Christine Cohen

State Senator

Christine Cohen

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Listening, Advocating & Getting Results

July 29, 2020

Senator Cohen Votes for Insulin Price-cap, Police Accountability, Absentee Ballot, Telehealth Legislation

Special Senate Session Gives Final Approval to Four New Public Policies

HARTFORD – State Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) today joined with her colleagues in a special session of the Connecticut State Senate to approve a host of new public policy initiatives to improve police interactions with residents, expand the use of absentee ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic, cap out-of-pocket costs for lifesaving insulin, and continue telehealth medical consultations during the coronavirus crisis.

The bills – which were approved by the House of Representatives last week – now head to Governor Lamont, who is expected to sign them into law.

“These important pieces of legislation are a testament to the trying times upon us,” said Sen. Cohen. “However, with widespread bipartisan support and the ability to find compromise, we’ve passed four bills that will certainly improve the lives of many across Connecticut. The absentee ballot bill is going to ensure that people who want to vote can vote this fall, regardless of concerns over coronavirus. The insulin and telehealth bills will make for a healthier populous without the stress of rationing supplies or wondering if one will have the ability to pay for a physicians visit. Lastly, the police accountability bill, with the changes incorporated after law enforcement and legislative input, will improve race relations and training across the state. I’m grateful to my colleagues for their collective hard work which made for a successful and rewarding special session.”

Highlights of the bills approved today by Sen. Cohen include:

Capping the Price of Insulin and Related Supplies
The bill caps a person’s out-of-pocket cost of insulin at $25 per month, caps noninsulin drugs like glucagon at $25 per month, and caps diabetic equipment and supplies (such as blood glucose test strips, glucometers, lancets, and syringes) at $100 per month. The bill also authorizes pharmacists to prescribe and dispense up to a 30-day supply of ’emergency’ insulin if a person has less than a seven-day supply and would otherwise not be able to obtain any lifesaving insulin.

The bill continues for the foreseeable future the temporary waiver of customary restrictions on online medical health care services (“telehealth”) so that during the COVID-19 pandemic more patients can be attended to in the comfort of their own home.

Increasing Police Accountability with the Public
Prompted by protests around Connecticut in response to the brutal murder of George Floyd, this bill provides additional accountability for police departments to improve relationships between the communities and the police. Highlights include:

  • Changes in the membership of the Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POST), which provides certifications and trainings to police officers in Connecticut. POST will be reconstituted to include persons impacted by the judicial system and towns of various sizes.
  • POST will issue an annual report on police department efforts to recruit minority officers, and it will develop new crowd control policies, require implicit bias training, and ensure that police disciplinary records are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.
  • Uniformed police officers must have their names and badge numbers readily visible on all outer garments.
  • Cities and towns can create civilian review boards, which will have subpoena power through their local legislative bodies (i.e. Board of Selectmen).
  • Body and dashboard cameras will be mandatory for any officer interacting with the public.
  • Chokeholds, strangleholds and other tactics restraining oxygen and blood flow are banned, and officers will have whistleblower protections to report excessive use of force.
  • A new Independent Office of the Inspector General will conduct use of force investigations.

Temporarily Expanded Absentee Ballot Access
This bill allows Connecticut citizens who are concerned about contracting the coronavirus at a polling location to vote instead by mail in the November election– an option which had previously been denied them. Connecticut law currently only allows state residents the right to vote by absentee ballot for six specific reasons:

  • If the voter is on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces
  • If the voter will be absent from town during the entire time that polls are open
  • If the voter is ill
  • If the voter has a physical disability which prevents them from voting in person
  • If the voter’s religion prohibits them from voting that day
  • Or if the voter is working at the polls in a primary, election or referendum

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 48,000 people in Connecticut and killed more than 4,400 state residents, has raised concerns about standing in line at the polls or voting in a crowded polling location, especially for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, who are particularly susceptible to the coronavirus.

The new bill amends Connecticut law for 2020 only to allow for absentee voting due to “the sickness of COVID-19.” The bill also allows any person who is in line to vote before polls close at 8 p.m. to access Connecticut’s “same-day registration” procedure at that polling location, as long as they meet all of the state’s voter eligibility requirements (existing state law only allows for same-day voter registration from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. at specific locations in town, but then the voter must proceed to their own local polling place in order to cast their vote.)