I am back at the Capitol

May 12, 2023
This week, I was happy to make it back up to the Capitol following my injury for two session days. Although the days were long, it was nice being back in the chamber voting on bills. I would like to highlight two bi-partisan efforts that I participated in this week.
The first was part of HB 6823; in this legislation we were able to include language that applied to only a few towns across the state that previously held municipal elections in May, one being Woodbridge. This update ensured that local town governance would not be impacted by the change to a November election and allows for continued local control over the transition period between Election Day and swearing in events. I would like to thank the Chair of GAE, Representative Matt Blumenthal, and the Ranking Member, Representative Gale Mastrofrancesco, for their time and attention to this concern, as well as Representative Lezlye Zupkus for the many conversations about this issue!
The second dealt with a bill I wrote for the Labor Committee. This proposal would have studied the feasibility of creating a state run Flex Spending Account for child care costs so that any resident could participate in this cost saving program regardless of whether their employer offered it or not.

Unfortunately, and inexplicably, federal law currently prohibits this practice - a frustrating roadblock that prevented a vote on the floor at this time. After discussing it with the Labor Chair, Representative Manny Sanchez, and the Ranking Member, Representative Tim Ackert, both of whom were very supportive of the concept, we decided to create a working group to pursue this potentially nation-leading initiative in the future. I am grateful for the support and commitment of both leaders to find more ways to make Connecticut a more supportive state for families. Please find more highlights on the other bills we passed, as well as community updates and mental health awareness resources below.

You can click on any of the links above to jump to that section of the email. I hope that you find these resources helpful.

$46K for Hamden Community Gardens
Great green garden news for Hamden! Yesterday, Governor Lamont announced that the Town of Hamden will receive $46,875 in state funding to create 5 new school community gardens.
Church Street, Dunbar Hill, Helen Street, Spring Glen, and West Woods Elementary schools were selected as the locations for the gardens that will include:
  • ADA-accessible raised beds and stone dust pathways
  • Vegetable and flower plantings
  • Seating and tables

The gardens will be accessible by public transportation and within walking distance of family neighborhoods. The creation of these community gardens will be a great addition to the budding community and will allow students and their families to learn more about food production, sustainability, and ecology.​
This project is being funded through the Urban Green and Community Gardens Grant Program, which are both administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). To learn more about the types of grants available to communities like ours, or to apply for the next round of awarded grants, please click the button below.

Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Last year, I was incredibly proud to have been part of a select working group that helped create our state's nation-leading children's mental health expansion legislation. My colleagues and I worked collaboratively on this bipartisan bill to provide additional support, resources and structural change to the children's mental health system in Connecticut.

The mental health and well-being of our state's youth and families continues to be a leading priority of mine, so I will continue to advocate for greater access to mental health resources. The National Suicide Prevention line is simple and easy to remember and use to talk to someone at any time: just call 988. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and the world is better with you in it.

So, if you or someone you know needs assistance, please reference the crisis hotlines below:
  • Maternal Mental Health Hotline - (833) 943-5746
  • Native Crisis Text Line (American Indians and Alaska Natives) - Text "Native" to 741741
  • LGBTQI+ Youth Support - 9-8-8, then press 3 when prompted
  • Specialized Crisis Support for Spanish Speakers - 9-8-8, then press 2 when prompted 
  • You can also call 2-1-1 for assistance
No-Excuse Absentee Voting
The House of Representatives passed HJ 1 on Wednesday, which means you will get to decide if we amend the state constitution to allow no-excuse absentee voting in 2024.

Connecticut's rules for absentee voting are among the most restrictive in the U.S. and are enshrined in the constitution, so a constitutional amendment is required to remove these restrictions on absentee voting. 

As we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, absentee voting works! It was proven to be a safe and effective way to cast your vote.

Voting is a fundamental American right, and eligible Connecticut voters should have the freedom to choose how they vote. Last week, the House voted to establish early voting guidelines in the state, and with this week's vote on no-excuse absentee voting, we are one step closer to getting the issue on the ballot and hearing from you.

May 9 Session Highlights
In order to keep our cannabis regulations equitable, safe, and up-to-date, we must continue revisit our laws. This week, the House passed HB 6699 to make necessary improvements.
The House approved pro-consumer legislation in HB 6614. Gas stations that offer cash discounts would now be required to offer the same discount if you pay for gas with a debit card.
HB 6877 strengthens the process and execution of risk protection orders (RPOs) to keep weapons out of the hands of those at imminent risk of injuring themselves or someone else.
In HB 6638, we modernize and improve consistency in CT's discrimination statutes.
The House approved HB 6642 because schools need help keeping kids safe and navigating federal Title IX.
May 10 Session Highlights
Putting elections in the hands of the Constitutional office that manages elections makes sense. HB 6823 designates the Secretary of the State as the state official responsible for certifying presidential electors.
A small but mighty change for taxpayers in HB 6891 will allow charge card, debit card or electronic payment for municipal taxes or penalties.
With House Joint Resolution 34 we recognize the trauma caused by the witchcraft trials in the CT colonial courts and absolve those accused and convicted of "witchcraft" and "familiarities with the devil."
A small but mighty change for taxpayers in HB 6891 will allow charge card, debit card or electronic payment for municipal taxes or penalties.
Endometriosis is an under-studied disease impacting 1-in-10 women in CT.  The House passed HB 6672 to create the Endometriosis Data and Biorepository Program and associated endometriosis research lab.
HB 6590 makes it easier for families to get access to the childcare they need.
With passage of HB 6813 we are in a better position to protect seabirds and shorebirds.
Derby Events Calendar
To see whats going on in Derby, please click the button below to access the community calendar.
Derby Community Calendar
Upcoming Events in Hamden
Please click any of the fliers below to learn more about the upcoming events:
Orange Events and Community News
To see whats going on in Orange, please click the button below to access the community calendar.
Orange Community Calendar
Free Steering Wheel Locks
The Orange Police Department received a shipment of steering wheel locks as part of the Hyundai anti-theft service campaign. Hyundai is providing them to local departments in an effort to stop car thefts of Hyundais or Kias manufactured prior to November 2021.

These steering wheel locks are available to all owners free of charge. The steering wheel locks can be picked up at the front desk of the Orange Police Department, 314 Lambert Road, Orange, CT, at any time.

Woodbridge Event Calendar
There are so many opportunities to get involved in Woodbridge! Explore the community calendar by clicking the button below for more information.
Woodbridge Community Calendar