Litchfield News
HOME | NEWS | SPORTS | OPINION | THINGS TO DO | ARTS | HOME & FAMILY | SCHOOLS | BUSINESS | COMMUNITY | TOWN INFO |
   

 

 

 

Political Scene




 League of Women Voters of Litchfield County
Announces launch of a new website
 with easier access to civic information
 
The League of Women Voters of Litchfield County announced today (Wednesday, February 22, 2017) the launch of a new website, more user friendly and informative with simple ways to share up-to-date information about the organization’s priorities and strategies.
 
As civic interest has taken off statewide, the League is a natural place for those seeking nonpartisan political information. The easy access encourages visitors to become aware of League programs and events and get current information on the civic activities taking place around us.
 
The site also makes it easier for visitors to request the latest edition of the Voice, our electronic newsletter. The public can read our Observer Corps reports, focusing on The Northwest Hills Council of Governments Housing. For more information about the organization or the Observer Corps program, please visit the website at litchfieldlwv.org or call Denise Butwill at 860-567-2035.
 
“With the new website in place,” says President Kerry Mayers, “we hope to draw new members and attendees to our various events. Since the site went live on January 23rd, we have had seven inquiries for the newsletter and/or membership.”
 
The League of Women Voters of Litchfield County is a grassroots, nonpartisan political organization of women and men.
 
 
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
 
Public hearings will continue this week at the Legislative Office Building (LOB). This is your opportunity to participate in your state government and share your views and opinions on bill proposals as they are being heard during respective committee public hearings.

I encourage you to check 
www.cga.ct.gov and click on the “Bulletin” to track what proposals you might be interested in. If you do decide to write a letter in support of, or opposition to a proposed bill, please copy me so I can be aware of your opinions.

Your voice matters; for some pointers on how to testify, 
click here. I hope you'll share your thoughts with the committee and me. 

Here are some bills scheduled for public hearings this week that may be of interest to you and our community:
 
State Budget Hearings
The state budget hearings will continue this coming week in the Appropriations committee. Please check here for a full 
budget hearing schedule.
 
Prevailing Wage Thresholds 
Labor & Public Employees Committee
Testimony - Submit testimony to LABtestimony@cga.ct.gov. For a complete list of bills, along with links to the language, click here.
 
· HB-432 and HB-6211 - Increases the prevailing wage thresholds
 
Mandate Relief
Planning & Development Committee
Testimony: Submit testimony to PDtestimony@cga.ct.gov 
The legislature's Planning & Development Committee is holding a public hearing on several COST priority issues.  For a complete list of bills, along with links to the language, click here.
 
· SB-793 -The Governor's proposal to 1) increase the prevailing wage thresholds to $1 million for new construction and $500,000 for renovations; 2) provide for the random selection of neutral arbitrators and the use of a single neutral through an agreement of the parties in the binding arbitration process; 3) allow towns to negotiate MERS employee contribution rates as a subject of collective bargaining
· HB-6923 and HB-5158 - Requires any new or expanded unfunded municipal mandate to be approved by a 2/3 majority of the General Assembly
· HB-5448 and HB-6929 - Eliminates the mandate that towns store the property of evicted tenants
 
Regionalism
Planning & Development Committee
Testimony: Submit testimony to PDtestimony@cga.ct.gov. For a complete list of bills, along with links to the language, click here.
 
· HB-6924 - Requires Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to implement a regionalization efficiency tool to assess a town's performance in regionalizing various functions
· HB-6920 -Makes significant changes to Council of Governments (COGs), including allowing a majority of towns in a COG to decide to enter into a regional revenue enhancement agreement and allowing COGs to create ethics boards. Of particular importance is Section 8 of HB 6920, which would allow for the majority of towns in the Council of Governments to share property tax revenues. Right now the language allows that all towns in the COG's must agree to share commercial and industrial tax revenues.
 
Other bills scheduled for hearing this week:
Each committee has different rules and deadlines for submitting testimony. For the rules in submitting written testimony please click this link.
 
You can always watch a specific public hearing on the CT-N Network.
 
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the upcoming public hearings, or any other state or local issues. I can be reached at 800-842-1423 or email david.wilson@housegop.ct.gov.

Sincerely,
David T. Wilson
CT State Representative (R-66)
 
*Follow my legislative activity and sign up to receive my newsletter by visiting my website: www.repwilson.com  
Follow me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/repwilson.
 
 
Dear Neighbors,
 
This is going to be one of the most difficult budget years in recent history. Connecticut is facing massive deficits compounded by a sluggish economy due to poor fiscal and business policies. I'm hopeful with more balance in the General Assembly, there is newfound commitment from the majority to work together to restructure how state government works.
 
 
I encourage you to click on the Municipal Statistical and Formula Aid Information and check out our towns of Bethlehem, Litchfield, Morris, Warren, and Woodbury, which comprise the 66th district.
 
The governor's state budget proposal is the first step in the process and over the next several months, the legislature's Appropriations and Finance Committees will be reviewing and vetting the governor's budget and state revenues, and will be offering possible adjustments.
 
The governor's proposal includes $200 million in new state taxes and also has massive cuts to local education aid for the majority of the state's towns, redistributing those funds to cities across the state, many of whom have a history of poor budget practices.
 
The governor’s plan also relies on $700 million in 'proposed' state employee union concessions in order to balance the budget, which is not guaranteed.
 
 
The Appropriations committee will be having public hearings all week. Please check here for their budget hearing schedule.
 
I hope you'll share your thoughts with the committee and me.  Your voice matters; here are some tips on how to testify, click here.
 
If you plan to attend any of the state budget public hearings, they require you submit 30 copies of written testimony at the time of sign-up, but not later than 2:00 P.M. of the day. Testimony received after the designated time may not be distributed until after the hearing. 
 
If you cannot testify but wish to submit testimony, please email your written testimony in Word or PDF format to APPtestimony@cga.ct.gov and copy my office on the email, at David.Wilson@housegop.ct.gov.
 
The Appropriations committee has a deadline to vote for changes to the governor's budget by April 27th.
 
I will continue to keep you updated on the state budget process as it moves forward. 
 
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the upcoming public hearings, or any other state or local issues. I can be reached at 800-842-1423 or email david.wilson@housegop.ct.gov.

Sincerely,
David T. Wilson
CT State Representative (R-66)
 
*Follow my legislative activity and sign up to receive my newsletter by visiting my website: www.repwilson.com.
  
Follow me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/repwilson.
 
 
Local Legislators Respond to Governor’s Proposed Budget
Piscopo, Wilson say budget will hurt middle class,
shift tax burden to municipalities
State Reps. John Piscopo (R-76) and David Wilson (R-66) joined their legislative colleagues in a joint session of the House and Senate as Governor Malloy delivered his biennial budget address.  The governor outlined his proposed budget for FY 2018-2019.
 
The plan, which is littered with poor policy practices including passing fiscal responsibilities on to towns, the poor and middle classes, and retirees on fixed incomes, has fielded widespread criticism.
 
“The governor’s proposal punishes towns that work hard to come in with budgets that are as lean as possible and also punishes the middle class,” said Rep. Piscopo. “The process to develop a state budget begins with the governor’s proposal. Now the legislature has the opportunity to weigh in with its recommendations and I’m confident that we can develop an alternative proposal that addresses the spending problem in our state and makes fundamental, long-term structural changes that will create more stability and predictability for future budgeting cycles.”
 
“It is poor fiscal policy to suggest the state push off its responsibility of paying its debt obligations to towns and cities and ultimately, this policy would hurt the poor and the middle class taxpayers, as well as retirees and seniors who live on fixed incomes,” added Rep. Wilson. “We have an obligation to the taxpayers of our state to not only manage our debt, but also to set fiscal policies which will put our state back on solid financial ground. We also have an obligation to our municipalities to provide predictable budgets that they can count on year after year, in order to craft their own budget proposals which support the people of Connecticut in their hometowns.” 
 
The Governor’s proposed budget passes more than $400 million of the cost of municipal schoolteachers’ pensions on to cities and towns to deal with. Aside from the high likelihood that it will cause local property taxes to be raised, the proposed budget increases the bottle deposit on carbonated beverages from $.05 to $.10, eliminates the property tax credit that is used by nearly 1 million homeowners, and closes the seven rest areas throughout the state.
 
 
 
Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) has launched a new interactive website CtTravelSmart.org that provides residents with live traffic updates, which could have an impact on your travel plans. 

Screenshot of CtTravelSmart Website

According to the DOT, CT Travel Smart is a real-time travel information tool and includes travel resource information pertaining to the state’s transportation related amenities.

Features include:

- Real-time travel information on incidents, travel times, and camera feeds in a list format

- Options that allow users to personalize the application to show cameras, routes, and alerts that are most relevant to them

I encourage you to check the status of Connecticut's busy roadways before heading out. 

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about this or any state or local issue. I can be reached at 800-842-1423 or email david.wilson@housegop.ct.gov.


Sincerely,

Esty Introduces Bipartisan Bill
to Support Families of Fallen Service Members
Legislation Calls for Semipostal Stamp Honoring Families Who Lost Loved Ones in Combat
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) today (Thursday, February 16, 2017) joined with Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-2) to introduce the Support the Families of Fallen Heroes Act to honor service members who lose their lives serving in uniform and to provide assistance to their families. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced similar legislation in the Senate today and in the 114th Congress.
 
In 2014, Esty met with families who lost loved ones at VFW Post 201 in Waterbury. There, Esty spoke with Mr. Joe Nolan, a Vietnam veteran and former Marine who lost his son in Iraq in 2004. Mr. Nolan, who also initiated the Gold Star Family License Plate in Connecticut, suggested creating a postal stamp in honor of the families of the fallen. Esty has introduced legislation to do so during each of her three terms in Congress.
 
“The brave men and women of our military who knowingly risk their lives on our behalf deserve to know that their families will be supported and cared for,” Esty said. “After speaking with Joe Nolan in Waterbury and other families who have lost loved ones, I understood the need to do more to honor their sacrifice. The ‘Families of Fallen Heroes’ Semipostal stamp will pay tribute to those who gave their lives for our nation. But it does more than that: by providing proceeds to a program that provides direct assistance to the families of fallen service members, it will help these families get critical help when they need it most.”
 
“For years, I have been working to get the U.S. Post office to issue a postage stamp to honor the memory of my son, Joe, and all fallen heroes from all of America’s wars and their surviving families,” Mr. Nolan said. “The stamp would not only keep their memories alive, but it would also spread awareness to those who may not be familiar with the Gold Star symbol. Our country needs to know the cost of war. I was proud to join Congresswoman Esty in 2015 to announce the new Gold Star Fathers law. I appreciate Congresswoman Esty for her work on this important issue and for bringing this stamp one step closer to reality.”
 
The Families of Fallen Heroes Act would direct the U.S. Postal Service to issue a Families of Fallen Heroes Semipostal Stamp, the proceeds of which would go to the Families of the Fallen Support program, which is jointly administered by the United Service Organizations, Inc. (USO) and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). The Families of the Fallen support program supports families at Dover Air Base when they witness the return of their fallen loved ones and continue this support through peer-based support groups and camps for children to connect with others coping with a similar loss.
 
In the previous Congress, Esty worked with Mr. Nolan to introduce and pass the Gold Star Fathers Act, which extends formal hiring preference for federal jobs to fathers of disabled and deceased veterans. Previously, only qualifying mothers, known as “Gold Star Mothers,” were given preference. Former President Barack Obama signed that bill into law in October 2015.
 
Last week, Esty was elected to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Yesterday, she was named the lead Democrat on the subcommittee charged with overseeing veterans’ benefits.
 
 
Esty Named Top Democrat on Subcommittee
Overseeing Veterans’ Benefits
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) today (Wednesday, February 15, 2017) was appointed in a unanimous, bipartisan vote of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee to the position of Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.
 
The Subcommittee has legislative oversight of compensation, pensions, and benefits for veterans of all wars of the United States.
 
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve our nation’s veterans by helping to lead this important, bipartisan subcommittee,” Esty said. “Working on behalf of those in Connecticut and across the country who have worn the uniform in defense of our freedom is one of my greatest honors as a representative. There is a great deal of work ahead to ensure that every veteran who serves this country receives the support and care they deserve. I’m ready and eager to partner with my colleagues on the Subcommittee to help all veterans and military families claim their rightful benefits with less red tape and fewer delays.”
 
“I congratulate Congresswoman Esty for being elected to serve as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs,” said Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), the Ranking Democrat on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “I know her to be a dedicated and passionate advocate for veterans in her district, and I am confident that as Ranking Member she will be able to extend that commitment to every veteran in the U.S.”
 
Yesterday, Esty helped lead a Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee hearing focused on the National Work Queue program and its effect on the processing of veterans’ claims. Video of Esty’s remarks and questions for witnesses, which focused on balancing both efficient processing and personalized service, is available by visiting https://youtu.be/OrTPSRf8vZ0 or by clicking the image below.
 
 
Esty has made serving the 36,000 veterans living in Connecticut’s Fifth District a top priority since arriving in Congress, both through legislation and through casework with federal agencies. Since taking office in January 2013, Esty has helped 1,095 local veterans recover over $2.6 million in overdue benefits and compensation.
 
In 2015, Esty’s bipartisan Gold Star Fathers Act – which extends formal hiring preference for federal jobs to fathers of military sons and daughters who gave their life in service to our country – was signed into law by former President Barack Obama. She was also a lead sponsor of the Gold Star Families Voices Act, which calls for documenting for history the sacrifices and life stories of fallen service members and their families so that future generations have a clearer understanding of the realities of war. That bill was signed into law last year.
 
In addition, Esty coauthored the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which was introduced by Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-MN) and signed into law two years ago. 
 
Esty is the lead author of several other bipartisan measures to support veterans and military families. 
- Her Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act would expand research into the prevention, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of health conditions relating to exposure to burn pits.
- Her CARE for All Veterans Act would expand eligibility for the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers to veterans of all conflicts with a serious service-connected injury. Current law limits eligibility to those veterans injured on or after September 11, 2001.
- Her Support the Families of Fallen Heroes Act would direct the U.S. Postal Service to issue the Families of Fallen Heroes Semipostal Stamp, the proceeds of which would go to the Families of the Fallen Support program which is jointly administered by the United Service Organizations, Inc. (USO) and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).
 
In addition to the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Esty serves in Congress on the Science and Technology Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, of which she was recently elected Vice Ranking Member.