Laura Candidate Profile
The 2020 election is heating up in Connecticut and there are plenty of races with candidates eager to serve in elected office. There are 151 seats in the state House of Representatives and 36 in the state Senate. Democrats currently hold majorities in both chambers with a 91 to 60 lead over Republicans in the House and a 22 to 14 lead in the Senate.
The single most pressing issue facing our state is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
State Representative Laura Devlin: COVID-19 and its ramifications from a public health and economic standpoint is the most pressing issue facing our state. The impact on our residents has been significant — from illness to the loss of loved ones. From the challenges facing working parents as they balance earning a living while helping to educate their children to our seniors who lost many of their social connections in the community. It is paramount that we continue doing all we can to protect the health and safety of our residents. This includes continuing to establish practices such as temperature checks, hand washing, and wearing PPE, to help our residents safely manage through this uncertain time.
From an economic standpoint, as we prepare to enter phase 3 of re-opening, it’s essential that the voices of local residents and businesses are heard, and that government works in partnership to balance science-based decision making that safeguards public health while supporting economic recovery. We must remain vigilant in protecting public health and providing support for job retention with programs such as work sharing to keep people working and off unemployment. We must provide access to skills training, continue to provide support to ease critical expenses, and support businesses by being flexible with tax filing deadlines and providing access to capital.
For longer term success, as we manage through this pandemic, we need to use this opportunity to rethink how our state operates and take action to ensure our state’s government and economy are more resilient and efficient to create a more affordable Connecticut. That’s what I hear most from the constituents I represent — concern about the lack of affordability of our state due to higher taxes driving people, businesses, and jobs out and putting an unsustainable burden on working people and families. New and higher taxes is not the answer, even after COVID-19. Before the pandemic hit, Connecticut’s economy was lagging far behind the nation and the region. Despite that, one-sided policies, such as those pushed through the 2019 legislature by the majority in Hartford, resulted in one of the most anti-business legislative sessions in recent memory. We can’t continue on that path.
Now more than ever, we need experienced leadership to guide us forward and help rebuild our state’s economy. We need to create an environment where businesses will come and grow, creating jobs, and easing the tax burden on Connecticut residents. To support job-creators to rebuild our economy, we need to ensure consistent, stable, long-term policies to help businesses that are here recover and entice other businesses to come and grow in Connecticut. Without this demonstrated commitment, there is little trust that Connecticut is a place where businesses can thrive. I will support lowering the cost of doing business and help companies choose Connecticut. This includes reducing or eliminating job-killing business taxes and removing unnecessary regulations such as restoring the pass-through entity tax, which is costing our small businesses $53 million annually, streamlining professional licensing and removing barriers for apprenticeship training programs, reinstating R&D tax credits, which were used as an incentive for companies to invest in Connecticut and were rescinded, repealing the extension of sales tax to workforce training and safety apparel, including PPE, and identifying opportunities for greater public-private partnerships. I believe that when we encourage companies to come, stay, and grow in Connecticut — they’ll create jobs, contribute revenue, and ultimately help turn our economy around. One-sided solutions rarely work effectively, which is why I’m prepared to pursue bipartisan collaboration and support to achieve these goals.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
State Representative Laura Devlin: Experience and leadership are two critical differences that set me apart. For the past six years, serving as a state representative, I have worked every day to be a strong advocate for Fairfield and Trumbull. I have repeatedly stood up for residents and businesses, and I have worked hard to secure our municipal and education funding, stop tax increases, promote job opportunity, preserve the environment, help craft and pass legislation to combat opioid abuse, champion education initiatives, and support the health of firefighters, women, seniors, and families.
I’ve developed strong relationships on both sides of the aisle, which have resulted in passing legislation that’s important to our community, including implementing significant life-saving recommendations for students with life-threatening food allergies. I championed a constitutional amendment to protect open space in Connecticut, ensuring it moved off the House floor with an affirmative vote. Sometimes the job of a legislator is to stop “bad bills,” and I have stood up and prevented legislation that would have imposed a nine-year retroactive tax increase on every hospital that serves every resident in Connecticut and most recently, led the fight against tolls in Connecticut. As House ranking member on the Transportation Committee, I believed it was important to take the discussion out of Hartford, where few residents hear the full story on many issues. We took the issue to the people by traveling across the state, holding over 20 forums where residents could get the facts and make their own decisions. This allowed our constituents to weigh in with their legislators about what they felt was right for the state of Connecticut. I care deeply about representing Fairfield and Trumbull, and I’m proud to have earned a 100 percent voting score every year since elected in 2014, and I pledge to continue to fight for the people I’m honored to represent.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
State Representative Laura Devlin: As a state representative, mom, former Metro-North commuter, and a small business owner, I’ve been a strong advocate for my constituents and businesses. I don’t shy away from taking on difficult issues important to the people I represent. I’ve worked hard to pass legislation with bipartisan support that my district backs, while fighting against legislation that they oppose. Several examples of this are cited above. I also have a track record of giving back to our community as both a volunteer and elected official. I know how important it is to consider not just the loudest voices, but all of the voices in making important decisions that balance the needs of affordability and desirability in our community.
When the pandemic hit this spring, I dedicated my time to helping my constituents navigate state agencies to get the support they needed. And when that wasn’t enough, and food insecurity was an issue, I started a food drive to support the Trumbull Food Pantry that lasted for 10 weeks. This effort not only met the needs of the food pantry, it provided a way for members of the community to give back to their neighbors in need, demonstrating the real compassion people have for each other and how we come together in times of crisis. I am proud of my record that has earned me endorsements from the CT Realtors, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the CT League of Conservation Voters, the Association of Retired Teachers Connecticut, the Trumbull Police Union, the Connecticut State Fraternal Order of Police, and the Police Officers Association of Connecticut. These are groups that recognize what I have accomplished and that is evidenced in their support of my re-election. In addition, I’ve earned an A rating from CT Against Gun Violence.
Do you believe Connecticut needs reform when it comes to electric utility oversight? What steps, if any should be taken?
State Representative Laura Devlin: Utility company performance through the recent storm Isaias was unacceptable. In fact, this wasn’t just unique to electric companies, our cable and internet providers were also dismal in their performance. Regrettably, those entities are regulated at the federal level. I believe the Public Utilities Regulatory Agency (PURA) should be separated from the DEEP and given greater autonomy. The new PURA commissioner has demonstrated already that she is a strong leader and regulator and is willing to take on utility company performance and rates more aggressively. I recently testified at a PURA hearing about rate increases and shared the view that performance cannot be separated from rate increase consideration. In addition, in a special session of the legislature last month, I voted in favor of legislation that addresses electric company performance and accountability. The bill created a performance-based rate-setting process, giving regulators and the public more time to scrutinize rate increase requests, ties CEO compensation to performance, provides compensation to customers when storm response is inadequate, and more. I was hoping the bill would also include measures for greater transparency in what we pay for but was pleased to have the commitment of the Energy Committee co-chair to co-sponsor a bill with me next session that will achieve that goal.
List other issues that define your campaign platform:
State Representative Laura Devin: The issues that define my campaign are those that are most important to my constituents. In addition to COVID-related health and safety and economic recovery, as I talk to voters the biggest issue I hear is concern about taxes and affordability — whether for young adults beginning life on their own and trying to manage student loan debt, or families trying to balance a “new normal” of working from home and helping educate their kids, or seniors who find it increasingly difficult to afford to stay in the state they helped build.
Education is another top priority as our students, educators, and staff have been working to find methods of teaching and learning between distance and in-school and look to the state for resources and guidance. Just as important is ensuring the proper funding for our schools, in addition to the COVID-related costs incurred.
There are several pieces of important environmental legislation that were stalled when the 2020 legislative session was cut short. I am committed to continuing to advocate for our environment and use my leadership position and relationships on both sides of the aisle to see this legislation pass.
Transportation has always been a priority and ensuring appropriate investments. Given the change in commuting patterns from COVID, we need to revisit the state’s transportation priorities and ensure they align with the needs of our residents and that projects are prioritized and funded.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
State Representative Laura Devlin: Working in NYC, I first moved to Fairfield in 1997 because it was the most attractive and affordable community on the Metro-North line with a tolerable commute. My husband and I were married here, and it’s our children’s hometown. Fairfield is where they were raised, educated and where they would like to earn a living and raise a family. Our community is special, and I have a proud record of giving back, whether as a volunteer in our local schools and nonprofits or as a member of community organizations. In 2007, after a successful corporate career, I started my own business and began getting involved in our local government. My property taxes were skyrocketing, and I decided it was time to get off the sidelines. I was elected to Fairfield’s Board of Assessment Appeals and subsequently, the RTM representing what is now District 1 and serving as a member of the Finance Committee. In 2014, encouraged by many and concerned about the future of our state, I ran for and was elected to the state legislature, where today I continue to represent the 134th District covering parts of Fairfield and Trumbull.
I was raised in the south suburbs of Chicago with my parents, brother and three sisters. My mother was an elementary school teacher and my father was an entrepreneur. He was also a WWII veteran, having landed at Normandy on D-Day and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. My siblings and I were raised to be independent minded, to work hard, keep our sense of humor, and put family first. I attended local parochial and public schools, earned a B.S. from the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana, and an Executive Master in HR Leadership from Rutgers University.