December 30, 2020
In This Issue:
From Paddi's Desk
CT Agency Corner
Municipal Roundup
From Inside The Golden Dome
This Day in CT History
A New Year and a new set of resolutions? Think differently this time!
 
Every year elected officials, coworkers, employers, family members and everyone else in our lives set out to make the New Year better and brighter for themselves and those around them. According to a psychologist who has studied this annual “self-improvement” ritual, a typical list usually has somewhere between four and seven examples of “I will ____ in the year ahead!”
 
The tried and true resolutions fall into this bucket: drink more water, drink less alcohol, join a gym, take the stairs more often, stick to my budget, splurge on a vacation, finish what I start, do something crazy, listen more, be on time, meet deadlines, eat healthier and so on.
 
I’m wondering if folks will be more focused on their resolutions in 2021. Will they be more goal focused or just go back to the same ole’, same ole’ resolutions.
 
I say get going on a bucket list!
 
It’s getting old, but I’ll say it for the last time—it’s been that kind of year. A year that makes us reflect on what’s really important, how we spend our time at work, in our communities or at home. We learned what we really miss and what we really don’t. The discovery of new, creative and innovative ways to accomplish old tasks has changed the world, if not our little space in it. Even how we make use of our existing resources—like time, money, relationships and mental capacity—has changed, as we continue to adjust to COVID. Government and elected officials also shared in this adventure, and they’re starting to think about what’s next. How can we do better? How can we empower the positive while being diligent in the present?
 
We saw folks struggle with how to maintain healthy relationships, how to manage tighter budgets, how to bring joy into the lives of those they care about and, unfortunately for many, how to grieve and show compassion without the benefit of hugs, kisses and the calming presence of a loved one by your side. Youngsters experienced their first loss of friends, with no understandable explanation, and teens felt disenfranchised with limited school and sports activities. Everyone spent way too much time on devices, but this same technology has changed our world. Especially for parents who are now teaching at home. And those on Facebook—whoa!—the amount of disinformation and the lack of intelligent news reporting—not just from “foreign friends” but from within our own country—has been very dark.
 
Each year is different, but in 2020 the changes came so quickly, unexpectedly and unwanted. We should act positively about this, and think about what we want to do before we “kick the bucket” or “leave public service.” Take this moment of change and change yourself! Let a bucket list be a reminder that our time is limited but we have an opportunity to achieve what is most important before it’s too late. Take this weekend and think about what you can do to push outside of your comfort zone. Find something that motivates you, or makes you feel accomplished, or adds to your legacy or allows you to dream BIG!
 
Life’s too short. Don’t let 2020 determine where we are going and who we really are.
 
2021 is upon us—so what’s on your bucket list?
The Search Begins for the New State Education Director

Former Connecticut State Department of Education (SDE) Commissioner Miguel Cardona has been tapped and in all likelihood is ready to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate for appointment to lead our country's Department of Education. The most amazing part of this story isn't that he was selected for this prestigious role but that exactly two years ago he was not even in the running to be selected to lead SDE!

According to a report from the CT Mirror, "the Lamont administration offered it to Bloomfield Superintendent James Thompson — who had appeared to be the frontrunner for months. However, the administration’s negotiations with Thompson derailed over issues such as salary — the governor’s staff says — and the administration reversed course, offering the job to Cardona."

Now that the national spotlight has taken Cardona to "the hill" a national search begins to fill very important shoes. 

In the past, we've seen appointments to this position take a large amount of time due to the role the State Board of Education plays in the process. The most infamous in recent memory of a commissioner appointment far exceeding any other appointment commissionership was in 2011 when previous Governor Dan Malloy selected Stefan Pryor as Commissioner of SDE in March. It was a full two months after the Governor was sworn into office!

Education certainly attracts special interests to the fold which undoubtedly will occur when the state determines who the best fit will be for this next phase of leadership for SDE. 
Farewell Mr. Mayor!

Best wishes in your new chapter, Mayor Mark Boughton. The long time Mayor of Danbury has recently accepted and as of this writing, started as the acting Commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services (DRS). Boughton served as Mayor in Danbury for almost 20 years and Governor Lamont suggested that he will bring “creative solutions” that will “help produce the best outcomes for the state.”  Boughton is a Republican and Governor Lamont is a Democrat, so this was certainly big news in the state over the last few weeks. Bi-partisanship was on full display on this decision and we applaud Governor Lamont seeing what the people of Danbury have seen in their leader for over two decades.

New Laws Coming Into Effect in 2021

Although the session ends each year in either May or June, some bills are passed with an effective date in the future to allow time to prepare for implementation. We often see October or January of the following year as delayed effective dates, for example.
 
As we quickly approach the new year, this week these five new laws will take effect on January 1, 2021:
 
This law was passed during the July 2020 special session. It contains a number of provisions, many of which are already in effect, but those that will become effective on January 1 include that police officers who make arrests must prominently display their badge and name tag, and police officers must submit to behavioral health assessments every five years. Additionally, this law makes changes to the membership composition of the Police Officer Standards and Training Council and includes a reporting requirement for recruitment, retention, and promotion of minority police officers.
This law which was also passed during the July 2020 special session, will lower the cost of insulin prescriptions, allow for one emergency diabetes related prescription per year, and require pharmacists to dispense a 30-day, price capped emergency supply of diabetes related drugs and devices for some patients.
In 2017, the legislature passed a law phasing out taxes on pension and annuity income for taxpayers earning less than $75,000 per year, beginning in 2019 and ending in 2025. This year will bring the next phase, and seniors will be able to claim double the 2019 rate from 14% to 28% of pension and annuity income received in 2020 as a deduction.
In 2019, the legislature created this program to provide workers access to paid leave for certain specific life events. The paid leave program will be funded by employees and voluntary self-enrolled participants. The collection of a half-percent payroll tax for private employers with at least one employee will begin on January 1, 2021 and payment of benefits up to 12 weeks to eligible employees will begin on January 1, 2022.
Passed during the September 2020 special session, and partially in response to the delays in addressing power outages caused by a storm, this bill increased regulation for electric utilities. In January 2021, we will see increased representation by Connecticut based directors on utility boards, and enhanced protections for ratepayers against inadequate response to outages. The law also calls for an increased involvement from the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA).
December 30th, 1778: A Winter Mutiny at "Connecticut's Valley Forge"

When Americans think of the hardships faced by starving, shivering Continental Army troops during the harsh winters of the Revolutionary War, they usually remember the infamous winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania in 1777–1778. What few realize, however, is that the eastern division of the Continental Army under the command of General Israel Putnam endured virtually identical trials and tribulations one year later while encamped in the vicinity of Redding, Connecticut.

The choice of Redding was a strategic one for Putnam’s division of troops: they had spent the previous months patrolling and skirmishing along the crucial Hudson River Valley, and from their camp in western Connecticut, they could still easily dispatch troops or couriers to West Point, Westchester County, New York City, or the interior of New England. Once the troops settled in for the winter in November 1778, however, what little energy they had left became fully devoted to surviving the same type of brutal winter conditions suffered by their compatriots at Valley Forge the year before. Compounding the harsh winds, snows, and frigid temperatures was a critical lack of supplies, including food, blankets, and winter clothing. Even worse, the troops had been paid in devalued paper Continental currency, rendering many of them unable to provide financial support for their families at home.
All of these miseries, and the frustrations that came with them, culminated in an attempted mutiny which took place at the Redding encampment on December 30, 1778. That day, a large number of troops decided to abandon the camp and march on Hartford to demand relief from the state General Assembly. Sometime that morning, General Putnam got word of the forthcoming uprising, and rode his horse to where the disgruntled troops were gathering. There, according to several sources, he rode among them and delivered a rousing speech, rebuking them for deserting their country in its hour of need and appealing to their sense of patriotism and honor:

“You have behaved like men so far; all the world is full of your praises, and posterity will stand astonished at your deeds; but not if you spoil it all at last. Don’t you consider how much the country is distressed by the war, and that your officers have not been any better paid than yourselves? …Let us all stand by one another then, and fight it out like brave soldiers. Think what a shame it would be for Connecticut men to run away from their officers.”

Putnam’s inspiring speech to his starving troops worked well enough to restrain them from carrying out the planned mutiny. And having regained control of his command, Putnam was lenient on the mutineers. Out of the many soldiers involved, only one was identified as an unrepentant ringleader and confined. (He was later shot to death by a sentry while trying to escape).

While the uprising of December 30th was narrowly prevented, the grueling winter and terrible conditions continued, with only limited relief in the form of food and supplies. The Connecticut encampment was plagued by threats of desertion and mutiny for the entire length of the troops’ stay in Redding, which later acquired the fitting nickname of “Connecticut’s Valley Forge.”

Today, the site of Putnam’s winter encampment is open to the public as Putnam Memorial State Park. Established in 1887, Putnam Memorial was the first public park owned and administrated by the State of Connecticut. A dramatic statue of Israel Putnam on horseback greets visitors at the park’s entrance, and an obelisk with quotes from Putnam’s speech of December 30, 1778 commemorates the patriotic troops who stayed and suffered there during the harsh winter of 1778 – 1779.

This article was provided by the Office of the State Historian, and CT Humanities. Click here to view the original article.
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