The 2018 Legislative Session of the Connecticut General Assembly began on February 7, and the CT Conference’s Legislative Advocate Michele Mudrick has been hard at work tracking the issues as new bills are raised by representatives and senators around the state.
Guided by the Resolutions adopted by the delegates of the CT Conference
at annual meetings dating back to the 1970s, Mudrick is the tireless voice of the Conference at the state capital. She attends hearings, speaks to legislators, writes testimonies, and organizes gatherings of people across the state to move them into action and advocacy in support or opposition of those issues the Conference has chosen to act upon through its resolution process
Currently, Mudrick has submitted testimonies
on 4 issues that are in the early stages of legislation. Among these are a bill calling for an increase in the progression of the state minimum wage (House Bill 5388), a bill that would expand the current family and medical leave system and provide paid time off for such leave (H.B. 5387), and a bill that would equalize access to institutional financial aid allowing immigrant children under the recently expired Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to apply for non-government funded financial aid granted by the schools they wish to attend (H.B. 5031).
Mudrick has also been actively engaged in the fight to prevent the expansion of casino gambling in the state
. Two bills have surfaced in this session. The first is a bill that would require state officials to create a process for qualifying private entities for the development and operation of a casino gambling facility in the state, essentially canceling exclusive agreements with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes and paving a way for fully legalized casino gambling in the state. Mudrick has submitted testimony opposing the bill (HB 5305). The second bill calls for a comprehensive study of gambling in the state (HB 5306). Testimony submitted in support of this bill emphasizes the need for the study to be performed by an independent party in order to create an unbiased picture of the social and economic costs of gambling in a community.
Mudrick and the Coalition Against Casino Expansion in CT
have been organizing opposition to a proposed casino in Bridgeport by MGM Resorts. On Monday, March 19, the Coalition will hold an informational meeting
at the Full Gospel Pentecostal Church in Bridgeport at 6 PM.
All related testimonies can be found along with other resources on the CT Conference Economic Justice website.
which guide Mudrick’s work can also be found on the Conference’s website.
Though Mudrick submits testimony, both written and oral, on behalf of the 236 churches and more than 62,000 members of the CT Conference, she says people need to act on their own as well. She says legislators receive fewer calls and emails from their constituents than most people think and collectively we have the power to make a difference. The CT Conference has information on ways people can take action
. The General Assembly website also has a Citizen’s Guide
with resources on getting involved. Mudrick asks that anyone who makes a call, schedules a meeting, or submits written testimony in response to a bill contact her as well so she has a clear sense of the actions people in the Conference have taken on issues.
Rev. Rochelle Stackhouse, transitional pastor of Center Church in Hartford, has regularly taken part in the legislative process. Stackhouse has called legislators, written testimony, visited the capital for hearings, demonstrations and prayer actions, and even met with a legislator for coffee in her home town. She recognizes that phone calls are both easy for people to make, and a quick way for legislators to get a “pulse” on a specific issue, but feels meeting in person is better.
“If you can do a one on one with your representative or senator, that’s most important,” says Stackhouse, “because then they know you’re in their district, and they have a face to put with your name.”
Recently, Stackhouse took part in a prayer action at the capital after a press conference regarding the DACA financial aid bill.
Ian Skoggard is a member of the Church of the Redeemer in New Haven and a CT Environmental Ministry Team. Ian has also been actively involved in the state’s legislative process. He has written testimonies, spoken at public hearings, called legislators and meet with them in groups. He believes creating the relationship is important to the process.
“I think there’s nothing better than getting to know your legislator. Let them know who you are and where you stand on the issues,” says Skoggard.
Skoggard also suggest that people interested in advocacy don’t have do it alone. He suggests pairing up with others in a church or from the community to write testimony, visit the capital, or even to schedule a meeting with a representative or senator.
CT Conference Minister the Rev. Kent Siladi says being involved in the creation of laws in our community is part of our heritage as a church.
“Our tradition has had a long history of advocacy in the public square. We care about what happens in the world. An engaged congregation is one that makes a difference and an impact in the society in which they live. We are responsible citizens and faithful Christians.”