State Capitol Update For The Week Of August 30September 3, 2021
The last week or so has been characterized by a series of extreme events. The weather included a near miss from Hurricane Henri, and heavy rains dumped throughout the state by Henri’s sister Ida. Those rains produced extensive flooding throughout the region, and caused the tragic death of State Trooper Brian Mohl whose car was swept away in rushing water. Trooper Mohl was a twenty-six year veteran, known personally to many in the region, and local emergency services participated in his attempted rescue, so his loss lies heavy here as we hold his family in our hearts.
Another extreme event was not weather related. The Supreme Court this week allowed an extreme law in Texas, which effectively bans all abortions in the state, regardless of circumstance, to remain in effect, despite an unusual structure that seeks to evade legal review by handing its enforcement over to a form of vigilante justice, forcing a $10,000 bounty (plus legal fees) to be paid by anyone who helps any woman who chooses to end a pregnancy. Having been that “abettor” to two close friends, who made a choice that was theirs to make, who needed transport, resources, and emotional support that I was happy to provide to them, this seems personal to me. That’s what you do for people you care about – you support them and help them when they need it. This law is most insidious because it aims to strip women in Texas of aid and support when it counts most, while claiming to be supportive.
This is a Texas law, and I usually don’t focus on the laws of other states, but having just most of last week at a conference with legislators from other states, learning from their experiences, I think it’s valuable to pause and understand the severity of this legislation, especially as a number of other states are poised to pass copycat legislation that pits ordinary citizens against one another on this issue, despite the fact that strong majorities, even in conservative states, believe abortion should be legal in some circumstances. If reproductive choice is not your most important issue, imagine this enforcement structure being used to deny you any other right enshrined by our legal system, and insulated from judicial review because the state has kept its hands clean. I don’t think that’s where we want to live.
On a more positive note, several people recommended to me an article by Atul Gawande in the New Yorker, describing how efforts combining individual healthcare with public health initiatives have vastly improved health outcomes in Costa Rica, whose average life expectancy now exceeds that of the United States, despite per capita income being one sixth of that in the US. Here’s a link to the article.
I think a lot of useful information can be gleaned from that experience. One local example, described more below, is a new character on the block nicknamed Betty: a mobile health van that Community Health & Wellness will be bringing to the Northwest Corner, providing a vast array of health services that are critical for our healthcare in an area that is losing primary health care providers.
Many of you have asked for ways to help Afghan refugees in CT, and here’s a helpful article.
I wish you all a healthy and happy Labor Day weekend, packed with lots of local activities including the Historic Festival at Lime Rock Park, and the return of the Goshen Fair – hope to see you out there!
Here’s a list of today’s topics:
- COVID Data. Click here.
- Betty, The New Mobile Medical Unit. Click here.
- CT Department of Ag. Urges Farmers to Report Crop Damage. Click here.
- New Policy to Help Curb Car Thefts. Click here.
- Congrats to Local Art Hero. Click here.
- Lime Rock Park Events. Click here.
- Leadership Program Offered by NW CT Chamber of Commerce. Click here.
For several additional graphs and tables containing more data, including a list of cases in every municipality, visit ct.gov/coronavirus and click the link that is labeled, “Data Tracker.”
Community Health and Wellness introduces… Betty!
At a moment when public health is of critical importance, and when rural areas like ours are losing primary healthcare providers, Community Health & Wellness, a federally qualified health center based in Torrington with a location in Winsted (and soon, we hope in North Canaan!) is introducing a new mobile medical unit that will travel throughout the Northwest Corner providing an array of healthcare services. Nicknamed “Betty”, she will soon be making the rounds and I’ll provide more specifics when we have them.
Connecticut Department of Agriculture urges farmers to report crop damage or loss to USDA Farm Service Agency
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture is encouraging farmers and agricultural producers who may have experienced crop damage or loss due to Storm Ida to contact their United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office.
Steps to Take Following Extreme Weather Events
- Check with your crop insurance and/or local Farm Services Agency (FSA) representatives regarding exact documentation to certify losses, procedures for initiating claims, possible financial assistance.
- Take photos of damaged field for visual documentation. Estimate crop value and degree of losses.
- Contact your county FSA office and report the information on any loss. This benefits your region because it helps to document the extent of damage to crops in your county which will determine eligibility for federal disaster aid. It will benefit you by establishing what level of damage you sustained. You do not need to have crop insurance to be eligible for disaster aid should your county be eligible.
- Contact your crop insurance representative to arrange a visit with an adjuster and call your financial lenders to discuss available options.
- Follow FDA guidance on evaluating the safety of flood-affected food crops for human consumption. For more information, click here.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), has disaster assistance programs available to help agricultural producers recover after natural disasters, including flooding and wind events.
FSA offers many programs to help producers recover from losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), Emergency Forest Restoration Program and the Tree Assistance Program. Producers located in counties receiving a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses.
The FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters.
Compensation is also available to producers who purchased coverage through FSA’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. Eligible producers must have purchased NAP coverage for 2021 crops and file a notice of loss and application for payment on qualifying crops.
Some communities in CT, and across the country, have been experiencing an increase in car theft and related violence, and we have been convening with experts in the field on how to address it. One of the issues we heard was that police departments, and sometimes judges, were not getting access to the criminal history of juveniles who were engaging in this criminal activity, which made investigations and determinations on when to detain a juvenile difficult. As an outgrowth of those conversations, policy changes have been made to ensure that accurate information is available at all times.
Starting earlier this week, the CT Judicial Branch will provide police departments with 24/7 access to juvenile arrest records to help curb car thefts and break-ins.
This new procedure will allow police departments the ability to seek a juvenile’s prior criminal history at any time.
Congratulations to local Arts Heroes Angaza and Effie Mwando !
Connecticut Office of the Arts has announced its annual CT Arts Heroes, Connecticut residents who do remarkable work in the arts, for the arts, and through the arts. This year’s recipients include Angaza and Effie Mwando of Torrington. Effie and Angaza use the arts as a way to connect the community. They are described as the most loving, positive, accepting and inspiring individuals who work tirelessly (in their "retirement") to promote the celebration of all cultures and encourage people of different backgrounds to come together. Through their work, they highlight and educate the community about black culture and have risen to the forefront of advocacy for cultural unity. They also work with schools to bring diversity programming into the classrooms, and they encourage local groups to share with each other through art.
Lime Rock Park events
Labor Day weekend brings Historic Festival 39 to Lime Rock Park in Salisbury, featuring races and events with vintage cars. One of my favorite parts of this weekend is the kickoff parade through town, which includes a stop at Noble Horizons, where my mother was a resident. This year, my schedule kept me from watching the race there, so I had to be content to see if from the side of the road in my car! To check out the schedule for the rest of the weekend, see the FULL SCHEDULE HERE.
Admission is free for veterans and active military, and for youths 16 and under. Call (860) 435-5000 for more information.
Leadership program offered by the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce
The Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce is pleased to once-again offer their Leadership training program, Leadership Northwest. The program will be offered in a hybrid format to give attendees both in-person and virtual options. This year, the commitment is only a half-day, once a month, and the new pricing structure reflects this change.
What does Leadership Northwest offer?
· Employees with increased leadership, organizational and problem solving skills.
· A strengthened involvement in community affairs.
· New access to a network of community leaders and resources.
· Public recognition of their community involvement.
· Enhanced employee morale.
The Community Gains:
· A committed, knowledgeable group of people prepared to accept key positions on community boards.
· A broad-based pool of individuals sensitive to the diverse populations in the community.
· A group with a greater appreciation of the issues facing our community today and in the future.
· Experience with group dynamics and team leadership along with professional and personal growth.
· Understanding of leadership styles.
· Opportunities for contact with influential regional leaders.
Applications will be accepted until September 30.
Providing information to Connecticut residents
For the most up-to-date information from the State of Connecticut on COVID-19, residents are encouraged to visit ct.gov/coronavirus. Residents can also subscribe to text message alerts from the state by texting the keyword COVIDCT to 888-777.
Individuals who have general questions that are not answered on the website can call 2-1-1 for assistance. The hotline is available 24 hours a day and has multilingual assistance. Anyone who is out-of-state or requires a toll-free number can connect to Connecticut 2-1-1 by dialing 1-800-203-1234. This is intended to be used by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms but may have general questions related to COVID-19. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms are strongly urged to contact their medical provider.