August 13, 2021
In This Issue:
From Paddi's Desk
CT Agency Corner
Municipal Roundup
From Inside The Golden Dome
This Day in CT History
WE ARE CONNECTICUT – but who are we?

A lot has changed in the last 10 years, but then again nothing has really changed. The bottom line is that Connecticut’s population stayed stagnant with less than .9% growth since the 2010 census survey was conducted. CT sits at 3.6 million folks in the state. Statewide, Connecticut had a slight overall population gain of 31,847 residents, from about 3.57 million people in 2010.

Unfortunately CT led not only New England but the country with the lowest growth over the past 10 years. Followed by Michigan, Ohio, Wyoming and Pennsylvania.

CT won’t be losing a congressional seat but we certainly should expect to see some interesting redrawing of the district lines in various areas across the state in both the 5 US congressional districts as well as the 187 state general assembly districts.

With the past year’s heightened efforts to be more conscious about the disparities among various demographic “groups”, the census numbers definitely tell a story of a different makeup of the 2022 legislative districts, as well as the face of the Connecticut legislature. While the “majority “of Connecticut residents across the state declared themselves to be “white”, new U.S. Census data released this week shows the state is becoming more diverse, with the number of Hispanic residents having grown by approximately 30% over the last decade. There are pockets of changes across the state.

The state’s Hispanic population increased by 144,206 people from 2010 to 2020, while the “white” population declined by 377,282. There were increases in the number of people of mixed race, Asian, Black, Native American and Hawaiian and Pacific Islander descent in Connecticut as well.

Advocates quickly said the numbers show the importance of getting racially diverse input into the state’s redistricting process, which will rely on the new Census data when it works to redraw congressional and state legislative district lines. They are looking for the 8 member reapportionment committee lead by State Rep Gregg Haddad (D- Mansfield) and Senator Kevin Kelly (R- Stratford) to lead this process “in a way that we haven’t done before, and so we need to really think about how we can make that happen. This needs to be a priority because if people’s voices aren’t heard, then it’s not going to make the mapmaking process as inclusive as it needs to be.”

CT law requires congressional and legislative districts to be redrawn every 10 years. The eight members of the state’s Reapportionment Committee, all state legislators, met for the first time in April. They spoke of the challenge of reaching as many people as possible, and holding public hearings in each of the state’s five congressional districts given the heightened concerns related to the new COVID-19 uptick.

Interesting to note, 10 years ago the plan ended up in the CT Supreme Court based on the 1st and 3rd congressional districts. In the end, some minor changes did happen based on the court ordering a special master to take a second look.

Thursday’s data shows Connecticut’s white population dropping from 77.6% in 2010 to 66.4% in 2020, while the Hispanic or Latino population grew from 13.4% to 17.3%. The Black population grew from 10.1% to 10.8% and the Asian population grew from 3.8% to 4.8%. (It’s important to note that the census survey data released did not include people of mixed race.)

Fairfield County is the most diverse of the state’s eight counties, with a white population of 61%. It’s followed closely by Hartford County, with a 61% white population, and New Haven County with 62.9%.

Much of the growth came from Fairfield County, which gained 40,490 people, possibly due to last year’s explosion in transplants from New York. Small increases in Hartford and New Haven counties were evident, but the other five counties lost population over the past decade. Connecticut has had a relatively stagnant population for the past several decades.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who chaired the state’s 2020 Complete Count Committee, said in a statement that she was encouraged by the data. “Today’s data shows the fruits of our labor,” she said. “By producing the most complete count possible, the 2020 census results will bring billions of dollars in federal resources to Connecticut for education, healthcare, transportation, and more.”

With the numbers now released, we’re looking forward to what the next steps will be for the CT Redistricting Project as its being called. With 4 members of the senate and 4 members of the house it’s an interesting make up given the changing face and location of CT’s population. Senator McCrory (D- Hartford) and Rep Tammy Exum (D- West Hartford) being two legislators of color; Senator McCrory being the only legislator representing a large urban area with Senator Mary Abrams (D -Meriden) representing a mid-size city we see each county having representation on the committee. Senator Abrams and Rep Exum represent the female population. The committee lacks a representative of the Hispanic population. Fairfield County has three of the 8 seats on the committee while Hartford snagged two seats. New London County, Windham County and New Haven each have one seat and Tolland was left out. This is interesting given the newly released data. As mentioned earlier, the process will have an outreach factor which I’m sure will be interesting given the last redistricting “tiff” over US Congressional district lines.

Any change in the district lines will be effective for the 2022 November elections. In the past, there have been a few veteran legislators who have made decisions as to whether they will seek reelection in a newly drawn legislative district or not.

We’ll keep tabs on this as they work towards a plan and keep you up to date on the impact the process might have on the balance and inner workings of the legislature to come.

CT Agency Corner – What “Modernization” Efforts Could be on the Horizon for Connecticut State Agencies
A few weeks ago Governor Lamont signed a bill into law requiring the adoption of modernizing and updating a variety of state government operations affecting procurement, digital government initiatives, and the Small and Minority Business (or set-aside) Program.
These goals set in the legislation are intended to make procurement laws more advantageous for the state to take advantage of discount mechanisms that previous statutes prevented from occurring. Some of these tools are natural “piggy-back” solutions that provide an incentive for contracts going well and others are new vehicles created by the private sector that governments in other states have found value in overtime.
Here’s a list of examples of what will be included in this list (information provided by the Office of Legislative Research):
Reverse Auctions
Existing law allows state contracting agencies to use reverse auctions to purchase goods and supplies but only for construction or construction related services. The new law expands reverse auction authority to include services other than construction or construction-related services. As under existing law for goods and supplies, contracting agencies may (1) use reverse auctions for services when they determine it is advantageous and will ensure a competitive contract award and (2) contract with a third party to prepare and manage the auction.
By law, a reverse auction is an online bidding process in which qualified bidders or proposers, unknown to each other, submit bids or proposals pursuant to an online bid invitation or request for proposals.

Flexibility in Procurement
The bill allows the DAS commissioner to procure the product, process, or technology for use by all state agencies if the OPM secretary, in consultation with the commissioner, CI chief executive officer, and testing agency head, determines that the test demonstrates specified objectives. These objectives are (1) promoting public health and safety, environmental protection, economic development, or efficiency; (2) reducing administrative burdens; or (3) otherwise improving state services.
In procuring the product, process, or technology, the bill allows the DAS commissioner to waive competitive bidding requirements. If the procurement is estimated to cost $50,000 or more, the waiver must be approved by the Standardization Committee, which consists of the commissioner, the state comptroller and treasurer or their designees, and other department heads.
Purchases from Existing Contracts
The bill expands this authority to include purchases from a person who contracts with another branch, division, or department in state government. It also eliminates the requirement that these purchases be made through the DAS commissioner and instead allows any state agency to make them if approved by the DAS commissioner or his designee.

Senate Majority Leader calls for Mandatory Vaccination

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff is calling for all state and municipal employees, including teachers, professors, and police officers, to be required to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Senator Duff argued that refusing vaccination is not a right under public workers' union contracts. The Senate Majority Leader also believes that day care staff and health care workers should be required to be vaccinated, and that medical offices should disclose whether their staff members have received the vaccine.

Governor Lamont said that he is willing to consider requiring state employees to get vaccinated, or face constant testing. The Governor intends on discussing the matter with state employee union representatives, and the legislature. His Lieutenant Governor, Susan Bysiewicz, has already signed an executive order that requires all employees of Long-term care facilities to receive at least the first dose of the vaccine by September 7th.

The Governor has also left decisions on mask-mandates to individual municipalities. Cities like Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford now plan to require universal masking indoors, regardless of vaccination status. This decision received praise from Darien school officials, who called on state leaders to allow more local autonomy in developing responses to COVID outbreaks. The Darien school board desires local control in order to allow municipal officials to "utilize town and county COVID-19 metrics and vaccination rates to make the decision in the best interest of their communities, and most of all, their school children."

Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney disagrees with the Governor's approach to mask mandates. " “I think it would be more efficient [for mask mandates] to be exercised at the state level with a uniform policy" Looney stated.
Task Force Recommendations May Have Significant Impact on Policing

The Police Transparency and Accountability task force was created by Public Act 19-90, and later updated in 20-1, to examine a whole host of aspects related to policing in Connecticut; including police interactions with mentally disabled citizens, no knock warrants, and reclassification of certain traffic violations. The theme of the act is centered around equity, and addressing disparities in police encounters between races.

Tuesday, the task force made some stunning recommendations - that police officers should be prohibited from stopping drivers for a broken headlight/tail light, displaying their license plates in their back windows, violating window tinting laws, having ornaments hanging from the rear view mirror, and more minor violations. These minor violations would be classified as 'secondary violations'. These suggestions were made due to data showing that Black and Hispanic motorists in Connecticut are stopped disproportionately for equipment violations, compared with white drivers. Task force members hope that restricting police from stopping motorists for these secondary violations will reduce encounters between law enforcement and minorities, decreasing the amount of incidents where confrontations lead to police use of force.

Any recommendations by the task force would have to come before the General Assembly before being made law. The task force is set to vote on another set of recommendations that would aim to increase the number of minorities and women on police forces. These recommendations will most likely come before the legislature in the upcoming session. Public safety will surely be one of the central issues discussed, with policing being the at the center of political conversations, as well as members of both parties calling for action on the recent impetus of juvenile auto-thefts.

For more information, visit the task force's website here
August 13th 1781: A Trusted Patriot Defects to the Redcoats

During the eight long years of the Revolutionary War, both British and American commanders employed creative and dangerous tactics in the attempt to gather military intelligence that could give their armies a battlefield advantage. One common but highly risky method of obtaining such intelligence was to have a soldier pretend to “defect” to the opposing side. Once there, the phony defector would earn the enemy’s trust by offering attractive (and often false) information, then linger long enough to gather useful intelligence before returning to friendly territory.

This was the tactic employed by Sergeant Daniel Bissell, a Connecticut native who answered George Washington’s 1781 request to gather intelligence on the ongoing British occupation of New York City. Bissell, born in what is now East Windsor in 1757, was a man whose loyalty to the American cause appeared beyond reproach, as he had been serving in the Continental Army continuously since 1777. His impeccable service record made the discovery of his “defection” on the night of August 13, 1781 a shock to his comrades in the 2nd Connecticut Regiment. It also made Bissell all the more attractive to the British soldiers who welcomed him across their lines the following day.

Shortly after he entered New York City, Bissell took the extraordinary step of enlisting in a British regiment. This added more risk to his mission, since he could technically be tried as a traitor by the Americans were he ever to actually fight against the Continental Army in battle. Bissell insisted that he only joined the British army to avoid being “pressed” into service aboard a British naval vessel.

Regardless of the reason, records confirm Bissell’s later claim that he was hospitalized with a feverish illness for most of the thirteen months he spent behind enemy lines, which rendered him unable to participate in any military action against his countrymen. He was, however, able to gather detailed intelligence on British fortifications and military strength while in New York City, and to draw intricate maps of British forts from memory as soon as he slipped back to the American lines in September of 1782.

In acknowledgment of his efforts, undertaken at great risk to himself, Bissell became the third and final known recipient of the Badge of Military Merit, the Revolutionary War-era emblem created by George Washington that later inspired the U.S. military’s Purple Heart medal. Washington praised Bissell in his General Orders of June 8, 1783 for “having per­formed some important services, within the immediate knowledge of the Commander in chief, in which the fidelity, perseverance, and good sense of the said [Sergeant] Bissell were conspicuously manifested.”

The full article from the CT Humanities Council can be found here.
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