Duff a finalist in national ideas challenge

State Sen. Bob Duff.

NORWALK, Conn. – This is a press release, presented in the format in which it was sent:


Senator Duff Named Finalist in National Ideas Challenge


Work on Occupational Licensing Reform is recognized as one of most innovative/impactful state or local policy proposals in “Future of Business” category

Washington, DC – The NewDEAL announced today that, through his efforts to reform occupational licensing and increase access to good jobs, Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) has been named a finalist in the 2017 New Ideas Challenge – a competition among rising and innovative state and local policymakers to propose the best ideas for expanding opportunity and improving government in the new economy. A full list of finalists is below.

Of fifty proposals evaluated by an esteemed and diverse panel of judges, Duff’s occupational licensing reform is a finalist in the “Future of Business” category, which includes ideas that spur innovation and entrepreneurship. Legislation he spearheaded would phase out unnecessary occupational licenses for jobs that don’t have educational or professional prerequisites, like Residential Flat Glass or Automotive Glazier, making it easier for people to enter the workforce and start a business in these fields.

“I am honored to be named a finalist and to be included in this group of talented and innovative leaders across the country,” said Sen. Duff. “Here in Connecticut and across the country we need to create more pathways to career opportunities and jobs. This is an exciting opportunity to share Connecticut’s model legislation with other legislatures and to learn from other outstanding work being done to help more Americans get ahead and have access to the opportunities they deserve.”

“In a world being rapidly transformed by the forces of globalization and technological innovation, and where Americans have lost faith in government to solve pressing issues, the New Ideas Challenges shows how a group of innovative state and local officials are rising to the challenge of finding solutions for the new economy,” said NewDEAL Executive Director Debbie Cox Bultan. “Senator Duff and his fellow finalists have made proposals that, together, set a governing agenda for the country to follow and for making the economy and government work better for the American people.”

In its third edition, this year’s Challenge seeks to identify effective ways to address profound anxieties resulting from a new economy that has left many Americans behind. The Challenge is open to the 155 members of the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), an organization chaired by U.S. Senator Mark Warner and former Delaware Governor Jack Markell to support state and local pro-growth progressive elected officials through the exchange of ideas and engagement with other top public, private, and non-profit sector officials.

The competition’s six categories cover ideas that:

  • provide better access to the high-quality education and training required for workers to excel in the new economy;
  • spur innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • strengthen communities and recognize that everyone benefits when more people have the best chance to contribute positively;
  • adapt government programs and services to meet the evolving needs of citizens and operate as effectively as possible in the new economy;
  • improve access to safety net and other programs that are critical for supporting healthy and secure families in the new economy; and
  • address challenges that have become particularly acute in rural communities.


Submissions to the New Ideas Challenge were evaluated by eight judges:

Ami Bera, Congressman (CA-07)

Emily Cain, Executive Director, EMILY’’s List

Jim Kessler, Senior VP for Policy, Third Way

Bruce Reed, Co-chair of Aspen Future of Work Initiative & former Chief of Staff to VP Biden

Mark Riddle, President, New Leaders Council

Joe Sandberg, Founder & CEO, Aspiration.com, an Founder of CalEITC4Me

Neera Tanden, President & CEO, Center for American Progress

Leena Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner


The six winners of the New Ideas Challenge will be announced on Thursday November 16 at the seventh annual NewDEAL Leaders Conference in Washington.

2017 New Ideas Challenge Finalists:

The Future of Workforce

Community College Gap Assistance – Senator Kate Bolz, Lincoln, NE

Code Louisville – Mayor Greg Fischer, Louisville, KY

Empowerment School Zones – Senator Eric Lesser, Longmeadow, MA

The Future of Business

Occupational Licensing Reform – Senator Bob Duff,           Norwalk, CT

Resource Innovation Campus – Councilmember Kate Gallego, Phoenix, AZ

BankLocal – General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Rhode Island

The Future of Communities

Rapid Assessment and Support Services Diversion – District Attorney Charles Branson, Douglas County, KS

Kids’ Home Run – Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, West Sacramento, CA

Collective Impact on Homelessness – Mayor Ben McAdams, Salt Lake County, UT

The Future of Government

Denver: An Entrepreneurial City – Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver, DO

Data Science for Water Infrastructure – Mayor Stephanie Miner, Syracuse, NY

OregonSaves 2.0 – State Treasurer Tobias Read, Oregon

The Future of Families

Whole Child Leon:  Building Community Support for our Youngest Children – Representative Loranne Ausley, Tallahassee, FL

Make Head Start A Full Day Program – Councilmember Hans Reimer, Montgomery County, MD

Supporting Workers in the Gig Economy – Assemblyman Troy Singleton, Mount Laurel, NJ


The Future of Rural America

Rural Economic Advancement Of Colorado Towns – REACT – Senator Kerry Donovan, Vail, CO

Rural Infrastructure, Transportation and Innovation Act – Senator Jennifer Schilling, La Crosse, WI

Statewide Imagination Library Partnership – Representative Clarke Tucker, Little Rock, AR



This press release was posted as a public service. A press release is a written announcement submitted to news organizations to publicize an event or activity, a milestone or a point of view. NancyOnNorwalk has not researched the assertions made and takes no responsibility for the content.


Bryan Meek November 11, 2017 at 9:02 am

THis is nice and all, but really? Getting rid of onerous, bullcrap regulations is now considered innovative? I was expecting to read about Bob re-inventing the Internet here.

Donna Smirniotopoulos November 11, 2017 at 9:46 am

Full Disclosure: New DEAL Leaders is a democratic/progressive “farm team” type of lobbying effort founded by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Alaska Senator Mark Begich to help nurture rising stars on the left. The left has been lagging behind the right in developing future leaders. No problem with New DEAL Leaders nominating Duff for his idea. But readers should know this isn’t some kind of open competition. It’s designed to help progressive democrat office holders with aspirations for higher office so the party does not find itself in an viable candidate vacuum in 2018 and 2020.

Drewt November 11, 2017 at 10:34 am

Is there an award for someone claiming to “Stand Up” for us and hasn’t it?! He helped create a budget (Over 100 Days Late) and got Norwalk some more peanuts for ECS funding that we have been screwed for well over 20 years!! Enough of Bob’s Games and jokes and Ice Cream! The clock on his term is clicking donwn and we will have someone representing us who truly Stands Up!

Donna Smirniotopoulos November 11, 2017 at 2:29 pm

@Nancy, since New DEAL is a political lobbying group, should this be posted as an opinion piece rather than as a press release? It is not exactly news when it is a lobbying instrument.

Donna Smirniotopoulos November 12, 2017 at 11:22 am

Your comment above, Marjorie M., is an actual example of negativity.

Holding the truth to a mirror, while it may seem negative, is also often necessary. Bob Duff Is attempting to burnish his image with this “press release”. The press release is from a democratic lobbying group, a fact which is not disclosed in the article.

I’m glad the Democratic Party finally woke up and is nurturing its “young”. But the average reader of these pieces has an equal right to be informed. Duff was not chosen from an impartial panel of experts. He was chosen by democratic leaders who hope to promote Duff as a future democratic leader. This is the purpose of The New DEAL.

Negativity is only toxic when it’s anchored in lies. Most of these comments are accurate observations about Mr. Duff and his record of service, or about The New DEAL itself.

Mike Lyons November 12, 2017 at 11:04 pm

This is literally laughable. Conservative critics of government over-regulation have been calling for elimination of licensure requirements like this since the 1980’s. Bob says that same thing 35 years later and gets nominated for an award for having an “innovative idea”?

Rick November 13, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Government run media. Sounds like we live in a 3rd world Communist country. State takes over CT N was this your idea Bob?

Mike Bob knows his day are numbered just look at the state, cant use the same excuses for failure.

From Solar to windmills electric cars to power plants Ct cannot get it right. But go back and look at the press, its amazing its gone on this long.

Americans get ahead and have access to the opportunities they deserve.” once they leave

Ct.Sanctuary status of Ct has hurt everyone even those that actually deserve help. Its what happens when you fix something broken with another mistake.

Donna Smirniotopoulos November 14, 2017 at 1:24 pm

@Nancy, I would like to correct earlier statements I made about The New DEAL Leaders, wrongly identifying this organization as a lobbying group. This is false. Neither are they a PAC. New DEAL Leaders is an IRS 501c4 not-for-profit. Though the official description of 501c4s is “social welfare”, in reality these entities are well-known sources of “dark money” for PACs. As a 501c4, The New DEAL Leaders does not have to disclose the source of its donations. New DEAL Leaders is a democratic, left-of-center progressive pro-business entitiy. I have no opinion on whether or not The New DEAL Leaders is good, bad or neither. But their press release is not news.

If New DEAL Leaders submit “press releases” in the form of news in order to promote elected leaders from only one party that they themselves select, they should fully disclose their 501c4 status. The rest—mentioning the potential link to “dark money” laundering—would be an editorial decision. I have not followed New DEAL down any rabbit holes, but the potential is there given what we know about other 501c4s.

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