Weekly Update - Sept. 24

September 24, 2021

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Dear Neighbor, 

Next week, several new laws in Connecticut will go into effect on October 1. These laws are a result of the hard work of my colleagues and I during the 2021 session. We worked tirelessly to push for change that would benefit all Connecticut residents.

Below is a selection of some of the laws that will go into effect on Friday, October 1:
Marijuana and Smoking Restrictions
  • Medical marijuana patients who are 18 years of age or older can start growing mature and immature plants at home.
  • Smoking of any kind (tobacco, vaping, marijuana) will be prohibited within 25 feet of the any door, window, or vent intake of any building open to the public.

Pedestrian Safety 

  • Starting October 1, drivers must slow down or stop if a pedestrian is in the crosswalk or indicated that they are going to cross.

Addressing Gender Discrimination

  • Requires employers to offer equal pay for "comparable” work regardless of gender.

Breastfeeding in the Workplace

  • Requires employers to provide a private room or location with an electrical outlet for women to express milk. Employers must also provide a refrigerated space to store the breastmilk. 

"Bottle Bill"

  • Requires retailers to have at least two reverse vending machines on their premises.

Click here for the complete list of laws that will go into effect on October 1.
Although these laws are a compilation of this year's accomplishments in the legislature, you always can make your voice heard - especially as we begin to plan legislation for the upcoming session. Please stay active in the legislative processes and stay in touch – I would like to know, what do you think of this issue?

In this email you'll find updates on district resources and news. Please click the links below to read the section that corresponds with the highlighted headline.

A NOTE: If you're having trouble clicking through the following links, open this email in a browser, use a computer or scroll through this email to the relevant section. 

The topics covered are as follows:

On Legislative Business

On Community Resources 

Take Back Our Grid Act in Action: PURA Orders Rate Decreases
During this past legislative session, the General Assembly passed the bipartisan Take Back Our Grid Act to implement performance-based measures for utility companies in the state. In a draft decision late last week, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) signaled that they would be requiring Eversource to drop its electrical rates beginning in November.
Based on PURA's draft decision, Eversource's return on equity could be cut from 9.25 percent to 8.8 percent. Additionally, the company would continue to be penalized for their response to Tropical Storm Isaias – an additional 0.9 percent, reducing their total return to 7.9 percent. According to PURA, based on current figures, this could impact their revenue by about $26-31 million a year.
The actual impact of this decrease to customers will be known after a final decision from PURA, which is likely to come in October.
I would like to know, what do you think of this issue?
CT Examiner: State Regulators Set to Cut Eversource Profits, Trim Customer Rates
State DOL Begins Sending Letters for Alleged Unemployment Overpayments
Currently, officials at the State Department of Labor (DOL) are working through the tedious process of reviewing and auditing the unprecedented number of unemployment claims over the past year – approximately 400,000 weekly filings (up from 40,000). As part of that process, some unemployment claimants are receiving notices that they may need to repay part or all of what they received during the pandemic.
Between April and June of this year, the state identified more than $8.6 million in overpayments – while some overpayments can be attributed to fraud, many might just be the result of unintentional mistakes by the applicant or the DOL.
State lawmakers are currently discussing what, if any, options there are at the state level to aid the growing number of individuals who are now being confronted with alleged overpayments.
I would like to know, what do you think of this issue?
The CT Mirror: State to thousands who got unemployment money: Give it back
CT Post: CT lawmakers call on state to forgive unemployment overpayments for thousands
Hartford Courant: Thousands in Connecticut are being asked to pay back $8.6M in unemployment overpayments received during the pandemic. Lawmakers want the bills to be waived
Today in CT History: Connecticut’s Whaling Industry Sets Sail for Extinction
In the 19th century, New London was one of the busiest whaling hubs in the entire world, outranked only by Nantucket and New Bedford, Massachusetts. Whale oil was a crucial and versatile resource that played a huge role in powering the Industrial Revolution, serving as both fuel for lamps and as a lubricant for factory machinery. Whale bones, used to give ladies’ corsets their shapes, also commanded a high price throughout the 1800s.
In 1850, when Connecticut’s whaling industry was approaching its peak, over $1 million worth of whale oil and bones passed through the port of New London in a single year. In the later decades of the 19th century, however, the whaling industry encountered a rapid decline as decades of over-hunting had made whales harder to find, and their byproducts more expensive. Other industries successfully sought cheaper alternatives to expensive whale oil and bone: Lamps were increasingly lit using petroleum byproducts (namely kerosene) and electricity, and fashion designers turned to alternate products like steel and wooden strips to line their corsets.
Thanks to these economic pressures, by the first decades of the 20th century only a handful of Connecticut whaling vessels were still in active operation. On September 24, 1908, seasoned captain James Buddington and his crew sailed the whaling schooner Margaret out of New London. Unbeknownst to them at the time, they were embarking on the last commercial whaling voyage in Connecticut history. The Margaret’s return to port seven months later, in April 1909, marked the end of 124 years of commercial whaling in Connecticut.
Learn more about Connecticut's whaling industry and other interesting CT history facts by clicking here.
Reports of Ongoing West Nile Virus in the Greater Harford Area
We continue to receive confirmed cases of ongoing West Nile Virus across the state, and in the greater Hartford area. Please take a minute to read the above simple measures that can help keep you and your family safe! Our communities are continuing to treat areas for mosquitos until their population subsides.
For East Hartford - to speak with the Environmental Division regarding the Town’s mosquito abatement program, please contact the East Hartford Health Department at (860) 291-7324. Learn more about East Hartford's response by clicking here.
You can learn more about the West Nile Virus, click here, and to receive the latest data, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program here.
Now Accepting Applications for the Governor's Innovation Fellowship
Are you a recent college graduate, or a senior on track to graduate in Spring of 2022, interested in a career in a tech-based industry? Then the Governor's Innovation Fellowship (GIF) might be right for you! The GIF offers qualifying graduates a chance to build a strong foundation to their careers, and the opportunity to be one of the founding members of a professional community that will grow and contribute to shaping the direction of the state’s – and the nation’s – business future for generations.
To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:
  • 2021 or 2022 graduating senior of a Connecticut university or college OR a 2017 graduate of a Connecticut high school attending college out-of-state
  • Must accept an offer for a tech-related OR STEM-focused position in Connecticut
  • Must be a Connecticut resident by August 2022

Application are due by Friday, November 19 – to apply, click here. For more information, click here.

Manchester Residents: Look Out for New Invasive Species
Manchester's Planning and Economic Development Department is warning residents to be on the lookout for a new invasive species! Known as 'the mile-a-minute vine, (aka Asiatic tearthumb), the invasive species has been identified in small patches around our community. If you notice any, the town is asking that your notify Environmental Planner at dlaiuppa@manchesterct.gov in the hope that they are able to eradicate it before it gains a major foothold.
Construction Alert: Scheduled Closure and Detour in East Hartford
The Connecticut Department of Transportation has announced that the Main Street on-ramp in East Hartford to Route 5/15 northbound and I-84 eastbound will be closed beginning on the night of Sunday, October 3. The closure is necessary to facilitate ongoing work on the I-91 Charter Oak Bridge Project and is expected to remain through Sunday, November 21.
The detour for motorists seeking I-84 eastbound will be:
From Main Street, northbound
  • Continue north on Main Street and turn right onto Silver Lane
  • Left onto Roberts Street
  • Right onto on-ramp for I-84 EB

From Main Street, southbound

  • Continue south on Main Street and turn right onto Willow Street
  • Right onto Route 2 West
  • Take Exit 2E toward I-84 East and Boston

For more information about this project, including regular updates, click here.

COVID-19 Updates & Upcoming Vaccine Clinics
Late Thursday night, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed Pfizer booster shots for older residents and individuals 18-64 who are at increased risk of exposure due to their health or jobs. Connecticut residents seeking booster shots may get them at hospital vaccine sites, urgent care clinics and federally qualified health centers or at pharmacies including CVS and Walgreens – they could be available as soon as Friday. If you are in this qualifying group and looking to make an appointment for a booster shot, click here.

To finally turn the corner, it's so important that we continue the precautions that have worked: wear a face mask, observe social distancing, wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, get tested if you were in contact with anyone who's tested positive, etc. But, most importantly – please consider getting vaccinated if you haven't already.

For more information on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine or to locate an appointment near you, click here or locate a DPH Mobile COVID-19 Vaccination clinic by clicking here. Those without access to the internet can call the Connecticut’s Vaccine Appointment Assist Line, available seven days a week from 8 AM to 8 PM, at (877) 918-2224.
For East Hartford-based COVID-19 updates and resources, click here. And, for Manchester-based COVID-19 updates and resources, click here.
Check out Woodbridge Farmstead on Sunday, September 26 at 12PM for an exciting open house with activities for all ages! Enjoy the 18th century barn, grounds, gardens, and old farmhouse. This is a free event but donations are welcome, for more information and future open house dates, click here.
The Downtown Manchester 2021 Scarecrow Festival is happening Thursday, October 7 through Sunday, October 24 – and the deadline to register to participate is rapidly approaching! Everyone is invited to participate — businesses, clubs, schools, non-profits, families and individuals! This year's theme is "Undercover Heroes".
To register, click here - registration must be received by Tuesday, September 28. For more information, click here.
Parents and caregivers are invited to join "Fall Stroller Walks" every Wednesday on the Manchester Trails from 9:30AM-11:30AM. Infants and toddlers in strollers or carriers are welcome, young children who can walk are also welcome! To join, contact Caitlin McNamara at CMcnamara@manchesterct.gov or call (860) 647-5269. For more information, click here.
The East Hartford Public Library is offering library card holders passes which grant discounted or free admission to 25+ historic, cultural, or educational and family friendly attractions in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Reservations can be made in advance or same day with an adult library card, subject to availability. For more information, click here or call the Children's Department at (860) 290-4330.
What do you expect from yourself as a member of the community? Are there conversations you wish your community was having right now? Join the Resident Advisory Committee of East Hartford CONNects for a Living Room Conversation on Civic Engagement.
Register online here for the session that best fits your schedule:
  • Wednesday, September 29, 6:30-8PM
  • Thursday, September 30, 2PM-3:30PM
  • Friday, October 1, 10AM-11:30AM
  • Saturday, October 2, 10AM-11:30AM
  • Monday, October 4, 6:30-8PM
  • Tuesday, October 5, 6:30-8PM

Interested in facilitating a session? Contact Yadira Rivera at East Hartford CONNects at (860) 622-5507.

East Hartford Public Library is inviting the community to participate in a virtual poetry-reading evening, "Poets Reading Poetry" on Tuesday, November 9 at 6:30PM. To participate, the library is asking poets to submit videos of recited or performed poems with the theme of "family" by Tuesday, October 12.
To submit your work, contact Adult Services Librarian Rolande Duprey by calling (860) 290-4330 or emailing rduprey@easthartfordct.gov.
My office is always open if you or your family are in need of assistance. Please do not hesitate to contact me by email at Jason.Rojas@cga.ct.gov or by phone at 860-240-8541.


Jason Rojas


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