Hartford Happenings

March 23, 2018

The legislative session is in full swing, and there's a lot happening at the Capitol and in district!

In our legislative committees we're wrapping up public hearings and voting on bills which, if passed by the committee, may go to the House or Senate for consideration. We've also been holding committee meetings and meeting with state agencies as we finalize any proposals we want to see move forward. Once committee work is done, most of the action will take place when the legislature convenes on session days. Please continue to let your voice be heard and send us your comments, suggestions and concerns.

The crowd hears from Boston Fed Vice President Prabal Chakrabarti

East Hartford is one of five CT communities to win a grant in the Working Cities Challenge, a competition for Connecticut communities to improve the lives of low- and moderate-income residents. EH will receive $450,000 to improve the quality of life in the Silver Lane neighborhood, where I grew up, by improving access to workforce development and educational resources. Recently I attended an event celebrating the winning communities with the leadership of one of the challenge's private partners, Boston Fed. Read more here.

Rep. Delnicki, Sen. Larson and I listen to a South Windsor student discuss her art work

Today Sen. Tim Larson hosted South Windsor Arts Day at the Capitol, where SW students came to the Capitol to showcase their artwork. Students' creations were displayed in the Senate Chamber, and each student addressed the group to tell us about their project. All of the kids should be proud of their hard work - there was a lot of talent on display!

With Safe Haven advocates Doug Hood, former state rep. Pam Sawyer, Katie Leavitt, and Rep Michelle Cook following the public hearing

Recently the Education Committee heard public testimony on a section I proposed within bill HB 5446, to require information about Connecticut's Safe Haven Law be taught within high school health curriculum. The Safe Haven Law allows anyone to leave a newborn baby (30 days old or younger) at a CT hospital with no questions asked, preventing cases of infant abandonment and death.

While the law has saved 27 children to date, incidents of abandonment in the past year have highlighted the need for greater awareness. Distressed teen parents are more vulnerable to making rash decisions, and this bill would ensure that teens know about the Safe Haven Law.

Click here to learn more about the law.

With 5th grade student Greta Lewis at the LOB

Last week there was a "Protect Our Care CT" action day at the Capitol. The Protect Our Care CT campaign aims to preserve and strengthen the gains made by the Affordable Care Act, and defend Medicaid, Medicare and women's health programs.

Greta Lewis, a 5th grade student at the CREC International Magnet school, was working on an exhibition project about access to health care, so she decided to participate in the action day. I had a chance to meet up with her at the legislative office building - awesome job, Greta!

East Hartford students during their walkout

I'm proud of all the Connecticut students who held peaceful walkouts or other events recently to protest gun violence in our schools and around the country. The epidemic of violence that has infected our schools is unacceptable, and it's clear we need reasonable gun-safety measures in order to prevent future school shootings and other gun violence.

In addition to the students in East Hartford (photo above), hundreds of Manchester students walked out of class to a rally where student speakers joined Mayor Jay Moran to talk about gun violence. Read more in this Journal Inquirer article.

At left, CT Department of Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell issued a statement in support of the walkouts and students finding peaceful ways to express themselves. You can also read testimony she gave in Washington, D.C on this issue here.

Read more here about the EH walkout and walkouts at schools across Connecticut.

Earlier this month I celebrated Read Across America Day by reading a story to students at Riverside Magnet School. Read Across America Day is every year on March 2, coinciding with the late Dr. Seuss' birthday. The holiday was created by the National Education Association to help every child celebrate reading. Click here for more information on Read Across America Day.

At the salon grand opening with Rep. Tom Delnicki, SW Town Council Member Mary Justine Hockenberry, owner Lisa Hounshell, and SW Town Council Member Andrew Paterna

I was happy to attend the grand opening of Elements of Design Salon at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor. Owner Lisa Hounshell has been in the salon industry for over 30 years and just recently moved her salon to South Windsor. It was great to welcome another small business to the community!

With state Sen. Beth Bye and True Colors executive director Robin McHaelen

What a turnout! Students painted "the Rock" at UConn for the occasion

Last weekend I attended the 25th Annual True Colors conference at UConn, the largest and most comprehensive LGBTQ+ conference in the country. True Colors is a non-profit organization that works with other social service agencies, schools, organizations, and within communities to ensure that the needs of sexual and gender minority youth are recognized and met.

The event provided seminars for educators, health care providers, social workers and youth on issues of importance to the LGBTQ community. True Colors does great work for our LGBTQ youth, and it was a pleasure to join them to mark their 25th annual conference. Learn more abut their work at www.ourtruecolors.org

As we continue our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in Connecticut, we now have a new tool at our disposal. The CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services recently announced their statewide public awareness campaign Change the Script.

The campaign is designed to provide communities, healthcare providers, pharmacists, and residents with information on the prescription drug and opioid misuse and overdose crisis that is plaguing Connecticut and the nation.

Ready-to-use Change the Script campaign materials are being distributed by the state to local health departments, local prevention councils, healthcare providers, pharmacists, and other community partners with information on three main topics: prevention, treatment, and recovery.


As part of the Change the Script Campaign, there will be an Opioid Community Forum on April 4 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Community Cultural Center Auditorium (50 Chapman Place). Learn more here.

Click here for the town meetings calendar.

Click here for the community events calendar.


Where’s the bus? Learn the ins and outs of bus transportation in South Windsor on Tuesday, March 27 at 10:30 AM at Town Council Chambers (1540 Sullivan Ave). For more information, click here.

Click here for the public meetings calendar.

Click here for the community events calendar.


The Manchester Land Trust will host a free Rail Trail Hike this Sunday, March 25 at 1:00 p.m. It will be an easy 3-mile walk along the former railroad, hiking along the one-mile portion owned by the Manchester Land Conservation Trust and on to Center Springs Park and the footbridge overlooking Broad Street. Click here for more information.

Click here for the full town calendar.


There is still time to apply for assistance under the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program. The general deadline for applications is May 1, 2018, however eligible households that are subject to a shut-off notice by a utility for heating bills have an extended deadline of May 15.

Those seeking assistance under the program should call 2-1-1 or visit www.ct.gov/staywarm for guidance about the program and application sites.

The Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) has launched its 2018 Arts Workforce Initiative (AWI) which is designed to provide internship opportunities for Connecticut college students, emerging professionals and military veterans at Connecticut not-for-profit arts and cultural organizations. 28 individuals will be placed with selected host organizations for a ten-week, paid internship starting June 4, 2018 through August 17, 2018. Applications must be received no later than midnight Sunday, April 8. Find the application here.

The developer for the planned East Hartford outlet shops has announced that the project has been canceled. While many were excited about the potential of the project, I hope the town can now seek other appropriate development for the area that will bring well-paying jobs which provide quality health insurance. The right project can provide new job opportunities for EH residents. Read more here.

Farmington Bank's new branch office in Manchester is opening today at 299 Middle Turnpike West. To commemorate its new location in Manchester, Farmington Bank will host a month-long Grand Opening celebration at the branch office from Saturday, March 31 through Saturday, April 28. A highlight is the Saturday, April 7 appearance of Tim Wakefield, former Major League Baseball star knuckleball pitcher and Farmington Bank’s celebrity spokesperson. Wakefield will be in attendance from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to meet the public and sign baseballs.

Find a list of store closings and new store openings at Buckland Mall and the surrounding area here.