Early Voting Underway, HB5004: A Climate & Legislative Priority And A Great Debate

March 27, 2024

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Dear Neighbor,

Slowly but surely, we are heading to the part of session where we will be in session more days than we are not. I think it’s the best time of session when the building is alive with energy and we are all steadily working to get bills across the finish line.
This past Monday, we celebrated Women’s History Month with the bipartisan women’s caucus. Women now make up 37% of our legislature.
We also celebrated the 203rd anniversary of Greek Independence Day. As a proud Greek-American, I am always pleased to see my fellow Greeks gather to celebrate our culture and our history and to be able to share that with my colleagues.
Also included today is information on the upcoming Women’s Business Development Day at the Capitol as well as an upcoming small business event.
Finally, I chose to share an exchange today on the Planning and Development Committee between one of my members, my Senate co-chair, and myself on HB5174 AAC TEMPORARY SHELTER UNITS FOR PERSONS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS LOCATED ON REAL PROPERTY OWNED BY RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS. There has been some misinformation about the bill and I think the debate illustrates that as well as the article I’ve shared below.
What I know for sure is, that we have over 1,000 people sleeping outside (that we know of) and as we come to the end of March, the cold weather shelters are closing so that number will increase. We have lines at shelters where dozens of people are turned away each night. And for the first time, since numbers have been kept, we have a large population of over 55, many of them women, who are now homeless. We need to find creative ways to create more beds so that we can save people’s lives and give them back their dignity.

As always, I appreciate you reading the e-news and please reach out if I can be of any assistance.

Have a great week,


Early voting for the 2024 CT presidential preference primary began on Tuesday. If you haven't done so, you still have time. Please click on the image below for available dates, polling stations, and more.
Nothing is better than voting with friends! I was excited to take advantage of voting early for the Presidential Primary on the first day Connecticut has ever offered early voting. The signage was clear, the process was easy, and I am grateful to our poll workers for their service.

As a reminder, the regular date for voting in the Presidential Primary is Tuesday, April 2, 2024.
I'm excited to share my commitment to protecting the environment and working to combat climate change. HB 5004 "An Act Concerning the Implementation of Certain Climate Change Measures," was subject to an Environment Committee public hearing on March 8 and was passed out of the Environment Committee 23-11 last week. It now heads to the House Floor for consideration.
The bill, referred to as the 2024 Connecticut Climate Protection Act, is a priority for the House Democratic Caucus.
The bill seeks to respond to the climate crisis by:

1) Updating the Global Warming Solutions Act to make Connecticut's greenhouse gas emissions targets more in line with other states in the region;
2) Creating incentives for businesses that engage in clean economy sectors or employ environmentally sustainable practices;
3) Developing plans for transitioning to a clean economy, including workforce training and long-term policy implementation;
4) Supporting nature-based solutions, such as preserving marshlands and forests.

With this bill, we're saying that sustainability is not only the right thing to do but also the smart, economically competitive thing to do. 

As we talk about basic human rights, I find including housing is important. I say this because while I guess that if you are reading this, you have a home, you might not think of that home as a basic human right.
We live in the suburbs, and I often hear, “We don’t have a homelessness problem.” That’s not entirely true. If you become homeless while living in Avon or Canton, where would you most likely go? To Hartford, right? Because you probably know that is where the services are. But what if you didn’t have to leave your community because a place of worship in our community had somewhere for you to go temporarily where you could lock a door behind you and sleep safely and be in a smaller community with others in a similar situation while you can sort out your next steps? Wouldn’t it be great to have that kind of place to go to?
That’s the idea behind
HB5174, AAC TEMPORARY SHELTER UNITS FOR PERSONS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS LOCATED ON REAL PROPERTY OWNED BY RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS, which would allow temporary tiny shelters (up to eight) on property owned by religious institutions. They would have to meet public health, public safety, and building code requirements that the town sets forth. The religious institution would need to provide bathrooms and showers. Tents and other temporary structures would not count. If you take a look at Rosette Villages in New Haven - please click HERE - you’ll get a sense of what is being talked about.
During the debate of the bill and before voting the amended bill out of committee, there were some difficult comments made about the “grave violence” that could be visited on communities and the “parade of horribles” that might ensue. It was captured pretty well

All I can think is that there is a misunderstanding on the part of my colleague about who is homeless and why they are homeless. In addition, treating human beings as less than human, whom a short while ago, you wouldn’t have treated that way, all because of the difference of physical structure seems like a pretty odd way to look at a fellow human being. The clip below is a little longer than our usual clips, but I do hope you’ll take the time to listen.
While this bill isn’t the entire solution, it is a really good start to housing the unhoused, treating them with dignity, getting them the services they need to get back on their feet, and ultimately getting them into transitional and then permanent housing. We can do better by people and we should.

I wanted to remind you that those with financial hardships or medical issues due to a serious illness have not been eligible for termination due to nonpayment since March 2020, which stems from the COVID-19 pandemic, and a longstanding statutory moratorium that annually safeguards Connecticut residents from winter shut-offs from November 1 to May 1.   

If you get one of these notices, my office can work with you to help contact utility companies directly to set up a payment plan to avoid service disruption. These plans charge no interest, and all customers qualify at least once for one or more of the plans. Please see the graphics below for contact information for the utility companies and the available payment plan options for eligible customers.

After connecting with utility companies, customers may additionally contact PURA’s customer affairs unit for specific questions regarding payment arrangements. As a reminder, utility companies will never call threatening to shut off power and demanding immediate payment. 
As you might have noticed, Instagram’s sneaky rollout of a new content-filtering tool limiting political content began over the weekend. This was a default setting made for many accounts without ever directly informing users. To keep your followers in the loop, we’ve put together a post for you to share that includes a step-by-step guide on how to change their settings and keep seeing “political” posts.
Some good news…for clarification, this feature limits Instagram and Threads users’ suggestions in Explore, Reels, Feed Recommendations, and Suggested Users. It does NOT affect content from accounts you follow. This means that your followers will still see your posts, but it will be more difficult to reach a new audience.
On Monday, we celebrated Greek Independence Day, an event that is planned each year by UCONN professor Ilias Tomazos. We were able to introduce the new, fabulous four of the Greek caucus, myself, Representative Bill Heffernan, Representative Nicole Klarides-Ditria, and Representative Chris Poulos. We were also joined by former members Representative Demetrios Giannaros and former Minority Leader Themis Klarides.

The day marks the 203rd anniversary of the fight by the Greeks to create what is now modern Greece as an independent nation from the Ottoman Empire. The Greeks were inspired by the American Revolution and the fight for our freedom from England. As we say to commemorate the day, “ΖΗΤΩ ΕΛΛΑΣ!”

The Women's Business Development Council (WBDC) is hosting a Woman Owned Business Day at the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, April 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second floor of the Legislative Office Building. Please click on the flyer below to register.
The Connecticut Small Business Development Center is inviting you to a free webinar entitled "Managing Money in Your Business for Connecticut Small Businesses" on Thursday from 11 a.m. to noon. You can register HERE.

Eleni Kavros DeGraw
State Representative

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