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Legislative Advocacy Clinic

Students of the Legislative Advocacy Clinic (LAC) actively participate in the state legislative process by advancing and defending the interests of Connecticut public interest organizations. The clinic’s work includes both affirmative legislative initiatives and defensive efforts to respond to proposed legislation deemed inimical to the interests of its clients. 

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 chief 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. 

Education
The clinic has been working to improve educational and social services support for Connecticut foster youth. This population exhibits the greatest achievement gap in the State; a newly enacted pilot program will begin to tackle this problem. The clinic is also seeking to raise the age for continued inclusion in foster-care service provision from 18 to 21 for all youth, not simply those pursuing post-secondary education and training.

The clinic is also supporting efforts to ascertain and assess the appropriateness and the quality of school-based security and mental health services, and how these relate to early identification, intervention, and intake to the juvenile justice system, as well as to closing the achievement gap by keeping students in school.

Juvenile justice
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. In the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decisions in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs, the group is conducting extensive research and testimony in favor of a bill that would substantially revise sentencing policies for youth in the Connecticut juvenile justice system. 

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 and in making our income tax more progressive. Currently, the group is researching and developing proposals for the next legislative session, involving property tax reforms and incentive for inter-municipal cooperation on regional problems.

Children’s Health
The clinic’s health group in recent years has worked on protecting teens’ access to birth control and abortion and on the State’s efforts to implement the Affordable Care Act. This year’s projects focus on mental health issues, particularly among the homeless and youth in foster care.

At the other end of the age spectrum, the clinic is considering representing Connecticut’s citizen coalition in seeking to legalize assisted suicide.

Racial Segregation and Fair Housing
Connecticut is both one of the richest and most economically stratified states in the nation. The clinic has been enlisted to assist the new Center for Equity and Opportunity in its efforts to tackle the twin problems of residential racial segregation and concentrated poverty from the vector of fair housing law and policy. Students will help research and develop innovative policy and litigation strategies to tackle these seemingly intractable issues.