy.
6:54: In special session last summer, the General Assembly expanded telehealth coverage. Senator Haskell said extending that coverage will be critical while Covid-19 remains a threat.
7:26: Senator Haskell said he will work to pass legislation creating a healthcare public option, allowing Connecticut residents to buy in to the state’s health plan.
8:04: Economic recovery, said Mr. Haskell, requires a focus on jobs to return the unemployed to the workforce, training, and education. He cited the need to fully fund the PACT program that provides free community college for high school graduates.
9:02: The final major priority, said the senator, is acting to have voting more accessible by making permanent the ability to vote by mail and with no-excuse absentee ballots.
11:52: Regarding firearms, Senator Haskell said dozens of police chiefs support legislation he proposes to allow officers to ask if a pulled-over driver has a permit for a weapon clearly present. He acknowledged concerns about expanding the ability of police officers to stop people without cause, but said “we must find middle ground.”
Mr. Haskell has also proposed legislation to limit gun purchases to one per month. The measure, he said, would address “straw purchases” of weapons that are resold to those who would not pass a background check. Such weapons, he said, are “64 percent more likely to be used in a crime.”
15:57: On environmental matters, the senator said he has proposed legislation to give local cities and towns the ability to regulate pesticides. He also has a proposal to ban Chlorpyrifos, a dangerous chemical used in pesticides.
18:01: Regarding transportation, Senator Haskell said it is critical to transition the energy grid into a greater reliance on solar and renewable sources. This would, he said, make the grid more affordable and reliable. He also has proposed legislation to allow electric vehicles to be sold directly to consumers.
29:29: The senator has proposed legislation to fund transportation infrastructure improvements by installing tolls on certain Connecticut highways. He does not expect it to pass. His objective, he said, is to demand that opponents provide alternative solutions, not just complaints.
26:47: Responding to a question about volunteerism, Senator Haskell discussed ways his campaign volunteers engaged in community projects. He discussed ways citizens can volunteer in Connecticut’s Step Up CT program.
30:36: Asked to provide more insight about a healthcare public option, Mr. Haskell explained how the state’s comptroller has “enormous buying power.” Allowing small businesses and the self-employed to buy in to the system, he said would greatly reduce healthcare insurance costs.
35:07: Asked about the state budget and taxes, Senator Haskell said he supports Governor Lamont’s declaration that no broad-based tax increases are in store, that municipal aid will not be reduced, and that no attempt will be made to push pension fund contributions down to towns.
The senator said long-term budget problems remain, but with strong home sales, reduced state spending, and tax revenues greater than expected, the opportunity exists to make sure the state spends effectively. He said he is “constantly working to make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.”
40:24: Asked to elaborate on the PACT debt-free community college program he championed, Senator Haskell described three options for its continuing funding. He supports Governor Lamont’s idea to increase applications for federal student aid by switching opt-in to opt-out, which would bring in more federal assistance and “make Connecticut less of a donor state.”
46:35: Senator Haskell said he supports incentives for towns to create more affordable housing, noted that Weston already has accessory apartments, and said he knows of no proposal to eliminate single-family zoning regulations.
48:04: Asked about his own safety and threat levels, Senator Haskell said he feels safe. He said he doesn’t respond to hate mail or threats, but always responds first to emails that express disagreement with his positions. He said the first step to lowering the temperature of public discourse is to listen to the other side.