House Passes Priority Bills

May 6, 2024

Time is running out as my colleagues and I try to pass as many good bills as possible before the end of the legislative session this week. The House of Representatives spent all of last week in session, and we are back at it today until our midnight deadline on Wednesday, May 8. 

We have successfully passed several priority measures this week, and now the Senate must act on them in the coming days. One of those bills supports our veterans who put their lives on the line for our freedom. I'll break down how new legislation would bring aid to our disabled heroes.

We also approved a proposal that would keep families healthy while supporting local farmers. Please keep scrolling to learn how the bill improves nutrition for women and children.

The House also passed an update to our state’s paid sick leave law to make sure that people don’t have to choose between a paycheck and going to work while ill and getting their coworkers sick. The bill, to be frank, is not without some controversy. I worked hard on this measure, and the final product that passed the House has significant changes from the original proposal that lessen its adverse impact on our small businesses. Read below for details on the changes and the final House bill.

The weather is warming up, and you may have already encountered a bear or two in your neighborhood. Below you will find out what those animals are up to in the month of May.

And, the Simsbury Performing Arts Center unveiled its summer schedule, which includes a wonderful program of nights from the Hartford Symphony (including a Taylor Swift themed evening). Be sure to check out the full slate of events on the calendar below!

Here are the sections in this week's email:

  • Supporting Our Disabled Veterans
  • Help for Our Seniors 
  • House Passes Comprehensive Climate Bill
  • Child & Family Nutrition Bill Clears House 
  • Supporting Childcare Affordability and Early Education Access
  • Simsbury Serves Up Delightful Food at Capitol
  • Simsbury Budget Referendum on Friday
  • What Bears Do in May 
  • Three-Year-Old's Encounter with Cub
  • Expect Delays for Water Main Replacement
  • Restored Trail Information Kiosk 
  • What the Paid Sick Leave Bill Really Does
  • Schedule Unveiled at Performing Arts Center
  • Community Events
Supporting Our Disabled Veterans
The House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that I co-sponsored supporting veterans who have been disabled during service. This is a small way to say, “thank you" to our heroes and is long overdue.
House Bill 5491 establishes a property tax exemption for veterans who have a service-connected permanent and total disability rating as determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The exemption will be used for a home that is a primary residence, but if a qualified veteran does not own a home, the exemption will apply to a single motor vehicle they own.
The Senate must now act on the bill before midnight on May 8.
These brave men and women have spent their lives fighting to protect our freedoms. It is our turn to support them when they come home with disabilities to ensure they live with dignity and without fear of losing their home.
More than 1,200 veterans in Connecticut are totally and permanently disabled as a result of their service.
Help for Our Seniors
As the elderly population steadily grows, there is urgency to provide resources and assistance to this community. During Monday's legislative session, we took a significant step to achieving that goal by passing House Bill 5001, a top priority for House Democrats this session.

HB 5001, which passed with bipartisan support, protects, and prioritizes elderly residents in our state. This bill:

  • makes it easier for seniors to age in place
  • creates a nursing home database, providing consumers with an easy and reliable way to compare locations around the state
  • establishes incentives to encourage nursing homes to improve care

The measure now moves to the Senate, which must act before the end of the legislative session.

House Passes Comprehensive Climate Bill
Connecticut is committed to mitigating the climate crisis. The first step is acknowledging there is a crisis.
This week, I joined my Democratic colleagues and voted to pass one of our top legislative priorities this session, HB 5004, also referred to as the 2024 Connecticut Climate Protection Act. Protecting the environment and working to combat the effects of climate change should be a shared priority because the act of doing nothing is far-reaching and touches every aspect of life on Earth.

This bill:

  • updates the state's Global Warming Solutions Act to make our greenhouse gas emissions targets more in line with other states in the region;
  • creates incentives for businesses and municipalities that engage in clean economy sectors or engage in environmentally sustainable projects;
  • plans for transition to clean economy, workforce training and long-term policy implementation; and
  • supports and expands nature-based solutions, such as preserving marshlands and forests

We can make a difference in the quality of life for future generations of Connecticut residents. The time to start making necessary changes is now.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Child & Family Nutrition Bill Clears House
The House demonstrated its commitment to the health and well-being of our families and children by unanimously passing House Bill 5003. This comprehensive legislation ensures mothers and children, who are eligible for federal benefits, are enrolled in nutrition programs with ease and confidence.
This bill aims to reduce barriers to participation in WIC (Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, Children). WIC enrollment in Connecticut is among the lowest in the country at only 46%. We need to maximize participation in this program to improve the health and nutrition of young children.

This bill has several goals including:

  • keeping local families healthy by making it easier for Connecticut agencies to enroll children and parents who qualify into federal nutrition assistance programs;
  • promoting outreach and information to access these federal programs that Connecticut underutilizes; and
  • supporting local farmers by encouraging their participation in these programs at farmers’ markets

Healthy children are less likely to develop nutrition-related chronic diseases, at a lower risk of cavities/tooth decay, have improved mental health, and improved participation in other social service programs.

The Senate will take up the bill next.

Supporting Childcare Affordability 
and Early Education Access
The House approved a bill that will make childcare and early childhood education more affordable and accessible. The need for this legislation is great because Connecticut has one of the highest costs of childcare in the country.

House Bill 5002 supports working parents by:

  • creating the “Early Childhood Care and Education Fund,” that may only be utilized for childcare and early childhood education programs
  • establishing the Early Childhood Care and Education Fund Advisory Commission that will report on the health of the Fund and annually update recommendations on how to best expend the resources of the Fund to the General Assembly
  • investing in teachers and assistant teachers in state-funded school readiness programs and state-funded childcare programs
  • requiring a study on the availability of space in state-owned properties that may be used for early childhood care and education programs

These are sound investments in our state’s future and will go a long way toward helping parents earn a living and provide for their children’s education.

The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

Simsbury Serves Up Delightful Food at Capitol
One of the highlights of session is always the amazing restaurants that come to the Capitol to share their talents with us. It was great to see Simsbury High School’s Pro Start culinary team in the mix and serving up some professional level tasty treats. The Mexican street corn and bacon wrapped chicken bites were to die for!
I couldn’t resist a little dessert courtesy of my friends at Grassroots Ice Cream! Between the salted caramel, goat cheese blackberry, and my staff’s personal favorite blood orange chip, you can’t go wrong! Thank you for feeding the hungry legislators on a late night during the legislative session!
Simsbury Budget Referendum on Friday

The annual budget referendum will be held on Friday, May 10 from 6:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. at the Simsbury Town Hall. Absentee ballots are available in the Town Clerk’s Office during regular business hours through Thursday, May 9.

Click here for the full notice of referendum and budget summary, a budget mailer that will be sent to all residences, and the sample ballot.

What Bears Do in May
Courtesy: Bearwise

According to Bearwise, mom and cubs stay near the den in May. Cubs follow their moms and start learning and mimicking some behaviors. If you see a cub or two on their own, keep in mind that mom is most likely looking for food and left the cubs in what she perceived to be a safe area. Please walk away and do not touch the cubs.

Click Here to Learn What Bears Do in May
Three-Year-Old's Encounter with Cub

A three-year-old boy from Simsbury made a new friend from a safe distance last month. As you can see, Trevor and the bear cub stared each other down and were quite surprised! CLICK HERE to watch the NBC Connecticut article detailing their interaction!

Courtesy: Samantha Welch
Expect Delays for Water Main Replacement

Drivers can expect delays in town starting on Monday as Aquarion Water Company replaces a water main. Work will take place on Red Stone Drive, Andrew Drive, Harriet Lane, Top View Drive, Hilltop Drive, and Butternut Lane through October. There will be slowdowns in that area from 7:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M., Monday through Friday.

The project, which will replace approximately 12,450 feet of water main, is part of an ongoing program to improve Aquarion’s water distribution system. CLICK HERE to find out when construction may affect homes.

Restored Trail Information Kiosk

Check out the new and improved trail information kiosk on the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail at the Winslow Road parking area in Simsbury! Thank you to the Farmington Valley Trail Council volunteers who replaced the roof and installed new aluminum bulletin boards. We all appreciate your work!

What the Paid Sick Leave Bill Really Does

No one should have to choose between going in to work sick and exposing others, or being able to pay their rent or buy groceries. That's why we passed House Bill 5005 to allow for the accrual of paid leave, up to 40 hours a year, to promote better health outcomes.

While this bill is not perfect, I fought hard to make it immeasurably better for our town’s small businesses. Here are some highlights about what this bill really does now:

  • three-year phase in - employers with 25 employees or more in 2025, 11 or more in 2026, and 1 or more in 2027
  • businesses that are already offering at least 40 hours of paid time off each year — of any kind — are exempt from this law
  • only employees working at least 120 days in a year are eligible (seasonal employees are not)
  • no immediate eligibility - it cannot be used until an employee has worked 120 days, and it accrues based on the number of hours worked
  • permits shift switching instead of using the paid time off
  • a task force to study the fiscal impact of providing our smallest employers with a tax credit for the sick leave they pay out and to report on that impact far before the phase in date for smallest businesses
There is a lot of misinformation and downright misrepresentations being floated out there about this bill, so if you have any questions, please reach out to me by phone or email my office at the Capitol.

Schedule Unveiled at Performing Arts Center

The Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center unveiled its 2024 calendar. There will be concerts, festivals, athletics events, fireworks, food trucks, and so much more including a Taylor Swift sing along event and a Disney tribute band. CLICK HERE to find out what’s in store this summer for you and your family.

Community Events
Golfers and sponsors are invited to sign up for a fun-filled day of golf to support the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company's annual fundraiser. CLICK HERE to register by Sunday, May 19!

Proceeds help fund firefighting and rescue equipment, events for firefighters and their families, SVFC and SVFCA scholarships, The CT Burns Care Foundation Children’s Burn Camp, Simsbury Social Services, Simsbury Food Closet, and Keep Simsbury Warm.

The golf tournament will take place on Thursday, June 13 at Blue Fox Run Golf Course in Avon.