Bob Duff

Senate Majority Leader

Bob Duff

Standing Up For You!

November 8, 2017

Senator Duff Named Finalist in National Ideas Challenge

Work on Occupational Licensing Reform is recognized as one of most innovative/impactful state or local policy proposals in “Future of Business” category

Washington, DC—The NewDEAL announced today that, through his efforts to reform occupational licensing and increase access to good jobs, Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) has been named a finalist in the 2017 New Ideas Challenge—a competition among rising and innovative state and local policymakers to propose the best ideas for expanding opportunity and improving government in the new economy. A full list of finalists is below.

Of fifty proposals evaluated by an esteemed and diverse panel of judges, Duff’s occupational licensing reform is a finalist in the “Future of Business” category, which includes ideas that spur innovation and entrepreneurship. Legislation he spearheaded would phase out unnecessary occupational licenses for jobs that don’t have educational or professional prerequisites, like Residential Flat Glass or Automotive Glazier, making it easier for people to enter the workforce and start a business in these fields.

“I am honored to be named a finalist and to be included in this group of talented and innovative leaders across the country,” said Sen Duff. “Here in Connecticut and across the country we need to create more pathways to career opportunities and jobs. This is an exciting opportunity to share Connecticut’s model legislation with other legislatures and to learn from other outstanding work being done to help more Americans get ahead and have access to the opportunities they deserve.”

“In a world being rapidly transformed by the forces of globalization and technological innovation, and where Americans have lost faith in government to solve pressing issues, the New Ideas Challenges shows how a group of innovative state and local officials are rising to the challenge of finding solutions for the new economy,” said NewDEAL Executive Director Debbie Cox Bultan. “Senator Duff and his fellow finalists have made proposals that, together, set a governing agenda for the country to follow and for making the economy and government work better for the American people.”

In its third edition, this year’s Challenge seeks to identify effective ways to address profound anxieties resulting from a new economy that has left many Americans behind. The Challenge is open to the 155 members of the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), an organization chaired by U.S. Senator Mark Warner and former Delaware Governor Jack Markell to support state and local pro-growth progressive elected officials through the exchange of ideas and engagement with other top public, private, and non-profit sector officials.

The competition’s six categories cover ideas that:

  • provide better access to the high-quality education and training required for workers to excel in the new economy;
  • spur innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • strengthen communities and recognize that everyone benefits when more people have the best chance to contribute positively;
  • adapt government programs and services to meet the evolving needs of citizens and operate as effectively as possible in the new economy;
  • improve access to safety net and other programs that are critical for supporting healthy and secure families in the new economy; and
  • address challenges that have become particularly acute in rural communities.

Submissions to the New Ideas Challenge were evaluated by eight judges:
Ami Bera, Congressman (CA-07)
Emily Cain, Executive Director, EMILY’’s List
Jim Kessler, Senior VP for Policy, Third Way
Bruce Reed, Co-chair of Aspen Future of Work Initiative & former Chief of Staff to VP Biden
Mark Riddle, President, New Leaders Council
Joe Sandberg, Founder & CEO,, an Founder of CalEITC4Me
Neera Tanden, President & CEO, Center for American Progress
Leena Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner

The six winners of the New Ideas Challenge will be announced on Thursday November 16 at the seventh annual NewDEAL Leaders Conference in Washington.

2017 New Ideas Challenge Finalists:

The Future of Workforce
Community College Gap Assistance—Senator Kate Bolz, Lincoln, NE
Code Louisville—Mayor Greg Fischer, Louisville, KY
Empowerment School Zones—Senator Eric Lesser, Longmeadow, MA

The Future of Business
Occupational Licensing Reform—Senator Bob Duff, Norwalk, CT
Resource Innovation Campus—Councilmember Kate Gallego, Phoenix, AZ
BankLocal—General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Rhode Island

The Future of Communities
Rapid Assessment and Support Services Diversion—District Attorney Charles Branson, Douglas County, KS
Kids’ Home Run—Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, West Sacramento, CA
Collective Impact on Homelessness—Mayor Ben McAdams, Salt Lake County, UT

The Future of Government
Denver: An Entrepreneurial City—Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver, DO
Data Science for Water Infrastructure—Mayor Stephanie Miner, Syracuse, NY
OregonSaves 2.0—State Treasurer Tobias Read, Oregon

The Future of Families
Whole Child Leon: Building Community Support for our Youngest Children—Representative Loranne Ausley, Tallahassee, FL
Make Head Start A Full Day Program—Councilmember Hans Reimer, Montgomery County, MD
Supporting Workers in the Gig Economy—Assemblyman Troy Singleton, Mount Laurel, NJ

The Future of Rural America
Rural Economic Advancement Of Colorado Towns—REACT—Senator Kerry Donovan, Vail, CO
Rural Infrastructure, Transportation and Innovation Act—Senator Jennifer Schilling, La Crosse, WI
Statewide Imagination Library Partnership—Representative Clarke Tucker, Little Rock, AR