From Legislation To Local News

February 21, 2024

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Dear Neighbor,
I hope you all got to slow down last week and enjoy the beauty of the snow day. It was one of those types of snow that made me reminisce about the days when the kids were young and anxious to get outside and build a snowman or elaborate forts and tunnels. Fortunately, my neighbor, a transplant from upstate New York, was happy to assist as we dug our way out.  
Despite the weather, we continued to hold most of our meetings online and have productive conversations about the future policies that will affect our state. In this email, you will find updates on the following topics:
  • Community Conversation
  • Millions Approved for Home Heating Assistance
  • Shore Line East Rail Line Funding
  • Children's Committee Meeting
  • The Office of Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities Draft Strategic Plan
  • Optimizing Early Learning Policy
  • Early Literacy Roundtable
  • Spring Into Action with Branford Parks & Recreation

Community Conversation

It was great to attend the Community Conversation with Branford’s Police Social Worker, Branford Counseling & Community Services, and Branford Police Department. The well-attended event shined a light on the work that is being done here in Branford to assist residents who are experiencing a mental health crisis and are involved in a police call. 

Instituted as a part of the police accountability bill, Danielle Suraci has made a difference every day in the lives of community members, often resolving situations that do not need criminal intervention but instead may need to be connected to resources or de-escalation efforts. We also heard from Lieutenant Rashaad Roach, who discussed the extensive Crisis Intervention Training they receive that can complement the efforts, making it a cohesive team approach to care.  


Millions Approved for Home Heating Assistance

Last week we allocated an additional $17 million in funds to assist with cold weather heating. This means that many individuals and families who rely on programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or Operation Fuel will now have the resources they need to keep their homes warm during the winter season.  

As your state representative, it's my responsibility to advocate for the well-being of my constituents. This funding ensures that none of our neighbors have to make the difficult choice between paying their expenses or enduring freezing temperatures. 

I am fully committed to improving the safety and overall quality of life for all residents, and I will continue to do so as we navigate through this legislative session. 


Shore Line East Rail Line Funding

Last Thursday, my fellow legislators and I took proactive steps to address a pressing issue: our state budget's insufficient funding for the Shore Line East rail line. We voiced our concerns directly to the Appropriations Committee through a detailed letter (which can be found here), emphasizing the critical need to prioritize this vital transportation project. 

Shore Line East plays a crucial role in connecting commuters and facilitating economic growth in the region. Unfortunately, without adequate funding, Shore Line East is experiencing a decline in ridership. The cuts that have already been implemented have had a negative impact on numerous commuters, including students, workers, and individuals with disabilities. These cuts are a concerning deviation from Connecticut's commitment to investing in our region's infrastructure.


Children's Committee Meeting

This week’s Children’s Committee meeting allowed me and my colleagues to connect with representatives from the Department of Children and Family’s State Advisory Council (SAC). In my previous role as Executive Director of the Branford Early Childhood Collaborative, I had attended meetings but hadn’t engaged with the SAC for some time now.

During the pandemic, Connecticut’s legislature had regular engagement with the stakeholders, and they could not emphasize enough the importance of maintaining this ongoing dialogue. The service providers, social workers, and families have distinct voices that must be heard, and I look forward to hearing from them throughout our public hearings and the rest of the legislative session. 


The Office of Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities Draft Strategic Plan

The Office of Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities (ODRD) is seeking public comment on its Draft Strategic Plan. To submit your thoughts, please click here. Comments will be accepted until 5:00 PM on Monday, February 26th.  

If the public comment form does not accommodate the breadth of that which you wish to share, please email your comments to Aimee Gauvin, Administrative Assistant to the ODRD.  

Optimizing Early Learning Policy
As a member of the Early Childhood Caucus, I would like to let you know about a special briefing on the powerful role that parents and caregivers play in optimizing foundational brain development during the first five years of life and the policies that support them. The panel will consist of the following panelists: 
  • Dana Suskind, MD. Author of Parent Nation and  Director, TMW Center for Early Learning & Public Health, University of Chicago
  • Pamela Truelove-Walker, EdD, TMW Center for Early Learning & Public Health
  • Deputy Speaker Michelle Cook, Chair of the Early Childhood Caucus
The briefing will be held at the Legislative Office Building (300 Capitol Avenue, Hartford) in Room 1D on Tuesday, February 27th from 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM. All are welcome to attend. 
Early Literacy Roundtable
I am pleased to invite you to a pivotal event that underscores our community's dedication to our youngest members: the Early Literacy Roundtable on Wednesday, April 3rd at 1:30 PM in Room 310 of the Capitol (310 Capitol Avenue, Hartford). This gathering is more than just a meeting; it is a clarion call to action for the advocacy and enhancement of literacy and language skills from the earliest stages of life.
Literacy is the foundation upon which future learning and growth are built, and it is essential that we begin nurturing these skills from birth through five years—a critical period where the seeds of learning are sown. Our roundtable will feature prominent program partners who are at the forefront of this noble cause: Read to Grow, Reach Out and Read, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
Spring Into Action with Branford Parks & Recreation
The 2024 Spring & Summer Programs/Events Brochure is now available for viewing! Explore the exciting lineup of special events, including the annual festivities on the Town Green.
Additionally, there is a wide range of week-over-week programs and spring recess camps offered. Click here to register today!
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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