HB5001, HB5002 Become Law, Ranked Choice Working Group Formed, Wear Orange This Weekend

June 7, 2024

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Dear Neighbor,

In this week's newsletter, you'll find a variety of content, such as important bill signings by Governor Lamont and upcoming bond funding for our area. I'm excited to share that I've been selected to join a working group to explore Ranked Choice Voting in Connecticut. Although it's not currently in place here, I believe it could be a valuable option. Additionally, I had the opportunity to attend some fantastic events in our district recently. I hope you're enjoying the warmer weather and that you find this edition of the newsletter enjoyable as well. Topics covered will include:

  • Out N' About In The 41st District
  • Over $15 million in State Funding Heading Our Way
  • HB5001, Support For Seniors, Becomes Law
  • Early Childhood Care, Education Bill Signed
  • Ranked Choice Voting Working Group Established
  • CT Transportation News
  • Public Hearing Regarding Gold Star Bridge Set For June 24th
  • Groton Bike And Pedestrian Master Plan Survey
  • Tour De Noank 5K Race On Saturday
  • Wear Orange This Weekend
  • Community Events And Notices

Have a great weekend,

Had an amazing time at a cleanup event organized by the Connecticut National Estuarine Research Reserve in partnership with the Baker Cove Watershed Committee (BaCWaC), Town of Groton, and City of Groton. It was incredible to see so many community members come together to make a difference!
We cleaned up the Birch Plain Creek Wildlife Area in the City of Groton which is part of Baker Cove watershed in Groton. This area is a 4.2 square mile expanse that includes both developed and undeveloped lands, playing a vital role in preserving the water quality of Baker Cove and Fisher’s Island Sound. The watershed comprises three smaller watersheds: Birch Plain Creek, Jupiter Point, and Watershed B. It’s a critical area for wildlife, shellfish, and aquatic habitats.

During the cleanup, I was stunned by the amount of invasive species we encountered. It’s a complex issue, but seeing it firsthand reinforced my belief that we must protect and promote native plant species along our riparian buffers. Native plants are crucial for maintaining healthy ecosystems and supporting local wildlife.

The Baker Cove watershed in southwestern Groton is a vital part of our local environment. It serves as an essential habitat for various fish and bird species, supporting biodiversity in our area. The watershed also plays a crucial role in filtering and managing stormwater runoff, helping to maintain water quality in our community. Additionally, it’s a popular spot for recreational activities like kayaking, crabbing, and birdwatching, making it a cherished natural resource for residents.

As Scott Dolch, CEO of CRA, pointed out, these accolades have already positively impacted Mystic's tourism, economy, and culinary reputation. Anthony Anthony, Connecticut's Chief Marketing Officer, also shared inspiring words about the chefs' dedication to their craft and their efforts to support our local ecosystem.
David and Renee are true champions of sustainability, working closely with local farms, fishermen, and aquaculture to create their extraordinary dishes. Their commitment to sourcing fresh, local ingredients not only enhances the flavor and quality of their cuisine but also supports our local economy and preserves the environment. By collaborating with local farms and supporting our fishermen and shellfishermen, they ensure that their menus reflect the best of what our region has to offer, from farm-fresh produce to the finest seafood.
We wish both of these amazing chefs (and people!) great luck and safe travels as they represent Mystic at the James Beard Awards. I think it’s safe to say that due to their efforts and the amazing teams they work with, Mystic has solidified itself as the culinary capital of Connecticut!
Over the weekend, I had the privilege of honoring the First Congregational Church of Stonington, also known as the Road Church, with a legislative citation on behalf of the legislative delegation as well celebrated their 350th birthday on June 3 with Town of Stonington, CT First Selectman Danielle Chesebrough. Thank you, Rev. Norman Erlendson and 350th Committee Chair Donna Brandelli, for inviting me to attend and participate in this historic festivity!

The church played a significant role in early governance, with its basement serving as a town hall for meetings and court sessions until 1967. The original services began in 1657 in local homes, and the first church hall was constructed in 1674 under Rev. James Noyes. The current meeting hall was built in 1829 after being rebuilt twice, including once after a fire.

I was deeply moved to honor Road Church just a year after we joined their clergy and students at Stonington Middle School to commemorate the life of Cato Cuff, an enslaved person born in Stonington who served in the American Revolutionary War and later gained his freedom. In 1772, he was listed among Elihu Cheseborough’s possessions, but by 1777, he enlisted in the war and fought valiantly for three years, enduring the harsh conditions of Valley Forge.

Despite sustaining lasting injuries, Cato secured a pension and, in 1820, married Flora Palmer at the very church we celebrated this weekend. His story is a testament to resilience and the complex history of the community this church is part of.

I spent some time catching up with community members at the Mystic & Noank Library’s Friends Annual Spring Fair and the Mystic Garden Club Annual Plant Sale!

Both events represent the biggest fundraising activities for these amazing organizations, which use the money to support our wonderful library and garden displays throughout Mystic!

Thank you to all the volunteers who support and contribute their time to these institutions!

Great conversations at our monthly coffee hour at The Ditty Bag Market and Cafe on Saturday! Thank you Jason Hine for opening your storefront to the 41st district constituency for monthly community conversations and Judy Westwood for ALWAYS supplying and energizing us with the most delicious cookies!

State Representatives Aundré Bumgardner (D – Groton, Stonington) and Christine Conley (D – Groton, New London) are praising the announcement of over $15 million in state bond funding for a variety of projects in the region for education, non-profits, and community improvements.
The bond agenda funding for the region includes:

  • Part of a $5 million allocation to finance projects at various Military Departments, including the renovation and construction of an addition to hangar at the Groton Theater Aviation Support Maintenance Group 
  • 245,037 to Regional Multicultural Magnet School, New London for projects including roof repairs, boiler replacements, HVAC upgrades, and other capital upgrades
  • 27,598 to Marine Science Magnet School, Groton for projects including roof repairs, boiler replacements, HVAC upgrades, and other capital upgrades
  • 2,000,000 to Thames Valley Council for Community Action, Inc. Groton Early Childhood Education Center for predevelopment for a new building resulting in an expansion of childcare.
  • $7,761,000 to the United States Navy to finance infrastructure improvements at the United States Navy Submarine Base-New London for the Port Services Floating Piers Replacement and Boat Ramp reconstruction projects. The improvements will provide new utility services, a wider and safer working environment, and will enable the base to keep more vessels.
  • $1,455,456 to the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut in Ledyard for capital improvements to its food center.
"I would like to thank Rep. Conley for her partnership and both Governor Lamont and the bond commission for approving the funding that will pave the way for substantial investments in Groton and our region,” said State Representative Aundré Bumgardner. "Key projects supporting our national defense, schools, and local food security will benefit working families and enable Southeastern Connecticut to thrive."
"I'm thrilled to see the millions coming to our towns that will support our childcare infrastructure, our schools, our Navy base, and more," Rep. Conley said. "Thank you to Rep. Bumgardner for his hard work and collaboration and Gov. Lamont and the State Bonding Commission for their support of our towns."
Representatives Bumgardner and Rep. Conley closely collaborated to secure this round of bonding, especially the Community Investment Fund dollars for TVCCA’s early childhood development center. These funds and investments in air quality and energy efficiency for our area magnet schools represent significant progress in meeting the facilities needs of our early childhood and K-12 educational institutions.
As a member of the Finance Revenue & Bonding Committee’s General Obligation Bonding subcommittee, Rep. Bumgardner supported and fought for bond dollars that leverage federal defense funds available for capital construction. Last year, he visited the Theater Aviation Support Maintenance Group in Groton and the US Submarine Base to learn about some of these capital projects.
To read more about HB5001 and its passage, please click HERE.
To read more about HB 5002, An Act Concerning Early Childhood Care and Education, please click HERE.

Governor Lamont has established a working group of members representing various political affiliations and has tasked them with exploring options and developing a comprehensive legislative proposal to create a system that enables municipalities and political parties in Connecticut with the ability to use ranked-choice voting in caucuses, conventions, primaries, and certain municipal elections.

I am honored to have been selected to serve alongside this distinguished group of initial members:

  • Co-Chair: State Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague)
  • Co-Chair: State Senator Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield)
  • Vice Chair: Monte Frank (Attorney at Pullman & Comley, past present of the Connecticut Bar Association, and 2018 candidate for lieutenant governor under the Griebel-Frank for CT Party)
  • Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz or designee
  • Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas or designee
  • State Representative Hilda Santiago (D-Meriden)
  • Annalisa Stravato (Republican registrar of voters for the Town of Wilton, executive vice president of the Registrar of Voters Association of Connecticut, and former vice chair of the Connecticut Republican Party)
  • Alexander Russell (Director of the UConn Center for Voting Technology Research)
  • Dan Rosenthal (Former Democratic first selectman for the Town of Newtown)
  • Lindsay Farrell (Senior political strategist for the national Working Families Party)
  • Ann Reed (Vice president of advocacy for the League of Women Voters of Connecticut)
  • Patricia Spruance (Town clerk for the Town of Windham and president of the Connecticut Town Clerks Association)
  • Cheri Quickmire (Executive director of Common Cause in Connecticut)

(photo credit: Campaign Legal Center)

Twenty-nine states use ranked-choice voting in certain primaries and elections, and in recent years its use was implemented broadly and successfully in Maine and Alaska.

In 2023, legislation drafted by bipartisan co-sponsors was introduced in Connecticut that, among other things, would have given municipalities the option of using ranked-choice voting in municipal elections for single-winner offices and would have given political parties the option of using ranked-choice voting in presidential preference primaries.

That bill – Senate Bill 389 – received a public hearing in the Government Administration and Elections Committee, however, the committee did not take a vote to advance the bill before its deadline.

I penned an opinion piece with Scott Muller in favor of Ranked Choice Voting in 2023. Please click on the image below to check it out. 


Wrong Way Detection Installation at Exit 85 Northbound Off-Ramp from I-95 to Bridge Street in Groton

CTDOT is announcing that a wrong-detection installation will be performed at the Exit 85 northbound off-ramp from I-95 to Bridge Street in Groton on Friday, May 24, 2024.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) is announcing that a wrong-way detection installation will be performed at the Exit 85 northbound off-ramp from I-95 to Bridge Street in Groton on Friday, May 24, 2024. The project involves excavating and relocating a wrong-way detection system at the Exit 85 northbound off-ramp from I-95 to Bridge Street in Groton.


Motorists can expect a temporary sidewalk and right-lane closure to occur at the Exit 85 northbound off-ramp from I-95 to Bridge Street in Groton. Traffic will be directed to use the left lane at the Exit 85 northbound off-ramp to access Bridge Street in Groton. Variable message boards will be set up approximately one (1) week before the start of this project. Crash attenuator vehicles and signing patterns will guide motorists through the work zone. The work schedule for this project is from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Friday.

Motorists should be aware that modifications or extensions to this schedule may become necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions. Motorists are advised to maintain a safe speed when driving in this area.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation announced a milling a resurfacing project will be performed on Service Route 649 (Rainville Hill Road/Poquonnock Road/High Rock Road/Tower Avenue) in Groton starting next Thursday, May 23.

The milling segment will take place on Thursday, May 23 through Tuesday, May 28 and the resurfacing segment is anticipated to take place Monday, June 17 through Tuesday, June 25.

Motorists can expect lane closures to occur on Service Route 649 from Route 349 (Clarence B. Sharp Highway) to 0.13 mi. south of the Groton/New London Airport drive in Groton. Groton Town Police and City Police, traffic control personnel, crash attenuator vehicles and signing patterns will guide motorists through the work zone.

Guiderail Installation on I-95 North and Southbound in Groton and East Lyme
CTDOT is announcing that a guide rail installation will be performed on I-95 north and southbound in Groton and East Lyme starting May 6, 2024.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) is announcing that a guide rail installation will be performed on I-95 north and southbound in Groton and East Lyme. This project is scheduled to begin on Monday evening, May 6, through Friday morning, August 30, 2024. Work will end at 6:00 a.m. on Friday, May 24 until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, due to the Memorial Day holiday and from 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 3 until 8:00 p.m. on Monday, July 8, 2024, due to the Independence Day holiday.

The CTDOT will conduct a hybrid public information meeting (in-person and virtual) concerning pedestrian improvements on the Southbound Gold Star Memorial Bridge and both approaches in New London and Groton on Monday, June 24, 2024, at 7:00 p.m.

The hybrid public information meeting is being held to allow the public and local community an opportunity to offer comments or ask questions regarding the proposed project. The meeting will be held in person in the New London City Hall Building at 181 State Street in New London. The meeting will also take place on Zoom (registration required) and livestreamed on YouTube. A question and answer (Q&A) session will immediately follow the presentation. For instructions on how to access the meeting, and ways to provide comments and ask questions, please click on the image below.

(photo credit The Day)

The Gold Star Memorial Bridge is a key connection between New London and Groton for pedestrians and cyclists across the Thames River. The only way to travel between cities by non-vehicular modes is via a five-foot-wide sidewalk adjacent to the right I-95 Southbound travel lane on the Gold Star Southbound bridge. This Shared Use Path (SUP) connection across the Thames River has been in regional and state plans for a long time, intending to improve the safety and accessibility of the non-motorized traveling public between New London and Groton. The project consists of widening the existing sidewalk on the Southbound Gold Star Bridge and the east and west approaches to the bridge, as well as adding a spur path that connects to Williams Street in New London and reconfiguring the Bridge Street intersection in Groton.

There are right-of-way impacts associated with the proposed improvements. Temporary easements are anticipated for construction access. No permanent right-of-way impacts are anticipated.

Construction is anticipated to begin in the Summer of 2028 based on the availability of funding, acquisition of rights of way, and approval of permits. The estimated construction cost for this project is approximately $55.5 million. This project is anticipated to be undertaken using 90% federal funds and 10% state funds.

Individuals with limited internet access can listen to the meeting by calling (877) 853-5257 and entering Meeting ID 852 7950 4911. Individuals with hearing and/or speech disabilities may dial 711 for Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS).  Individuals with limited internet access may also request that project information be mailed to them within one week by contacting Tracey Brais at DOT.GoldStarBridgeProjects@ct.gov or (860) 594-3171. 

Language assistance may be requested by contacting the CTDOT Language Assistance Call Line at (860) 594-2109. Requests should be made at least five business days before the meeting. Language assistance is provided at no cost to the public and efforts will be made to respond to timely requests for assistance. 

The meeting will be hosted in person in the New London City Hall Building at 181 State Street in New London and virtually on Zoom. The meeting will also be live-streamed on the CTDOT YouTube channel; no registration is required. Non-English language closed captioning will be available on Zoom and YouTube. The recording will also be posted immediately following the meeting in the list of CTDOT virtual public meetings at portal.ct.gov/ctdotVPIMarchive.

Members of the public can submit comments and questions during the two-week public comment period following the meeting. Please submit comments and questions by July 8, 2024, to DOT.GoldStarBridgeProjects@ct.gov and (860) 594-2020. Please reference State Project No. 0094-0267 in the email or voicemail.



Have you had the chance to complete the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan survey yet? If not, do it now! Share your thoughts on how to make Groton safer, more accessible, and easier to navigate. Please click HERE. Hay tambien una versión en español de la encuesta, please click HERE.

You can still register online for Tour De Noank, courtesy of Town of Groton Parks & Recreation! We're encouraging ALL community members to participate. It's all about being healthy and active in the community while enjoying the scenic sites Noank offers. Don't compete, just complete! See you Saturday morning at Esker Point Beach! Register HERE. A map of the route is below.

Wear orange this weekend for Gun Violence Awareness!
Do not hesitate to contact me with any thoughts or concerns you may have at Aundre.Bumgardner@cga.ct.gov or 1-800-842-8267.


Aundré Bumgardner
State Representative


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