Earlier today, state Senator Will Haskell (D-26) joined with Democratic leaders in supporting bills in the upcoming legislative session that would focus on criminal justice, consumer protection and voting rights expansion.

Haskell joined Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-11), Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25), and other members of the Senate Democratic caucus as they announced “A Just Connecticut,” the second of four legislative agendas for the 2020 legislative session from Senate Democrats.

In a statement from his office, Haskell focused on a proposal that would increase public access to absentee ballots by making an online application portal, increasing the accessibility and ease of the voting process. Connecticut currently is one of 11 states that do not permit early voting, and there are strict restrictions on access to absentee ballots. This legislation would create a centralized application on state websites.

“When a friend of mine in Virginia applied for an absentee ballot, she simply went online. When I did it here in Connecticut, I had to print a form and mail it to my local town hall. The current system for absentee ballot applications in our state is outdated and inconvenient,” Haskell said.

“This proposal for an online application platform will go a long way in making sure those who need to vote by absentee ballot can still make their voices heard. It’s a small but important step to improve ballot access.”

The legislative proposals on criminal justice include:

 An expansion of the Civil Gideon pilot program, creating a Benchbook for judges, and requiring proper training based on the Benchbook.

 Providing an opportunity for victims to pursue justice in civil court for sexual assault through a change in the state’s statute of limitations.

 Financing and creating a new department at the Connecticut State Police which will specialize in investigating far right extremist groups and individuals.

Consumer protection

In the area of consumer protection, a net neutrality bill would provide state level protections for a free and open internet.

Another bill would expand the prohibitions on deceptive practices to include any unreasonable burden or requirement the creditor would place on the debtor in making payments.

New legislation would allow for consumers to know what personal data and information is collected by companies and the ability to opt out of the sale of personal information or to delete their information from the business.

Legislation would also seek to cut spam and scam robo phone calls, emails and text messages and eliminate the ability for scammers to profit off of consumers.