Update - December 22

December 22, 2023

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Dear Neighbor,

From my family to yours, I want to take a moment to send my best wishes for the holiday season and express that it is my sincere honor to represent you and work on issues that matter to our community and Connecticut.

Remember that as we celebrate, we also share many blessings, so in the spirit of the season, please spread joy and make these holidays truly special.

I hope the holidays bring you peace, happiness and good health today, tomorrow, in the New Year, and beyond it.

Welcoming $2 Million in State Bond Funds for Friendly Hands Food Bank
I am pleased to announce that the State Bond Commission approved a bond request of $2 million last week to purchase a new building for Torrington's Friendly Hands Food Bank, allowing the organization to expand services to the community.

Nobody should go hungry. The need is great and there is a desire to reach more people once the new location is found and established. I want to thank Governor Ned Lamont, the State Bond Commission, and the Speaker's Office for seeing and fulfilling the needs of Friendly Hands Food Bank, serving Torrington and the entire northwest corner of Connecticut.

"Thirty-two years ago, Friendly Hands Food Bank was established to fight food insecurity in the basement of Maureen Hubert's home on King Street in Torrington," said Danny Hartnett, Friendly Hands Food Bank's Board President. "In 2000, it was relocated just down the street to the current location at 50 King Street. Over the years, the client base was consistent. Then the pandemic hit in 2020 and the client numbers began to climb. Today's number exceeds 5,700 clients. Contained in the 5,700 are all daycare facilities and senior facilities in Torrington and Winsted, plus our clients that visit us daily at the King Street location. As numbers continued to climb, the 1,600 square foot space became smaller, and storage capacity became very limited. We've had to rely on several community partners to store items for us."

"Our current location in a residential area does not allow for public distributions, which have become a staple that our community desperately needs," said Karen Thomas, Executive Director of Friendly Hands Food Bank. "We are beyond excited to accommodate all who face food insecurity in Connecticut, by utilizing a larger facility and adding much-needed programs. We are grateful to Governor Lamont, Representative Cook, and all at the State of Connecticut who have made this expansion possible to address food insecurity in Connecticut."

"Every corner of the current location has been maxed out and the increase in traffic to this residential neighborhood has become burdensome to the neighbors," said Torrington Mayor Elinor Carbone. "We are tremendously grateful that the State of Connecticut recognizes the criticality of this service to our community and the necessity to move this operation to a larger space that guarantees integrity and dignity in food distribution. This grant will allow Friendly Hands Food Bank to continue to provide support for our community well into the future."

Friendly Hands Food Bank and I will host the second annual "Food Insecurity Day" at the State Capitol on April 25, 2024, at 11 a.m.

To learn more about Friendly Hands Food Bank, visit www.fhfb.org.

To read the Register Citizen article, click HERE or click the graphic below. 

Photo with Governor Lamont, Karen Thomas, and Danny Hartnett following the SBC meeting on December 15. 
My daughter Ashlynn and grandson Dean visiting me at the Capitol on December 15. 
Volunteering at Friendly Hands
I spent some time volunteering this week at Friendly Hands Food Bank, along with members of the Torrington ROTC. Thanks to everyone who donated!

If you find yourself needing help, please call the 2-1-1 Infoline.

Boy Scouts Hold Eagle Court of Honor Ceremony
Congratulations to Jordan Conroy on his recognition as an Eagle Scout as well as the other scouts recognized for their badge and rank achievements.
New Laws Effective January 1, 2024
As we ring in the new year, some laws become effective on January 1 that were passed during the 2023 legislative session addressing key issue areas including early voting, health and mental health, and online privacy and data protection.

There will also be an increase in the minimum wage effective January 1 from $15.00 to $15.69 made possible through legislation passed in 2019, which implemented five incremental increases in the minimum wage followed by future adjustments tied to the percentage change in the federal employment cost index.


Establishes a framework for early, in-person voting requiring a 14-day early voting period for general elections, a seven-day period for most primaries, and a four-day early voting period for special elections and presidential preference primaries.


Includes the creation of a Hospice Hospital at Home pilot program to provide in-home hospice care to patients through in-person visits and telehealth.


Establishes a new license category for freestanding birth centers, an Infant Mortality Relief Program to review medical records and other data on infant deaths and a midwifery working group to study and make recommendations on advancing choices for community birth care.


Makes various changes to laws on data privacy and related issues, including provisions on consumer health data, minors’ social media accounts and online services, online dating operators, and a task force on internet crimes against children.


Among many supportive measures, creates a plan to establish a Transitional Life Skills College program to support certain people with IDD who are transitioning out of high school or to independent living.


Expands eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress injuries to all employees covered by the workers’ compensation law.

List of New Laws Effective January 1, 2024
Your calls, emails, and testimony at public hearings during the legislative session had a direct influence on these new laws. Thank you for your input, and please continue sharing your views and making your voice heard during our legislative process.
Connecticut Automatic Admission Program
The state is offering a new resource allowing some high school seniors to apply for certain local colleges and universities for free through the Connecticut Automatic Admission Program. Graduating Connecticut high schoolers, who meet eligibility guidelines, will be automatically admitted to several participating colleges and universities. All they have to do is fill out one application form!

Graduating seniors in the top 30% of their class, as identified by their individual high school counselors, are eligible. The deadline to apply for high school seniors who are graduating this spring is January 4, 2024. The goal of the program is to simplify the application process and make it easier for families to seek higher education.

The colleges and universities currently participating include:
  • Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven
  • University of New Haven, New Haven
  • University of Bridgeport, Bridgeport
  • Central Connecticut State University, New Britain
  • Western Connecticut State University, Danbury
  • Mitchell College, New London
  • University of St. Joseph, West Hartford
  • Goodwin University, East Hartford
  • Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic
Scam Alert from Torrington PD
An important message from Chief Bill Baldwin: The Torrington Police Department wants the public to be aware of a scam that is taking place in which innocent victims are falling prey to these fraudulent scams. Scammers use various methods and tactics to convince people that they are wanted or that they have unpaid parking tickets that need to be taken care of. These criminals will impersonate police officers identifying themselves as a law enforcement or court official. The department received 3 such inquiries in one day from people who had been contacted by a scammer identifying themselves as a member of the Torrington Police Department.

A recent scam utilized the legitimate name of a Torrington Police officer convincing this person that they needed to take care of police-related business. The scammer indicated that an over-the-phone payment would resolve any legal or outstanding issues with the police department. They further threaten the individual with arrest if they fail to pay a penalty or fine. It's crucial to understand that no legitimate law enforcement agency or government body would demand payment in Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, through gift cards, nor would they ask for any credit card or bank information. If you receive such a request, it's likely a scam. Hang up the phone!

While a police officer may call a person involved in an investigation, under no circumstances does the Torrington Police Department request payment information over the phone to resolve any legitimate issue. Under no circumstances should anyone give personal information over the phone or the internet that includes your social security number, date of birth, etc. If individuals suspect that they may have an outstanding issue with a police department, they should hang up the phone with the scammer and call their local police department using the legitimate police department phone number and ask to speak with an officer. Be aware of these scams and do not become a victim. If, unfortunately, you do become a victim, contact your local police department to report the crime.


Michelle Cook

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