Update - February 9

February 9, 2024

We are off and running! Session 2024 convened on February 7, and below you'll find some photos from the day. With less than 100 days in this short session, we have a lot to accomplish in a short period of time. As always, if my office can assist you, please call 860-240-8585 or email michelle.cook@cga.ct.gov.
This e-newsletter includes:
  • Opening Day of Session 2024
  • Legislative Priorities
  • Optimizing Early Learning Policy Event
  • Northwestern CT Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast
  • DoAG Grants coming to Torrington
  • St. Jude "Tim Driscoll" Telethon Food and Bake Sale Needs Volunteers
  • Mark your calendars for Torrington Parks & Recreation's Easter Event
  • Play it Safe This Weekend When it Comes to "The Big Game"
Opening Day of Session
Wednesday, the members of the Connecticut General Assembly converged on the State Capitol for the 2024 legislative session. I've been here since first elected in 2008, and the energy and excitement of "Opening Day" never gets old.

One of the first things I did that morning was sit down with the CT Conference for Municipalities "The Municipal Voice" to discuss priorities for this short legislative session. You can watch the interview below.   

CT Council of Municipalities "The Municipal Voice" interview on Wednesday morning prior to the start of the session. 
Welcoming visitors from Taiwan to the House Chamber on Opening Day.
2024 Legislative Priorities
As the 2024 legislative session kicks off, here are some of the priorities that CT House Democrats have for this year. I'm happy to see childcare is a priority this year. 
Optimizing Early Learning Policy
Please consider joining us for this event on February 27. Joining us is Dana Suskind, MD, the author of "Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child's Potential, Fulfilling Society's Promise.' RSVP to megan.villanova@cga.ct.gov.
Northwest CT Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast
I was happy to join fellow legislator Rep. Jay Case this morning at the Northwest CT Chamber's legislative breakfast. 
Torrington to Receive CT Department of Agriculture Grant
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) is awarding 53 grants totaling more than $2.8 million through its Connecticut Grown for Connecticut Kids Grant (CTG4CTK Grant) to increase the availability of local foods in child nutrition programs, allow educators to use hands-on educational techniques to teach students about nutrition and farm-to-school connections, sustain relationships with local farmers and producers, enrich the educational experience of students, improve the health of children in the state and enhance the state's economy.

Torrington has been awarded two different grants:

  • (Track 1: K-12 Local Procurement Assistance) Torrington Public Schools "Eating With Your Eyes" program was one of the chosen recipients. With this grant, Torrington is looking to assist TPS workers to prepare and present local produce to the students and staff. The TPS farm-to-school initiative began in the 22-23 school year and continues to grow. TPS wants to find creative ways to present and incorporate more of the produce available to them in their daily cooking. Torrington Public Schools also received a grant in 2022.

CT DoAg received 106 applications with 88 deemed eligible after an administrative review, totaling more than $5.3 million in requested grant funds. Selection was highly competitive, and the review was conducted by a statutorily authorized review panel and Commissioner Hurlburt. This is the third round of the program, which was funded for two years as a pilot through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and administered in collaboration with the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) and the Connecticut Farm to School Collaborative (FTSC) and now has up to $1 million available to award annually for the next two years. Eligible entities were able to apply for up to $50,000 in funding with no match required.

  • (Track 5: Shipping Container Growing Unit) Torrington'sThy Neighbors Farm is receiving one of eight shipping container growing unit awards, through a fifth track added this year. Thy Neighbors Farm proposed purchasing a shipping container growing farm that utilizes solar power, and five indoor in-school hydroponic growing systems, to enable an educational and nutritional partnership with the Torrington Public School District and the Torrington Teen Center. Food produced will be made available to schools through the NWCT Food Hub.

This year a fifth track was added for Shipping Container Growing Units, with $2 million authorized during the 2023 legislative session utilizing state American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. There were 15 applications requesting more than $3.6 million for this track with eight awardees receiving more than $1.9 million.

To learn more about the CTG4CTK Grant, including success stories from previous recipients, please visit https://portal.ct.gov/DOAG/ADaRC/ADaRC/Grants/CT-Grown-for-CT-Kids-Grant/Success-Stories.

St. Jude "Tim Driscoll" Telethon Food & Bake Sale Needs Volunteers, Donations, & Supplies
Torrington Parks & Recreation to Host Annual Easter Event
Mark your calendars for March 16, as Torrington Parks and Recreation is happy to announce its 2024 Easter Event/Egg Hunt!
Play it Safe When it Comes to
"The Big Game"

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT), U.S. Department of Transportation, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are reminding the public that designated drivers are the best defense against the dangers of impaired driving. If celebrating "The Big Game" involves alcohol or cannabis, plan for a ride with a sober driver, or stay at home. If you’re hosting the party, take care of the designated drivers, and give extra care to making sure those who are driving home aren’t impaired.

The Big Game should be enjoyed responsibly and safely. There are plenty of options to help impaired drivers get home safely, such as designating a sober driver, calling a taxi or rideshare service, or using public transportation. If you see an impaired driver on the road, do not hesitate to call 911.