Legislative Update with Legislative Program Director Vinny Russo

Photo of Legislative Liaison Vincent RussoWith the 2020 legislative session being cancelled due to COVID-19, the 2021 session certainly felt like two sessions crammed into one. Despite the Capitol and LOB being closed to the public, the General Assembly passed several significant bills this year, including ours.

When reviewing the Legislative Summary, you will notice certain overarching themes in the acts that were passed: Racial justice, criminal and juvenile justice reform, the physical and mental health of children and prevention services for youth. These are areas that DCF specializes in and the Department was extremely influential in crafting the policies that were passed. In fact, we were often sought out to offer our expertise and provide suggestions by the Governor's Office and legislative leaders. I would like to thank of all you whom I called upon to answer questions or attend meetings on a variety of legislative initiatives. Your time and wealth of knowledge was greatly appreciated by the legislators and highlighted the incredible talent in our Department and the commitment you all have to our children and families.

Along with the acts, the two-year state budget was passed this year. I'm happy to report that the Department was funded more than adequately for our goals over the next biennium. In fact, the General Assembly gave us additional funding for several initiatives as well as fully adopting our recommendations for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. More information to come as we work with OPM and our partners to develop a distribution plan.

Many of the policies embodied the acts will be effective in the coming months. When reading the summary, please pay attention to the effective dates of the sections described. Additional information detailing how the Department will be implementing the new laws will be forthcoming. However, please call me with any questions.

Please pass along any legislative ideas you may have for next session. The deadline for submission to the Governor's office for next session is October 1st.

I hope you all enjoy your summer.

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