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Bill to Simplify Grant Applications Passes Committee Stage

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Mar 272017
 

 

Rep. Pam Staneski in Hartford

State Rep. Pam Staneski (Milford & Orange) hailed passage of her proposal which would create open-access portal in order to streamline the process of applying for these grants.

The legislation, HB 6941, An Act Concerning Streamlining the Grant Application Process for Municipalities would establish and maintain a single electronic portal available on the Internet and located on the state Office of Policy and Management’s Internet website for the purpose of posting all state funded municipal grant applications, to be called the Municipal Grant Portal.

The Municipal Grant Portal shall include, but not be limited to: (1) All state-funded municipal grant applications and municipal reimbursement request forms, (2) a searchable database for locating information regarding state-funded municipal grants, and (3) features to encourage the active recruitment and participation of municipalities in the state-funded municipal grant application process.

Rep. Staneski proposed this legislation after meeting with the Milford Economic and Community Development Director Julie Nash.

The City of Milford Grant Committee submitted testimony at the legislative public hearing in support of the proposal. The Grant Committee testified that a single electronic portal would be helpful to streamline each agency’s rules of compliance, access to grant information and common data requests.

“The current grant application process for municipalities in our state leads to a large amount of confusion among applicants and makes most of the process overly-complicated and hard to navigate. The best solution to this predicament, in my opinion, is the introduction of an open-access portal in order to streamline the process of applying for these grants and make them more accessible to municipalities,” Rep. Staneski said. “Many of the grants that municipalities are applying for actually require the same or similar data and streamlining the process of applying by consolidating all information into one location – an open-access portal would be tremendously helpful for those asking for grants. Ideally, this open-access portal would have a comprehensive list of all grants available to municipalities as well a well-outlined, uniformed process for compliance with each agency.

Staneski added that the portal would also help reduce any confusion or complexity by providing a delineation of all terms and conditions which would be crucial to municipalities understanding the plethora of grants they have available to them amongst sixty-eight different state agencies, as the current system provides no easy way to tell which agencies offer grants and what the grants consist of.

The legislature’s Planning and Development committee voted for unanimously and now moves to the House of Representatives for a full floor debate.

Residents Learn About Lowering Their Electric Bills

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Sep 122016
 

 

State Reps. Themis Klarides, Pam Staneski and Charles Ferraro

State Reps. Themis Klarides, Pam Staneski and Charles Ferraro

State Representatives Themis Klarides (R-114), Charles Ferraro (R-117) & Pam Staneski (R-119) hosted an informational workshop for Orange residents about lowering your electric bill at the Orange Senior Center, September 8.

The workshop ‘Learn How to Lower Your Electric Bill’ included presentations by electric rate specialists from Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA).

More than 30 Orange interested residents were in attendance for the workshop.

Rep. Klarides said, “It is more important now than ever for consumers to search out ways to cut their monthly utility bills tapping into the competitive markets that exist. These community forums we believe will help them do that.’’

“This was a wonderful event to provide useful information to Orange constituents and electric ratepayers regarding their monthly billing statement,” said Rep. Staneski. “Everyone I talked to were very thankful for holding the workshop.”

Rep. Ferraro said, “The aim of the workshop was to empower electric consumers with the additional information which would help them make an informed decision about their generation supply rates and whether to choose a licensed supplier or remain with their current standard service generation supply, United Illuminating.”

The Orange Legislative Delegation had rate specialists from Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) come down to the Orange Senior Center and guide residents through the process of reading and understanding their electric bill. For those that missed the workshop please click on link for the PURA presentation.

For more information, call the Representatives at 800-842-1423 or you can send an e-mail to Themis.Klarides@housegop.ct.gov,Pam.Staneski@housegop.ct.gov and Charles.Ferraro@housegop.ct.gov.

Staneski, Ferraro Plan Small Business Walk-About

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Jul 092016
 

State Rep. Pam Staneski

State Rep. Pam Staneski

State Representatives Pam Staneski and Charlie Ferraro will be having a “Small Business Walk-About” in Orange and Milford later this month.

The two representatives will be walking Route 1 and Downtown Milford to meet with local business owners and managers to hear what they have to say about state issues and answer any questions.

A schedule will be created based on location so that they can meet with anyone interested in participating on: Monday, July 25, in Orange  and Wednesday, July 27, in Milford for 15-minute time-slots between 1-4 p.m.

Click here to sign up or ask any questions.

State Rep. Ferraro

State Rep. Ferraro

Staneski: Time to Fix Terrible State Budget

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Nov 142015
 

Staneski_Session_2015State Rep. Pam Staneski (Milford & Orange) stood fully behind House and Senate Republican leaders and their proposals to close the state budget deficit.

Back in June, House and Senate Republicans argued that the state budget passed was too reliant on higher taxes, fundamentally flawed, and ill-conceived, and it is unfortunate for our citizens that we have been proven to be correct just three months out of the legislative session.

Staneski said, “The current state budget, my first as a legislator, was doomed from the start. This is what happens when one political party has complete control and chooses to dismiss the other side. Each time Republican lawmakers asked to have our voices heard we were rejected out of hand. The majority did not want to hear our ideas or proposals and because of that, 1.4 million people (42%) in our state were shut out of representation during the budget creation process.”

After three months, the state budget deficit has ballooned to between $350 million and $370 million according to the non-partisan legislative budget office. When the budget was adopted by a vote of 73-70 in the House of Representatives, without a single Republican vote, the second year of the budget was projected to have a surplus of $2.5 million, but due to a revenue decrease of $401.7 million, the current projected deficit for fiscal year 2017 is $399.2 million.

“I joined my House and Senate colleagues and petitioned for a special session to solve our budget crisis, and am glad that Governor Malloy called for bi-partisan talks and a future special session to fix our growing budget deficit.”

This week both the Governor and the legislative Republicans unveiled their budget mitigation plans while the legislative democratic majority have not submit any proposal yet.

The Republican budget proposal not only proposes to close the current budget deficit but also works to address the state’s long-term structural budgetary issues.

“It’s time. No more delays or excuses. We need to change the course our state is on. I’m talking about the continued harmful ways that use the taxpayers’ money. Yes the taxpayers’ money, not government’s money,” Staneski said. “I am encouraged and hopeful that the Governor has finally invited us to the table to fix this budget mess because Connecticut is on the brink. Let’s return Connecticut back to prominence!’

Ferraro & Staneski Vote to Stop Acts of Voyeurism

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May 212015
 

Pam Staneski State Rep.

Pam Staneski State Rep.

State Reps. Charles Ferraro (R-117) & Pam Staneski (R-119) supported a proposal to improve the state voyeurism laws by prohibiting the practices of ‘upskirting’ and ‘revenge porn’ and increasing the criminal penalties for voyeurism. The bill passed the House of Representatives 145-0 and now heads to the State Senate.

The legislation was proposed to address an inadequacy in state law after a recent state of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case found “upskirting’ was not prohibited by that state’s voyeurism laws. The bill looks to address, define and criminalize what the news media has referred to as “upskirting.” Upskirting is a term referring to photographing the view up a woman’s skirt.

“This creepy practice of upskirting violates a woman’s rights to privacy and should be considered a crime against her person,” said Rep. Ferraro, a member of the Public Safety and Security committee.

Sized_Ferraro_DeskDisseminate is defined as “means to sell, give, provide, lend, trade, mail, deliver, transfer, publish, distribute, circulate, present, exhibit, advertise or otherwise offer.”

Under existing law, a person commits voyeurism when they knowingly photograph, film, videotape, or record the victim’s image; acts maliciously or intends to satisfy their or another’s sexual desire; and when the victim is not in plain view, has a reasonable expectation of privacy under the circumstances, and does not know of, or consent to, the conduct.

“The dissemination of ‘revenge porn’ is a violation of the victim’s privacy even though they may have consented to or shared intimate photos during an intimate relationship. Sadly, if the relationship ends poorly, those intimate photos may later be used to embarrass or harass the victim. The victim needs to feel protected against such a vengeful act,” said Rep. Staneski.

Voyeurism is currently a class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Under the new legislation voyeurism would become a class C felony when (1) the victim is under age 16 or (2) it is a subsequent voyeurism conviction or the offender has a prior conviction of: 1) risk of injury to a minor involving sexual contact with a child under age 16; 2) 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree sexual assault; 1st degree aggravated sexual assault; 3rd degree sexual assault with a firearm; or sexual assault in a spousal or cohabiting relationship; 3) enticing a minor, promoting a minor in an obscene performance, or importing child pornography; or 4) 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree possessing child pornography.

By law, a class C felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

Finally, the bill designates committing these new types of voyeurism as a “nonviolent sexual offense” subject to 10-years sex offender registration but allows the court to exempt a person from registration if it is not required for public safety. As under current law, lifetime registration is required for someone who commits a subsequent nonviolent sexual offense or a crime designated as a “criminal offense against a victim who is a minor.”

Staneski Hails Veterans Program for Women

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May 172015
 

Gregory Smith, the State Commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) with State Rep. Pam Staneski in Hartford.

Gregory Smith, the State Commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) with State Rep. Pam Staneski in Hartford.

State Rep. Pam Staneski (Milford & Orange) voted to establish a Connecticut Women Veterans’ Program today in the House of Representatives.

The legislation requires the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs to establish a program that will reach out to women veterans in an effort to improve their awareness of federal and state veterans’ benefits and services eligibility. The bill also calls for an assessment of women veterans’ needs for benefits and services and a review of programs, research projects and other initiatives designed to address or meet Connecticut women veterans’ needs.

The results of the assessments and reviews will be incorporated into the strategic planning for benefits and services offered to women veterans.

“There is a necessity to develop veterans’ programs with the expressed need of women veterans in mind. Women in the military are at much higher risk for sexual assault and harassment, often resulting in depression. Passage of the bill provides needed relief to women veterans returning home from combat situations,” said Rep. Staneski, a member of the legislature’s Veterans Affairs committee.

During the public hearing on the bill, Gregory Smith, the State Commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) testified that passage of this bill is a critical step that Connecticut can take in providing needed outreach to women veterans.

The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.

Staneski Hails Veterans’ Agriculture Program 

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May 092015
 

Rep. Pam Staneski speaks in Hartford on May 6.

Rep. Pam Staneski speaks in Hartford on May 6.

During Wednesday’s House of Representatives legislative session, State Rep. Pam Staneski (R-119) said she supports legislation aimed at helping military veterans launch agriculture-based businesses.

The legislation (H.B. 6375) creates a veterans agriculture program that provides tax incentives. It also requires the Department of Agriculture to work with the departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Labor to provide guidance as well as education and training concerning farming or agricultural operations.

Staneski stated that according to the Veterans to Farmers, a non-profit organization, veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are helped by being in an agriculture program. Approximately, 20 percent of Iraqi war vets and 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan are afflicted by the disorder.

“We are providing veterans with a helping hand. By creating a veterans agriculture program we help our returning veterans who might suffer from (PTSD) assimilate productively into civilian life. It is a win-win for veterans and the communities they live in,” said Rep. Staneski.

The state program would be available to veterans who have never engaged in agricultural production or to those who have been involved in agricultural production for less than two years.

Rep. Staneski said, “Providing these tax incentives is a great way for new and old farms alike to be reinvigorated. More productive farms will help local and state commerce, and also helps with food security and sustainability by promoting the production of organic, clean, fresh, hyper-local food with renewable energy technologies and sustainable growing methods.”

The average U.S. farmer or rancher is 58 years old. Many farmers don’t have a succession plan for their business or land, and that lack of planning makes farmland more vulnerable to development, and small-scale family farms easier for corporations to gobble up. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is calling for at least 100,000 new farmers over the next few years.

The bill awaits action in the State Senate.

Staneski Supports Bill to Improve Veterans Home

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May 052015
 

SIZED_Staneski_Vets_Home_030615 (5)In order to improve the residential care for veterans at the Connecticut Veterans Home in Rocky Hill, State Rep. Pam Staneski (Milford & Orange) supported legislation in the Veterans’ Affairs Committee last week which looks to address several concerns veterans had with the current structure and organization of the Veterans home.

The legislation, House Bill, 6855, An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Legislative PRI Committee Regarding Residential Services at the Veterans’ Home, contains a series of recommendations arising from an in-depth study of the home and services provided to the veterans.

“The aim of the legislation is to make sure our state’s veterans, who reside at the home, receive the necessary services for the needs they require to live. Veterans are asking for three key issues to be addressed, employee accountability, an appropriate level of assistance, and improvements to the physical structure of the facility. We are not asking too much from the state. Veterans that call the facility in Rocky Hill their home, deserve a suitable, adequate and workable institution,” Staneski said.

Staneski toured the State Veterans’ Home in February and talked to both residents and administrators of the home.

Details of the bill are:

  • Gives the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Board of Trustees more oversight over the department. It requires (1) the DVA commissioner to give certain information to the board to monitor DVA’s performance and (2) the board to review and comment on the DVA budget and major policies relating to the Veterans’ Home.
  • The bill also increases the membership of DVA’s Board of Trustees, from 17 to 19 members, by adding two Veterans’ Home residents as voting members, giving veteran residents more of a voice.
  • Requires (1) the DVA commissioner to report to the legislature, by January 1, 2016, a plan for providing transitional and permanent housing and implementing the Program Review and Investigations (PRI) recommendations and (2) to submit a report to each Veterans’ Home resident on how the institutional general welfare fund was used.
  • Requires the DVA commissioner to continue to provide housing to any veteran residing at the Veterans’ Home or its health care facility upon the bill’s passage.
  • Veterans’ Home residents, their relatives or authorized representatives, or any DVA employee may file a written complaint concerning the home with the DVA Board of Trustees.

The Rocky Hill Veterans’ home is currently home to 217 domicile residents, and 117 hospital patients it was constructed in 1938 and opened for occupancy in 1940.

— Press Release

 

Staneski Observes Fire Service Day

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Apr 222015
 

Staneski_Fire_service_DayIn celebration of Fire Service Day at the State Capitol, State Rep. Pam Staneski (R-119) met with Deputy Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department on April 22nd.

Deputy Chief Dumas had the opportunity to discuss pending legislation with Rep. Staneski. Additionally Staneski was asked to support funding for the state fire schools.

“I’m so glad I was able to talk to the Deputy Chief Dumas. Hearing from constituents advocating for or against specific pieces of legislation, especially from an expert in the field of fire service, helps me do my job better,” said Rep. Staneski.

Some of the other bills that the may be considered this legislative session, pertaining to the fire service are:

·         HB-5871, An Act Concerning Workers’ Compensation Coverage For Current And Former Uniformed Members Of Paid Municipal Or Volunteer Fire Departments which would provide adequate workers’ compensation for current and former uniformed members of a paid municipal or volunteer fire department who suffer from certain diseases as a result of performing their jobs.

·         SB-902, An Act Concerning Workers’ Compensation Coverage For Police Officers, Firefighters And Emergency Medical Services Providers With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which would provide workers’ compensation coverage to police officers and firefighters suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a direct result of witnessing the death of a human being or the immediate aftermath of such death.

·         HB-6776, An Act Concerning Just Cause Dismissals for Municipal Fire Chiefs, requires a showing of just cause for municipal fire chief dismissals.

·         HB-5921, An Act Requiring the Display of House Numbers which would require homeowners to prominently display the street number assigned to their home.

Staneski Pushes for Fairer Education Funding for Milford and Orange

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Apr 072015
 

unnamedAsking for a fairer, more equitable distribution of state educational dollars, State Rep. Pam Staneski (Milford & Orange) strongly supports and has co-sponsored a bill to change the Education Cost Sharing Grant Formula.

The legislation, SB 816, An Act Establishing a Minimum Level of Funding under the Education Cost Sharing Grant Formula would require the state to fund every town’s ECS grant at least 50%.

Rep. Staneski, who submitted written testimony on the bill said, “I represent two towns, Milford and Orange, whose ECS funding is below the 50% threshold, and in fact, Orange is only funded at 23% of the full grant lowest in the state. As a prior Board of Education member, I was witness to the tough decisions we had to make in setting a budget that would balance educational needs—special education, Title I, ELL, free and reduced lunch, along with all programs for all students—with taxpayer’s ability to pay.”

The bill received a public hearing on April 2nd in the Appropriations committee with many local officials and state lawmakers testifying that the current formula needs to be fixed.

The basic Education Cost Sharing Formula (“ECS”) multiplies the number of students in each school district (weighted for educational need) by the amount the state has determined a district should spend to provide an adequate education (the “foundation”) and by an aid percentage determined by the district’s wealth. The result is the district’s ECS grant. The law then imposes minimum or base aid for all towns and adds supplements for such things as students attending regional school districts.

The ECS formula has three main parts that are multiplied together:

  • The number of students each town is educating adjusted to compensate for educational and economic need;
  • A “foundation” amount representing the level of per-need-student spending that state aid helps towns achieve, which is, ideally, the amount necessary to provide an adequate education to each student; and
  • A base aid ratio (or percentage) representing the relationship between (a) each town’s wealth (measured by equalized grand list adjusted for income) and (b) a state guaranteed wealth level (GWL).

Except for the foundation, which is currently set by state law, the basic formula incorporates various subformulas, which are briefly described below. Each of the subformulas relies on data derived from various sources from various years.

According to the Office of Legislative Research, the formula has rarely been fully funded in its 23-year history. Over the years there have been attempts to phase in full funding when state revenues were strong, but financial downturns and related budget issues have often led to interrupting the phase-in and freezing or reducing funding levels.

“We all recognize that the Education Cost Sharing Formula is flawed; however, the move to fund all grants to a 50% threshold is a start,” Staneski said.