State Capitol Update For The Week of February 16

February 16, 2024

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Dear Friend,

This is my State Capitol update for the week of February 16.

If you prefer to watch rather than read, click on the play button to hear about the issues contained in this newsletter.

With the first full week of the 2024 session now completed, my schedule is dominated by the work of getting committee agendas set for the year ahead.  All the committees on which I sit (Environment and Energy & Technology) and the one I chair (Finance, Revenue, and Bonding) are having informal gatherings and calls with members to discuss the topics ahead, and formal committee meetings at which these topics are voted onto the committee’s agenda for the year.
The ideas for legislation may come from legislators, the Governor, lobbyists, or constituents.  Some have been raised before, others are brand new.  Some have serious hopes of passing this year, others will need years of fine-tuning and constituency building before they get to the finish line.  Legislators can submit proposed bills into our Proposed Bill Request System, or they can write letters to the chairs (and/or email them, call them, or knock on their doors) asking for legislation to be raised. 
In a “short session” (which takes place in even years), legislators are restricted in what they are permitted to propose, as the session is supposed to be more narrowly focused on budgetary adjustments.  As a result, the system takes a little longer to process Proposed Bills, deciding what is permissible this year, and then assigning them to the appropriate committee.  The deadline to submit bills into the system was February 9, and we expect to have all the ones assigned to Finance by the end of the day today.  Committee chairs are not limited in what we decide to take up, however, so the less formal emails, calls and door knocks to lobby us keep right on coming from all those tenacious lawmakers!
Each committee has a deadline by which it must decide what all it intends to take up this year, and the Finance Committee deadline is February 23.  We’ve had one committee meeting to “raise concepts” that we intend to take up this year, and we plan to have our second and final concept-raising meeting on February 21.  This means that all those Proposed Bills that landed in my lap today will become my weekend reading, hopefully in front of a fireplace with my dog Nelly curled up next to me.
Though we don’t have many “session days” when the full legislature meets this early during the season, we did have one on Wednesday of this past week.  We often meet this time of year to confirm judges, for example, as they have specific timetables and terms, or to consider urgent issues that cannot wait. 
This week, in addition to judicial confirmations, we addressed the urgent matter of heating fuel assistance.  On that, we could not afford to wait for the usual committee process to play itself out, as winter would be over by then.  So, we used a process called an “ECert” which allows us to bypass the committee process and vote without having held the usual public hearings.  With strong bipartisan support, we voted to allocate more funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) so that those in need could access a supplemental grant for the remainder of winter and early spring. (See more information in the section below.)  I’m glad to report that the Governor signed the bill very shortly after it passed both the House and Senate. 
We have another long weekend ahead of us, so I hope you have a little extra time to yourselves.  In addition to Presidents’ Day on Monday, tomorrow is apparently Random Acts of Kindness Day.  I plan to put several of the suggestions below on my weekend to do list!
Here’s a list of today’s topics: 
  • Millions Approved for Home Heating Assistance. Click here
  • Spongy Moth salvage project in Cornwall: an update from DEEP. Click here. 
  • Upcoming Events. Click here
Millions Approved for Home Heating Assistance
On Wednesday, we approved $17 million in additional cold weather heating assistance funds – many residents and families who receive assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or Operation Fuel will have access to funds to ensure they can heat their homes through the cold weather season.

This funding ensures that none of our neighbors must choose between paying their bills or freezing.

I am committed to enhancing the safety and quality of life for all residents, and I will continue to do so throughout this legislative session.

Spongy Moth salvage project in Cornwall: an update from DEEP
The spongy moth (gypsy moth) salvage has begun, first near Flat Rocks Road in Cornwall, with the next now beginning in much more visible areas of Mohawk State Forest, off the main entrance from Route 4.  (Note that this has nothing to do with the ski area.) Trees that are marked for removal are dead or dying from heavy defoliations that occurred during spring of 2021 and 2022.  Some have since succumbed (or are in the process of it) from secondary stressors, primarily the two-lined chestnut borer, which attacks weakened and stressed trees.  
While it is uncertain if weather and ground conditions will cooperate the rest of this winter for completion of this operation in entirety, you should be informed that the gates on the main road will be closed next Tuesday Feb. 20 and probably all day on the 21st.  This is when the loggers will be doing the roadside tree felling and it will be too dangerous for any visitors while that is in progress.  The gates near route 4 that are seldom closed, and the gates on Allyn Road, will be closed then, and NO FOOT TRAFFIC will be allowed either.  The goal will be to get these trees down and minimize closure times. Thank you for bearing with DEEP during this temporary inconvenience.   
Note that orange-marked trees are being harvested.  Blue marks represent trees that showed signs of better than expected recovery during 2023 and were marked to STAY.  So blue-marked trees should not be removed unless they have gone downhill since then and the DEEP forester determines that they will become a hazard. 
Northwest Corner Events
The Kent Singers will present The Peace of Wild Things on Sunday, March 10 at 3:00 pm at St. Andrew’s Church in Kent, CT.
The concert features Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, Randall Thompson’s Frostiana, and two pieces by the young American composer, Jake Runestad: The Hope of Loving and The Peace of Wild Things. The concert will be conducted by music director James Knox Sutterfield.

Tickets are $20 in advance online at and at the door, ; tickets and further information are available at 860-619-8110 or at

ICYMI - Upcoming Events
Breakfast with Carnegie Hall Musicians

Students at The Hotchkiss School and Elyse Harney Real Estate invite community members to enjoy a pancake breakfast on Saturday, February 17 to benefit the Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Service (SVAS).  The brunch will take place from 8-10 am in the school's Monahan Event Space on Rte. 112. Music lovers will want to come between 9:15-10 am for performances by student musicians who recently performed at Carnegie Hall. 
Reservations are strongly encouraged as seating is limited.  Those who make reservations will receive a free tagalong of Harney tea. Guests arriving between 8:45-9:00 am are asked to make a $15 donation; a $20 donation is requested from guests who attend the musical performances. 
To reserve your spot please register at email questions to Caroline Burchfield at
CONTACT: Caroline Kenny Burchfield

Region 20 Online Store Now Open

Region 20 is offering an online store for Region 20 apparel and gear. The district store is open from now until Tuesday, February 20.

Registration is required to attend this event. Click here to register. 
It is my honor to represent our district. I look forward to hearing from you about the issues raised in this newsletter, or any other topics you think I should know about. You can email me at or call me at (860)-240-8585. Thanks for reading, and I wish you a safe weekend.

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Maria Horn
State Representative


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