Legislative Update - May 11

May 12, 2023

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It has been a busy few months as a legislator up in Hartford. I thoroughly enjoy the work and the privilege of being your voice in the General Assembly.

Much has been accomplished over these last few months. The typical first few months of session focus on committee work. My committee assignments include the Environment committee, Education committee and the Public Health committee. It has been wonderful to be a part of the public hearing process within my committees and attending other committee hearings to better understand those issues most pertinent to legislators and constituents alike. This is the opportunity for us to hear from the public, consider opinions on proposed legislation and deliberate what might be best in moving a bill forward.

Numerous bills come through our committees, some get passed out of committee and some do not. Those bills which have a “fiscal note”(meaning as associated budgetary cost) at or above $50,000, are brought to the Appropriations committee for consideration. Once bills are screened and passed through committees as required, they can then be brought forward to the General Assembly for consideration.

One of the most important responsibilities of the General Assembly during our odd year legislative sessions is to adopt a balanced state budget for the next two fiscal years. After weeks of holding public hearings, both the Finance, Revenue, & Bonding and Appropriations Committees met recently to pass their revised budget proposals. While Appropriations focuses on the spending side of the equation, the Finance committee adopts revenues to pay for the budget.

Next comes a round of meetings that consist of the two committees reconciling their respective packages as well as negotiations with the Governor's office to craft the final budget. The budget bill then goes before the House and Senate, where each chamber must pass the same version of the budget before the constitutional adjournment of the legislative session on June 7 for it to move to the Governor's desk for his consideration.

The legislature’s final budget must then be signed into law by the governor before the end of the current fiscal year on June 30. The new budget would then take effect July 1 and run through June 30, 2025.

I will continue to actively advocate for budget support of the programs and services that are critical to our communities. In turn, I am here to be your voice on the budget and bills before me. Please never hesitate to reach out. I would love to hear from you.
 With gratitude,

The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) unanimously voted to begin a search for consultants to monitor the performance of the state's two electric distribution companies - Eversource and United Illuminating (UI). This is an important step toward eventually shifting to performance-based regulation for the companies.
The framework for these changes was created in the wake of Eversource and UI's poor and slow response to issues caused by Tropical Storm Isaias in 2020. In response, the Connecticut General Assembly passed the "Take Back Our Grid Act," a robust bill that established standards that utility companies must meet, penalties if those standards are not met, and metrics for determining progress.

Additionally, PURA also announced that it has extended the utility shutoff moratorium for gas and electric service disconnections for residential financial hardship customers until October 31, 2023.
These changes will help hold the state's utilities accountable, protect vulnerable communities and ensures that the ratepayers are the priority moving forward.

Connecticut voters asked the legislature for more voting options through a constitutional amendment on early voting that they overwhelmingly approved this past November, and we are answering the call. 

Last Thursday, the House of Representatives approved H.B. 5004, a measure that will allow early voting in our state beginning in 2024.

This legislation modernizes the state's elections and allows for more convenience and fairness in the process, reflecting the realities of hectic modern-day life.

Eligible voters will be able to cast their ballots in person ahead of Election Day for both regular and special elections, as well as primaries.

Passage of this bill in the House is a step towards improving access to the ballot box for all eligible Connecticut voters.

I look forward to the next step – debate in the Senate.

During this legislative session, my colleagues and I have passed several pieces of legislation. Below are a few that I wanted to highlight. 
  • HB 6688 passed in the House. This bipartisan bill improves protections for CT residents going through eviction, expands green subsidies to heat pumps and geothermal heating, improves CHFA subsidies for home ownership and affordable housing opportunities, and establishes a working group to find ways to increase financing opportunities for mobile manufactured homes.
  • The House passed HB 6752, AN ACT CONCERNING DIGITAL ASSETS, allowing the CT Department of Banking to issue regulations regarding cryptocurrencies and protects CT residents from scams related to cryptocurrency kiosks.
  • We approved HB 6831 to allow for 24-hour response for prescription drugs for certain mental health conditions.
  • We passed HB 5575, a necessary measure to ensure the humane treatment of animals in municipal animal shelters. We set municipal regulations establishing guidelines that maintain the health and safety of both the animals and the individuals working in the facilities. 
  • The House approved HB 6480, An Act Establishing A Working Group On The Restoration Of Eel Grass. Eel Grass is an important component of seagrass meadows that improve water quality and protect from erosion. 
  • HB 6479 contains a key provision to maximize federal funds designated for state and municipal climate change resiliency projects, including coastal resiliency projects. 
  • Diaper insecurity, food insecurity, and housing instability…. HB 6587 creates a task force to develop a plan that utilizes Medicaid funding to support these health-related social needs, seek federal approval for services, and report how the proposed coverage will impact current recommendations. 
  • The House just approved HB6632 which opens previously closed avenues for local housing authorities housing units. On to the Senate for consideration.
  • The House approved HB 6689 to make a career in health care a realistic option for more CT students. The Nursing and Mental Health Care Professionals Loan Subsidy Program will mean lower interest rates for students looking to go into health and mental health care. 
The House was in session on Tuesday and Wednesday. Below are some key bills that were passed:

✅ HB6823:Putting elections in the hands of the Constitutional office that manages elections makes sense. This bill designates the Secretary of the State as the state official responsible for certifying presidential electors.

✅ HB6891: A small but mighty change for taxpayers to allow charge card, debit card or electronic payment of municipal taxes or penalties.

✅ HJ No. 1: CT's restrictive voting system is codified in the state constitution. Today's vote is to get a resolution to amend the constitution to allow no-excuse absentee ballots on the ballot in 2024.

✅ HB6672: Endometriosis is an under-studied disease impacting 1-in-10 women in CT.  The House passed HB6672 to create the Endometriosis Data and Biorepository Program and associated endometriosis research lab.

✅ HB6590: This bill makes it easier for families to get access to the childcare they need.


State Grant for Guilford

Governor Ned Lamont announced that his administration is awarding approximately $3.7 million in state funding to aid in the purchase and protection of more than 1,025 acres of open space in 14 communities throughout Connecticut, including Guilford. The East River Preserve Northern Inholding, located on Westerly of Podunk Road, Southerly of Leatherman Road in Guilford​, was purchased for $174,200. 

This purchase secures an inholding and complements open spaces and trails at the town’s adjacent 583-acre East River Preserve and Guilford Land Conservation Trust’s 95-acre Eastwoods property. The public can access the property and existing extensive, popular trail network from the Leatherman Road cul-de-sac. The New England Trail, which traverses the northwest corner of the property, relies heavily on this preserve for a great distance, as it approaches its terminus at Guilford’s shoreline. A new trail bisecting the property, is under consideration. The property is forested with 10+/- acres of inland wetlands, including a natural spring. Swamp white oak, a very uncommon tree species, was documented during a vegetation survey by a licensed forester with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. The property is capable of hosting spotted, wood and eastern box turtles.​

Click here to read more.

Earth Day

As a member of the Environment Committee, I work collaboratively to create and support legislation that will support initiatives and actions to reduce our negative impact on the environment and encourage innovative measures to sustain our planet. April was a wonderful time to recognize all we have done and all we still need to do to advance environmentally sound actions.

Guilford held their annual Earth Day celebration at Baldwin Middle School. It was a wonderful day which brought together community members, organizations and volunteers who came out to make the day educational, engaging and, most importantly, fun. We are the stewards of this planet and need to advocate, educate and walk the walk of doing all we can to protect and sustain our planet for generations to come.

Branford held their Earth Day celebration on the beautiful town green, filled with exhibitors, volunteers and state-wide organizations all working towards increasing awareness and engagement in actionable measures to better protect our precious planet.

Rt. 146 Corridor Management Study

I attended an important public meeting of the Route 146 Corridor Management Plan a few weeks ago. We can all appreciate the unique treasure that is Route 146. From the beautiful views of the marshes and waterways to the meandering historic properties along the corridor, this stretch of road and natural surroundings are something to be protected by proper management and planning.  The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) has partnered with a consulting firm to develop a Corridor Management Plan (CMP) for CT Route 146 in Branford and Guilford. The purpose of creating a CMP is to review the Route 146 corridor and how to protect its many historical, cultural, and environmental resources. The CMP will balance caring for these important resources with providing a safe roadway for all travelers and respecting the desires of the community, residents, and local businesses. It will also look at ways to make the corridor more resilient and prepared for climate risks and impacts. The best way to learn more is to visit the Rt.146 CMP website - https://route146cmp.com/.

Song Stong Bowl-a-Thon

It was a fun and meaningful afternoon of bowling and community as I joined a team of friends, “Pin there, Done that” and numerous teams of supporters to benefit the Song Strong Foundation and their incredible work around gun safety, reducing gun violence and remembering the life of their beloved son, Ethan. I have so much respect and appreciation for Kristin and Mike Song, who continue their incredible work so that our children might be safer and our world might know a day when gun violence is not commonplace anymore. As a new legislator, I am very open and vocal around my advocacy for better and safer gun legislation. I am encouraged, every day, to keep working towards ways to insure that this epidemic of gun violence can be remedied by the tireless advocacy of the Song Strong Foundation and their network of advocates.

GFFE Spelling Bee

I was so happy to join my Democratic Town Committee teammates, cleverly named “Dem Spellers”, for a night of spelling and fun benefitting the Guilford Fund for Education. The GFFE vision is to give educators and students an avenue to explore, experiment, and bring fresh educational ideas and experiences to youth. They do this by providing grants to educators for ideas that fall outside of their budget,  providing the funding to explore new concepts, enhance existing curriculum and strengthen the learning process. They are a wonderful partner to our school district and nonprofits, seeking to encourage and deepen a community-wide enthusiasm for excellence in education.

Guilford D.A.Y (Developmental Assets for Youth) will be celebrating D.A.Y week 2023 with a plethora of opportunities to bring our community together and build a healthier environment for our youth. 
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. For the past 20 years, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has recognized Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM) every May to increase awareness about the vital role mental health plays in our overall health and well-being.

If you or someone you know is mentally struggling, please know that you are not alone and no-cost help is available by phone, when and if it's needed. 

Mental Health America (and its state branch Mental Health Connecticut) invites you to "Look Around, Look Within." Your surroundings say a lot about your mental health. From neighborhood to genetics, many factors come into play when it comes to mental health conditions. 

While many parts of your environment can be out of your control, there are steps you can take to change your space and protect your well-being and those around you. To learn more, visit mhanational.org/may

In 2022, the Connecticut legislature passed three transformative mental health measures.

The three laws – HB 5001, SB 1, and SB 2 – strengthen Connecticut's mental and behavioral health system, which experienced unprecedented strain during the COVID-19 pandemic. These laws:

  • Expand 24/7 emergency mental health response and create walk-ins for mental health emergencies
  • Address shortages of mental health staff in our schools by offering grants to local schools to hire social workers, counselors, and psychologists
  • Provide mental health training to parents, students, and pediatricians
  • Expand school-based health centers to develop mental health programming
  • Create a state oversight and coordination of a state response to kids' mental health needs

It is more important than ever that we continued to invest in mental health. As state legislatures across the country cut funding for these vital services, in Connecticut, we chose to make critical investments in mental health for our state’s future.



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