State Capitol Update for the Week of April 17th

April 17, 2023

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Dear Friend,

This is my State Capitol update for the week of April 17th.

If you prefer to watch rather than read, click on the video below to hear about the issues contained in this newsletter.

As my kids say, it’s been a minute.  This newsletter is packed with two weeks worth of news, announcements, and local events, so my apologies that it is longer than usual. 
After a quiet week that included Passover and Easter, there's been a lot of news nationally.  One piece that had particular resonance for state legislatures was the expulsion of two state representatives in Tennessee, who were removed from their seats for participating in a peaceful protest that disrupted the chamber's business and broke the rules of decorum.  The two ejected legislators were Democrats, the minority party in Tennessee.  I tried to imagine what would happen in CT if legislators from the minority party had broken similar rules.  The closest analogy I could come up with was that in the heat of the pandemic, before the vaccine was available and we had adopted rules aimed at keeping several vulnerable members (including one who had just had an organ transplant) safe, a small number of legislators intentionally violated the rules of the chamber, as a statement of protest. Our leadership asked them to follow the rules, making it clear that if the rule-breaking continued there would be a sanction. The explicit sanction was that we would halt debate (known as "calling the question") and vote on the legislation before us. The situation was resolved.  Other legislators who have been charged with crimes or engaged in behavior that threatened the safety of others were removed from their committee assignments.  I am glad to say that I cannot imagine a circumstance where the majority in CT would vote to remove an elected legislator (from either party) from their seat absent extreme circumstances. 

Other national news that could ultimately impact CT was the ruling of a federal judge in Texas calling for a nationwide ban on abortion medication approved by the FDA more than twenty years ago, that has been proven safe and effective as part of medication abortions that now makeup move than 50% of abortions nationwide. 

CT made its position clear:

CT officials vow to fight for abortion medication after 'aggressive, ideological, nonsensical decision'
In Hartford, it is "JF Week" for both the Finance and Appropriations Committees, and both must both pass their budget proposals in committee meetings this week.  In CT, these are two separate committees who work on different sides of the budget (revenue and spending), so the proposals that pass out of committee are likely not to line up.  That "lining up" (otherwise known as balancing the budget) will take place in the next round of meetings as the two committees negotiate with each other and with the Governor to craft the final budget which will be ultimately be voted on by the legislature and sent to the Governor, hopefully by the end of our Regular Session, which expires on June 7. 

Earth Day is coming up, so please check out the many opportunities to take care of our environment in our towns.  There are several in this newsletter, but I'm sure there are many more – hope to see you out there!   

Here’s a list of today’s topics:
  • COVID-19 weekly update. Click here
  • April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Click here
  • April is Autism Acceptance Month. Click here
  • Reminder to be Bear Aware as denning season ends . Click here
  • Update on Proposals for Early Voting. Click here
  • Connecticut joins other Northeast states to submit proposal for federal funding and designation as national hydrogen hub. Click here
  • Department of Agriculture 2023 Farm Viability Grants now open.  Click here
  • News from newly formed Regional School District 20. Click here
  • Update on Gunn Memorial Library in Washington. Click here
  • Sharon Historical Society awarded Collections Assessment Grant. Click here
  • Join the CT General Assembly for a bipartisan kickball game on May 1! Click here
  • E-Bird tutorial on April 18 via Zoom. Click here
  • Changing Lives at Lakeville Town Grove: blood drive on April 20, and concert to fight food insecurity on April 30. Click here
  • National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 22. Click here
  • Earth Day Stewardship Restoration Workday on April 22 in Kent. Click here
  • Great Big Day of Composting on April 22 in Cornwall. Click here
  • Community Planting Day at Adamah Farm in Falls Village on April 23. Click here
  • Give Local in the Greater Waterbury and Litchfield Hills on April 25 and 26. Click here
  • Crescendo presents "In Search of the Bridges" concert on April 28 and 30. Click here
COVID-19 update
For graphs and tables containing data on COVID-19, including a list of cases in every municipality click the button below.
Connecticut COVID-19 Update
Note that the federal government is making at home test kits available free of charge.  For more information,
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I want you to be aware of the resources available to you in our community. If you need help, you can call (888) 999-5545 anytime to speak with a certified sexual assault crisis counselor in English. Dial (888) 568-8332 to speak with an expert in Spanish.
You can also contact any of the member sexual assault crisis programs in our state by clicking on 
THIS LINK and scrolling down to the “Need Help” section. These non-profit organizations provide free, confidential service in a safe, caring environment.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a time to focus our attention on the prevalence of sexual assault in our communities, uplift the voices of survivors, and commit ourselves to putting an end to sexual violence.

This year's theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month is “Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity.” The campaign calls on all individuals, communities, organizations, and institutions to change ourselves and the systems surrounding us to build racial equity and respect. 

CLICK HERE for more information.
April is Autism Acceptance Month
April is Autism Acceptance Month. This year's theme, “Celebrate Differences,” aims to herald the acceptance of individuals beyond the spectrum.
Formerly known as Autism Awareness Month, in 2021 the Autism Society of America changed it to Autism Acceptance Month to promote receptivity and inclusivity.
Autism is a complex developmental condition stemming from differences in a person's brain structure and neurotransmitters affecting individuals' verbal and non-verbal communication. Currently, 1 in 54 children is diagnosed with autism every year.
Things to remember about autism:
  • Autism is a disorder, not a disease.
  • Autistic individuals need our support and not our judgment.
  • It is likely you have met someone with autism, even if you think you haven't.
  • Everyone on the autism spectrum is different, and there are many subtypes.
  • Children with autistic characteristics are generally diagnosed by age four.
  • Diagnosis rates may be increasing, but there are now better ways to monitor and assess symptoms.

To learn more about autism and state resources, click the button below.

State Resources
Reminder to be Bear Aware as denning season ends
Early spring is the time of year in which black bear activity increases, following the winter denning season. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) reminds residents to do their part to not teach bears bad behaviors, by taking simple steps that will reduce the likelihood of encounters and potential conflicts with bears. 
These steps are critically important because human-bear conflicts continue to rise and become more severe: in Connecticut in 2022, two humans were attacked by bears, and bears entered people’s homes 67 times, far surpassing the previous record of 45. These numbers are a sharp contrast to seven years ago, when bears entered homes less than ten times annually. 
A key part of reducing human-bear conflicts is depriving bears of access to human food. As the nation’s 14th most forested state, much of Connecticut’s landscape is suitable bear habitat, with plentiful natural foods. However, Connecticut is also the fourth-most densely populated state, so Connecticut residents must learn how to live with bears present in or near our communities. Human-associated foods (e.g., birdseed, trash, pet food) are calorie-rich and attractive to bears. Once black bears start to consume these human-associated foods, they become habituated (comfortable near people) and food-conditioned (associate humans, houses, and neighborhoods with food). As the bear population continues to grow and expand its range in Connecticut, and bears become increasingly food-conditioned, conflicts with humans will continue to increase, and food-conditioned bears pose a greater risk to public safety and often cause more property damage to houses, cars, pets, and livestock than non-food-conditioned bears. 
DEEP has several best practices for residents to follow to reduce the likelihood of an encounter with a bear, available on DEEP’s “Living with Black Bears” webpage, DEEP has also created a video incorporating many of these best practices, available here
This year we advanced 
SB 1148 in the Environment Committee, which includes a section that would ban the intentional and unintentional feeding of potentially dangerous wildlife such as bears, as well as providing farmers with a better pathway to dealing with dangerous wildlife that is threatening crops or livestock.  Several municipalities have already adopted ordinances implementing such bans.  This bill, paired with widespread adoption of the best practices outlined below, can help reduce human-bear conflicts in Connecticut.  
Make Your Place a No-Bear-Food-Zone 
Everyone can be a good neighbor and take steps to reduce encounters and potential conflicts with bears. The most important step is to remove food attractants, such as bird seed and unsecured garbage: 
  1. NEVER feed bears. 
  2. Take down, clean, and put away bird feeders by late March, or even earlier during mild weather. Store the feeders until late fall and clean up spilled seed from the ground. Store any unused bird seed and suet in a location not accessible to bears, such as a closed garage. Do not store bird seed in screened porches or sheds where bears will be able to rip screens or break through windows to access the seed. 
  3. Store garbage in secure, airtight containers inside a garage or other enclosed storage area. Adding ammonia to trash cans and bags will reduce odors that attract bears. Periodically clean garbage cans with ammonia to reduce residual odor. Put garbage for pickup outside the morning of collection and not the night before. 
  4. Do not store recyclables in a porch or screened sunroom as bears can smell these items and will rip screens to get at them. 
  5. Keep barbecue grills clean. Store grills inside a garage or shed. 
  6. Supervise dogs at all times when outside. Keep dogs on a short leash when walking and hiking. A roaming dog might be perceived as a threat to a bear or its cubs. (Dogs are required to be on a leash when visiting State Parks, State Forests, and Wildlife Management Areas. Check dog and leash regulations for town properties, land trusts, and other public properties before heading to those areas.) 
  7. Do not leave pet food outdoors or feed pets outside. 
  8. Use electric fencing to protect chickens, other livestock, beehives, agricultural crops, and berry bushes. 
  9. Avoid placing meat scraps or sweet foods, such as fruit and fruit peels, in compost piles.

What to do if you encounter a bear  

If you encounter a bear while in your yard or hiking, make your presence known by yelling or making other loud noises. Use a bear whistle to let bears know you are nearby. Never attempt to get closer to a bear. If a bear does not retreat, slowly leave the area. If in your yard, go into your house, garage, or other structure. If the bear persistently approaches, go on the offensive—shout, wave your arms, and throw sticks or rocks. If your dog is hiking with you, it is imperative that you keep the dog on a SHORT leash and DO NOT let it roam free – this is for the safety of your dog, yourself, and the bear. If you are in close proximity to a bear, DO NOT try to first get a photo or video. Your first priority should be getting a safe distance between yourself and the bear. 

In the rare instance when a bear appears to be aggressive toward people, residents should immediately contact DEEP’s 24-hour dispatch line at 860-424-3333. 

Reporting a bear sighting 

Bear sightings reported by the public provide valuable information to assist DEEP in monitoring changes in the black bear population. Anyone who observes a black bear in Connecticut is encouraged to report the sighting on DEEP’s website at or send an email to Information on the presence or absence of ear tags, including tag color and numbers, is particularly valuable.  

A common misconception is that a tagged bear is a problem bear, and that a bear with two ear tags was caught on two different occasions because it was causing problems. Actually, every bear receives two ear tags (one in each ear) the first time it is handled by DEEP biologists. Most tagged bears have not been caught as problem bears, but rather as part of a project researching the state’s population. 

More information 

To learn more about Connecticut’s black bear population, read our current Bear Report here: The State of the Bears ( 


Update on Proposals for Early Voting
After speaking with several registrars and town clerks in the district who raised excellent questions, last week I sat down with the Secretary of State's (SOTS) office to get an update on the early voting proposals.  Several bills passed out of committee, but the legislature has not taken action on any of them yet.  The bills differ on some major issues (such as the number of days for early voting), but the proposed process is nearly identical. 
The first issue we discussed was timing.  The constitutional referendum to allow for early voting passed with overwhelming support, so there is considerable momentum to take legislative action this year.  As the SOTS has made clear, however, it will take at least five months to create this new process for voting in Connecticut.  If we had passed the legislation in March, it might have been possible to get it up and running in time for municipal elections in November 2023 but given that it is unlikely (though not impossible) to take action until May, early voting is not likely to be in effect until 2024.  
As soon as legislation passes, the SOTS will send a manual out to towns to guide them through the process.  For example, it will provide guidance on staffing (minimum staffing should be two people, for example, either current staff or those designated specifically for the purpose) and polling locations, for example.  Towns will have 120 days to submit their plan to SOTS. 
Funding is another critical issue, and it is separate from legislation.  There is a proposal in Appropriations to create block grants for towns to fund their staffing, training, and other needs, and one in Finance to pay for the replacement of Connecticut's outdated tabulators, which have surpassed their useful life and can no longer be repaired.  Many of us have joined with the SOTS to argue forcefully that we must fully fund this if we are to enact it, and I expect robust support for that. 
There are still a few moving pieces, including the number of days for early voting (the leading proposal is 10) and which two of those days must have longer hours to accommodate residents with difficult schedules.
Thanks to many of you who have reached out in support of these proposals, and to the town officials who have offered constructure thoughts about how to improve the process and make sure that it works well. 
Connecticut joins other Northeast states to submit proposal for federal funding and designation as national hydrogen hub
Last week Connecticut joined New York, New Jersey, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to submit a proposal for a Northeast Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (NE Hub) to the U.S. Department of Energy to compete for a $1.25 billion share of the $8 billion in federal hydrogen hub funding available as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Together with the federal portion, the proposal represents a $3.6 billion investment and includes more than one dozen projects across seven Northeast states that advance clean electrolytic hydrogen production, consumption, and infrastructure projects. Awards are anticipated to be announced in fall 2023.
Clean hydrogen has the potential to provide an emission-free energy source for otherwise hard-to-decarbonize sectors and promote the creation of clean, good-paying jobs. Connecticut’s longstanding leadership in fuel cell development and manufacturing positions the state to be a leader in hydrogen development. The hub’s coordinated, multi-state strategy is designed to integrate projects across the region and create an ecosystem that connects hydrogen producers and users, technology original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), the research and development community, workforce development, and environmental justice organizations, and labor and communities’ representatives.
Department of Agriculture 2023 Farm Viability Grants now open  
The Department of Agriculture’s 2023 Farm Viability Grant has opened and now includes new $5,000 micro grant categories for Municipal Farm Map Projects and Certified Farmers’ Market Outreach. These grants are available for eligible municipalities, groups of municipalities, regional councils of governments, and/or agricultural non-profit organizations.
The full press release 
can be found on the website here . Applications for this grant are due May 12 by 4 pm.
News from newly formed Regional School District 20
Regional School District 20, newly formed in a merger between Litchfield Public Schools and the communities that form Region 6, recently selected the Bobcats as their new mascot in a "Mascot Madness" tournament last month and are now working on selecting new school colors.
That was not the only big news coming out the district, which also announced a new partnership with the Arethusa Farm Foundation, which will ensure the Arethusa Farm operations on Webster Road in Litchfield continue into the future, and to make the farm permanently available to the school's Agriscience programs. 
For the full announcement, see
News Release: Arethusa Farm & RSD6
Update on Gunn Memorial Library in Washington
To the Gunn Memorial Library Community, 

On February 5th, we last communicated to the community that the Gunn Library experienced a frozen pipe break that caused extensive water damage in the Adult and Children’s Libraries.
Since that time the Adult and Children’s libraries have been opened with modified services in the upstairs Wykeham Room (the original part of the Library). We have enjoyed seeing many of you!
During these last weeks we have been busy removing our collections to a suitable environmentally controlled facility and making plans for a reimagined Adult and Children’s Library.
We have begun working to repair the damage as we simultaneously place our orders for new fixtures and furnishings.
We appreciate your inputs through our community survey last month. Those comments along with our staff visits to recently renovated libraries in our region have helped inform us as we update our spaces while preserving the warmth and history of our facility.

We anticipate completion in the Fall and will keep the community updated.

Sharon Historical Society awarded Collections Assessment Grant
Congratulations to the Sharon Historical Society, which was selected as one of 25 institutions to receive a Collections Assessment Grant.
The Collections Assessment Grant program provides free assessments of museum or archive collections at cultural heritage organizations with budgets under $250,000, with priority given to institutions with budgets under $50,000.  Museum and archive professionals conduct on-site collection assessments, consult with staff and volunteers, and provide reports with recommendations and resources.
You can learn more about the grant program at
Join the CT General Assembly for a bipartisan kickball game on May 1!
Ebird tutorial on April 18 via Zoom
Register Here
Changing Lives at Lakeville Town Grove: blood drive on April 20, and concert to fight food insecurity on April 30
Students at The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville invite community members to join them in an effort to save lives and feed neighbors in need.  
You can be a hero on April 20 from 1:00-6:15 pm by giving blood and life at the School's Red Cross Blood Drive. Enjoy free pizza, freshly baked goodies, and other delectable snacks in addition to a free Peanuts donor t-shirt!  Every two seconds someone in the US needs blood and there is no substitute for blood which is needed 38,000 times every day.  You can save up to three lives by registering for an appointment at  
If you'd like to help fight food insecurity while enjoying a dazzling music performance, please head to the Lakeville Town Grove on April 30 at 2 pm.  Following their very successful Martin Luther King Day concert at the Grove, Hotchkiss School musicians, many of whom recently performed at Carnegie Hall, will return with a concert to benefit the Corner Food Pantry on April 30 at 2 pm.  Guests are encouraged to stay for a reception at which they can meet the students while enjoying food and beverages.  
The concert will feature classical music performances, a jazz ensemble, and the school's all-male (Blue Notes) and all-female (Caliope) acapella groups. Students ask that guests please make a non-perishable food donation to the pantry which is especially in need of cooking oil, coffee, tea, salt and pepper, rice, granola bars, and mayonnaise. Thank you!
To ensure enough seating and refreshments for guests, please RSVP to
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 22
We're almost one week away from National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day! On April 22, visit your local drop-off site to safely dispose of expired and unused medications.

Cleaning out your medicine cabinet can prevent prescription drug misuse and overdose. The safest and most secure way to dispose of your unwanted medications is to visit your local prescription drug collection site or a take-back event. Visit to locate a collection site near you!
 Earth Day Stewardship Restoration Workday on April 22 in Kent
Register Here
Great Big Day of Composting on April 22 in Cornwall
Whether you are interested in learning how to compost in your own back yard or want to know more about the compost program at the Sharon/ Salisbury Transfer station, The Great Big Day of Composting has the answers.  

Join us on Earth Day, April 22 at 3 pm at the Cornwall Library, 30 Pine Street, Cornwall, CT. to learn more about how to compost in Northwest Connecticut.  Panelists include Dr. Jane Lucas from Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Barbara Bettigole, Chair of the Transfer Station Recycling Advisory Committee, Sharon Energy and Environment Commission member and renowned horticulturalist, Mike Nadeau, and Tom Larson, manager of the Cornwall Transfer Station. Broadcast journalist, Richard Schlesinger will moderate the panel discussion. Afterwards, Dr. Lucas will demonstrate how to create a compost system for your garden. The event will end with a walking tour to visit various compost piles in the town of Cornwall.

The event is free, but registration is required as seating is limited. Please register 

Community Planting Day at Adamah Farm in Falls Village on April 23
Adamah Farm's Community Planting Day in honor of Earth Day will take place on  Sunday, April 23rd from 10am-1pm and/or 2-4pm.
Location 10am-1pm: 181 Beebe Hill Rd, street parking
Location 2-4pm: Route 126 just east of Johnson Rd.  Parking on grass shoulders of 126.  Follow walking path with wooden sign reading "Sadeh" on north side of 126.
We'll be planting more chestnut trees in our silvopasture orchard and wetland trees and shrubs in a field along the Hollenbeck River.  These projects both began with the help of this community three years ago and we are excited to share the ongoing project with you!
Give Local in the Greater Waterbury and Litchfield Hills on April 25 and 26
We’re counting down the days to April 25-26 and the return of Give Local, a 36-hour campaign that brings us together to help protect the lands and waters we love across the Housatonic River Valley. 
Stay tuned for details and thank you in advance for your support!
Crescendo presents "In Search of the Bridges" concert on April 28 and 30
Crescendo's last concerts of the season. "In Search of the Bridges" will be presented on April 28 & 30 and features a variety of music from across the Americas as well as the world premier of a piece written by composer John Myers for Crescendo Chorus. It will be a concert to bring people together through music, bridging the divisions that so often separate us. Below and attached is the full press release and image.
It is my honor to represent our district. I look forward to hearing from you about the issues raised in this newsletter, or any other topics you think I should know about. You can email me at or call me at (860)-240-8585. Thanks for reading, and I wish you a safe weekend.

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Maria Horn
State Representative


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