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Bolinsky, Newtown Legislators Talk Connecticut Issues

Posted on January 23, 2024


NEWTOWN- State Reps. Mitch Bolinsky (R-106), Martin Foncello (R-107) and State Senator (R-24) Tony Hwang hosted an informative pre-session legislative update on a chilly Sunday afternoon to discuss the upcoming General Assembly session which begins on February 7th.

Sunday’s pre-session town hall-style meeting provided the Newtown community with an open forum to freely ask questions to their elected lawmakers. The Newtown legislators introduced themselves, each member gave a brief rundown of the committees on which they serve, and their priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

“Thank you, Newtown and Sandy Hook residents, for a wonderful turnout at our forum!” Sen. Hwang said. “Our discussion ranged from zoning to agriculture to environmental protection and transportation. The high cost of insurance was on the minds of many, and we discussed efforts to make our state more affordable, more accountable and safer. Thank you to my legislative colleagues Rep. Bolinsky and Rep. Foncello for co-hosting. Please continue to send your ideas to me at tony.hwang@cga.ct.gov – thank you!”

Rep. Foncello said, “I’m glad so many Newtown residents came out to our pre-session legislative forum at the Community Center. We heard important feedback on a variety of topics and will take these messages back to Hartford. Concerns about traffic, preventing overdevelopment, and opposition to the ban on sales of gas-powered cars are shared by members of neighboring communities as well. I hope we can address these issues and more in the upcoming session.”

Rep. Bolinsky said, “Wow, I’m so grateful we had such an incredible turnout and lively engagement! This was really our first full-scale forum since before the pandemic. Seeing how comfortable, tuned-in and conversive everyone was, tells me it’s time to get back into regularly scheduled town-halls and office hours!”

“After we shared what we believe will be the Governor’s priorities for 2024, we discussed some of the positives and successes our delegation had in 2023, we were happy to move into a Q&A format to share a broad range of residents’ concerns and what they’d like us to focus on. From the heavy burden of energy costs in our state, to the jump in the cost of food, health care and lack of affordable housing, it’s getting harder to make ends meet. I think most of the folks in our forum agreed that they love Newtown for its character and non-cookie-cutter ways, so it’s critical that we keep fighting to maintain local control of our zoning and open space. The same goes for our schools, and attendees seemed to agree that is better for Newtown kids when our teachers are teaching, not when they’re distracted by state-mandates, one-size-fits-all reading programs and preparing reports for state bureaucrats that have never set foot in their children’s schools. It was also interesting to hear from parents who felt our state does not adequately support parents interested in home-schooling.”

“There was certainly plenty of concern about traffic on our local roads, non-enforcement of traffic safety laws, and all the ways I-84’s inadequacies and pop-up lane closures cause our residential streets to grind to a halt when traffic problems force frustrated, unfamiliar motorists onto local roads, It’s no secret that our residents feel DOT ignores what we all recognize is the urgent need to put the third-lane, and sound buffering on I-84. In the last 30-years, traffic volume, speeds and dangers have grown exponentially – but the roadway, and most or Routes 6, 25 and 34, have not. This needed to be on the drawing board yesterday, especially with our recent influx of new residents. Residents were happy to know that we’ve met with DOT and local officials about the problems, and we have a working list. Addressing it and seeing progress can be a slow process but, doing nothing is not an option.”

“There was no shortage of topics in our 3-hout session. Demand exceeding supply in our housing market, addressing the learning loss in our schools, mental health and re-socializing our once-isolated school-age children. special education and looking into possible statutory revisions to an old state land-conveyance near Deep Brook. There was even discussion about a law to provide more animal and food inspectors in Connecticut.”

Born from a question on the environment, a mini conversation broke out on the governor’s proposed ban on the sale of gas-powered cars and trucks by 2035. Most of the people in the room opposed the ban, mentioning affordability. The lawmakers mentioned that there could be a possible special session before February on this issue.

The Newtown legislators closed the meeting by telling those in attendance to please be engaged and remember that and feel free to reach out to Reps. Bolinsky and Foncello by calling 1.800-842-1423 and Sen. Hwang can be reached by contacting 1.800-842-1421.