Weekly News May 28 - June 3June 2, 2017
There is plenty of news to share from the Capitol this week, but I'd like to start by discussing a piece of national news that hit very close to home.
From the Hartford Courant
EHHS teachers before the rally
Last week, Education Secretary Betsy Devos painted East Hartford High School as a failing, out-of-control school during testimony in front of the House Appropriations subcommittee. She recounted a conversation with a former student named Michael who called the school a "dangerous daycare."
As a life-long resident, proud graduate of EHHS, former EH Board of Education Chairman, and now an EH State Representative, I couldn't disagree with Devos' testimony more. EHHS students, alumni, and teachers challenged Devos' narrative at a protest Tuesday morning. Click here to see a video from the Hartford Courant. Several students also wrote an op-ed published in the Hartford Courant sharing their positive experiences at EHHS.
It's unfortunate that Michael didn't have a good high school experience - we can all agree that every student should feel safe and supported in their school. Michael's experience is as valid as any other student's and we should not attack him, but rather focus on Devos' irresponsible use of his story.
I was in high school with Michael (I was a senior when he was a freshman) and my experience could not have been more different. For the Secretary to characterize an entire school based on the anecdote of one student who graduated 17 years ago is reckless and unfair to the students and all of the people who work hard every day to provide them a quality education.
I'm proud of the students and faculty for standing up and taking pride in their school. Their efforts even got the attention of national publications, like in this TIME article. We should continue to work to improve our schools, but Devos' antagonizing comments that attempt to push her personal and privileged agenda do not help us do that.
Tellingly, Devos has never been to EHHS. She has been invited to visit by Congressman John Larson and Superintendent Quesnel, but has not taken them up on the offer. She doesn't know our school, and we won't allow her to define us.
During the last full week of the legislative session, the focus has naturally been on the budget. On Wednesday we passed a budget deficit mitigation plan that will close the $317 million deficit for the current fiscal year ending June 30. While there are no easy solutions, our plan reverses the Governor's proposal to make last-minute cuts to municipal grants, hospitals, and state parks. Negotiations are continuing on the state budget for the next two fiscal years.
Resources for opioid and drug addiction
This week we passed a bill to build on previous steps to combat Connecticut's opioid epidemic. House Bill 7052, An Act Preventing Prescription Opioid Diversion and Abuse, passed the House unanimously. This bill institutes the following proactive measures:
- Reduces the maximum opioid drug prescription for minors from 7 days to 5 days and maintains current law that allows a prescribing practitioner to exceed that limit if they feel it is medically necessary and document it in the medical record
- Requires individual and group health insurers to cover medically necessary detox treatment, so that those looking for help cannot be turned away due to insurance issues
- Allows a home health care RN to oversee the disposal of controlled substances, including going to a prescription drug drop box
- Requires providers to discuss the risk and signs of addiction and the potential dangers of drug interactions with all opioid prescriptions
- Allows patients to file a voluntary non-opioid form in their medical records indicating that they do not want to be prescribed or administered opioid drugs
You can view a list of all the bills passed so far by the House this session here.
Monday was Memorial Day, and throughout the weekend there were many events honoring those who have lost their lives serving our country.
I attended a ceremony on Friday evening at East Hartford High School, where they displayed a Memorial Wall made up of the names of fallen service members.
The Memorial Wall at East Hartford High School
Iron Hornet Presentation: CPT Michael Vaughan presents a check for $1,000 to Mark Rivard, Commander, Disabled Veterans Department of Connecticut
On Thursday evening I attended East Hartford's Adult Education graduation. Congratulations to all of the graduates!
The graduation recognized 14 GED grads, 10 credit diploma grads, 3 new U.S. citizens, 2 national external diploma grads, and 19 ESL achievement certifications.
Keynote speaker James Tillman giving his address
Marwa Akel, a Syrian refugee and student in the ESL program and Integrated English Language Civics Acquisition class, addresses the audience
Anthony Mangiafico, Director of EH Adult and Continuing Education, welcoming graduates and guests to the ceremony
SW Board of Education member, Mary Justine Hockenberry and CT Department of Education Commissioner Wentzell
Congratulations to South Windsor Schools for being designated one of the "Outstanding Programs" by the The Red, White and Blue Schools initiative. The initiative is a collaborative effort of the CT State Department of Education and The Office of the Secretary of the State.
Each year a theme is announced by the Red, White and Blue Advisory Committee. Schools are encouraged to teach the theme through interdisciplinary activities, whole school events, extracurricular clubs/activities, student-centered learning and community outreach. Learn more here.
Recently there was a tour of the new Orchard Hill Elementary School. The School is set to open in August 2017, and is part of the South Windsor Elementary Schools Plan. We can look forward to groundbreaking events in 2019 for both Eli Terry and Philip R. Smith Elementary Schools. It's great to see the results of the hard work of parents, teachers, and community members who made this happen! Learn more about the elementary schools plan here.
The grand opening ceremony of the United Technologies Research Center was held at the company's headquarters in East Hartford this afternoon. While I could not attend because the House is in Session, Governor Malloy, Senator Blumenthal, Congressman John Larson, and EH Mayor Marcia Leclerc were all in attendance.
This state-of-the-art research and development facility will serve as an aerospace innovation hub, containing more than 100,000 square feet of office space and world-class engineering labs. The new facility significantly expands its research capabilities in the areas of intelligent systems, advanced materials and manufacturing, and revolutionary propulsion and power technologies.
Congratulations to The Friends of Wood Memorial Library in South Windsor for being awarded a grant under the StEps grantline supported by the Community Investment Act for the State of Connecticut! StEps is a program aimed at building capacity of local heritage organizations to better serve their communities.
The $4,949 grant is to create an interpretive plan for their new Native American Village. Wood Memorial Library has a great collection of Native American artifacts and recently received a grant from the Department of Economic and Community Development to create a new Native American Village. The StEps grant will allow them to develop stories to help interpret the structures and artifacts.
Learn more about the Native American Village here.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation is announcing that a nighttime bridge maintenance project will be performed on I-84 eastbound, beginning Monday, June 5.
The project consists of bridge maintenance on I-84 EB, Bridge #5844A (Rt. 15 overpass) in East Hartford. This project is scheduled to occur from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 5 to the morning of Friday, June 30.
You can expect lane closures on I-84 EB in East Hartford between Exit 56 to Exit 58. Traffic control personnel and state police will be present to guide motorists through the work zone.
Summer events at Great River Park have begun! The Big Run 5k will be held Wednesday, June 7th at 6:30 pm. Click here for more information on the run and all the events scheduled this summer.
Click here for the town meetings calendar.
Click here for the community events calendar.
The South Windsor Community Band will be performing their free spring concert on Friday, June 9th at 7:00 pm. This event will be held in the Timothy Edwards School auditorium (100 Arnold Way). There will be a light reception following the performance. Learn more here.
Click here for the public meetings calendar.
Click here for the community events calendar.
June 1 to June 10 is Pride Week in Manchester. There will be activities throughout the weekend to celebrate, including a Senior Dance this evening, and an Outdoor Concert in Memorial Park at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 3. Click here for more information about all of the events.
Click here for the full town calendar.
IN THE NEWS
As temperatures begin to rise, it's a good time to raise awareness of the danger of leaving a child alone in a car. 39 children in the United States died from heatstroke due to being left unattended in a car last year. The inside of a parked car can quickly exceed 120 degrees and that can be lethal for children. Click here to learn more.
After two abandoned babies were found in Connecticut in the past two months, it’s clear we need to do more to promote Connecticut’s Safe Haven Law. The Safe Haven law allows anyone to leave an infant, 30 days old or younger, at a hospital emergency room without fear of arrest. More people, especially teenagers and young adults, need to know about Safe Haven. Learn more here.
Last week, the Senate gave final approval to legislation to enhance domestic violence laws and increase penalties for sex trafficking - two bills that I helped pass in the House. It is critical that our domestic violence laws adapt in order to keep up with our changing forms of communication. With threats and harassment made through social media platforms increasing, we must ensure that victims are fully protected under the law. Read more here.
I support the proposed “Passport to Parks” program. A small fee on motor vehicle registrations could ensure state parks stay open and staffed, while actually giving residents a bargain on state park access. Read more here.
Upcoming Meetings and Events
A full calendar of all events happening at the Capitol next week, including public hearings, is available on the General Assembly website.
You can find the agenda for public hearings on the calendar by clicking on the calendar item and following the link to the committee page. For instructions on how to testify at a public hearing, please click here.