Weekly Update - Oct. 1

October 1, 2021


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Dear Neighbor, 

Happy October! Last week, I provided a list of some of the new laws that would go into effect today, October 1. State and local law enforcement officials are reminding resident that among those laws is a new requirement for seat belts. Effective today, all occupants of a vehicle, regardless of their age, are required to wear a seat belt

Failure to follow the new law will result in a $50 fine for drivers over 18, and a $75 fine for driver under 18. For more information on the new rear seat belt law, click here. Seatbelts save lives. Buckle up!

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 

General Assembly Approves Extension of Emergency Orders

This week, the General Assembly voted to extend Governor Lamont's emergency orders through February 15. From the recently approved booster shots to ensuring our kids can have in-person learning this year to helping struggling landlords and tenants, there is still so much to address stemming from the effects of the pandemic. We expect this extension to result in the continuation of only a limited number of executive orders critical to maintaining Connecticut's successful response to the ongoing pandemic.


It's important to note that this extension isn't handing over complete and total control to the Governor, as I stated in my closing remarks – there is no "King Ned." During the last legislative session, the General Assembly changed the law to give legislative leaders the ability to reject any order. No matter what Governor Lamont does with the authority, ultimately, the legislature has the final say.


By keeping these protections in place, we maintain the flexibility and strategic response needed to allow the state to contain COVID, help individuals get vaccinated, keep kids in school and continue our economic rebound.


I would like to know, what do you think of this issue?

Journal Inquirer: House votes to extend Lamont's COVID power amid protests
Hartford Courant: Mask, COVID-19 vaccine mandates remain in place after Connecticut Senate extends Gov. Lamont’s emergency powers until at least February
CT Mirror: CT House votes to extend Lamont’s emergency powers

CT to Pay Down $1.6 Billion of Pension Debt

With surplus money from this past fiscal year, the state will be able to make more than $1.6 billion in supplemental payments (in addition to the $2.9 billion in regular pension contribution already budgeted for the current fiscal year). This is the second year in a row, and only the second time in history, that the state has been able to make this supplemental payment dramatically reducing the state's unfunded liability.


The surplus is a direct result of strong and strategic fiscal policies enacted over the last few years. While Connecticut still has a tough road ahead to reducing long-term pension, this demonstrates that we are on the right path.

Press Release: Treasurer Wooden, for only the Second Time in History, Transfers Estimated $1.623 Billion Budget Reserve Fund Excess to Pay Down Long-Term Pension Liabilities
The CT Mirror: CT poised to take $1.6 billion chunk out of pension debt
Westfair Communication: CT to pay down pension debt by $1.6 billion

Criminal Justice Commission Names State's First Inspector General

On Monday, the Criminal Justice Commission selected retired appellate Judge Robert Devlin Jr. to serve as Connecticut's first Inspector General in a 5-0 vote. The new office, which was created in the police accountability legislation, will hold the primary responsibility of investigating police shootings and deciding whether an officer should be prosecuted for their use of force.


Judge Devlin currently serves as chairman of the state's Sentencing Commission. In April 2020, he retired from the Appellate Court as a trial judge. Prior to that role, Delvin served as a Superior Court Judge for 26 years – as well as serving as an Assistant United States Attorney, Assistant State’s Attorney and Deputy Assistant Public Defender.


During Monday's meeting, the commission spent more than four hours interviewing Judge Devlin, along with the other three final candidates - Austin Ryan McGuigan, a former state prosecutor in New Britain and Stamford who now represents criminal and civil clients, federal public defense attorney Moira Buckley and Connecticut Veterans Legal Center Executive Director Liam Brennan.


I would like to know, what do you think of this issue?

CT-N: State Criminal Justice Commission Sept. 27 Meeting & Candidate Interviews
CT News Junkie: Retired Judge To Become Connecticut’s First Inspector General
CT Post: CT names inspector general to investigate police shootings, deaths

Today in CT History: Toward a More Perfect Union

On October 1, 2005, Connecticut became the third state in the union to legally recognize same-sex civil unions. Four years earlier, Vermont became the first state to do so after the Vermont Supreme Court mandated that denying same-sex couples the benefits of marriage violated their state constitution. In 2004, Massachusetts’s Supreme judicial court similarly found that it was unconstitutional to prevent same sex couples from marrying. Unlike Vermont and Massachusetts, however, Connecticut’s recognition of the rights of same-sex civil couples was brought about not by a court order, but through legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Jodi Rell in April of 2005.


Appended to the civil union legislation was an amendment that kept the definition of “marriage” as solely between a man and a woman, intended as a compromise to satisfy both gay rights activists and believers in traditional definitions of marriage. That amendment was rendered null and void in 2008, when the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that nothing short of full marriage rights for same-sex couples would satisfy the equality and liberty clauses contained in the Connecticut Constitution. The first same-sex marriage license was issued in Connecticut on November 12, 2008, and the final legal loopholes for gay couples were closed on October 1, 2010, when all previously-issued civil unions were automatically converted into marriages — five years to the day after Connecticut’s civil union legislation first became law.


Learn more about marriage equality in the state and other interesting CT history facts by clicking here.

October Drive-Thru Food Distribution Schedule

Connecticut Foodshare will continue the emergency drive-thru food distribution at Old Showcase Cinemas (936 Silver Lane) in East Hartford through October. The distribution is offered Tuesdays, 8:30AM-12PM. You do not need to be a resident of the community where the distribution is held to attend.


To view the full schedule of mobile distributions available across the state, click here. To find more food resources, click here or call 2-1-1.


For East Hartford residents, additional resources can be found here.

AG's Office Launches Elder Justice Hotline

Over the summer, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong with the Connecticut and Departments of Aging and Disability Services and Consumer Protection's Coalition for Elder Justice launched the Elder Justice Hotline to serve as a "one stop shop" for the state's older residents seeking information, assistance, or justice.


If you have been the victim of a scam, or neglected, exploited or abused, call +1 (860) 808-5555. The hotline is staffed by the Attorney General's Office Monday-Friday, 8AM-5PM. If you're calling after hours, leave a message and your call will be returned as quickly as possible. Learn more about the hotline by clicking here.

Small Business Resources for CT Paid Family Leave

As of January 1, there will be significant changes to the state's Family and Medical Leave Act. Income replacement benefits will be available for Connecticut workers who need to take unpaid time away from work to attend to their personal — or a loved one’s — health needs.

Previously, Connecticut’s Family and Medical Leave Act only applied to workplaces with 50 or more employees, but as of January 1, the CT FMLA's job-protections will apply to workplaces with one or more employees to ensure all workers in Connecticut receive the assistance they need.

It is equally important that we support both families and small business owners throughout the state. While these benefits begin in January, applicants may begin to file before the start date. In preparation, the CT Paid Leave Authority has put together the following webpage to guide businesses as they navigate this shift.

Resources for Small Businesses

Additionally, the Connecticut Small Business Development Center will host a series of webinars on the subject. I will continue to provide updates about these resources as they roll out. In the meantime, if you have any questions about these resources or the CT Family and Medical Leave Act, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.

Expected Road Closures for Hartford Marathon on Oct. 9

A reminder that the annual Eversource Hartford Marathon will be back on Saturday, October 9 – and a significant part of that marathon runs through East Hartford. Road closures and increased traffic should be expected on Main Street, the neighborhood around Founders Plaza, including Great River Park, Pitkin Street, and East River Drive, as well as Prospect Street and Connecticut Boulevard. Road closures will begin at 7:30AM and will reopen when runners have cleared the course, Founders Bridge Eastbound will remain closed through 2PM


Get more information on the closures here and here - and happy final training week to our community's runners!

Registration Open: Special Olympics Fall Bowling

Registration is now open for East Hartford Parks and Recreation's Special Olympics Fall Bowling. The program is open to residents and non-residents with special needs ages 8 and up. Practices will be held at Hall of Fame Silver Lanes (748 Silver Lane) on Saturdays, Oct 16- December 11 from 10AM-12PM.

Masks will be required within the bowling facility, and the program will adhere to the Special Olympics of Connecticut COVID-19 guidelines. Prior to participating in any practices, Athletes and their guardian(s) are required to visit the Special Olympics of CT website and complete the following – forms are to be turned in to Parks and Recreation staff by the first practice:

  • View the Return to Activities (RTA) videos and documents.
  • Complete the RTA: Participant Code of Conduct and Risk Assessment Form
  • Complete the Waiver Form for Event Participants

You can register by clicking here, the fee for the program, which includes 2 games of bowling and shoes at each practice, is $90 for residents or $99 for non-residents. For more information, click here or contact the Parks and Recreation office at (860) 291-7160.

COVID-19 Updates & Upcoming Vaccine Clinics

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended booster shots for certain individuals who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which includes:

  • Individuals 65 years of age and older
  • Frontline workers ages 18 to 64 who are at risk of exposure
  • Long-term nursing home residents; and
  • Individuals with certain high-risk, underlying medical conditions.

Booster shots may be administered six months after the second vaccine dose. Those who are eligible for a booster shot can sign up by clicking here. Booster shots will be available at hospital vaccine sites, at urgent care clinics and pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens.

East Hartford High School, CIBA, and Synergy students are invited to a free, COVID-19 vaccine clinic at East Harford High on Wednesday, October 6 (second doses will be scheduled for Wednesday, October 27). To sign-up and fill out the permission form, 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.

A new exhibit, "October Synchronicity: The Art of Being in Tune with Nature" opens at WORK_SPACE on Friday, October 1 featuring Artists Hunter Pedane, Isha Nelson and Phillip LeBlanc. The exhibit, which will be on display until Friday, October 29, combines the artist's talent and blends their different mediums to harness the earth’s natural beauty, texture, movement, and energy to bring us this unique exhibit. Visit the exhibit weekdays, 10AM-4PM. For more information, click here.

Celebrate the Rotary Clubs of Manchester, East Hartford, and Vernon on Saturday, October 2 at 9:30AM! Bike with a leader at a pace that is comfortable for you and enjoy learning about features of the trail or enjoy a guided walking tour with Manchester’s town historian Susan Barlow, and so much more. For more information, click here.

Bring your dancing shoes as you'll be in for a listening treat with the beats of Goza Latin Band at Whiton Memorial Library on Monday, October 4 at 6:30PM. A special program for Hispanic Heritage Month, this is free, in-person event, no registration required.

East Hartford High School will be hosting "FAFSA Day" on Saturday, October 2 from 11AM-2PM at East Hartford High School's library to help 12th grade students and their families fill out FAFSA forms. Bring your 2020 tax return to fill out the application in one day with professional guidance! For questions, contact College and Career Readiness Coordinator Marie Brown at (860) 622-5246 or brown.mr@easthartford.org.

The East Hartford Public Library is looking for new members to speak up and share their ideas on what they want from the library. East Hartford teens entering grades 8-12 are invited to join the Teen Advisory Board, meeting next via zoom on Tuesday, October 5 at 7:15PM. To register, click here.

Join East Hartford Police Department for National Coffee with a Cop on Wednesday, October 6 from 8AM-10AM at the Main Street Dunkin' location. Bring your questions, concerns, or just stop by to chat with your neighbors and community officers. For more information, click here.

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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