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Laurel Steinhauser

Running for State Representative

1 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Democrat

CEP Status: participating

Website: www.laurelforstaterep.com

Age: 32

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: Portland

Current Job: Parent

Previous Job: Perinatal Massage Therapist & Birth Doula

Previous Job: Arts Educator

Education: BA Wesleyan University

Facebook: facebook.com/laurelforstaterep

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Would you vote for a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana? Why or why not?
Yes. Legal prohibition of marijuana has been a policy and public health failure that has wasted law enforcement resources and negatively impacted too many lives. Connecticut residents will be better served by legalizing, regulating and taxing recreational marijuana. I would also invest a portion of the resulting revenue to expand addiction recovery resources and oversight of opioid treatment facilities.
How should the state balance the needs of vulnerable populations with the reality of another large budget deficit?
We must limit discretionary state spending to two purposes: first, keeping our most vulnerable residents safe, and second, investing in key areas of the state’s economy that will grow CT’s middle class such as education, job training and infrastructure. Additionally, we need to consider new sources of revenue that have popular support and address the failures of our tax system to ensure the wealthiest among us pay their fair share, examining tax exemptions and closing loopholes in the tax code.
In 2016 the Connecticut Retirement Security Program was created. It will give over 600,000 residents in our state a way to save for retirement at work. Knowing that employees are 15 times more likely to save merely by having access to payroll deduction, how will you continue the implementation of this important program?
The first step is to protect the program from the outside interest groups seeking to dismantle it. As a state representative, I will speak up against the CBIA's misinformation campaign and work with AARP, Comptroller Lembo and others to ensure the program launches effectively. Every worker in Connecticut deserves a dignified and financially secure retirement. I'm proud that Connecticut is on the road to making that a reality but I won't stop fighting until we get there.
A recent report found 40 percent of Connecticut residents can't afford basic needs such as housing, food, health care, or child care. What would you do to improve their situation?
Too much of Connecticut's economic burden has been put on working families. That's why I will work for tax relief targeting three key areas where residents of my community are struggling most: student debt, child care and senior costs. I also support an increase in the minimum wage to ensure the dignity of work. These should be accompanied by a complete revision to our tax code that eliminates nonfunctioning credits and exemptions and implements true progressivity. State government has been unable -- or unwilling -- to adapt the tax code to the modern economy and the result has been more strain on the middle class. That needs to change.
Will you support top-down efforts to regionalize local services with an eye toward more efficiency and reducing the state's obligations regarding ECS and/or other funding for towns? How would you go about it?
State government can't afford to subsidize inefficient service delivery. Municipal grants should be tied to regionalization efforts in smart and meaningful ways. The state should also work diligently to remove any undue mandates or regulatory burdens that are currently preventing towns and cities from attaining cost savings on their own. We need to pursue every available savings opportunities on both the state and municipal level, with the caveat that education and public safety are paramount and the high quality of each must be guaranteed to every resident of Connecticut.
The 459,000 family caregivers in Connecticut provide an estimated 427 million hours of care each year. Nationwide, nearly seven in ten caregivers report making work accommodations because of caregiving, including arriving late/leaving early, cutting back their hours, changing jobs, or stopping work entirely. Would you support a family leave law that provides paid leave to employees who have to take time off for family caregiving purposes?
Yes. No one should fear losing their job if a loved one gets sick or worry about how they will keep the lights on while on maternity leave. I support an Earned Family Medical Leave program that allows workers to save their own money -- at no cost to businesses -- and know their job is safe if they’re forced to take a leave to care for an ailing relative. Connecticut is surrounded by states that have taken this action already and we can’t afford to fall further behind.
Where and how should state government focus its efforts in order to grow jobs?
The state should abandon the failed economic strategy of picking winners and losers with direct financial assistance and start investing broadly in the working people of Connecticut. I support expanded investments in public education, job training and infrastructure projects that will help grow the overall economy.
Would you support legislation to "ban the box," prohibiting employers from asking the question about criminal convictions on a job application?
Yes. Allowing those who have served time for criminal convictions to apply for jobs without immediate disqualification has universal benefits: companies can expand their talent pool and public safety increases as rates of recidivism go down.
Based on estimates that out-of-state drivers would contribute 30-40% of overall revenue if highway tolls are implemented in Connecticut, would you support tolls with or without offsetting cuts in the state's gas taxes?
I would support electronic highway tolls if the gasoline tax is reduced, if voters approve a Transportation Fund "lockbox" at the polls in November, and if Connecticut drivers are given steeply discounted rates compared to out-of-state commuters.
Eversource and some out-of-state entities appear to be attempting to buy control of Connecticut's water resources, and some of our quasi-public water agencies have signed away large amounts of water to commercial interests with little regard to future water shortages. What can you do to ensure that Connecticut residents maintain control of public water supplies in perpetuity?
Water is a public trust and needs to be treated as such under the law. We've seen the effects of water shortages throughout the country, and even here in Connecticut where recent dry spells required UConn to find alternate sources of water on campus. I support the creation of a State Water Plan to guarantee Connecticut residents maintain control of their water.
Much of Connecticut is economically and racially segregated because many towns lack affordable housing and local zoning regulations prohibit multi-family dwellings. How would you propose incentivizing municipalities to start allowing multi-family units and other affordable housing options?
Affordable housing leads to strong communities and diverse local economies. I support incentivizing municipalities to embrace fair zoning and affordable housing by adjusting their municipal grants accordingly. Similar to regionalization, the state needs to reward towns and cities that make smart financial choices on behalf of their residents.
How should the state address disparities in the Education Cost Sharing formula? What specific modifications would you suggest, if any?
All of our kids deserve the same respect and opportunity in our schools. Recent changes to the formula are a step in the right direction and I would advocate speeding up the timeline of their full implementation. Additionally, we need to rethink how funds are being allocated for special education to prioritize predictability and stability of funding and ensure the protection of these services. As a state, we should rally behind our public education system and work collaboratively to build our public schools into the envy of the nation. To do that requires investing in all of our students and not leaving any behind because of the zip code they were born into.
Should the government's response to the opioid crisis be to focus on law enforcement to stop drug dealers, or improving access to treatment for addiction and reducing the overprescription of painkillers?
Both. This epidemic is tearing apart families, taking lives, straining our community resources, and costing Connecticut’s economy $10 billion each year. Our law enforcement officials should aggressively pursue the suppliers that are flooding our communities with opioids and fentanyl. However, for generations we have unwisely criminalized addiction. We should guarantee that recovery and detox medicines are covered by all insurance plans and work to fund more beds in treatment centers so that those willing to go for treatment don’t have to wait to start getting well. I support the universal adoption of recovery coaches in police stations and emergency rooms to get people into treatment before they enter the criminal justice system. I also support establishing oversight and licensure of treatment facilities to ensure that medically necessary treatment is being administered in a safe and effective manner to reduce relapse and overdose.