Thank You Canton, Maternal Mental Health Day, Bills Passed So Far, HB5399 Moves On

May 1, 2024

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Dear Neighbor,

Please click on the video below for the opening to this week's newsletter:

Thank you, Canton!
We had a great turnout Saturday morning at Little Oak Cafe for the Climate Coffee and Conversation. We focused on HB5004–our big climate initiative this session as well as some of the bills focused on solar, the Farmington River (now the 6th most endangered river), and organic waste material/composting.
Thank you to
CT League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and CT Coalition for Climate Action for joining me and to all who showed up because they care about our state and our planet!
And, hopefully, by the time you read this, we will have passed HB5004 through the House.
Today is World Maternal Mental Health Day
Maternal mental health problems are the most common serious complication of pregnancy and the postnatal period worldwide. Despite this, it continues to be an overlooked area for research and service investment.
Anyone can experience a perinatal mental health problem, and we must combat stigma and shame.
The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline, 1-833-852-6262 (1-833-TLC-MAMA), provides 24/7, free, confidential support before, during, and after pregnancy.
In The House This Week
I'm committed to the health and well-being of our community’s families and children by joining my colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass HB5003, AN ACT CONCERNING CHILD AND FAMILY NUTRITION unanimously. This comprehensive legislation ensures that mothers and children eligible for federal benefits, such as WIC, are enrolled in these programs easily and confidently. This bill aims to reduce barriers to participation in WIC.

WIC (Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, Children) enrollment in Connecticut is among the lowest enrollment rates in the country at 46%. Not maximizing participation in this program results in worse outcomes for the health and nutrition of young children. 

This bill:
  • Keeps Connecticut families healthy: It allows Connecticut agencies to more easily enroll children and parents who qualify into federal nutrition assistance programs to keep our families healthy.
  • Promotes outreach and information to access these federal programs that Connecticut underutilizes.
  • Promotes Connecticut farmers by supporting them to participate in these programs at farmers markets. 

When we grow healthy children, they are less likely to develop nutrition-related chronic diseases, they are at a lower risk of cavities/tooth decay, they have improved mental health, and they have improved participation in other social service programs. In general, children are better off when their families participate in WIC.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. The 2024 legislative session ends on May 8.

Other bills we passed on Tuesday, include:

HB 5279 - Expands eligibility for families of firefighters and police officers who die in the line of duty to receive benefits.
HB 5399 - Protects victims of sexual assault by improving the training and responsibilities of first responders and the Office of Victim Services.
SB 396 - Implements task force recommendations for the elderly nutrition program.
HB 5422 - Strengthens the response to hate and bias crimes.

For the complete list of bills passed in the House during the 2024 session so far, please click HERE.

HB5399 Moves On
When journalist Rachel DeLeone reached out to me last spring to discuss her Netflix documentary Victim/Suspect, I don’t think I realized how much that phone call could change lives.
Yesterday, the House unanimously voted out
HB5399, AAC THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESPONSE TO VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT. This legislation is a result of work with the Public Safety Committee, the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the Judicial Branch, Avon’s Police Chief Paul Melanson, and my esteemed colleagues State Representative Jillian Gilchrest and State Representative Kate Farrar.
While we await passage in the Senate, we know that once passed, this legislation will change the lives of survivors of sexual assault for the better.
HB5272 Moves On, Too

Earlier this week, we passed HB5272, AAC THE ENFORCEMENT OF REQUIREMENTS IMPOSED BY CERTAIN MUNICIPAL APPROVALS AND THE NEW HOME CONSTRUCTION GUARANTY FUND. This bill was a direct result of the experience of constituents in Avon who experienced various hardships at the hands of Sunlight Construction.

The bill adjusts the town’s ability to find a home builder if they are nearly completed with development and they create a public safety or public health hazard because of a lengthy work stoppage. It also improves access to the New Home Construction Guaranty Fund (NHCGF) by allowing for an aggrieved party to apply for $50,000 (instead of the previous award of $30,000) either through a civil OR criminal judgment. Previously, only civil judgments were allowed.

While we cannot go back in time to fix everything that has happened, we can certainly prevent further damage from happening to other consumers. And as my Republican ranking member Representative Joe Zullo shared during the debate, this bill is probably the “most consumer bill we have passed this session.” I’m proud to have written this bill in the Planning and Development Committee and look forward to its passage in the Senate.

 A Bright Fiscal Outlook for Connecticut 
Connecticut’s fiscal forecast is brighter than ever. It is strong, steady, and balanced. To read the full April 2024 consensus revenue forecast, please click on the image below. 
AANHPI Heritage Month
Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities play an essential role in writing the American story. Let’s spend this month celebrating and elevating AANHPI voices and stories.


Eleni Kavros DeGraw
State Representative


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