I hope you are having a wonderful start to the new year. I've been hard at work proposing new legislation to make our state a better, safer, and more affordable place to live.
In this week's update, you'll learn more about the start of the 2023 legislative session, the tragic loss of a beloved colleague, resources to help with utility bills this winter, community events, and more!
If there's something you need assistance with or want to speak with me about, please don't hesitate to reply to this email or reach out to me at Kara.Rochelle@cga.ct.gov.
MEET YOUR REP IN-PERSON
I will be meeting with voters in person for a community coffee event on Friday, January 20. Please stop by to learn what I am working on this year, but don't hesitate to ask questions and share your concerns. I will be in the back room of the Valley Diner from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Please join me tomorrow in person for a community coffee event. You can stop by to hear what I am working on, to learn more about the bill process, to share any ideas you may have, and to have your questions answered. We will be in the back room of the Valley Diner from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.
This is part of a monthly series of in-person events I host to maintain and build strong relationships with members of the community.
START OF 2023 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
I'm excited to get started on my third term after being sworn in at the State Capitol this month. It is deeply humbling to represent the people of Ansonia and Derby in the legislature. It's an honor to be your trusted voice of the 104th district in Hartford. I'm already rolling up my sleeves and advocating for our community and the issues our residents care about at the Capitol.
On opening day I brought Alisha, a mom from our district, as my guest. Alisha is passionate about education. She is also an advocate for safer neighborhoods and expanding opportunities for our youth. I carry you all with me every day in this work, and I'm honored to serve the 104th once again.
NEW LEADERSHIP POSITIONS
I am proud to announce I will be taking two new leadership roles with the House of Representatives. I will serve as the Vice Chair of the Higher Education and Employment Committee and as the Majority Whip-At-Large.
The Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee addresses issues in public and independent institutions of higher and post-secondary education. The committee also tackles private occupational schools as well as adult job training programs offered to the public by any state agency or funded in whole or in part by the state.
I look forward to working with my colleagues to increase higher education and job training opportunities, enhance our workforce in critical areas, and expand access to meaningful career paths across Connecticut.
As Majority Whip-At-Large, I will help count potential votes and promote unity in voting to advance important causes for the people of our state.
I am so grateful to Speaker of the House Matt Ritter and House Majority Leader Jason Rojas for placing their trust and confidence in me by appointing me to these new leadership positions. I'm looking forward to serving our state in these new roles during the 2023 legislative session.
Committee meetings are underway as we evaluate hundreds of bill proposals!
LOSS OF BELOVED COLLEAGUE
We were all shaken to the core when we learned of the tragic passing of Rep. Quentin "Q" Williams, who was hit by a wrong-way driver in Cromwell. We all came together last week for a final farewell at the Capitol. It was abundantly clear that Q touched so many lives in an impactful way. I send my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.
We are all better for having known and worked with Q. His infectious smile lit up every room that he entered. The respect and love we all had for Q is real. The House will never be the same without you.
Q was passionate about equity, education, housing reform, and expanding opportunities for everyone.
In October, Rep. Williams served as the keynote speaker at TEAM's annual meeting. If you watch the clip below, you will quickly feel his positive energy and engagement. Q lit up a room, and he will be deeply missed.
Rep. Williams shares his passion for supporting young people and families during a housing crisis (Teams Inc CT).
HOME HEATING HELP
The state is offering an extra $430 for those in need of winter energy assistance. This boosts the maximum potential aid any household could receive through the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) from $1,890 to $2,320. The extra funds will go to households that heat with deliverable fuels like home heating oil.
If you are interested in applying to get help through the winter, click here.
Additionally, you can also contact your community action agency for assistance:
30 Elizabeth Street, Derby, CT 06418
Phone: (203) 736-5420
You can also get more help by calling 2-1-1.
MORE HELP ON THE WAY
Inflation is affecting your bottom line virtually everywhere you go. Our friends at Walnut Hill Church are hosting a free, three session finance series teaching you how to stretch your dollar and create savings. It starts this Sunday. The events will be held from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. on January 22, February 5, and February 19. All are welcome to join, even if you can't make one or two of the sessions!
The good people from Master's Table Community meals share these quick reminders for the free meal giveaway this Sunday.
- All meals will be take out only and you must be present to receive a meal.
- Park car and enter the church hall.
- Pick up meal and browse giveaway table.
- Speak to volunteer if you can't get out of your car. They will bring your meal to you.
- No restrooms available and no reentry.
- Please wear a mask!
START OF NEW BEGINNING
Courtesy: Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media
We took another big step forward for economic development in downtown Ansonia. Last week, crews started tearing down the first of four buildings in the SHW Casting complex. After years of hard work to secure the necessary funds for environmental cleanup and to knock down these buildings, it is wonderful to see this advocacy translated into something that residents can see.
Since taking office, I and Sen. Jorge Cabrera have worked diligently to secure funds for the redevelopment of the SHW/Farrel/Ansonia Brass site. This current demolition is paid for with $1.7 million in state dollars that I helped secure between 2020 and now. I would like to thank Gov. Ned Lamont, Sen. Cabrera, and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development for being excellent partners as we deliver real change to move Ansonia and the Lower Valley forward. A hat tip to the local officials as well for putting the state dollars to use.
Demolition will take months, but it will bring a prosperous future to Ansonia.
SUPPORT FOR SIKORSKY
I fully support Sikorsky's efforts to challenge the U.S. Army's decision on the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft contract.
The company is requesting a review with the U.S. Government Accountability Office to protest the U.S. Army's recent decision not to award Sikorsky with a vital military aircraft contract.
Sikorsky has proudly delivered the best aircraft equipment to the U.S. Army for decades. Connecticut is home to an exceptionally skilled workforce that is the best trained to manufacture this aircraft. Sikorsky provides thousands of good-paying jobs in the Naugatuck Valley and beyond. Workers have always put their heart and soul into making the best aircraft in the world.
I believe it's critical to keep the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft contract where it belongs, right here in Connecticut. An independent review of the process is in the best interest of all involved parties. I remain confident that Sikorsky has everything it needs to build the DEFIANT X which will serve as a replacement for the Black Hawk helicopter fleet.
NEW BEGINNING FOR MARIJUANA
Recreational cannabis sales are now underway with seven dispensaries ready to sell to anyone 21 and older. There has already been more than $2 million in sales.
I want to stress that it's illegal to drive under the influence. You risk harming others. You will be arrested, and there are serious legal consequences. Just don't do it.
The same rules that apply for smoking a vape or tobacco apply to cannabis use as well. In short, if you can’t smoke a cigarette somewhere, you can’t smoke marijuana there, either!
State-owned property, such as state parks, state beaches and state waters
The positivity rate for covid-19 is up right now. Every household is eligible to order four free at-home covid-19 tests. Click here to get more information and to order yours now.
If you need a test right away, the Naugatuck Valley Health District has free covid-19 home testing kits at its office in Seymour and at the Derby Public Library.
Residents in both Ansonia and Derby are encouraged to pick up those kits during regular business hours.
You can call ahead to reserve a kit at the Naugatuck Valley Health District at (203) 881-3255 ext. 118. You can check supplies at Derby Public Library by calling (203) 736-1482. Kits there will be held under your name at the main desk. You can take up to three tests.
The home testing kits expire on January 26. In addition, there will be plenty of opportunities to get your child vaccinated this month.
WHAT HAS YOUR REP BEEN UP TO?
It was great to see our community supporting the life and memory of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I attended a truly touching community event in Ansonia on Monday. Several speakers talked about the importance of coming together to reflect, honor, and celebrate the profound impact Dr. King has on our country. I want to thank the organizers, volunteers, all the speakers and performers who built such a special program. All ticket sales benefit the mission of the Valley MLK Committee but will also fund Ansonia High School Students/Emerging Leaders to attend a five-day field trip in the spring to Historically Black Colleges & Universities and for a Civil Rights Tour.
|Ansonia High School Choir performs on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
|We had the pleasure of hosting Senator Chris Murphy at the Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley Ansonia clubhouse. Our youth showed us around the facility on Wednesday. Sen. Murphy has been instrumental in securing $1 billion in funding for summer youth programs across the country, here locally, and expansions of community scholarships to this location. He will soon be receiving an award from the National Boys & Girls Club Organization for the difference he has made.
|I want to give a heartfelt congratulations to the Fire Chiefs of the Derby Fire Department. They were sworn-into their new roles earlier this month at an induction ceremony. It is always an honor to celebrate special moments like this with our firefighters. I want to thank our chiefs for all they do for the fire service and our community.