Advocating For Health & Education

February 29, 2024

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Dear Neighbor,
Happy Leap Year! As we embrace the extra day that comes only once every four years, let's leap into what's in store for you in the rest of this newsletter. In the following email, you will find:
  • Rare Disease Day
  • Optimizing Early Learning Policy Roundtable
  • Meeting with Organizations
  • Food Allergy Awareness & Labels on Medications
  • The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) Parent Cabinet
  • Branford Fire Department Awards Ceremony
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

Rare Disease Day

It was truly an honor to be invited to speak at Rare Disease Day here in Hartford. During this legislative session, I am working with the Human Services Committee to propose legislation that would provide Medicaid coverage of rapid Whole Genome Sequencing (rWGS) for critically ill children. 

Hearing the heartfelt story from Lesley, a constituent I had the pleasure of meeting at my local Coffee Hour, deeply moved me. She recounted her daughter's arduous diagnostic journey, which was not only financially difficult but also caused tremendous pain for her child. Working with the National Organization for Rare Disorders has driven Lesley to advocate for this law. In states where this policy has been adopted, patients experience improved outcomes, resulting in shorter hospital stays, reduced need for major surgeries, and fewer invasive tests. Being an advocate for this important issue and for the well-being of my constituents is why I do this work. I am eager to continue making a meaningful impact through my efforts.


Optimizing Early Learning Policy Briefing

The Early Childhood Caucus sponsored an Optimizing Early Learning Policy Briefing with Dr. Dana Suskind, Author of Parent Nation and Thirty Million Words. Along with Dr. Pamela Truelove-Walker, they discussed the research and policy surrounding early children’s development. In order for families to create bonds with their children, parents need access to time, enrichment opportunities, and protection. 

Connecticut has policies in place, such as Paid Family Medical Leave and Baby Bonds, that we know work and are models for the country. We also must invest in programs and wrap around services that empower parents and grow opportunities for our youth. And finally, parents need living wages, housing security, and high-quality health care. 


Meeting with Organizations

This is the time of year when organizations come to the Capitol to have one-on-one conversations with their legislators. I recently attended events organized by my friends at the Connecticut Family Resource Center Alliance. Among the attendees at the Family Resource Center event was Branford Family Resource Center. 

(L-R) Maranda Gourley, State Representative Robin Comey, Melanie Wilde-Lane, at the State Capitol on Thursday, February 22, 2024.
Additionally, the Connecticut Association of School Based Health Centers (CASBHC) held an advocacy day. I met Branford resident Maranda Gourley, a pediatric nurse practitioner (APRN) who works for Fair Haven Community Health Care. I also had the opportunity to re-connect with Melanie Wilde-Lane, current Executive Director of the CASBHC and the former Branford Director of SBHC.


Food Allergy Awareness & Labels on Medications

Seeing the laws we made go into action is really exciting-- especially when it is policies that I personally led and championed. Years before I was elected as your state representative, I was working as a policy advocate locally and here in Hartford. A full seven years after I was first working with Branford’s legislators as a constituent, and along with Vanessa and Alex, the time finally came for the bill to become law. 

Today, Public Act 23-115: An Act Requiring Food Allergy Awareness in Restaurants is included in our statutes. This is a result of the groundwork laid by advocates and legislators before me. So, last week, while having lunch with a family member at Parthenon Diner, my eye caught a poster hanging in not one but two places.  A portion of the new law, this poster is a tool to educate staff and customers about the importance of being informed of and knowledgeable about food allergies. This is so thrilling to all involved!

Another reminder of the life-saving work we do in the Children’s Committee was a fluorescent orange sticker on top of a pill bottle stating “DANGER TO CHILDREN KEEP OUT OF REACH”. This law (Public Act 23-100: An Act Concerning the Safe Storage and Disposal of Certain Prescription Drugs, Illegal Drugs, and Cannabis and Cannabis Products), which took effect on January 1st, 2024, must be on any container or packaging in which an opioid drug or schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled substance is sold. Additionally, the law provides funding and requires DCP to develop and administer a public awareness campaign on safe storage and disposal of cannabis and related products.

The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) Parent Cabinet
The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) is now accepting applications for a new cohort of members for its Parent Cabinet. The Parent Cabinet is a parent-led advisory group that works with OEC to shape laws and policies that impact young children and families. The cabinet is open to all caregivers, and members serve a 2.5-year term.

For more information on the Parent Cabinet and its mission, follow this link. To apply to become a member, you can click here

Branford Fire Department Awards Ceremony
Congratulations to the Branford Fire Department for a truly remarkable Awards Ceremony. Numerous individuals were recognized at the dinner, and Representative Rader, Senator Cohen, and I had the honor of presenting legislative citations to many outstanding fire professionals. 
I would like to offer a special congratulations to Michael "Mooner" Mullen for receiving the esteemed Lifetime Achievement Award. His invaluable contributions have left an indelible mark on the field, playing a crucial role in shaping the careers of countless individuals who have gone on to pursue paths as career firefighters. Congratulations again to all those recognized. We are very proud to have you a part of the Branford Fire Department!
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance 
With tax season underway, I wanted to make you aware of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). This is a service that offers free tax preparation from mid-January through mid-April to individuals and households who qualify. 
VITA helps taxpayers with filing and support. For more information or to check your eligibility, please click on the graphic above or use this link.
I hope you find this information valuable and informative.  As always, if I can be of any assistance, please don't hesitate to email me directly or call my office at (860) 240-8585.

Robin Comey
State Representative

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