Legislative & Local Updates - April 21

April 24, 2023
Recently, I had the pleasure of serving as a keynote at Jackson Laboratories in Farmington. The focus was advancing the voices of women in STEM to policy makers and making their voices heard in policy. One of the major points I made to those listening from the field of science - get involved. Get involved at the local level with your boards and commissions. Get involved at the state level by running for office. Make your voices heard by testifying or advocating for an important cause. As a scientist or academic, make sure elected officials know that you can be a source of evidence-based information that can help them shape policy. 

There is a stark and incredible dearth of academics, doctors, and STEM folks, particularly women, who advocate for legislative issues around their expertise.  

If you're interested in learning more about getting involved, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. 

You can listen to my remarks below!

Some personal news to share with you. I'm pleased to announce that our little family of three is soon to be a family of four! Our little one is due this summer, and Aaron, Leona, and I can't wait to meet him.
If you're not busy on Saturday, April 22, come visit us down at the Ellington Town Green. I'll be there handing out flower seeds! Ellington's Earth Day Celebration runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Green and at the Nellie McKnight Museum. Local businesses, organizations, and vendors will be promoting practices to make Ellington more eco-friendly. Among the day's highlights: A clothing and household goods collection, packing material collection, bottle and can drive, live entertainment, refreshments, and exhibits. The Ellington Public Works Department will host a grand opening event for the new recycling center and CT State Police will collect unused prescription drugs at 33 Arbor Way. More information can be found through the Ellington Town website.


I want to share the April column in North Central News. You can click the article above to be taken to the article, or you can click HERE to be taken to the website and article.
I also wanted to share the most recent Patch article that ran in April and is tied to Earth Day. Be sure to come visit on April 22!

To read the article, click HERE



Congratulations to the Ellington Historical Society for receiving a $4,000 Museum Makeover grant! The state-funded grant will provide professional on-site consultation and direct implementation funds for projects that improve the visitor experience at Connecticut museums. 

In 2023, there were 41 applicants, and 18 organizations were chosen across the state to receive funding for exhibition and collection storage projects. Together, these museums serve more than 34,000 visitors annually, and employ 56 full- and part-time staff members, as well as 490 volunteers from their communities.

The Museum Makeover program is funded by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts from the Connecticut State Legislature and administered by CT Humanities. In a collaborative effort, the Museum Makeover program is managed by Conservation ConneCTion, a program of the Connecticut State Library (https://ctconservationconnection.org/) and is made possible through a partnership with the Connecticut League of History Organizations (http://www.clho.org/) and CT Humanities.

These grants were made possible through an arts and culture appropriation in the state budget that Senator Saud Anwar and I supported. 


UConn 4-H Citizen Day took place recently at the Capitol, & I'm so proud to support this program. Over the years, this program has fostered the importance of both civic engagement and responsibility. Student participants access well-researched and age-appropriate information to develop knowledge and skills which benefit them throughout their lives.

On 4-H Citizen Day, we honor both this revolutionary program and its dedicated participants. May you never lose your love for learning!

Thank you to the constituents who came out to Ellington High School on April 17 for the forum with Rep. Kevin Brown and me regarding two bills tied to education funding and intellectual disabilities - HB 5001 and 5003. There was a lot of great discussion and both Rep. Brown and I will take the ideas shared back to Hartford with us.
At the start of this session, I co-introduced HB 5052, an act concerning the personal income tax deductions for social security benefits, pension and annuity income and distributions from certain individual retirement accounts. This bill has tremendous support and was revised and drafted as a committee bill by the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee. I encourage you to check out HB 6934 which will address the following:
  • To make adjustments to certain personal income tax rates
  • To establish income phase-out thresholds for the personal income tax deductions for pension and annuity income and individual retirement accounts
  • To increase the applicable percentage of the earned income tax credit
  • To expand the tax credit for human capital investment
  • To require the Commissioner of Revenue Services to provide information related to the tax gap
  • To require additional information to be included in the tax incidence report.

On Friday, April 14, there was a public hearing on this new bill. Please consider submitting written testimony in support by following the link and selecting “Submit Written Testimony” at the top of the document. Please contact us with any questions or any other assistance that you may need.

Members of Connecticut's General Assembly - from both sides of the aisle - are coming together outside of their offices and chambers, in the spirit of bipartisanship, for some fun and good causes.

The CT General Assembly will be holding its Second Annual Kickball Classic on Monday, May 1, 4:30 p.m. (gates open at 3:30) at Dunkin' Park in Hartford, home of the Yard Goats. 

The admission price is $10, and proceeds will go to two great causes - the Q Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, in memory of State Rep. Quentin "Q" Williams, who tragically died in a car crash at the start of the 2023 legislative session, and the Sarah Foundation, in memory of former State Rep. Noreen Kokoruda. 

The event is open to the public and we welcome you to come cheer on your favorite team and support two great causes, as we honor two great legislators who left us far too soon. Please consider bringing a non-perishable food item to donate to CT Foodshare, too.

To purchase tickets online, click HERE (there is a $2.25 fee for online purchases), or purchase at the gate. 

To learn more about the Q Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, click HERE.

To learn more about the Sarah Foundation, click HERE.


As a member of the host committee (124 legislators strong) for Women Owned Business Day at the Capitol (April 26), I'm proud that locally based small businesses like Rocking My SewJo, LLC have received funding through the Women's Business Development Council. The WBDC serves clients in all 169 towns through its regional offices across the state.  

To learn more about the WBDC, click HERE

And join us Wednesday if you can - 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., on the second floor of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. You can register HERE

April 21 was food insecurity awareness day at the Capitol. 
I've dedicated my whole career to addressing food insecurity, hunger, and the nutrition related diseases that households facing food insecurity reckon with. 
We can do more and better and every session, month and year I'll be making sure that when I spend my time, energy and efforts on legislation it's evidence based and aligned with our community's values. 
And as always so nice to spend a little time with Midwest Food Bank's Jan Young! 



On Sunday, April 23, 2023, three Rockville teenagers will be presented with The President's Volunteer Service Award. Isabella Kirchmeier (16), Josephine Carmicheal (16), and Archer Carmicheal (14) are all volunteers at The Cornerstone in Rockville, CT.

Isabella, a sophomore at EastCONN EVC in Columbia, began volunteering in 2020 and is essential to the Diaper Bank Program. In 2022 alone, she volunteered a total of 207 hours. She helps unload and organize the diapers when they are donated, and she also volunteers on Fridays when the Diaper Bank is open. In addition to volunteering at The Cornerstone, Isabella was crowned Miss Amazing Junior Teen and volunteered 15 hours through the Connecticut Miss Amazing Pageant Program. She packed period supply kits for schools and many other community service projects. Isabella volunteered a total of 222 hours in 2022.

Josephine (Jo), a junior at Rockville High School in Vernon, has been volunteering at The Cornerstone since 2021. She started with data entry and filing needs. In 2022, Jo focused her volunteer time on prepping, cooking, and serving in the Community Kitchen. She has also been involved in setting up and working many Cornerstone events, including being the face painter at Cornerstone's Christmas Party. She volunteered 142 hours in 2022. In addition to her volunteer hours at The Cornerstone, Jo is a Community Educator at Strong Family Farm in Vernon. She has been involved in the creation and running of the Backyard Chicken Program for the last ten years. She volunteered 50 hours to Strong Family Farm in 2022. Jo also volunteered at Community Voice Channel (CVC) in Bolton as a crew member and a producer, creating short promotional and informational videos for non-profits in the area. In 2022, Jo volunteered 19 hours at CVC. In total, Jo volunteered 211 hours in 2022.

Archer, a freshman at Rockville High School in Vernon, also started volunteering at The Cornerstone in the beginning of 2021 helping with data entry and filing needs. He has since spent most of his hours prepping and serving in the Community Kitchen. He has also been involved in the organization of the Community Kitchen storage space, sock drives, wrapping presents during the holidays, and setting up and working many Cornerstone events. In addition to his volunteer hours at The Cornerstone, Archer is an Education Assistant at Strong Family Farm in Vernon. He has helped supervise the Backyard Chicken Program for the last ten years. He volunteered 50 hours to Strong Family Farm in 2022. Archer volunteered a total of 117 hours in 2022.

All three teenagers, plus 53 additional Cornerstone volunteers, will be honored with The President's Volunteer Service Award at Cornerstone's Volunteer Appreciation event on Sunday, April 23, 2023. There will 28 Bronze Service Awards, 16 Silver Service Awards and 12 Gold Service Awards presented to Cornerstone volunteers at this year's award ceremony. Cornerstone will also be presenting certificates of appreciation to additional volunteers from 2022 that did not qualify for The President's Volunteer Service Award.

Cornerstone could not serve the community to the extent it does without hundreds of volunteers. Although the President's Volunteer Service Award is a prestigious honor, Cornerstone could never truly thank each volunteer enough for the work they do and the impact they have on the community.

The Ellington Farmers Market opening day is quickly approaching, and the market is seeking some help! If you would be interested in help direct traffic, please contact EFM at info@ellingtonfarmersmarket.org or message Ellington Farmers Market through Facebook.


The number of children reporting mental health issues continues to rise across the United States. The overwhelming need for youth mental health care underscores scientific research’s importance in developing more accessible treatment and prevention methods. By investing in the scientific leaders of tomorrow, we accelerate discovery and help meet the challenge of reducing youth mental health issues.

That’s why the Child Mind Institute created the Rising Scientists Awards. Every year, they recognize five high school students who demonstrate exceptional early achievement in psychology, neuroscience, or biomedical engineering research.

Rising Scientist winners each receive a $2,000 scholarship for college expenses. We are now accepting nominations from teachers of rising seniors for the 12th Annual Child Mind Institute Rising Scientist Awards, presented in partnership with Hunter College. Winners will be notified in August.

Nominations are encouraged for high school students from structurally marginalized communities. Rising Scientist is committed to advancing science that represents all by recognizing and supporting the achievements of those from diverse backgrounds.
Teachers, please nominate the young scientists in your schools. Parents, please share this email with other parents and educators to nominate students and help build the next generation of innovators.