Honoring MLK, Utility Bill Help, and Tax Relief

January 12, 2024


A very Happy New Year to all, and welcome to Winter!

For me, the start of the New Year means gearing up to return to Hartford to represent you during the upcoming Session which begins on February 7th. I’ve enjoyed hearing from so many of you with great ideas, and often complex problems, that help me craft my proposals to committee chairs this year. I’m honored to represent you this year. 

Thank you to the president of the Tariffiville Village Association for this incredible picture of the Tariffville Green. If you haven’t been over to Tariffville lately you are missing out. Great casual and fine dining, river access, a new bike path connector to Bloomfield, and a ton of local history.  

Speaking of the cold weather, Operation Fuel may be able to help if you are struggling to pay utility bills. Please read below to see if you are eligible for the program's energy assistance program this winter.

The nation will remember the life and honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend. Our annual celebration of Dr. King, his legacy, and his time here in Simsbury will be held at First Church on Monday at 2 P.M. I hope many of you can join for this special event. Keep scrolling to see more details below.

The new year brings new laws impacting early voting, hospice care, online privacy, and so much more. I will provide more information on each of those laws and break down how three new tax relief measures will help individuals and families of all ages in 2024.

To get more even more content, please make sure to follow my Facebook page by clicking on this link: https://www.facebook.com/StateRepMelissaOsborne/.

Here are the sections in this week's email. You can scroll down until you find the topic you are looking for:

  • Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy
  • Operation Fuel Application Period Now Open
  • Tax Relief Measures in 2024
  • New Laws Effective January 1
  • Available Food Programs
  • Access Health CT Open Enrollment
  • Provide Feedback on Important Trail!
  • Support for Our Schools
  • Community Events
Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy

As we approach the weekend, let’s take a moment to reflect on and celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His leadership led to the success of the civil rights movement. His actions played a pivotal role in achieving strides toward racial equality.

Dr. King continues to inspire and affect racial progress today. His work paved the way for positive change, fostering societal change that values justice, equality, and human rights.

This weekend serves as an opportunity for all of us to commemorate Dr. King’s legacy. We can recommit ourselves to unity and justice while contributing to the ongoing pursuit of civil rights.

Dr. King left the segregated south as a college student to work on a tobacco farm in Simsbury. His experience here inspired his decision to join the ministry and raise awareness to the civil rights movement. In his autobiography, King wrote "After that summer in Connecticut, it was a bitter feeling going back to segregation." CLICK HERE to learn more.

Simsbury will come together to celebrate Dr. King's life on Monday at 2 P.M. at First Church of Christ on Hopmeadow Street. There will be a memorial tour afterward at Simsbury Free Library. All are welcome!

Operation Fuel Application Period Now Open

Operation Fuel may be able to help if you are struggling to pay utility bills.

Operation Fuel's energy assistance program opened this week for the Winter/Spring season. Applications will be accepted until March 1 unless available funds run out before that date.

Households with incomes that do not exceed 75% of the State Median Income Guidelines may qualify for assistance. These households include - but are not limited to - the elderly, disabled, working families, or individuals facing a financial crisis. 

Eligible clients may apply for energy assistance (gas, electric, oil, or other deliverable fuel) ONCE per year and receive a grant of UP TO $500.

For utility assistance (electric & gas), clients must show they made at least four payments in the past 12 months, must owe a past due amount, and provide at least four weeks of income information.

Operation Fuel is accepting applications for water and energy bill assistance for:

Electric: Eversource, United Illuminating (UI), and Norwalk Public Utilities
Gas: Eversource, UI, Yankee Gas, Southern Connecticut Gas (SCG), and Connecticut Natural Gas (CNG)
Water: CT Water and The Metropolitan District (MDC)

For more information and to apply for assistance, click HERE.

Tax Relief Measures in 2024

As a result of fiscal responsibility and bipartisanship in 2023, I am pleased to announce that significant relief is on the way for many Connecticut taxpayers in 2024!

Three tax relief measures went into effect on January 1, including the largest income tax cut in state history, an increase in a tax credit aimed at the lowest-income workers, and an expansion of exemptions on certain pension and annuity earnings that will benefit the senior population.

Here's a closer look at the tax cuts, who specifically benefits, and how:

One million filers to benefit from income tax cuts:

The changes enacted in 2024 will see a decrease in the two lowest rates:

  • The 3% rate on the first $10,000 earned by single filers and the first $20,000 by joint filers will drop to 2%.
  • The 5% rate on the next $40,000 earned by single filers and the next $80,000 by joint filers will drop to 4.5%.

The relief targets middle-class tax filers and is capped at $150,000 for single filers and $300,000 for joint filers. This is the first time that rates have been reduced in the state since the mid-1990s and it represents the largest income tax cut enacted in state history.

For more information, single filers click here. For joint filers, click here.

Connecticut’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-income workers becomes one of the largest in the U.S.

The EITC in Connecticut is increasing from 30.5% to 40% of the federal EITC and will provide an additional $44.6 million in state tax credits to the approximately 211,000 low-income filers who receive the credit. More than 95% of filers who receive this credit are families with children.

The Connecticut EITC is a refundable state income tax credit for the lowest income working individuals and families that mirrors the federal EITC.

Expanding certain deductions for IRA distributions and pension and annuity earnings for seniors

The state budget eliminates the retirement income tax cliff by adding a phase-out for allowable pension annuity and IRA distribution deductions against the personal income tax.

Approximately 200,000 filers benefit from the currently enacted retiree exemption limits. It is estimated that with these changes, an additional 100,000 filers could benefit from the elimination of the retirement cliff via the exemption phase-out.

I would like to thank all my colleagues for working diligently during the 2023 legislative session to help provide this tax relief for many of our hardest-working state residents. The three measures will reduce tax burdens on CT taxpayers by $460 million!

New Laws Effective January 1

Several new laws took effect January 1 addressing key issues including early voting, health and mental health, as well as online privacy and data protection.

There will also be an increase in the minimum wage effective January 1 from $15.00 to $15.69 made possible through legislation passed in 2019, which implemented five incremental increases in the minimum wage followed by future adjustments that are tied to the percentage change in the federal employment cost index.

Although extensive, below I share some highlights, and a link to the complete list of new laws. Please share and reach out to my office if you would like more detail on any of the new laws.

Establishes a framework for early, in-person voting requiring a 14-day early voting period for general elections, a seven-day period for most primaries, and a four-day early voting period for special elections and presidential preference primaries.

Sets a timeframe within which the court must hold a hearing on temporary financial support in divorce, legal separation, annulment, and custody proceedings. This legislation is designed to reduce financial abuse and unfair settlements that often result when dependent spouses are denied access to funds for basic necessities for themselves and their children during divorce. (This was my signature legislation this year that received unanimous bipartisan support in committee, the House, and the Senate!)
Includes the creation of a Hospice Hospital at Home pilot program to provide in-home hospice care to patients through in-person visits and telehealth.
Establishes a new license category for freestanding birth centers, an Infant Mortality Relief Program to review medical records and other data on infant deaths and a midwifery working group to study and make recommendations on advancing choices for community birth care.
Makes various changes to laws on data privacy and related issues, including provisions on consumer health data, minors’ social media accounts and online services, online dating operators, and a task force on internet crimes against children.
Among many supportive measures, creates a plan to establish a Transitional Life Skills College program to support certain people with IDD who are transitioning out of high school or to independent living.
Expands eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress injuries to all employees covered by the workers’ compensation law.

New Laws Effective January 1, 2024

Your calls, emails, and testimony at public hearings during the legislative session had a direct influence on these new laws. Thank you for your input, and please continue sharing your views and making your voice heard during our legislative process.

Available Food Programs

Simsbury has a valuable resource for anyone who is struggling to pay for groceries to start the new year. Our Community & Social Services maintains a stocked food pantry of non-perishable food items as well as toiletries, household cleaning products, and paper goods.

Below you will find the food program schedule for the first half of 2024. Eligible residents are able to use the Food Pantry once a month, during our scheduled Cheese Day.

Simsbury’s Food Pantry is located at the Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church at 7 Wescott Road.

Click Here to Learn More & Register For the Pantry
Access Health CT Open Enrollment

Time is running out to enroll, renew coverage, and explore the various policy options with Access Health CT (AHCT), Connecticut’s official health insurance marketplace. Open enrollment ends on January 15.

If you are interested and have questions about the program, there are several ways to receive free assistance:

  • Online: Visit accesshealthct.com. You can learn more about the different plans and find free help online using the "live chat" feature.
  • By phone: Call 1-855-805-4325. Help is available Monday - Friday,
    8:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. Customers who are deaf or hearing impaired may use TTY at 1- 855-789-2428 or call with a relay operator.
  • Work with a Broker: To find a Certified Broker or Enrollment Specialist, visit accesshealthct.com/get-help/

If you or your family need quality, affordable healthcare please don't miss this opportunity. Click here to learn more. 

Provide Feedback on Important Trail!
You have an opportunity to give feedback on the missing link of the East Coast Greenway in the Tariffville section of Simsbury. There is a gap on the path, and crews are looking to build a connector trail in our community.
Trail planners want your feedback! The Town of Simsbury released its recommendations report. Click on the image below to read those documents.
You can submit public comments to transportation planner Phil Goff at pgoff@vhb.com through Monday, January 15, 2024.
Community Events
Learn from former Whalers player Scott Daniels at a skills and drills clinic on Monday, January 15. 
Pre-registration Cost: $25 / Drop-in Cost: $30
Goalies: $10
Two sessions available:
12:00 P.M. - 1:00 P.M. : U8 & U10 players
1:15 P.M. - 2:15 P.M. : U12 & U14 players
Click Here to Reserve Your Spot