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Hugh McKenney

Running for State Representative

1 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Democrat

CEP Status: participating

Website: HughMcKenney.com

Age: 56

Marital Status: Widowed

Current Residence: Salem

Current Job: Retired

Previous Job: Supervisor Millstone Power Station

Previous Job: Senior Engineer, Yankee Atomic Electric Co.

Education: BS in Nuclear Engineering

Facebook: HughMcKenney37

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Would you vote for a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana? Why or why not?
Yes I would. The vast majority of people in the State support this effort, and an additional revenue stream is needed for the General Fund. We must strongly regulate this new industry, just as strongly, if not stronger, than alcohol sales, to ensure marijuana stays out of the hands of young people. Numerous studies have show that significant brain damage / under-development occurs on brains not fully developed when exposed to cannabis.
How should the state balance the needs of vulnerable populations with the reality of another large budget deficit?
Additional revenue streams, such as tolling the states major highways for tractor trailer trucks only, legalizing sports betting and the recreational use of marijuana, can be used to shore up our state's revenues, along with significant budget reductions, to stabilize the economic health of the state. Budget cuts must be carefully scrutinized, to ensure that the "social safety nets", currently in place, are not eroded. The maintenance of these safety next must be high on the prioritization of programs that should not be impacted, however efficiencies in these programs should be evaluated for possible implementation. A budget reduction process should be developed, looking carefully at the impacts of these reductions, before any cuts to the budget occurs. A deliberate review and analysis should be required, with these safety nets prioritized high.
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?
I would encourage the Program's growth and defend its existence from those that would try to repeal it. The loss of defined pension plans by a vast majority of employers in our country necessitates the need for programs like this, to allow people access to savings accounts via payroll deductions.
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?
The "social safety nets", discussed previously, must be maintained. The state, working in conjunction with not-for-profit organizations and the private sector, should be incentivized to support these issues, including paid family medical leave, implementation of a livable minimum wage for full time employees, and affordable health care options. I would support legislation that works to address these complex problems for the citizens of our district and state.
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?
New Englanders pride themselves on Home Rule, hence the large number of small village type towns that have sprung up in our region. Many people fear the loss of self governance if regionalization is introduced into the state In order to encourage regionalization, education of municipal leaders must be undertaken, followed by education of the public, on the need and benefits that can accompany this process. Without a rigorous process to educate the electorate, and reduce the fear of the unknown, regionalization will remain nothing more than a dream, and lost efficiencies will remain the norm in our state. I do not believe a "Top-Down" effort is the correct method to implement regionalization. Without "buy-in" from the people affected by proposed regionalization, the chance of success is minimal, if none-existent.
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 I would absolutely support a family leave law that provides paid leave to employees who have to take time off for caregiver purposes. I believe it is in companies best interests to retain their employees during family crises. Companies invest large amount of time and money training their employees. It behooves them to work to ensure their employees remain viable contributing team members for the long term.
Where and how should state government focus its efforts in order to grow jobs?
One primary effort should be improving our state's infrastructure. By working to fix our roads and bridges, along with other transportation needs, such as rail systems and revitalization of New London's deep port, good paying jobs can be brought back to the state. Many companies that have left the state indicate their main reason for leaving is the poor transportation system available to their employees. It should not take a worker over an hour to travel 10 miles on our gridlocked highways. Further, more effort must be focused on providing better skilled workers for the state's employers. STEM education must be strengthen within our state, along with more training of tradesman. Data clearly indicates that not enough trained workers (STEM and craftsmen) are available to our employers. The state must act to incentivize our schools and universities to supply these needs for the 21 century labor force.
Would you support legislation to "ban the box," prohibiting employers from asking the question about criminal convictions on a job application?
I have not studied this issue as of yet. If elected to represent the citizens of House District 37, I would certainly devote all the time needed to fully understand this potential legislation and seek input from the citizens of the District prior to supporting a "ban the box" law. As a newly retired engineer, I will be a full time legislator, able to devote my entire two years to serving the citizens of the district, if they so choose me as their Representative.
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 support tolling our interstate highways only at the boundaries of the state. Tolls on RTs 91, 84, 95 and 395 should be set up with the EZ Pass system and used for large 18 wheel trucks only. I do not support a reduction in the gas tax at this time. Additional data and "run time" would be needed to ensure that this new tolling revenue stream is viable and sustainable to support maintenance and improvements to our degraded infrastructure before reduction in the gasoline tax is undertaken.
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?
I would be in support of legislation in the House that protection of the state's water supply is maintained in perpetuity. Out of state entities and quasi-public water agencies should be regulated,as required, to ensure our citizens always have access to clean water, prior to any commercial interests. Any proposed regulation(s) should be fully vetted and analyzed to ensure the impact on the citizens, the environment, and the regulated, are thoroughly understood prior to any vote. Additional regulations should always be based on the need for the health and safety of the public, while being fair and reasonable to all.
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?
I believe that the state legislature, working in conjunction with local agencies (such as the regional counsels of government (GOGs) and municipalities, can encourage multi-family units to be included in zoning regulations by potentially using block grants or other tax incentives. I do not believe that forcing municipalities to change zoning regulations by state regulations or legislation should be attempted. I would support the formation of regional working groups of all stakeholders to evaluate various options that may incentivize municipalities to move in this direction.
How should the state address disparities in the Education Cost Sharing formula? What specific modifications would you suggest, if any?
The ECS formula and its various inputs is a complex issue that bears significantly more assessment and discussion that can be provided in this forum. I am looking forward to gathering more information on this issue in order to determine how the State needs to form the correct balance for sharing resources / costs on this problem to ensure the state constitutionally mandated requirement of an equal education is achieved.
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?
As with many complex problems, there are multiple solutions that must be employed. Such is the case here. Enforcement of existing laws must be strengthen to combat and avoid drug overdose, case in point the recent event at the New Haven Green, where multiple overdoses occurred during a very short period of time, challenging emergency and medical personnel to the limit. Addiction is a disease, and the State needs to work in conjunction with Federal and local programs to seek treatment for our citizens who are afflicted. It is not an "either - or" solution to our opioid crisis. Its both, and the need to fund all efforts simultaneously to combat the crisis is required.