State Capitol update for the week of October 18

October 22, 2021

The specific focus for much of my work this week was on rural economic and healthcare needs.  It included a panel convened on Friday by Community Health and Wellness Center (CHWC) highlighting the critical need to draw (and retain) primary healthcare providers in our area.

I joined Attorney General William Tong, State Representative Michelle Cook, Foundation for Community Health Executive Director Nancy Heaton, CT Office of Rural Health Director Lori Fedewa, Sharon Hospital President Mark Hirko, and CHWC Executive Director Joanne Borduas and others to identify the challenges as well as resources and opportunities to address our community needs.  Communities throughout the nation are experiencing shortages, and we are feeling that pinch particularly hard in our area, so it was a valuable opportunity to bring that group together to begin to identify solutions. 
This week the Rural Caucus toured the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, including the CT Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL), and the school’s cannabis and hemp research facilities.  UConn has been a leader in scholarship surrounding hemp and cannabis research, which is already having a significant impact in agriculture throughout the state.  It also provided a great opportunity to talk to UConn about rural health, and initiatives that could encourage UConn graduates to focus on concerns affecting rural communities, and to locate in rural areas that need their help.
You may have noticed lawn signs cropping up (along with a lot of mushrooms), a clear indication that our municipal elections are around the corner on Tuesday, November 2.  If you haven’t made your plan to vote in your town’s elections, take a moment to do that now!  I have spoken with many people who worked hard to put great slates of candidates together, recruiting all kinds of residents with a diverse array of skills who are ready to put those to work for the benefit of our towns and everyone who lives there.  It’s a real testament to our residents, and the importance of our towns, to see how many people have signed up to do these important jobs.  All they need now is for all of us to show up and vote! 

Here’s a list of today’s topics:

  • COVID Data. Click here.
  • CT Ranks First in Nation in Childhood Vaccinations. Click here
  • National Drug Take Back Day. Click here
  • Online Sports Wagering and iCasino Fully Launched in Connecticut. Click here.
  • Electrical Utility Customers will Soon Receive Robocall with Information on Assistance for Unpaid Bills. Click here.
  • Two New Competitive Grant programs to Create Jobs and Boost Community Vibrancy. Click here.
  • Collaboration between Connecticut and Amazon Web services to Train 2,000 Residents for Careers in Cloud Computing. Click here
  • Hike with a DEEP Forester. Click here
  • Kent Pumpkin Run October 31. Click here.

AnchorCOVID Data

For several additional graphs and tables containing more data, including a list of cases in every municipality, visit and click the link that is labeled, “Data Tracker.”

AnchorConnecticut ranks first in nation in childhood vaccinations
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report this week concluding that Connecticut has the highest rate of childhood immunizations of any state in the nation.
According to the report, Connecticut achieved an estimated 80.2% coverage rate for the recommended immunization series among children by age 24 months – well above the national average of 70.5% and above the average for the New England region of 79.7%.
The estimates specified in the report reflect vaccines that were administered mostly prior to any disruptions that were caused as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Extra effort will be required to maintain high levels and equitable coverage with routine childhood vaccinations resulting from those disruptions. Parents are reminded to use any healthcare visit as an opportunity to get their child all the recommended vaccinations that are due. Using Connecticut’s vaccine information system, known as CT WIZ, school nurses, healthcare providers, and local health departments are able to check to see which vaccines a child might need. For parents or guardians who lost their insurance or whose insurance no longer covers vaccines, the Connecticut Vaccine and Federal Vaccines for Children Program helps provide vaccines at no cost to children whose families may not be able to afford them. Parents or guardians should talk to their healthcare provider about how to make sure their child stays up to date on their vaccinations, regardless of financial circumstances.
**On the WebCDC report on vaccination coverage by age 24 months among children born in 2017 and 2018
AnchorOnline sports wagering and iCasino fully launched in Connecticut
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection authorized the full launch of online sports wagering and iCasino in Connecticut this week, beginning on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.
The Connecticut Lottery Corporation, the Mohegan Tribe, and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe may begin offering online wagering to all adults of legal betting age through their online gaming operating partners, which include Rush Street Interactive, FanDuel, and DraftKings, respectively. Both tribes may also offer iCasino. More than 130 games have been approved by the Department of Consumer Protection for both the FanDuel and DraftKings apps.
The statewide launch of sports betting and iCasino follows the completion of a successful seven-day soft launch that began October 12. FanDuel, DraftKings, and Rush Street Interactive may begin establishing patron accounts for all adults 21 and older at 6:00 a.m. Tuesday.
Information about gaming in Connecticut is available at
Information on services available in Connecticut for those who may have a problem with gambling is available here
AnchorElectrical utility customers will soon receive robocall with information on assistance for unpaid bills
Electrical utility customers in Connecticut will soon receive a robocall to raise awareness about the availability of funding for unpaid and overdue electrical utility bills through the state’s UniteCT program, which is administered by the Connecticut Department of Housing.
This effort is a continuation of an initiative that saw UniteCT deliver bulk payments in the amount of $17 million on behalf of Eversource and United Illuminating customers who are behind on their electrical utility payments. The Department of Housing is working with the other electric utility service providers in Connecticut to bring the same resources to their eligible customers.
The robocall, which is slated to go out on Tuesday, October 19, includes information in English delivered by Governor Lamont, and information in Spanish delivered by Commissioner Mosquera-Bruno.
UniteCT is funded by the federal Emergency Rental Assistance program, which is limited to families and individuals who rent their homes. The Department of Housing and the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority are collaborating on a separate federally funded Homeowner Assistance Fund that will provide assistance with mortgage payments and certain non-mortgage expenses.
The transcript of the robocall as delivered by Governor Lamont is as follows:

“Hi, this is Governor Ned Lamont. It’s been a tough 17 months, and we’re doing everything we can to help. I want to let you know that you’re more than likely eligible for our support in paying your past-due electric bills. The process is easy. All you need to do is confirm that you’re a renter with a household income that meets eligibility requirements in your area. Please press 1 to speak with a representative and confirm your eligibility now.”


For information on UniteCT, visit the UniteCT website.  

AnchorSaturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Tomorrow, October 23 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. On this day, collection sites are created in cities  around the country to administer the safe disposal of prescription drugs. It is important to properly discard expired, unwanted, or unused medicines as quickly as possible - this can help prevent abuse as well as overdoses. The collection site in the 64th district is located at  Troop B in North Canaan ( 463 ASHLEY FALLS RD, 06018). Click here for more information.     
AnchorTwo new competitive grant programs to create jobs and boost community vibrancy
This week two new competitive grant programs were launched that will create jobs, strengthen the livability and vibrancy of Connecticut towns and cities, and promote new public-private partnerships to accelerate economic growth.
The Innovation Corridor program and the Connecticut Communities Challenge program, both of which will be administered by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, will spur place-based development in municipalities with up to $200 million in funding over five years.
Applications are now being accepted for both programs.
Innovation Corridor Program
Under the Innovation Corridor program, the Department of Economic and Community Development will select two or more transformational, place-making proposals for major urban areas or regional economic centers. The projects are designed to facilitate the creation of at least 15,000 new jobs in data science, advanced manufacturing, insurance technology, or other high-growth industries. The department expects to grant up to $100 million in total over five years.
Municipalities are invited to submit applications in conjunction and coordination with stakeholders that may include private businesses and developers, post-secondary educational institutions, and philanthropic or other not-for-profit entities, demonstrating a public-private partnership.
Additional details on the Innovation Corridor program can be found online here
Connecticut Communities Challenge Program
Under the Connecticut Communities Challenge program, the Department of Economic and Community Development will fund a wide range of projects that improve livability, vibrancy, and appeal of communities throughout the state while aiming to create approximately 3,000 new jobs. It is the department’s goal to allocate up to 50% of the funds to projects in distressed municipalities.
Successful projects will likely include multiple of the following elements:

  • Transit-oriented development that densifies commercial and/or residential land uses near transit hubs;
  • Downtown/major hub development that improves or reuses existing property;
  • Essential infrastructure that facilitates future development;
  • Housing to support affordability, accessibility, and local workforce;
  • Mobility improvements that increase connectivity to transit and promote economic activity, including pedestrian, ADA, and bicycle improvements; and
  • Public space improvements that provide amenities to the community, including open spaces, public art projects, wayfinding, and lighting and safety improvements.

Municipalities, economic development agencies, and regional council of governments can apply for the grants and are encouraged to partner with private developers, business organizations, and other institutions. Grant sizes will range between $1 to $10 million per project. The department expects to grant up to $100 million in total over the next five years.
Additional details on the Connecticut Communities Challenge program can be found online here.  
AnchorCollaboration between Connecticut and Amazon Web Services to train 2,000 residents for careers in cloud computing
A collaboration was announced this week between the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU), the Connecticut Office of Workforce Strategy, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide technical skills training and education to more than 2,000 Connecticut residents by 2024.
Through this initiative, all CSCU community colleges and universities will be able to offer courses and certificates that align with skills needed to pursue in-demand careers in technical fields. The colleges will also work with interested high schools to provide access to cloud computing curricula.
AWS Academy program will provide CSCU institutions with ready-to-teach, cloud computing curricula that prepares students for industry-recognized AWS certifications and in-demand cloud jobs. Educators at participating institutions have already started receiving instructor training taught by AWS experts to prepare to deliver courses to students. Students will be able to access cloud computing training at CSCU institutions as well as connect to self-paced online training courses and labs from AWS. In the near future, CSCU will enable students to purse AWS certifications as part of their degree programs.
According to a recent Gallup study, 48% of American workers would switch to a new job if offered skills training opportunities. As the nation addresses the changing workforce demands, Connecticut is creating opportunities for residents to reskill for higher-paying tech careers. This includes a diverse array of jobs in areas such as software development, cloud architecture, systems support, and more.
 AnchorKent Pumpkin Run on October 31!

Get your running costumes ready as race day is on Halloween this year.
The certified five-mile event is Kent's largest one-day community event and certainly the town's most festive. Prizes given not only to top finishers but runners sporting the best costumes.
To register and for more info visit

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 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.

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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