NEWINGTON – Newington, meet your new Senator.
State Sen. Matt Lesser of the 9th Senate district representing Cromwell, Middletown, Rocky Hill, Wethersfield and Newington, has had a busy first month on the job.
The 35-year-old former state representative for Middletown is working for positive change in his district and the state as a whole, with several pieces of legislation underway.
“I have big ideas about how we can make Connecticut a better place,” Lesser said. “I’m excited to get to work for Newington.”
With over 100,000 constituents between the five towns in district 9, he’s focusing on meeting everyone and finding out what they need from him.
“I’m hearing a lot of interest from people in Newington about the proposed train station,” he pointed out. “There’s a train line that runs right through Newington; it seems kind of silly that you can’t get off the train in Newington.”
He’s leading the charge on Sen. Bill 18, “an act concerning a train station in Newington” requiring the State Department of Transportation to fund and build a station connecting the town to the Hartford line railway.
“It could be a huge economic boost for the town of Newington,” Lesser said. “It’s just a question of planning development to meet the town’s needs.”
A public hearing on the bill is currently awaiting scheduling.
The senator is anxiously waiting for special elections later on in February, so he can reevaluate his current standings.
Appointed to the Insurance and Real Estate committee, along with committees for Appropriations, Education, Energy and Technology, Judiciary, Labor and Public Employees and Public Health, he’s got a lot on his plate.
“I’m spread a little too thin and I’d love to focus more on specific projects,” Lesser said.
Senate Bill No. 1, “an act concerning paid family and medical leave,” will require CT employers to pay for workers’ family and medical leave. Specific language of the bill is currently being developed. This one is particularly important to Lesser, who has firsthand experience with the issue.
He was elected to the General Assembly’s House of Representatives ten years ago, at the age of 25. When he was 29, Lesser had a cancerous tumor removed and was told he might not live through the year.
“It was the most sobering experience I’ve been through,” he remembered. “I’m now six-and-a-half years cancer-free and very grateful for that. That’s why I think paid family and medical leave is so important. Taking time off from work is hard enough; you still have to be able to pay the bills.”
This is also why he’s proposed making the legislative healthcare plan available to all state residents.
“Fortunately I have great healthcare as a legislator and I was treated successfully,” he explained. “I think everyone should have the same access as me.”
His mother immigrated to the United States from Argentina as a young adult.
“Her mother was a refugee,” Lesser said. The great thing about the 9th senate district is we’ve got people from all over the world. The great thing about this country and Connecticut is we’ve given opportunities to people from all walks of life. I’m discouraged by a lot of the rhetoric were hearing at the national level. Immigration has made Connecticut a rich and vibrant place.”
He’s also introduced legislation to increase the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour and require state colleges to provide tuition-free education to resident students.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.