Supporting Young Learners And The Environment

April 9, 2024

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Dear Neighbor,
It’s been longer than usual since I’ve provided an update on what I’ve been doing. It’s a busy time of year for everyone but I hope you will take a few minutes to check in with what has been happening in Hartford and around town. I have a lot of events I’ve been planning, so read on to learn more. Here's what you can expect in this newsletter: 
  • Celebrating Holi
  • Connecticut Foodshare's Mobile Food Pantry
  • Advocating for Children
  • HB 5004: A Climate & Legislative Priority
  • Women and Substance Use-- A Gender Perspective: Differences in Addiction and Treatment
  • Early Literacy Roundtable
  • Public Act 23-115: An Act Requiring Food Allergy Awareness in Restaurants Press Conference
Celebrating Holi
Last month, I was invited to celebrate the Hindu holiday, Holi, on the Branford Green. Holi is celebrated widely in Nepal and on the Indian continent, recognizing the triumph of good over evil and the eternal and divine love of the deities Radha and Krishna. There was music and dancing. 
You can see by the pictures above why they call this the Festival of Colors, Love, and Spring! 
Connecticut Foodshare's Mobile Food Pantry
I was recently involved in the efforts to distribute food through Connecticut Foodshare’s Mobile Pantry. I joined staff and volunteers as the organization helps address food deserts and transportation barriers that make it difficult for people who are food insecure to access the adequate nutrition they need. 
The Mobile Food Pantry comes to Branford every two weeks on Friday at 9:30 AM in the morning at the New Antioch Church of God (65 Burban Drive).

Advocating for Children

I've had the privilege of stepping forward as a legislator and advocating for our priorities during this legislative session. I was proud to stand alongside a bipartisan group of legislators, speaking as a representative of the Early Childhood Caucus at a press conference on HB 5002 (you can watch my full remarks here). Together, we sent a powerful message about the importance of investing in our youngest residents. 

HB 5002 is a top priority for the House, and for good reason. It acknowledges the urgent need for affordable childcare that every Connecticut family can rely on. We believe this bill, with its focus on the Early Childhood Care and Education Fund, has the power to transform our state's approach to investing in our children and our future. Joining me in this important discussion were Representative Kate Farrar and Patrice, the Director of Alphabet Academy and The Nest in Branford. 

Additionally, I delivered prepared remarks to the Finance Committee and was thankful for Diane and Wendy from Branford Early Learning Center, who testified via Zoom about the benefits of investing early in our children. One key role a legislator can play is to reach out to businesses and constituents and let them know when and how to advocate for or against the issues we are hearing in Hartford. 


HB 5004: A Climate & Legislative Priority

I wanted to provide you with an update on HB 5004, "An Act Concerning the Implementation of Certain Climate Change Measures." This bill was subject to a public hearing in March and passed out of the Environment Committee 23-11. It now heads to the House Floor for consideration.

The bill, referred to as the 2024 Connecticut Climate Protection Act, is a priority for the House Democratic Caucus. 

HB 5004 seeks to respond to the climate crisis by:
  1. Updating the Global Warming Solutions Act to make Connecticut's greenhouse gas emissions targets more in line with other states in the region;
  2. Creating incentives for businesses that engage in clean economy sectors or employ environmentally sustainable practices;
  3. Developing plans for transitioning to a clean economy, including workforce training and long-term policy implementation;
  4. Supporting nature-based solutions, such as preserving marshlands and forests.

With this bill, we're saying that sustainability is not only the right thing to do but also the smart, economically competitive thing to do. 


Women and Substance Use-- A Gender Perspective: Differences in Addiction and Treatment

On Thursday, April 11th from 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM at Joseph Trapasso Community House (46 Church Street), I will host a panel discussion focused on the unique challenges that women face in relation to substance abuse. The event, titled "Women and Substance Use—A Gender Perspective: Differences in Addiction and Treatment," aims to raise awareness about the biological and cultural differences in substance use as related to sex and gender. 

The panel will discuss obstacles to and opportunities for treatment and the role that research and policy can play in improving outcomes. I hope to see you at this informative event!


Early Literacy Roundtable

Representative Dominique Johnson, Representative Rader, and I are working with our state partners, including Branford’s Read to Grow, to hold an Early Literacy Roundtable on Tuesday, April 16th from 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM at the Capitol in Room 310. 

Panelists will include:
  • Commissioner Beth Bye, Office of Early Childhood
  • Deborah Schander, Connecticut State Library
  • Dr. Paul Dworkin, Executive VP for Community Child Health at Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health
  • Suzannah Holsenbeck, Read to Grow
  • Irene Bassock, United Way of Central and Northeastern CT Advocacy Committee
  • Alex Chu, Reach Out and Read
  • Fatmata Williams, Director of Integrated Care, Dept. of Social Services

 Please reach out to me if you would like to attend or know more.


Public Act 23-115: An Act Requiring Food Allergy Awareness in Restaurants Press Conference

Finally, I am holding a press conference recognizing the passage and implementation of Public Act 23-115: An Act Requiring Food Allergy Awareness in Restaurants. This new law requires the following from restaurants:
  • Display a poster in their kitchens that includes information about the most common food allergies, symptoms of anaphylaxis, and methods to prevent cross-contact.
    • The deadline for restaurants to display posters was March 1st of this year.
  • Certified food protection managers must ensure that each employee is familiar with its contents;
  •  Post on menus and menu boards a request that customers notify their server about any food allergies before placing an order. 

This law is a huge win for the nearly 10% of Connecticut residents with food allergies. It will transform dining out, making restaurants safer and more inclusive places to eat. Some constituents who helped inspire this bill will speak about the benefits of this new law at the press conference, which will be held on Wednesday, April 17th at 11:00 AM in Room 1B of the Legislative Office Building (300 Capitol Avenue, Hartford). 

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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