Legislative Advocacy Clinic
In the fall term, students participate in training sessions led by lobbyists, meet with state legislators, and work to develop a legislative agenda for the spring semester. In the spring, students work in partnership with our clients to bring about the introduction of bills drafted by the clinic and partner legislators, develop oral and written testimony, identify additional witnesses, shepherd their bills through the committee process, and work to get the bills ultimately adopted.
Currently, LAC is undertaking a variety of projects for our client, Connecticut Voices for Children, a key player on a broad spectrum of policy issues affecting children in Connecticut. CT Voices is a research-based public education and advocacy organization that works statewide to promote the well-being of Connecticut's children, youth, and families by advocating for strategic public investments and prudent public policies.
The overarching goal of the education group of the Legislative Advocacy Clinic is to improve Connecticut's public education system for all of the state's children. Last year, the education group released a report on the effects of the No Child Left Behind Act on Connecticut's schools and educators entitled, "Early Changes, Enduring Challenges: Connecticut Educators Speak Out About the Impact of the No Child Left Behind Act." This semester, the education group has taken on the task of evaluating Connecticut's investments in education, with a particular eye toward helping state legislators find creative solutions to solve the problem of the achievement gap.
The juvenile justice group works with Voices, the statewide Juvenile Justice Alliance, and friendly state legislators to promote the well-being of youth involved with the Connecticut juvenile and criminal justice systems. Last year, the group advocated on Voices’ behalf in support of and against a number of bills relevant to juvenile justice. Notably, in the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Roper v. Simmons, the group conducted extensive research and testified in favor of a bill that would have raised to 18 the jurisdictional age for youth in the Connecticut juvenile justice system.
The group plans to assess the practical impact of the modified version of the “age” bill that passed and became law in Connecticut, as well as to follow up on other bills supported by the clinic that became law last session. Particular attention will be paid to issues surrounding secure “treatment” of girls and boys whose crimes and/or behaviors are at the most serious end of the scale.
Tax and budget
The tax and budget group works to make Connecticut's tax system fair and responsive to the needs of Connecticut's children. The group played an important role in restoring Connecticut's estate tax. Currently, the group is researching and developing proposals for the next legislative session, as well as evaluating the tax cuts proposed by business and/or the executive branch.
The clinic’s health group is working on three major projects:
First, spurred by Speaker Amon's desire to achieve universal health coverage of Connecticut's children, the group is creating proposals for how to cover children of undocumented immigrants. The clinic is talking to practitioners to determine the barriers to care and is looking to other states' models for addressing the needs of this at-risk population. Creating a new, state-funded program offering universal pre-natal care is one possible strategy under active consideration.
Second, in an attempt to reign in costs, the federal government is considering repealing mandatory well-child screening under Medicaid. The clinic is analyzing how the screening program has been implemented in Connecticut and will draft a bill to make effective screening mandatory in Connecticut.
Third, the clinic is taking a hard look at the Medicaid statute's outreach requirements and evaluating Connecticut's performance under that standard.