June Updates for the 98th District

June 14, 2024

It's hard to believe that another legislative session has come to a conclusion. In early May, we wrapped up our 2024 session work of committee meetings and hearings, bill drafting and floor voting on various bills brought before the General Assembly. It was a busy, important few months of hard work, collaboration and focus on the needs of Connecticut. I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish, while also cognizant that not every initiative we brought forth saw ultimate success. We had to make compromises among the budget constraints and fiscal “guardrails” put in place to keep our financial house in order. Yet, we made important investments in higher education, our aging population, early childhood care and education, and our non-profit partners. We passed important legislation to support public education, public health needs, environmental initiatives and our elections.
It's always disappointing to see certain bills fail to get over the proverbial finish line. But those losses were counterbalanced with important successes. It also fuels our focus to continue working and building consensus around the issues that matter most to all of you. The work doesn't stop simply because we are not in session. Instead, we can take this time between now and January to recalibrate our efforts and develop the legislative concepts that will best represent your voices.
As always, your ideas and concerns are my priority. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. I would love to hear from you!

With gratitude,

State Representative Moira Rader
98th District Community Conversation 
Please join Senator Cohen and me on June 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Willoughby Wallace Memorial Library in Stony Creek - Branford. We'd love for you to come and share your thoughts on the 2024 legislative session, offer ideas you would like us to consider, and hear about important legislation passed this year.
Early Voting & Civic Engagement with the Secretary of the State 
On May 21st, I welcomed Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas to Guilford, along with Reps. Parker, Comey, Candelora, and Senator Cohen, for a discussion on the state's new early voting system as well as a civic engagement discussion. It was a great opportunity to better understand the specifics of early voting for Connecticut and how it will be experienced in the months ahead. We heard about the needs of our municipalities in light of the new voting timelines, answered questions from town registrars, and enjoyed conversations around engaging our communities in the upcoming elections.
Major Bills That Passed in 2024
The last few weeks of the session can be a whirlwind. I want to share some of the bills that passed this session that might be of interest to you.

Among the bills that passed:

PA 24-19 (SB 1) - This omnibus public health bill passed with bipartisan support in both chambers. The bill's goal is to improve the health and safety of Connecticut residents. A small but important section of this bill was inspired by my work and friendship with Kristin and Mike Song. In this section of the law, healthcare providers will be required to provide gun safety information to all patients at their annual appointments. In drafting this language, it was my hope that utilizing the annual physical would be a wonderful way to make the largest connection to the most people regarding safe gun storage, which is the primary component of Ethan's Law.

Ethan’s Law was inspired by Ethan Song, who died by gunshot at the young age of 15, due to access to an unsecured firearm at the home of his friend. In creating this educational opportunity, my hope is that this legislation enables more families and gun owners to better understand Ethan’s Law and our shared responsibility to ensure guns are always securely stored.

PA 24-39 (HB 5001) - A priority bill in the House, this legislation supports Connecticut seniors and improves nursing home and home-based care. 

PA 24-91 (HB 5002) - A House priority bill focused on early childhood care and education, this bill seeks to establish (1) the Early Childhood Care and Education Fund and advisory commission and specify funding for said fund, (2) a Tri-Share Child Care Matching Program in New London County, and (3) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2025, a wage supplement and childcare program enhancement grant program.

PA 24-82 (HB 5003) - A House priority bill, HB 5003 seeks to ensure that children and families have increased access to all available nutrition programs in the state. This bill aims to reduce barriers to participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, Children (WIC). 

PA 24-141 (HB 5046) - The House and Senate both passed this bill which will make nursing home living more humane and comfortable for its residents. 

PA 24-41 (HB 5436) - In an effort to update the teaching certification process, the legislature made important changes to the teacher certification laws. The legislation also expands those eligible for the alternate route to certification (ARC) program. These changes were supported by various education advocates and will ensure that Connecticut continues to have the best and most qualified educators in our schools.

PA 24-148 (HB 5498) - Modifies procedures for acquiring absentee ballot applications, as well as requires town clerks to track how a ballot is received (by mail, drop box, or in person), and report information to the Secretary of the State. The bill also requires municipalities to make video recordings of absentee drop boxes during elections and release the recordings to the public.  

PA 24-110 (HB 5198) - Makes permanent certain temporary expanded requirements for telehealth service delivery and insurance coverage that was scheduled to sunset under prior law on June 30, 2024. The act expands the list of authorized telehealth providers to include all Connecticut licensed health care providers and pharmacists.

I worked alongside several fellow legislators this year to extend the universal free breakfast program in our schools for another year. While that didn't come to fruition, we were able to secure ARPA funding to support those students who currently qualify for reduced-price meals to receive meals at no cost for the ‘24-’25 next school year. I consider this a small but impactful win for families struggling to make ends meet and ensure their children have the nutrition they need to succeed.

I also have to report that the climate bill - HB 5004 - passed in the House but was not called for a vote in the Senate. I was proud to work on this important legislation with an invested team of Environment Committee colleagues. We will absolutely continue to advocate for this critical legislation in the future.

To better understand the bills that passed or failed this year, you can read this comprehensive list of bills HERE or HERE to review the Office of Legislative Research's Major Public Acts Report. These are both wonderful resources to better understand the legislation that came out of the Connecticut 2024 session.

Branford Receives CT Trails Funds for Two Projects 
Governor Ned Lamont and Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes recently announced the release of a series of grants totaling $10 million that will support the planning, building, expansion, and improvement of 45 multi-use trails located in towns and cities throughout Connecticut, including Branford.
The grants were awarded through the Connecticut Recreational Trails Grant Program, which DEEP administers. Funds to support the grants were approved by the State Bond Commission at its October 2023 meeting.

Grant funding awarded to these projects can be allocated for a wide variety of purposes, including planning, design, land acquisition, construction, construction administration, and publications for bikeways, walkways, and greenways, as well as for equipment and trail amenities, such as parking lots, toilet buildings, signs, and benches.

Honoring Sgt. Paul Maynard with Posthumous Purple Heart
On Memorial Day Weekend, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, State Senator Christine Cohen, and I had the honor of attending a special ceremony at Guilford Town Green to award Sgt. Paul Maynard a posthumous Purple Heart. Sgt. Maynard, who served with Connecticut's 102nd Infantry, 26th "Yankee Division," was killed in action in France on the last day of the war, November 11, 1918. He was only 21 years old at the time of his death and is documented as the last service member from Connecticut to be killed in the war. Sgt. Maynard's grandnephew, Rick Maynard of Guilford (former Guilford Parks and Recreation Director), accepted the Purple Heart on his granduncle's behalf. 

Sgt. Maynard, who hailed from Torrington, CT, is interred at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France.

Community Conversations: Highlighting our Non-Profit Organizations
A Conversation with Liza Petra, Executive Director of the Guilford Foundation and the Branford Community Foundation
In an effort to highlight the importance of our local non-profit organizations, I decided to begin an occasional series of videos to share with you in hopes of bringing more awareness and support to these vital resources in our district. I wanted to start this series with my friend and constituent, Liza Petra, Executive Director of the Guilford Foundation and the Branford Community Foundation. I am grateful to Liza for giving of her time to talk to me and share all the ways these two critical foundations support our community. Please enjoy this video and let me know which non-profit you would like me to highlight next!
Pride Month is Here! 
Guilford celebrated Guilford Pride on May 18 and Branford celebrated with a Pride Rally on June 8. The day before the Pride festival in Guilford, I joined Senator Cohen, First Selectman Hoey, Pride Festival Chair Sarah Celotto, and many others to raise the Pride flag and visit the painted rainbow crosswalk, a wonderful recognition of the diversity of this community.

The event the following day featured visits from Lt. Gov. Bysiewicz, Treasurer Russell, and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. I was honored to address the community, speaking about the importance of belonging. As I stated, “True belonging doesn't require you to change who you are; it only requires you to be exactly who you are. Belongingness entails an unwavering commitment to not simply tolerating and respecting difference, but to ensuring that all people are welcome and feel that they belong.”

Both town celebrations were incredible gatherings of love and support.

Visiting The Connecticut Hospice
I was so thankful to be invited to tour and meet with the leadership of The Connecticut Hospice. The Connecticut Hospice is America's first hospice. It was founded by Florence Wald, and a group of nurses, doctors, and clergy, in 1974. It was the first of its kind in the United States. The hospital moved to its current, beautiful location along the Branford waterfront in 1999.

Today, this wonderful in-patient facility provides the peace and serenity desired by many patients and their families during a very difficult time. As someone who has benefited from the care of my own loved ones through hospice services, I was so grateful to learn more about this incredible facility and the people who sustain this invaluable support for many of our Connecticut neighbors. To learn more about The Connecticut Hospice, please click HERE

Stony Creek Farmers Market is Now Open!
Looking for something to do on a Sunday morning/early afternoon? Visit the Stony Creek Farmers Market every Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Bayview Park in Branford until October 27. 
Guilford Farmers Market Open Through October
The Guilford Farmers Market at the Guilford Fairgrounds is hosted by the Guilford Agricultural Society. Vendors offer fresh and locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as baked goods, artisan breads, meats, seafood, fresh pasta, eggs, and many more specialty products.  You will also find local, CT-made crafts at the market. 

The farmers market runs Thursdays, 4 -7 p.m., rain or shine at the Guilford Fairgrounds at 111 Lovers Lane.

For more information, click HERE

Branford Festival This Weekend
2024 marks the 40th anniversary of the Branford Festival! The festival runs from June 14-16 at the Branford Green. The annual event spans three days on Father’s Day weekend. Thousands of residents, families, and friends gather on the historic town green to enjoy live music, over a dozen food vendors, local talent, kids' activities, crafts, and more.

The Branford Road Race takes place on Sunday and includes a 1 Mile Family Fun Run, 2 Mile Health Walk, and 5 Mile Road Race.

Festival Hours
Friday, June 14 from 5 – 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 15 from 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday, June 16 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.