June 2023

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May brought us spring flowers and the great news of more Democratic wins in elections around the country, adding to our streak that started in 2022 and continued earlier this year. Here in Connecticut, we also had the welcome news that the legislature has at last approved early voting and advanced no-excuse absentee ballots to become a referendum question on next year's ballot. The lesson from these stories is clear: Good things happen when we roll up our sleeves and work for the change we want.

As we go to press, we have the welcome news that the White House has reached an agreement with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to raise the debt ceiling. This is another major achievement for President Biden, working as always against Republican extremist headwinds. What remains to be seen is whether McCarthy can do his part and round up enough Republican votes to approve the deal in the House.

Please also read below In Case You Missed It for other important articles -- some alarming and others reassuring -- about voting rights, gun violence, reproductive rights, politics, and other important issues.

As always,

Your faithful editor


The General Assembly has passed legislation allowing 14 days of early voting starting in 2024, sending the measure to Governor Lamont for his signature. Connecticut had been among just four states that don’t offer this popular voting option. Nationally, nearly one-third of voters took advantage of early voting in the 2022 midterm elections. Fortunately, last year Connecticut voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that allowed the legislature to take up the idea, which it approved by a wide margin. The legislation had bipartisan support, although Republicans supported a shorter early-voting period than Democrats. This law is a big advance for working people, caregivers, students, and everyone else who cannot necessarily show up on the one designated "election day." The legislature’s next challenge will be providing funding to cities and towns to cover the added costs for early voting, which is estimated to be $4.5 million. Cities and town will now face the challenge of finding enough poll workers for the extended voting period as many municipalities already have a problem finding enough poll workers for Election Day itself.


No-excuse absentee ballots has moved a step closer to becoming a reality in our state, thanks to the legislature's recent vote to put the question to voters next year in the form of a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution. Connecticut currently only allows absentee voting with an excuse – a requirement that puts voters in the impractical position of having to know well in advance (and attest) that they will be out of town or ill on Election Day. If the constitutional amendment is approved by voters, the legislature would then take up enabling legislation in 2025 detailing the specific rules and procedures for no-excuse absentee ballots. (Yes, the wheels of electoral reform do seem to turn very slowly in Connecticut due to our restrictive state constitution.) 

Thirty-five states plus the District of Columbia offer voters the option of an absentee ballot without requiring an excuse. The impact of no-excuse absentee ballots is very clear: In Connecticut only 9.5% voters used absentee ballots in the 2022 midterm elections as compared to the national average, which was nearly four times higher at 35%.  

Please stay tuned for more on this important voting reform and what you can do to support it. In the meantime, you can help by telling your friends and family about the importance of no-excuse absentee ballots and that it will be an upcoming ballot question in our state.


At a Town Meeting on May 4, Salisbury voters approved a total budget of $18,734,216 for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2023. Included in this total is the Board of Selectmen budget at $8,217,830, an increase of 6.0% over last year and the Board of Education budget of $6,340,274, an increase of 2.79%. Also included is the town's share of the Region 1 budget at $4,176,112, a 4.5% increase from last year. With an approximate overall increase of 4.74% ($848,124) for the three budgets combined, the Board of Finance has decided to hold the mill rate at 11.0 mills.


Democrats won victories in local and state elections in May, adding to their string of victories in recent elections. These victories from around the country should give us all confidence that Democratic policies, messages, and hard work at the grassroots level can bring great results.

In Jacksonville, FL, Democrat Donna Deegan was elected mayor by four percentage points over her rival, who was endorsed by Governor Ron DeSantis. She will be Jacksonville's first female mayor. In Pennsylvania, Democrat Heather Boyd won a special election to replace a Democratic member of the state's House of Representatives who had resigned. Boyd won by 20 percentage points. More importantly, her victory means Democrats will retain their one-vote Democratic majority in the chamber. This is part of a huge turnaround: Democrats flipped the PA House in November for the first time since 2010. In a non-Democratic win, in Colorado Springs, CO, moderate businessman Yemi Mobolade beat the Republican candidate by 15 percentage points and will be the first non-Republican mayor of Colorado Springs since 1979.  

Democrats are not only winning, but over-performing compared to previous election results. According to an op-ed by Aaron Blake in The Washington Post, Democrats have outperformed their 2020 presidential results by an average of six points across 18 state legislative races this year. They have also beaten their 2016 margins by an average of 10 percentage points. Republicans keep losing key elections because of the party’s sharp swing to the right and its encouragement of anti-abortion extremism, access to guns, white supremacy, and anti-democratic policies as well their continued backing of MAGA candidates.

Remember, however, that no Democratic wins are possible without intense organizing and work at the local level. Many of us in Northwest Connecticut have joined the fight to protect democracy all over the US by supporting grassroots initiatives and working remotely through phonebanking, postcard writing, texting, and, yes, writing checks. Thank you, everyone, who pitched in. Evidence of your work is abundant!


June 1 at 10am: Torrington Pride Annual Flag Raising. Everyone is welcome. The event takes place at 10am at Torrington City Hall.

June 1 at 6pm: Free Narcan Training. The Torrington Democratic Town Committee and Greater Litchfield County Young Democrats are hosting a free training at Torrington City Hall to encourage citizens to carry Narcan, a nasal spray that can be administered to save the life of someone who has overdosed on opioids. This 60-minute training will cover risk factors and prevention strategies, signs and symptoms of overdose, how to obtain and administer Naloxone (Narcan), and the Good Samaritan Law treatment/support resources. To attend, please register at this link.

June 2 at 7:30pm: Sam Waterston at the Salisbury Forum on "How to Save Our Oceans." Award-winning actor in theater, film, and television, and Chair of the Board of Oceana, Sam Waterston will discuss the state of the world’s oceans and how to make them more biodiverse and abundant by winning policy victories in the countries that govern much of the world’s marine life. Oceana, founded in 2001, is the largest international advocacy organization focused solely on ocean conservation and is dedicated to protecting and restoring the world’s oceans on a global scale. This free event will take place at Housatonic Valley Regional High School. Visit the Salisbury Forum's website for more information.

June 10 from 11am-1pm: Swords to Plowshares, Guns to Garden Tools. How often do you see something designed for death turned into a tool to keep us alive? Guns are being forged into gardening tools all through our state, our country, and the world. Join your friends and neighbors at the Hewat Community Garden in Salisbury to see guns being turned into garden tools. Jim Curry, retired Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, is one of the founders of our state’s Swords to Plowshares program. A blacksmith, he will bring his portable forge to the parking lot of the Salisbury Visiting Nurse Association (SVNA) and Housatonic Day Care Center next to Salisbury Family Services’ Hewat Community Garden, where he will give a demonstration of guns being forged into garden tools. Community members will be invited to take a few swings at the anvil. There will be testimonials and conversation as well as refreshments and a presentation of a garden tool to the leadership of the Hewat Community Garden. Also, there will be garden tools and jewelry available for sale. For more information, contact Pastor Heidi Truax at Trinity Episcopal Church 860-435-2627 or [email protected].

June 20 at 7pm via Zoom: Salisbury Democratic Town Committee. The SDTC will hold its regular monthly meeting. Meetings are open to the public and we welcome the input of all citizens. The SDTC is committed to promoting good government and democratic principles at every level of our civic life. The SDTC recruits candidates for local elective and appointed offices and supports the most qualified Democrats to run in municipal, state, and national elections. Meetings are usually on the third Tuesday of every month. Until further notice all meetings are by Zoom. The schedule is posted on the SDTC website. Contact Al Ginouves to receive a copy of the agenda and the link to the meeting.


CT Seeks to Add Protections for Abortion Providers. Under a bill that recently cleared the CT House of Representatives, medical providers in Connecticut who face disciplinary action in other states for performing abortions could not be denied a license, have their license revoked, or be denied privileges in CT based solely on their out-of-state sanctions. Proponents say the measure is an extension of efforts adopted last year to expand access to abortion and to protect those who provide or receive one. Read the full story in The Hartford Courant. 

With House Vote, CT Moves to Further Tighten Gun Laws. Gun controls demanded by Governor Lamont, plus elements of a tougher approach to gun crimes urged by four urban mayors, won overwhelming passage on a 96-51 vote by the CT House of Representatives. Passage is assured in the Senate, promising the Democratic governor a victory. The legislation would prohibit the open carry of firearms and further tighten restrictions on military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines largely banned after the Sandy Hook school shooting. It would also target repeat gun offenders through such measures as dedicated court dockets, higher thresholds for bail and probation, and tougher penalties. Read the story in CT Mirror.

CT Minimum Wage Increasing to $15 an Hour Starting June 1. Connecticut's minimum wage will reach $15 an hour on June 1, a rate that has been rising annually since October 2019, when it was $10.10 per hour for most workers. Going forward the minimum wage will be linked to an employment cost index starting next year so that the lowest-paid workers benefit from any general upward lift in wages. Read the story in CT Insider.

State Receives Credit Rating Upgrade. Connecticut just received an upgraded credit rating from the Kroll Bond Rating Agency from AA to AA+, just one step below the highest credit rating possible. Representative Maria Horn called the announcement "an excellent testament to the success of the bipartisan fiscal guardrails and budgeting disciplines we have in place." In 2021, all four major credit rating agencies (Moody's, S&P, Fitch, and Kroll) upped the state's credit rating. The credit upgrade allows the state to maintain a strong financial standing and strengthens its appeal to those looking to make investments here.

‘Baby Bonds’ Salvaged After Compromise. State Treasurer Erick Russell and other advocates for a landmark program to invest in Connecticut’s poorest children have reached a deal with Governor Ned Lamont to lift the Baby Bonds Trust out of political limbo in time to launch on July 1. The deal would still invest $600 million over the next 12 years in the economic futures of children in poverty, but it would no longer rely on borrowed money to finance those investments — avoiding an estimated $165 million in interest charges. Read the story in CT Mirror

Lamont Highlights Policies to Alleviate Housing Shortage. Connecticut realtors say there is a major problem with housing in the state: There are no homes to buy. In a recent speech to the Connecticut Association of Realtors, Governor Lamont laid out what his office is doing to help boost inventory, including investing $600 million over the next few years to build more homes. Lamont says the money will fund affordable workforce- and market-rate housing. After speaking at the conference, he told reporters he also wants to leverage the money as an incentive for cities and towns to relax zoning rules or designate areas for more affordable housing. But Lamont also said he doesn’t want to force towns to change their zoning to allow, or even encourage, the construction of more homes. He pointed to a state law requiring towns to ensure that 10% of their housing is

“affordable.” Read more at CT News Junkie.

Comptroller Scanlon Preaches Fiscal Stability and Aims to Rein in Healthcare Costs. In January, Sean Scanlon was sworn in as State Comptroller after winning his first statewide elected office. Previously, he was a four-term state rep before being named executive director of Tweed New Haven Airport in 2019. In his new role, Scanlon, 36, serves as the state’s chief fiscal guardian, overseeing various functions including state accounting, financial reports, and administering health benefits to state employees. It’s a position that hasn’t traditionally lent itself to a highly public-facing role, but Scanlon is trying to change that. Scanlon sat down with the Hartford Business Journal for a wide-ranging interview that focused on three major topics: state finances, healthcare costs, and the relatively new state retirement savings plan, known as MyCTSavings. Read the interview in the Hartford Business Journal.

Most US Adults Say Abortion Pill Should Stay on the Market. A new ABC-Washington Post poll finds that a 66 percent majority of US adults say Mifepristone should remain on the market. The drug is at the center of an escalating legal dispute. The Supreme Court preserved full access to it in April, putting on hold a lower court’s ruling that the Food and Drug Administration erred in making the drug more broadly available. Read the full story in The Washington Post.

Opinion: The Religious Landscape Is Undergoing Massive Change That Could Decide the 2024 Election. One of the most significant shifts in American politics and religion took place over the past decade and it barely got any notice: the share of Americans who associate with religion dropped by 11 percentage points, according to Ryan Burge, a professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University. He argues that this development could have tremendous impact across the political landscape at every level — and especially in presidential politics. The change, he says, will effect the "God Gap" — the idea that the Republican Party is the one that fights for the rights of religious individuals (primarily Christians), while Democrats have become increasingly secular over time. Read the full analysis in Politico.

Fox News Poll Shocker: Voters Favor Gun Limits. After a series of mass shootings this spring, a Fox News poll shows that a majority of voters would prefer specific gun control measures rather than arming citizens to reduce gun violence. The poll finds strong support, for example, for the following measures: requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers (87%), improving enforcement of existing gun laws (81%), raising the legal age to buy a gun to 21 (81%), requiring mental health checks on gun buyers (80%), allowing police to take guns from those considered a danger to themselves or others (80%), and requiring a 30-day waiting period for all gun purchases (77%). Half of the poll respondents worry about being a victim of gun violence, including many in gun-owning households. Furthermore, 6 in 10 respondents favor banning assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons. Unfortunately, the poll also reveals a deep divide by party affiliation. So before you celebrate, read more about the Fox News poll results here

The Youngest State Party Leader in the US Has a Blue-Collar Blueprint. North Carolina Democrats weren’t sure what to expect when Anderson Clayton, 25, won their election for chair a few months ago, making her the youngest state party leader in the country. At one of her first meetings with state party officials, she said, one looked at her with a worried expression and said, “I didn’t know if you were going to be a crazy 25-year-old-type-person." Her retort: “What is a crazy 25-year-old-type-person?” Ms. Clayton says she got into politics to motivate younger voters, but she also campaigned with broader goals, arguing that Democrats need to invest in rural communities if they hope to erode Republicans’ grip on state and local power. Read the full story in The New York Times

Colin Allred Enters Race Against Ted Cruz. US Representative Colin Allred has announced that he will challenge Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz in the 2024 election. The Democrat’s measured approach poses a sharp contrast to Cruz’s bellicose style. Colleagues describe Allred as level-headed, eager to work across the aisle, and accessible to constituents in his Dallas-based district. Allred’s path to Congress wasn’t typical. Raised by a single mother who taught in Dallas public schools, Allred went on to become a football star at Baylor University and then played for the Tennessee Titans in the NFL. After attending law school at the University of California, Berkeley, Allred became a civil rights lawyer and served in the Office of General Counsel for the Department of Housing and Urban Development before he was elected to Congress from the Dallas area in 2018. Read more about Allred in the The Texas Tribune. It’s also worthwhile to watch his campaign’s kick-off video.

The Point is Intimidation: Florida Teachers Besieged by Draconian Laws. As the summer holidays approach, Florida teachers are feeling anxious, confused and beaten down by new laws, championed by DeSantis, that limit how issues of race can be taught, what teachers can say about sex (especially about homosexuality) and what books are permitted in schools. In interviews with the The Guardian, Florida teachers said they’re feeling more disrespected, unappreciated, and under attack than ever before. They are worried that they’ll be fired or otherwise punished if they run afoul of the controversial – and often vague – new laws. Read the full story in The Guardian


Our recommendation this month for increasing your knowledge as a citizen is from close to home. Our state representative, Maria Horn, publishes an excellent weekly newsletter, State Capital Update, which covers activity in Hartford and also includes news and events in Northwest Connecticut. This month, Representative Horn has focused especially on the bills passed during this session of the General Assembly. You can access her newsletter and subscribe to it by clicking here.


Please send us any news or announcements that you would like us to share with our community. We publish on the first of each month, so please send us any submissions at least one week earlier. Please submit to the editor at [email protected].

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Paid for by the Salisbury Democratic Town Committee,

PO Box 465, Salisbury CT 06068, Pamela Kelley, Treasurer

Editor: Lee Greenhouse, [email protected]

Associate Editor: Sally Andre


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