Federal COVID-19 Test By Mail Program to be Suspended

August 31, 2022

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Dear Neighbor,
It's back-to-school for many families this week and while parents may joke it's the most wonderful time of the year, it truly is wonderful to look forward to a normal year of school for the children in our community. See my welcome message to students, parents, teachers, and staff here.
Today is International Overdose Awareness Day. Whether you have been personally affected or no someone who has, the disease of addiction has taken so many loved ones from us. I've included some information below on overdoses and how we can prevent them.
On Monday, the Energy and Technology committee held a joint public hearing and then joint committee meeting with the Appropriations and Human Services committee. The purpose was to discuss the LIHEAP (Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program) allotment. We heard from the DSS Commissioner and her staff as well as many home heating oil distributors. We all agree that we have more people who will need home heating assistance this winter and that we need to advocate for greater funds to be accessible for those people, many of them seniors. More on the programs that can help below.
To round out this week's update, we have a variety of items of interest included as well. Friday is your last day to order COVID tests from the federal government, so you'll want to do that in the link provided below. Canton has some new regulatory signs going in, so keep an eye for them.
And, last but not least, as you may have heard, President Biden is providing some student loan debt relief to some borrowers. Economists are hopeful that this will further stimulate our economy and also allow more people to fully participate in the economy. It's important to note that if you paid off your debt after March 13, 2020 (meaning you continued to pay during the student loan payment freeze), you are eligible to get what you paid refunded.
I know that's a lot of information included this week, but as always, I think it's important to keep you apprised of what is going on in our district, our state, and sometimes nationally, because at the end of the day, many of these issues affect a majority of us. Thanks for reading.
Have a great week,


Legislative Committees Vote on LIHEAP

On Monday, the legislature's Energy and Technology Committee, Appropriations Committee, and Human Services Committee held a public hearing on the 2023 fiscal year Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program Allocation Plan (LIHEAP) and to vote on the governor's proposed changes to the program.

As a member of the Energy and Technology Committee, I voted to approve a home heating assistance plan that currently has less federal funding than last year. This is largely due to the fact that the federal budget has yet to be passed. Federal lawmakers are expected to vote on the federal budget sometime in September. Our hope is that the federal government will vote on a budget that allocates more funding for energy assistance programs. Our committees will be advocating to our Federal delegation to secure increased funding for energy assistance programs.

While Republican lawmakers proposed an amendment that would tap $191.5 million, we could not vote on it legally. The committees could only vote on the plan put forth by the governor. When the Connecticut General Assembly convenes in January 2023, we can take a look at increasing funding for LIHEAP and we will also know by then, what the federal government has decided to do. If you'd like a further explanation of why, see my Facebook video here: https://fb.watch/ffilfB5Lze/ You can view the entire committee meeting on CT-N.com.

Families and seniors need help, especially as the cost of heating oil and natural gas climbs. If you are in need of heating assistance, there are some programs available:

  • Connecticut Energy Assistance Program: Administered by the Connecticut Department of Social Services, the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP), provides winter heating cost assistance to income-eligible households regardless of their heat source. People should contact their local Community Action Agency to apply. Applications open on September 1. Statewide consumer and application information is available at www.ct.gov/staywarm or by calling 2-1-1. Both homeowners and renters can be eligible. CEAP helps enrollees afford the cost of natural gas and electric heat, as well as deliverable fuels like oil and propane. 
  • Operation Fuel: Provides year-round emergency energy assistance to low-to-moderate-income households that don’t qualify for CEAP or who run out of CEAP benefits. Information is available at operationfuel.org.
  • Winter Protection Program – Moratorium on Heating Source Shut-Offs: From November 1 through May 1, there is a moratorium in Connecticut on heating source shut-offs for eligible households. Customers should contact their utility and inquire about the Winter Protection Program, as well as other programs for which they may be eligible. More information is available from 2-1-1 by clicking here.
  • Energy-Saving Solutions – Energize CTEnergize CT can help customers save money on energy bills by providing advice, information, and financial incentives to make homes more energy efficient. For more information, visit energizect.com.
  • Consumer Protections Regarding Third-Party Electricity Suppliers: Over the past decade, Connecticut has enacted a series of consumer protections for customers of electric suppliers, including prohibiting variable rates and giving PURA the discretion to prevent customers who were designated as “utility hardship” from being switched to electric suppliers. Public Act 21-117, prohibits cancelation fees for residential customers who are under contract with an electric supplier and strengthens PURA’s oversight over electric suppliers.
Federal COVID-19 Test by Mail Program to be Suspended
The federal government is putting a pause on sending free COVID-19 testing kits. Friday, September 2 will be the last day you can order them.

Please visit covid.gov/tests to order free tests. Each household can order up to 16 rapid antigen tests. 

Every home in the U.S. can request 3 orders of free at-home tests (16 tests total) per residential address. Residents who would like to request free COVID-19 tests must place an order by Friday, September 2.

International Overdose Awareness Day
With an average two people dying of a drug overdose every day in Connecticut, it is important to remember that these are not just statistics, they are each individual people with their own lives, families, and stories. Addiction is an illness that should be treated just as any other medical condition. 

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day. Today we join families, advocates, friends, nonprofits, mentors, lawmakers, hospitals and healthcare providers in raising awareness of overdoses, reducing the stigma of drug-related deaths, and acknowledging the grief felt by so many both within Connecticut and across the United States. 

To further combat this epidemic, our state is making Naloxone (Narcan) more accessible. So far, the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is on track to distribute its goal of more than 45,000 Narcan kits across the state. Narcan is a life-saving tool in reducing overdose deaths. 

We remember those who have lost the fight against addiction, and celebrate those who demonstrate that recovery is possible. Anyone in our state who needs support or treatment can access a wide network of services offered in Connecticut. To connect to these resources, visit www.liveloud.org or call the 24-hour helpline at

Green Up Avon Initiative Launches
The Avon Clean Energy Commission and the Avon Free Public Library will be kicking off the Green Up Avon initiative on Thursday, September 8 at the Avon Free Public Library from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The initiative's goal is to encourage 100 Avon households to sign up for the EnergizeCT Home Energy Solutions Assessment program in the first 100 days. Residents are invited to join representatives from EnergizeCT and local homeowners to learn more about the Home Energy Solutions Assessment Program and to discover new ways to conserve energy and save money through incentives and rebates. Learn more about the initiative here.
Upgrade of Regulatory Signs in Canton
The state Department of Transportation will be replacing or installing "One Way," Do Not Enter," "Wrong Way," and "Keep Right" signs along divided highways and one-way sections of highway at intersecting roads to comply with federal standards. Signs are planned to be installed in our area:
  • Canton - Route 44 (Albany Turnpike) at Dyer Cemetery Road East Extension
  • Canton - Route 44 (Albany Turnpike) at Dyer Cemetery Road West Extension

The design plans for these projects are expected to be completed in December 2022. To learn more, please click here.

Student Loan Repayment Pause Extended Through December 2022
I have good news for those burdened by excessive student loan debt.

Student loan borrowers earning less than $125,000 per year (and couples earning less than $250,000) will be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in student loan debt forgiveness. Borrowers who received a Pell Grant may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness.

In addition, the Biden Administration also announced the current pause on federal student loan payments will be extended for the last time through December 31, 2022.

This news comes after the recent announcement that U.S. Department of Education is implementing temporary changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program to make it easier for federal student loan borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayment. CLICK HERE for more details on that announcement.

While information will be released in the coming weeks on how to claim this debt forgiveness, you can click the button below for additional details and what to expect next.

The burden of student debt can impact borrowers' ability to build wealth, contribute to their families, and engage with their community. This action will help countless individuals and families here in Connecticut lower costs and build their future.

Eleni Kavros DeGraw
State Representative

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