Connecticut Senate Republicans

  1. Sen. Fasano Appoints Sen. Heather Somers to Governor’s Council on Women and Girls

    HARTFORD – Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) has appointed State Senator Heather Somers (R-Groton) to serve on Governor Ned Lamont’s newly created Governor’s Council on Women and Girls.

    “Senator Heather Somers will be an integral member of the governor’s council, working closely with our Lt. Governor and OPM Secretary Melissa McCaw to develop policies that promote equality, remove barriers, and ensure women have access to opportunity across our state. As a leader on the state’s Public Health Committee, Sen. Somers will bring an expertise in health care issues to the council. As a female business owner, she will also bring an important perspective on economic issues, job creation, and educational and leadership opportunities,” said Sen. Fasano.

    “I look forward to getting to work right away to continue my efforts to make our state a place where all women have the tools they need to succeed, to lead and to thrive,” said Sen. Somers. “To create the best policies, we must bring all ideas and perspectives to the table. I am honored to be part of this collaborative, bipartisan effort to support women.”

    Governor Ned Lamont today announced the launch of the Governor’s Council on Women and Girls to provide a coordinated state response to issues that impact the lives of women and girls, their families, and the State of Connecticut. The council will be comprised of the heads of each state agency, the constitutional officers, and a representative from each of the four legislative caucuses. The council is charged with focusing on four areas of impact: education and STEAM; economic opportunity and workforce equity; leadership; and health and safety.

    Senator Somers represents the 18th Senate District including the towns of Griswold, Groton, North Stonington, Plainfield, Preston, Sterling, Stonington and Voluntown.

    SOmerstestimony

  2. Sen. Fasano Appoints Sen. Heather Somers to Governor’s Council on Women and Girls

    Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) has appointed State Senator Heather Somers (R-Groton) to serve on Governor Ned Lamont’s newly created Governor’s Council on Women and Girls.

    “Senator Heather Somers will be an integral member of the governor’s council, working closely with our Lt. Governor and OPM Secretary Melissa McCaw to develop policies that promote equality, remove barriers, and ensure women have access to opportunity across our state. As a leader on the state’s Public Health Committee, Sen. Somers will bring an expertise in health care issues to the council. As a female business owner, she will also bring an important perspective on economic issues, job creation, and educational and leadership opportunities,” said Sen. Fasano.

    “I look forward to getting to work right away to continue my efforts to make our state a place where all women have the tools they need to succeed, to lead and to thrive,” said Sen. Somers. “To create the best policies, we must bring all ideas and perspectives to the table. I am honored to be part of this collaborative, bipartisan effort to support women.”

    Governor Ned Lamont today announced the launch of the Governor’s Council on Women and Girls to provide a coordinated state response to issues that impact the lives of women and girls, their families, and the State of Connecticut. The council will be comprised of the heads of each state agency, the constitutional officers, and a representative from each of the four legislative caucuses. The council is charged with focusing on four areas of impact: education and STEAM; economic opportunity and workforce equity; leadership; and health and safety.

    Senator Somers represents the 18th Senate District including the towns of Griswold, Groton, North Stonington, Plainfield, Preston, Sterling, Stonington and Voluntown.

  3. Stratford Lawmakers Seek Governor’s Support to Rebuild Shakespeare Theater

    A bipartisan group of state lawmakers who represent the town of Stratford are asking for Governor Ned Lamont’s support to rebuild the Shakespeare Theater, an iconic landmark that was destroyed in a fire last weekend. The lawmakers are asking the administration for a state investment of $5 million.

    “Last weekend, the Stratford community experienced an enormous loss,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the governor. “The Shakespeare Theater, an artistic and cultural icon, burned to the ground. As advocates for the theater, and for many of us with deep ties to the theater, this loss is truly devastating… It has a special place in the history of not only Stratford, but also of our entire state. Rebuilding would be an opportunity to revitalize the arts, boost our economy and commemorate an integral piece of our history.”

    The lawmakers seeking support include Senator Kevin Kelly (R-21), whose first job was in the Shakespeare Theater alongside his mother and aunt, as well as theater advocates Representatives Joe Gresko (D-121), Phil Young (D-120), and Ben McGorty (R-122).

    For multiple years, Stratford lawmakers have requested state bonding from the previous governor’s administration to revitalize and reopen the shuttered theater. They are hopeful that following recent tragic events the new governor’s administration will see the economic and historic value in restoring the theater.

    The lawmakers are requesting a state investment of $5 million in bonds that fall within the state’s new bond cap to mitigate the fire damage and construct a new theater.

    The legislators also look forward to hearing from Stratford residents about their ideas for the theater property.

    Click to view full letter: Stratford Lawmaker Letter on Shakespeare Theater Funding

    PDF of Letter re Shakespeare Theater

  4. A Call to Serve: Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Column By State Senator Kevin Kelly

    Monday, January 21 is a national day of service. In celebration of the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., people around our country take action to live up to the teachings of Dr. King. We donate our time and energy to strengthening our communities, building bridges and helping people in need. It is a day to break down barriers and work together to address social problems hand-in-hand.

    The teachings of Dr. King are perhaps most visible on this day every year. It’s inspiring to see so many people unite to promote change in our community. It’s a day that reminds me of why I entered public service, and what I hope to accomplish every year that I have the honor of serving as a state senator.

    In the words of Dr. King, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

    I became a state lawmaker to answer that question every day. I am humbled to frequently meet with people at the Capitol who feel the same. While we all may have different ideas for how to best help others, it is when we work together, when we share ideas, when we fulfill our call to serve alongside one another, that our goals are achieved with success.

    This year in particular I believe there needs to be a united effort to help those who are struggling in our state. People are suffering from crushing tax burdens, slower economic growth than neighboring states, unaffordable health care and a jobs market that never fully recovered from the Great Recession. The state’s irresponsible financial policies have jeopardized funding for core services for the most vulnerable.

    Given these challenges, my personal call to serve as a lawmaker is focused on three goals:

    1. Make sure Connecticut lives up to promises of affordable and accessible health care. Under current federal law, health insurance premiums in Connecticut have skyrocketed to unaffordable rates. Lawmakers need to work together to figure out how to reduce these costs to make health care truly accessible. I also hope to continue working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to protect insurance coverage for core health services. We have done a lot in our state to insulate Connecticut from the uncertainty of Washington, and that trend of bipartisanship must continue.
    2. Afford the greatest generation the opportunity to age at home with dignity. Connecticut is considered one of the “oldest” states in the country with a large population of aging individuals. Given this growing population as more baby boomers become seniors, we must continue to work towards helping people age in place, avoiding expensive institutionalized care when possible. That means protecting programs like the Connecticut Home Care Program and Meals on Wheels.
    3. Stabilize the state budget. In times of hardship, Connecticut has to do what every family does. Live within its means. Spend no more than we can afford. And prioritize dollars for core needs – not wants. This year, I will continue efforts to address our state’s growing tax burdens and high cost of living. Over the past two years, lawmakers passed two historic bipartisan budgets that started to move Connecticut in a new direction. We protected core services, at the same time we reduced taxes on seniors, and as a result of these budgets we have a surplus today. But more challenges are on the horizon. That’s why my call to serve includes a call to promote financial stability wherever possible. Stability is how we grow our economy; a healthy economy is what grows good paying jobs; and jobs are what provide all people an opportunity to succeed.

    Dr. King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” I intend to continue speaking out to achieve my goals and serve my constituents. I hope you aren’t silent either. When you feel passionate about something, when you want to help others who don’t have a voice, speak up. Please always feel free to share your thoughts with me at Kevin.Kelly@cga.ct.gov or call 800-842-1412.

  5. Sen. Heather Somers Named Assistant Senate Republican Leader

    Will Serve a Highest Ranking Republican on Legislature’s Public Health Committee

    State Sen. Heather Somers has been named Assistant Republican Leader and will serve as Ranking Member on the Public Health Committee

    “It is an honor to serve the people of the 18th Senate District and I am truly humbled to be named Assistant Republican Leader,” Sen. Somers said.

    The Public Health Committee that Sen. Somers will help lead has cognizance over critical agencies such as the Department of Public Health, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and the Office of Healthcare Access.

    “Being named the Public Health Committee’s Ranking Member allows me to push for reforms which help protect people and improve their quality of life,” Sen. Somers said. “As part of leadership on this critically important committee it is possible to make a significant and positive difference in the lives of Connecticut citizens, including those who are most vulnerable.”

    Sen. Somers will also serve on the Appropriations, Commerce and Planning & Development Committees.

    SomersPledge (2)

    “From removing burdensome regulations to structuring innovative solutions which allow for more efficient government, I’m confident we can make positive steps for Connecticut and do so in a bipartisan way,” Sen. Somers said. “I encourage taxpayers to contact me with their thoughts and ideas on how I can help improve state policies which impact them directly.”

    “Contact me at Heather.Somers@cga.ct.gov, friend me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/senatorsomers or call me at 800-842-1421. Your voice matters, my door is always open and I am always listening.”

  6. (Watch) Senator Hwang’s Capitol Update from General Assembly Opening Day

  7. Senator Witkos Honored by Council of Small Towns

    Hartford, CT – Senator Kevin Witkos (R-Canton) has been recognized by the Council of Small Towns (COST) with the Town Crier Award.  The award is bestowed upon lawmakers and municipal officials who have taken a leadership role in advocating for public policies which benefit small towns.

    SOUTHINGTON, Conn. – Today at the Aqua Turf banquet facility, The CT Council of Small Towns presented the Town Crier Award to State Senator Kevin Witkos (R-8th district) and State Representative Vincent Candelora (R-86th district) for their efforts on behalf of Connecticut’s small towns and cities. January 16, 2019. (Photos Joseph Lemieux- CT Senate Republicans)

    “I am humbled to have received this award by the Council of Small Towns in recognition of my efforts to support small towns across our state.  It is vital that as we work to improve our urban centers and our state as a whole that our smaller towns are not overlooked nor negatively affected by public policy and further unfunded mandates” said Senator Witkos.

     

    “Senator Witkos is an absolutely exceptional choice for this year’s Town Crier Award.  He is consistently a voice of reason at the state Legislature and steadfast in his vigilance ensuring small town issues are always considered in every piece of legislation.  It is indeed an honor to recognize Senator Witkos for his commitment and dedication to working hard for the people of Connecticut” said Litchfield First Selectman and outgoing COST President Leo Paul.

     

     

  8. Fiscal Deadlines and Teachers’ Retirement Fund Top Agenda

    Article as it appeared on CTNewsJunkie.com

    The timing of municipal aid and who should be responsible for funding the Teachers’ Retirement System were primary topics of discussion between legislative leaders and municipal officials at the annual Council of Small Towns (COST) meeting Wednesday.

    The panel of legislative leaders included House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby and Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague.

    In his first address to the General Assembly last week, Gov. Ned Lamont said he wanted to “fix this damn budget, once and for all!”

    He said legislators owed it to first selectmen and mayors.

    “In six weeks, I will present to you a budget which is in balance not just for a year, but for the foreseeable future; so that mayors and first selectmen, business and labor leaders, teachers and police officers know what to expect. And we will deliver on what we say — on time and on budget,” Lamont said.

    But, even if the governor and legislators meet that deadline, it was noted at the COST meeting that it is too late for many towns who set their budgets before the state does.

    Klarides said the state “should have our budget, particularly the part that talks about municipal aid by April 1st. We feel strongly that it is our obligation to get our budget done so that you know what you are working with.”

    But Ritter said that wasn’t realistic, noting that the “workhorse” of the state budget is knowing what income tax receipts will be, which aren’t known until the middle of April.

    He had a different suggestion for town officials: “towns that have the ability to change your (budget) adoption dates should do that.”

    The deadline this year for the two budget writing committees isn’t until the first week in May, which is long after municipalities must vote on their budgets or schedule referendums.

    Fasano said whenever the state adopts a budget this year, it is hope that, at the least, no town loses funding.

    “We need to try to keep them at least at the same level if we can’t increase them,” Fasano said.

    Who should be responsible for trying to fix the Teachers’ Retirement System is clearly an issue front and center on the minds of both the legislators and COST members.

    The annual contribution to the Teachers’ Retirement System is about $1.3 billion, but it could top $3.25 billion to $6.2 billion by 2032, depending on different experts, because of years of underfunding. Connecticut didn’t start setting aside money to pay for teachers’ retirements until around 1982.

    Outgoing Gov. Dannel P. Malloy tried to shift some of the costs of the program to the towns but was unsuccessful in the last legislature.

    Some have suggested that Lamont and the new legislature can try the approach with the teachers that worked with state workers — namely lengthening the payment period for the unfunded liabilities over a longer period of time or explore an option suggested by State Treasurer Denise Nappier to issue lottery-backed revenue bonds sufficient to generate cash proceeds of approximately $1.5 billion for deposit into the Teachers’ Retirement Fund.

    Ritter said he thought the lottery funding for teachers’ retirement was a proposal that deserved serious discussion in the General Assembly.

    But Fasano wasn’t buying it.

    “There is a problem because of the state and now we’re going to ask you to help solve it,” Fasano said. “You have enough problems – we have to solve it in house,” he said to a smattering of applause from the COST members.

    “It’s going to take some fiscal determination,” he said to the selectmen and mayors. Fasano said if the state asks the towns to take on part of the cost of the retirements that the state will keep going back for more.

    “”It’s $5 today, $10 in a month, $30 two years from now,” Fasano said. “We never promise something and say that’s it. Once you burst that barrier, that’s a slippery slope.”

    But Osten said once problem with the current teachers’ pension system is “the state has no control.”

    She noted that even those in the audience – selectmen and mayors – don’t have control over the teachers’ salaries and pensions in their owns towns.

    “Most of those negotiations are done by your boards of educations,” Osten said.

    Newly-elected COST President Rudy Marconi, first selectman of Ridgefield, said he knew he was taking over the leadership of the organization at a tough time – a time when hard decisions about the state’s fiscal crisis will be made and may trickle down and hurt COST members.

    He encouraged his fellow selectman and mayors “to look at the state as a whole.”

    “It took a long time to get where we are today,” Marconi said. “We need to look at our state as a whole. We need to come up with solutions that we may not all like individually but are good overall.”

    Marconi said the sign of a good settlement for a town when it sits down over issues such as union negotiations is that “both sides come out not happy.”

  9. Sen. Tony Hwang to Celebrate 25th Anniversary of A&S Italian Fine Food on Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield
    Carmine, Doreen, Giovanni and Donny Battimelli, family owners of A&S deli in Fairfield

    Carmine, Doreen, Giovanni and Donny Battimelli, family owners of A&S deli in Fairfield

    FAIRFIELD, January 14th— A&S Italian Fine Foods, 2079 Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield, CT celebrates 25 years of serving delicious food to greater Fairfield this Saturday, January 19th, with a special anniversary recognition celebration and presentation at 11am.  

    State Senator Tony Hwang will present a 25th Anniversary Connecticut General Assembly proclamation to Carmine and Doreen Battimelli and their sons, Giovanni and Donny, owners of A&S Italian Fine Foods for their culinary expertise, outstanding customer service and invaluable contribution to the community for a quarter century.

    A&S Italian Fine Food will then host a Customer Appreciation Open House the entire weekend to thank people who visit their store. Customers will enjoy tasting a variety of A&S specialty sausages made by hand from a favorite family recipe, delicious antipasto, other hors d’oeuvres and specialty grocery products only found at A&S, plus Italian refreshments of illy espresso and S. Pellegrino water.  There will also be fun, food-based contests and Italian specialty item giveaways for customers during this celebration day.

    “A&S has been a staple of this community as long as I can remember,” said Senator Hwang. “A&S Italian Fine Foods has a long history in Fairfield that’s rooted in Italian heritage, family values, commitment to quality, and treating customers like family.  It was important to me to show my support for A&S as an example of what locally connected small businesses can be – not just a successful business selling delicious food, but as established, caring neighbors that contribute so much to the unique fabric in our community.”

    For more information, visit the store at 2079 Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield, CT or call 203.576.1600. Visit A&S online at asfinefoods.com to view the full menu and to place lunch or catering orders.

  10. State Senators Eric Berthel and George Logan on the Veterans Committee
    Sen. Eric Berthel (L) and Sen. George Logan (R) take a moment for a photo after an organizational meeting of the Veterans Committee. Sen. Logan is the Ranking Republican Senator on the committee. The 2019 legislative session began on January 9th and runs until June.

    Sen. Eric Berthel (L) and Sen. George Logan (R) take a moment for a photo after an organizational meeting of the Veterans Committee. Sen. Logan is the Ranking Republican Senator on the committee. The 2019 legislative session began on January 9th and runs until June.