Norm Needleman


Norm Needleman



February 7, 2019

Senator Needleman, Senate Democrats Announce Energy, Health Care Agenda

Bill proposals aim to strengthen our health care and energy systems

photo of Senator Needleman.

Today, State Senator and Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman (D-Essex) and the Senate Democrats announced “A Healthy Connecticut,” the third of four legislative agendas for the 2019 legislative session. Senator Needleman detailed legislation designed to make state energy systems more accountable, in addition to other policy proposals to strengthen our health care system and environment.

The legislation discussed by Sen. Needleman:


Senate Bill 469: An Act Concerning Utility Response Times For Restoration of Electric Service and Utility Minimum Staffing Levels

“It’s a matter of public health and public safety to make sure our public utilities act like public utilities. I’ve had some firsthand experience with them—they do a lot of things well, while other areas need improvement,” said Sen. Needleman. These utilities’ increased reliance on mutual aid over their own staff “works well, but is ultimately insufficient in the immediate aftermath of a storm. I’m frustrated, that as first selectman, I have to begin my town newsletters with ‘Make sure you have a generator,’ because Connecticut residents deserve better and certainly pay for it. We understand we have a beautifully wooded state, and that strides have been made to improve the grid, but they need to do more. We need to make every effort to have an adequate number of people in each region capable of responding in the aftermath of storms.”

This bill would establish minimum staffing levels for utility line crews and related utility employee positions in order to improve utility response times for restoration of electric service after power outages.

Additional legislative initiatives announced Thursday:


“Working to get tobacco away from our youth, better protect those in nursing homes and prevent opioid use are all worthwhile endeavors,” said Sen. Needleman. “These points of emphasis will play an important role in preserving public health.”

Senate Bill 397: An Act Prohibiting the Sale of Flavored Electronic Nicotine Dispensing Systems at Retail Establishments

  • This bill would ban the sale of all flavored vaping products other than tobacco, mint and menthol flavors.
  • Vaping products play an important role in helping adult cigarette users turn to less harmful products, but they also pose a major threat to our youth, especially considering the tobacco industry has used them to target children, partially using flavored products to draw them in.

Senate Bill 769: An Act Concerning The Prevention of Opioid Use Disorder

  • There has been a steady increase in total overdose deaths among residents from 357 deaths in 2012 to 1,038 deaths in 2017. In 2016, Connecticut ranked 11th among all states in highest rate of overdoses, with 27.4 deaths per every 100,000 people.
  • This bill would require the Alcohol and Drug Policy Council to provide the Public Health committee with specific recommendations that will assist in expanding access to substance use disorder treatment services and detoxification.

Senate Bill 375: An Act Concerning Nursing Home Facility Minimum Staffing Levels

  • There is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates a link between adequate nurse staffing and better patient outcomes. Furthermore, studies also conclude that insufficient staffing causes nurse burnout, job dissatisfaction and turnover which diminish patient satisfaction and hospitals’ bottom lines.
  • This bill would require that nursing homes disclose the actual number of direct care staff providing care to residents, and make this information accessible to patient families, in an accurate and understandable manner.

“Mental health advocacy and treatment for our youngest generations couldn’t be more important,” said Sen. Needleman. “This legislation would serve to prevent mental illness and connect individuals with the treatment they need and deserve. Untreated mental illness can lead to great harm over time; we should try our best to stop that harm as much as possible.”

Senate Bill 750: An Act Concerning Mental Health prevention and treatment of undergraduate and graduate students

  • This bill would require institutions of higher education to establish programs for the prevention and treatment of mental illness for undergraduate and graduate students.

Senate Bill 770: An Act Concerning Mental Health Prevention and Treatment for All Children

  • This bill would increase training and education of mental health awareness and understanding including best practices on how to get help at the elementary school level.

“Prescription medication costs keep rising, and that has a directly negative impact on our families, our workers, our seniors, everyone in our state trying to make ends meet,” said Sen. Needleman. “This is the start of an important push away from the increasing costs of medicine and toward a more reasonable, fair approach to healthcare.”

Senate Bill 4: An Act Concerning The Affordability and Accessibility of Prescription Drugs

  • This bill would have the Insurance Commissioner consider affordability in reviewing health insurance premium rate filings.