Racial Imbalance Bill, Session Updates, and more

April 19, 2024

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Happy Friday! It was an exciting and busy week at the Capitol. 

First, I want to update you on where our bill to amend the Racial Imbalance law stands. I’ve been working on this with Education Committee Co-Chair State Representative Jeff Currey and the State Dept. of Education for nearly a year. I’ve been extremely grateful for their partnership and collaboration. The study component of the bill was cut by the Appropriations Committee (as a result of there being no budget adjustment this session). We have stripped the study from this bill and will continue to put implementation of the law on hold with the understanding we will revisit funding the study in the next biennium. This bill still needs to come before the House and Senate, so nothing is set in stone until it passes both chambers and is signed by the Governor. We are, however, making good progress and I feel optimistic. Click on the picture below to read the CT Post's coverage of the bill.

“Rep. Jennifer Leeper, D-Fairfield, was responsible for the provision regarding racial balance, which is included in a broader education bill. Leeper said Friday she has grown frustrated with the existing racial balance law, which requires non-white students be distributed relatively evenly across a school district, instead of concentrated in certain schools.

Typically, the schools out of compliance with the law are those in majority-white towns that have a significant number of non-white students.

“Really, the schools that are probably models of inclusivity and integration are the ones getting identified by the law, where we know we have racial isolation happening at the vast majority of other schools that are otherwise not captured by this law,” Leeper said.

Leeper argued racial imbalance in some schools largely reflected issues around zoning, including “where people choose to live, where people can afford to live, where we allow for more diversified housing stock.”
Under the proposed bill, the education department would study the effectiveness of existing racial balance policies, assess how those policies have affected students of color, and propose ‘alternative methods for correcting racial imbalances.’”

Working for Fairfield at the Capitol
The House passed the lollipop bill after 4 years of impressive student advocacy from Fairfield’s Jaqueline Glick and Amelia Neubauer! Now it’s up to the Senate
We had "Husky Day" where we welcomed the UConn Men's Basketball team into the House chamber to celebrate their NCAA victory
🏻 The House passed a bill to update building codes to require fences around in-ground pools to prevent accidental drowning. (This was a building code requirement that lapsed a little over a year ago that we are reinstating.)
 I continued to negotiate our Siting Council reform bills with the Governor’s office
  I advocated for 8-30g reform that would award points for middle housing (a policy we are already positioned to benefit from here in Fairfield).
What a week! And that's not all. In this week's eblast, you can read about more of the legislation passed this week, a utility scam alert, and more. You can click on the links below to navigate between sections.
    Cracking Down on Street Takeovers
    Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, street takeovers have become a national issue, including here in Connecticut. These takeovers by the illegal use of all-terrain and other types of vehicles, pose a significant threat to public safety, endangering participants, innocent bystanders, and law enforcement officials. 
    On Wednesday, the House of Representatives took unanimous action to help cities and towns regain control of their streets voting 148-0 to pass HB 5413 to control takeovers, which have proven to be a concern for many of our residents.
    HB 5413 seeks to provide more tools to municipalities in order to combat street takeovers, including:
    • Allowing cities and towns to destroy ATVs, dirt bikes, and motorcycles seized and forfeited for violating a municipal ordinance
    • Authorizing municipalities to adopt ordinances that penalize street takeovers and impose fines as well as the seizure of vehicles
    • Changing and tightening penalties for violating state law on street takeovers, including permanent driver's license revocation for a third violation of the statute

    I am glad to provide additional tools to cities and towns to help deter scary and dangerous street takeovers.

    The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.

    Additional Legislative Updates

    In Case You Missed It: We passed a number of great bills this week! See the list below:

    • HB 5168 - An Act Concerning Solar Installations in Condominiums and Cooperatives
    • HB 5224 - An Act Concerning Shark Finning
    • HB 5225 - An Act Concerning the Recommendations of the Invasive Plants Council
    • HB 5457 - An Act Concerning Nursing Home Waiting Lists
    • HB 5058 - An Act Adopting the Nurse Licensure Compact
    • HB 5169 - An Act Concerning the Requirement to Install Swimming Pool Barriers
    • HB 5190 - An Act Concerning the Historic Homes Rehabilitation Tax Credit
    • HB 5197 - An Act Concerning Social Workers
    • HB 5229 - An Act Concerning the Recommendations of the Eelgrass Working Group
    • HB 5262 - An Act Concerning a Sexual Abuse and Assault Survey
    • HB 5382 - An Act Concerning the Recommendations of the Office of the Child Advocate
    • HB 5409 - An Act Designating Various Days, Weeks, and Months
    Environment Bill on Vegetation and Tree Management
    I started Thursday with an Environment Committee meeting for a bill that was referred from the Transportation Committee. This bill is about an updated plan to address the Department of Transportation's vegetation management and tree clearing. We've experienced the devastating impact of this policy here in Fairfield. I'm worried the language does not go far enough and shared those concerns with the committee. You can see the full meeting here - my comments start at 12:20.
    Earth Day + Community Clean Up
    Monday is Earth Day, and Connecticut is paving the path towards a greener, cleaner future! I'm proud to see our state leading the charge in climate action on this Earth Day and every day. Let's continue to innovate, advocate, and protect our planet for generations to come.

    Sustainable Fairfield hosts their annual Earth Day Celebration this Saturday at the YMCA at 841 Old Post Rd, 10am - 1pm. The Fairfield delegation will be hosting a panel at 11:00am to discuss our legislative priorities and answer your questions. I hope you can join us!

    And a final reminder that next Monday, April 22, the Fairfield Parks and Recreation Department will hold an Earth Day Community Clean Up at Jennings Beach Sail House from 2-4pm.

    Bring your whole family to help make Fairfield a cleaner and greener place for all!

    Trash bags and gloves will be provided. Parking will be available in the marina next to the skate park.

    Black Maternal Health Week
    It is painful to say that in 2024, 22% of Black women receive a lower quality of care than white women and are subject to discrimination in the healthcare field.

    This Black Maternal Health Week, we stand in solidarity with Black mothers, in our commitment to address disparities, promote equity, and ensure every birthing experience is met with dignity and support. Let's work together for healthier futures.

    Utility Scam Alert
    As utility service shutoffs for non-payment will start again on May 2, the state’s Consumer Counsel is warning residents about a possible scam targeting utility customers whose bills are overdue.

    No third-party supplier will ever contact customers with billing issues. Both supply and delivery costs are billed exclusively by the electric distribution company – only Eversource or United Illuminating. If you receive correspondence from anyone other than Eversource or UI pertaining to your electric bill balance, you should assume that it is not legitimate.

    If you think you have been scammed, reach out to:

    • PURA’s Education Outreach and Enforcement Customer Assistance Unit by emailing pura.information@ct.gov
    • Office of Consumer Counsel by emailing occ.info@ct.gov or calling 860-827-2900
    • The Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5318.
    I'm committed to ensuring your voice is heard. Please don't hesitate to call my office at (860) 240-8585 or email me if there's anything I can do for you. Be sure to follow @LeeperForFairfield on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on everything I'm doing at the Capitol.


    Jennifer Leeper
    State Representative


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