The 2013 legislative session has begun, and there are many pressing issues facing our state. Foremost on everyone's minds is the terrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. In the face of such a horrific act, it's clear that we must do more as a society to address gun violence, and do all we can to try and prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Legislative leaders recently announced the formation of a special bipartisan task force charged with developing recommendations to reduce gun violence, enhance school safety and increase access to mental health care. These recommendations, along with the findings of the governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, will be used to craft appropriate legislation later this year.

More Information

Fact box

Already on Jan. 25, the bipartisan task force held a public hearing on the subject of school safety. Additional public hearings followed, including a hearing on gun violence prevention on Jan. 28 and another on mental health on Jan. 29.

The final hearing was held Wednesday, Jan. 30, at Newtown High School. More information on the task force may be found at

Another issue of pressing importance is the state budget. Tough decisions will need to be made this year, requiring a careful consideration of our top priorities. Connecticut's economic recovery, like many other states, remains sluggish, and unemployment remains a pressing problem for too many families. While living within our means, we must focus the state's limited resources on investments which earn the greatest return for our economy.

When it comes to economic growth, few issues are more important than those relating to energy policy. As the new Senate chairman of the Energy & Technology Committee, I am very excited to be helping to implement Connecticut's new Comprehensive Energy Strategy this year.

Energy prices, for electricity and for heating and cooling, have an enormous impact on the cost of doing business in our state -- and the cost of simply maintaining a household. My efforts this year will focus on promoting energy efficiency in public and private buildings, expanding access to natural gas, stabilization of our electric grid, and supporting the development and adoption of renewable energy technologies.

For those interested in learning more about these energy initiatives, a draft copy of the state's Comprehensive Energy Strategy is available at

There are a great many concerns for our state government to address this year, but I am ready to get to work, and to join in the effort to move our state forward. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about state policy, never hesitate to contact me at the Capitol at 860-240-0414, home 203-840-1333 or email

State Sen. Bob Duff represents the 25th district, which includes parts of Darien and Norwalk.