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Political Scene

 Esty Statement on President Trump’s
Opioid Crisis Commission
WASHINGTON, D.C.– Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) today (Wednesday, March 29, 2017) issued the following statement after the launch of President Trump’s commission to combat the opioid addiction epidemic:
“Everywhere I go in Connecticut, I meet people whose families have been destroyed by addiction. We need a comprehensive strategy to address this crisis – one that includes federal investment in prevention, treatment, and recovery. Given the terrible toll that addiction has taken throughout the country, it is imperative that we find common ground on this issue. I will gladly partner with this commission as well as with my colleagues in Congress to prevent more lives from being taken by the opioid epidemic, and to help those suffering from addiction to recover and move forward.”
Esty serves on the House Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic. Last year, she served on the conference committee that crafted the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), a bipartisan legislative package to respond to the nationwide opioid epidemic. CARA, which former President Barack Obama signed into law in July, included provisions of the Prevent Drug Addiction Act, an Esty-authored bill focusing on addiction prevention.
U.S. Rep. Esty pays a visit to officials in Goshen (03-26-17)
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty holds a town hall meeting in Goshen on Saturday. BZ photos

Some of the most pressing issues facing the country were discussed during a town hall meeting U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty hosted at Goshen Town Hall on Saturday.

The Goshen Public Library organized the meeting, which drew the likes of First Selectman Robert P. Valentine, library director Lynn Steinmayer, library board of directors Chairman Patrick Reilly, Amy Tobin of the Goshen Business Circle, and Janet Hooper of the Goshen Community Garden.

Issues discussed included health care, transportation infrastructure, renewable energy, and immigration policy. Reilly expressed concern about a loss of federal funding for the arts and humanities, as well as for nonprofit organizations like ones serving Goshen.

"If that money dries up, there's no way the town can fund the services those organizations provide," Reilly said.

Esty agreed and said a bipartisan approach by Congress is the only way the major issues afftecting the country like health care and immigration can be resolved. She said she believes President Trump's temporary travel ban affecting six Muslim countries will have to be decided by the Supreme Court.

"We have to be vigilant about who we're letting into the country, but the ban was framed in a way that incites anger in certain countries and resentment towards the U.S.," Esty said. "That's the way it is perceived."

Discussion also touched on tourism in the northwest corner and its importance to towns like Goshen.

"How do we grow on what we have here?" asked Tobin.

Esty said towns have to figure out ways to increase awareness of the area's offerings so more tourists would be drawn here. More tourists would benefit local businesses.

"There is a real opportunity for the northwest corner to do some branding," she said. "It's one of the most beautiful parts of the country, so it's important for towns to collectively looks at ways to prompote what is here."

Below, Goshen First Selectman Robert P. Valentine comments during the town hall meeting. Looking on is Janet Hooper of the Goshen Community Garden.

State Rep. Wilson gains insight on maple syrup (03-26-17)
State Rep. David T. Wilson, R-Litchfield, center, listens as Mark Harran, left, owner of Brookside Farm II in Litchfield, talks about his maple syrup-producing operation at the farm on Saturday. To the right is John Langer of Bantam, who works at the farm.

Below, Wilson and Langer check out the farm's new bourbon maple syrup product. Wilson visited the farm to learn about maple syrup production and to express support for small business. BZ photos

Esty, Katko Introduce Bipartisan Bill
to Preserve Brownfields Program at EPA
Reps. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) and John Katko (R-NY) today (Tuesday, March 28, 2017) introduced bipartisan legislation to help communities revitalize neighborhoods and spur economic development through brownfields assessment and remediation. Both Esty and Katko serve on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, of which Esty is the Vice Ranking Member.
The Brownfields Reauthorization Act of 2017 would reauthorize and improve the Brownfields program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Reps. Pete DeFazio (D-OR), Ranking Member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Grace Napolitano (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, are also original cosponsors of the legislation.
“Passing this bipartisan bill will empower our communities to turn blighted properties into livable, workable spaces that create good-paying jobs, boost local economies, and provide new opportunities for outdoor recreation,” Rep. Elizabeth Esty said. “Cities and towns throughout central and northwest Connecticut have Brownfields sites in need of redevelopment – from Waterbury to New Milford to Torrington to Meriden. On average, every dollar of federal funding awarded through the Brownfields program leverages $18 in other public and private financing. Transforming these abandoned spaces into economic assets is truly one of the best investments we can make.”
“With Onondaga Lake in our backyard, Central New Yorkers know all too well the impact of industrial pollution.  Our local and state leaders have done tremendous work in our community to clean up Onondaga Lake and to restore and revitalize the surrounding neighborhoods through environmental remediation and economic development.  Towns across my district, including Auburn, Wolcott, Fulton, Oswego, Syracuse, and others have benefited from the brownfields program,” Rep. John Katko said.  “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation today with Rep. Esty to preserve and enhance the EPA Brownfields Program so that Central New York and communities nationwide can continue to restore and develop Brownfields sites.”
Brownfields are segments of land that were once used for industrial purposes or commercial use. Many times, this land becomes contaminated with hazardous waste or pollution, and requires environmental remediation. Originally authorized in 2002, the EPA’s Brownfield Program empowers states, communities, and stakeholders to assess, clean up, and redevelop these sites. However, the program was allowed to expire in 2006, though it has continued to receive nominal funding.
The Brownfields Reauthorization Act would reauthorize the EPA Brownfields program through Fiscal Year 2022, at a rate of $250 million per year. It would also increase the cleanup grant amount from $200,000 to $600,000, as well as expand eligibility requirements to certain nonprofits, limited liability corporations, limited partnerships, and community development entities.
“Once again, Congresswoman Esty is demonstrating her commitment to the citizens of Waterbury and the region by re-introducing this bill.  While proud of our industrial past, every remediated brownfield provides another opportunity for economic development, bringing good jobs to Waterbury and growing our Grand List,” Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary said.
"The City of Meriden has worked in close partnership with the EPA, as well other state and federal agencies, for more than 15 years to complete community wide environmental assessments and cleanup activities in our community. To date, 35 properties of concern have been identified and 10 sites have been fully or partially remediated.  The sites of concern are often located within our residential neighborhoods potentially exposing residents to contamination while at the same time inhibiting economic development,” Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati said. “Federal funding provided by the EPA and other agencies has been key to helping us achieve our goal to transform these brownfield sites and make them a vital part of a vibrant, Transit Oriented Development (TOD) District that includes a new downtown park, retail, and mixed income housing.  Today, over $100 million is being invested in our downtown.  This investment is a direct result of our persistent efforts to reclaim and remediate brownfield sites with assistance provided by the EPA and other partners. We commend Congresswoman Esty's efforts to support the continuation and expansion of the EPA brownfield program."
“Brownfields represent challenges and opportunities in nearly every community in Connecticut, and Congresswoman Esty’s bill would make it easier for these longstanding eyesores to be cleaned up and returned to productive reuse,” Tim Sullivan, the Deputy Commissioner at the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, said. “Successful brownfield redevelopment requires a strong partnership between the private sector and every level of government – municipal, state and federal – and a strengthened federal brownfields program will enable significant investment and job creation throughout Connecticut.”
The Brownfields Reauthorization Act of 2017 would also benefit Area-Wide Revitalization Planning Grants, which are commonly used by communities when creating long-term remediation plans for brownfield sites. These grants assist communities assess a site and the state of its infrastructure, determine the level of investment needed, and identify private and public resources available at the local and federal level while keeping current and future markets in mind. Planning Grants oftentimes expedite the time frame between the assessment and cleanup of a brownfield site.
It is estimated that there are over 450,000 brownfield sites across the country, with at least one brownfield site in every congressional district. Of these sites, 59,000 areas have been remediated and revitalized. According to an EPA study, there are 66 brownfield properties throughout central and northwestern Connecticut.
According to a 2007 study, every acre of brownfields redevelopment creates approximately ten jobs. Additionally, on average, for every $1 dollar spent through the EPA’s Brownfields program leverages an average of $18 in outside investment.
This bill will be referred to both the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Esty Statement on Cancellation of Vote on GOP Health Care Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C.– Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) today (Friday, March 24, 2017) released the following statement after a vote on the GOP health care bill was canceled:
“The Affordable Care Act has problems that we need to work together to fix. The American Health Care Act would solve none of these problems, and the American people know it. Instead of lowering costs or improving the quality of care, this bill would force millions of Americans to pay more money for worse coverage.
“Americans throughout the country – including the thousands of folks in my district who called and emailed me – have sent a loud and clear message to Congress that they oppose this cruel and destructive proposal. Today, their voices were heard. We won’t fix the problems in our health care system with just one party negotiating against itself. Let’s start fresh on a bipartisan plan that will improve access to quality health care, lower premiums, reduce out-of-pocket expenses, and bring down drug costs.”
Rep. Wilson Welcomes Litchfield Girl Scouts to State Capitol
State Rep. David Wilson (R-Litchfield) welcomed members of Litchfield Girl Scout Troop 40020 to the State Capitol on Monday for the annual Girl Scout Day. Rep. Wilson meet with staff and advocates, as well as several Girl Scouts who chose to come to the Capitol to meet with their legislators, learn more about their state government, and to self-advocate for the issues that are important to them. The Girl Scouts of Connecticut is an organization dedicated to empowering girls and young women, and teaching them the importance of leadership and advocacy.
State Reps. Piscopo, Betts Welcome
Wamogo Vo-Ag Students to State Capitol
State Representatives John Piscopo (R-76) and Whit Betts (R-78) welcomed Vocational Agriculture (Vo-Ag) students from Wamogo Regional High School to the State Capitol last week. The students were visiting during the state's annual Ag Day, a day which serves to celebrate agriculture in Connecticut, and highlight the state's various agricultural programs by the more than 50 organizations and state and federal agencies in attendance from across Connecticut. The students had the opportunity to meet with Reps. Piscopo and Betts, and speak with them about the Vo-Ag program at Wamogo, advocating not only for the program, but also for increasing the number of students that can be accepted into the program from Litchfield and surrounding towns.
Front, L-R: with Rep. Piscopo (back, left) and Rep. Betts (back, right) is Freshman, Connor Kennedy and his sister, Junior, Tabitha Kennedy of Terryville, and Senior, Brooke Healy of Litchfield. ~ contributed

According to the school's website, Wamogo serves students from Warren, Morris and Goshen Connecticut. Children from seven additional towns may apply to the national award winning Agri-science program. In addition to the comprehensive course of study, students in Agri-science choose courses in mechanics, natural resources, animal science and horticulture. For more information, please visit:
Pictured (front, L-R) with Rep. Piscopo (back, left) and Rep. Betts (back, right) is Freshman, Connor Kennedy and his sister, Junior, Tabitha Kennedy of Terryville, and Senior, Brooke Healy of Litchfield.
Esty, Tester, Boozman Introduce Legislation
to Change VA Culture, Honor Women Veterans
Members Joined by Women Veterans and
Advocates to Unveil Deborah Sampson Act 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5), U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), and U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) today (Tuesday, March 21, 2017) stood with women veterans and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to unveil bipartisan legislation to improve services and access at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for women veterans.
The Deborah Sampson Act addresses gender disparities at the VA to ensure that women veterans are getting equitable care. This legislation will provide enhanced access to VA care and will ensure women veterans are getting the benefits they have earned through their service. 
Additionally, this bill will address the needs of women veterans who are more likely to face homelessness, unemployment, and go without needed health care.
“Supporting those who put their lives on the line to defend our freedom is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. The promise we made to our veterans is fundamental to who we are as Americans. It's on all of us to keep that promise,” said Esty, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “More than 2 million women have worn the uniform in service to this nation, and they face unique obstacles to care when they return home. The Deborah Sampson Act will help us fulfill our commitment to support these brave Americans by expanding access to the quality care woman veterans need to stay healthy and provide for their families.”
“Women are courageously signing up to serve our country at a higher rate than ever before and we need to make sure every resource is available to them when they return from deployment,”said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “This bill will help change the VA’s culture to recognize the women who have served.  I’m honored to introduce this legislation to empower women veterans, honor their brave sacrifice, and ensure the VA is holding up its end of the bargain to our sisters, mothers and daughters.”  
“The changing face of our military requires us to reexamine the services and care we’re providing our veterans. We need to improve services to ensure we’re meeting the unique needs of today’s entire veteran community,”said Boozman, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “This bill eliminates remaining barriers to access and quality of care these brave women earned.”
The Deborah Sampson Act does the following:
- Empowers women veterans by expanding peer-to-peer counseling, group counseling and call centers for women veterans,
- Improves the quality of care for infant children of women veterans by increasing the number of days of maternity care VA facilities can provide and authorizing medically-necessary transportation for newborns,
- Eliminates barriers to care by increasing the number of gender-specific providers and coordinators in VA facilities, training clinicians, and retrofitting VA facilities to enhance privacy and improve the environment of care for women veterans,
- Provides support services for women veterans seeking legal assistance and authorizes additional grants for organizations supporting low-income women veterans,
- Improves the collection and analysis of data regarding women and minority veterans, and expands outreach by centralizing all information for women veterans in one easily accessible place on the VA website.
The Deborah Sampson Act is co-sponsored by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
The Deborah Sampson Act gets its name from Deborah Sampson, a woman who disguised herself as a man in order to serve in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. She was wounded in 1782 and spent half of her life fighting to be recognized for her service. She is one of a small number of women with a documented record of military combat experience in the Revolutionary War. The Deborah Sampson Act can be found online HERE.  A one pager can be downloaded HERE.
State Reps Welcome NW CT Chamber to State Capitol
State Reps. Dave Wilson (R-66) and John Piscopo (R-76) welcomed Northwest CT Chamber of Commerce members to the State Capitol during the annual CT Business Day.  The legislators, who were in session in the House Chamber, took a moment to meet with several group members in the gallery of the House of Representatives. Wilson and Piscopo thanked the members for their continued advocacy on behalf of businesses in CT, and encouraged them to continue to work with their legislators to focus on stimulating the economy, and removing the unnecessary barriers of unfunded mandates so that business can grow and create jobs.
Standing (L-R) State Representatives Brian Ohler, John Piscopo, David Wilson, and Jay Case welcome members of the Northwest CT Chamber of Commerce to the State Capitol for CT Business Day. ~ contributed
Wilson Meets with District Taxpayers
Discusses Issues over Coffee
State Rep. David Wilson (R-66) (below left) talks with taxpayers in Morris and gives an update on the latest news from the State Capitol, including the state budget during a morning coffee hour event at the Cardinal Grill.
Wilson recently hosted early morning coffee hour events across the 66th district, giving residents in Litchfield, Bethlehem, Morris, Warren, and Woodbury, the opportunity to meet with their legislator and speak with him about their concerns. Wilson stressed the importance of lowering tax burdens on families and businesses and restoring municipal funding cuts proposed in the governor’s budget. Any resident who missed the events but would like to contact Wilson may do so at 800-842-1423 or email ~ contributed
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 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.
President Trump Signs into Law
Two Esty-Authored Bills
to Promote Women in Science
Esty is the first Democratic member of Congress to introduce a bill signed into law by President Trump
President Donald Trump today (Tuesday, February 28, 2017) signed into law two pieces of legislation authored jointly by Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) and Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA).
The two measures, the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act (H.R. 255) and the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act (H.R. 321), had passed the House and the Senate by unanimous consent, with support from both parties. The new laws will help women launch careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields where they are underrepresented and will encourage women to start their own STEM-focused small businesses.
“No matter how contentious or passionate our political disagreements may get, as representatives for the American people, we must never stop working toward common solutions that will improve people’s lives,” Esty said. “Americans overwhelmingly agree that we need more middle-class jobs, better support for aspiring small-business owners, and fewer barriers to participation in the 21st -century economy. The passage of our two bipartisan bills is an excellent step forward that will grow our economy and help women from all walks of life break into fields where they have been underrepresented.”
“The Jackson Laboratory continues to support Congresswoman Esty’s efforts to broaden participation in science through this legislation,” said Melanie V. Sinche, Director of Education at The Jackson Laboratory in Farmington. “The focus of The Jackson Laboratory remains steadfast on the education and training of a diverse scientific workforce, creating an inclusive environment for women and other groups historically underrepresented in science.”
The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, introduced by Esty and co-authored by Comstock, improves federal support for women entrepreneurs in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Specifically, the bill expands the mission of the National Science Foundation to include supporting entrepreneurial programs for women that extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world. It is the first bill introduced by a Democrat that President Trump has signed into law.
The INSPIRE Women Act, introduced by Comstock and co-authored by Esty,calls on NASA to encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in aerospace. In particular, it directs NASA to encourage women to enter the STEM fields through three existing programs: NASA Girls, Aspire to Inspire, and the Summer Institute in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Research.
In addition to Esty and Comstock, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ranking Member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Esty, a member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, has made improving STEM education and expanding access to high-tech careers a focus throughout her four years in office. Two years ago, she convened a Connecticut STEM Advisory Board comprised of educators, workers, and industry leaders to identify strategies for strengthening the state’s high-tech workforce and connect more students with career opportunities in the STEM fields.
In 2015, Esty partnered with Smith to pass the STEM Education Act, which supports training for STEM teachers and includes computer science for the first time as a focus of STEM education initiatives. Former President Barack Obama signed the STEM Education Act into law.
Last year, Esty worked with Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) to pass the Manufacturing Universities Act, which would help institutions like the University of Connecticut with existing manufacturing programs to increase the number of joint education projects they undertake with manufacturing firms and support students who participate in apprenticeships with manufacturers. Former President Barack Obama signed the Manufacturing Universities Act into law in December as part of the National Defense Reauthorization Act.
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 and copy my office on the email, at
The Appropriations committee has a deadline to vote for changes to the governor's budget by April 27th.
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