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Administration Login
The Guilford Rotarian - Current Jul 17, 2019
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Wednesday, July 17,  2019



The Rotary Club of Guilford, CT  


                          The Guilford Rotarian                    



Guy Tommasi, Jr.


Directors at Large


Gary Drake

        Anthony Leonardi (18-20)


Stephanie Jacobs

        Suzanne Locke  (18-20)

Attendance Secretary

Evelyn Atreya

        Patricia Todd (18-20)

Exec. Secretary

Gary Drake

        Larry Appleton  (19-21)


Elmar Kessler

        Paul Heeren (19-21)

Assistant Treasurer

Frank Walsh

        Heidi Saamuelson (19-21)

IP President

Guy Tommasi, Jr.

  Co-Sergeants at Arms

Foundation Chair

Scott Staschke

         Allen B. Jacobs

Grants Steward

Michael Ganci

        Thomas Terribile


This Issue’s Editor: Jack Phelan


Call to Meeting: Gary Drake called the meeting to order. St. Representative Sean Scanlon led us  in the pledge.


Visiting Rotarians: None this week  


Guests: Chris Loban and Nancy Locke  


Anniversaries: None this week.


Birthdays: Suzanne and John Stax 


Fellowship:  No report this week.


Foundation Minute: No report this week   


President’s Announcements:

  • Nancy attending the Board meeting this week and gave a report on the parade committee. Still hoping to get some more sponsorships.  The Board authorized support of $3,400 + $2,000 if sufficient sponsorships do not arrive.
  • The Board also provided a scholarship award of $640.00 to Martine’s Wake Up.
  • We need some more volunteers to work the lunch desk.  If you are willing to help out please contact Gary.
  • Guilford Neighbor’s Magazine has offered us a space for articles every month about what is going on in Rotary.  The deadline for 25th of July for the Sept issue.  We could talk about the parade.  If you could help out, please contact Gary.


Member Announcements                                                                                                                

  • Guy announced he had a gift for the new president he meant to give him at the installation meeting:  A nice red Rotary phone.
  • George informed us that next week’s speaker will be Bill Stableford and he will talk about global warming.
  • Stax thanked everyone in the club for all the help they gave at the LobsterFest.
  • Bill Stableford mentioned that he and Gary attended the Area 8 Rotary Club’s breakfast last Friday.  They set a date for next year’s feed our neighbors event.  The date is Saturday, March 21, 2020.    


King of Clubs: 22 cards left in the deck.  Pot is $684.  Sorry, no winner today.  


Happy $


  • Barry Farbrother (presented by Gary): $5.  Will be presenting a “thank you” gift to  the past president of Uganda for their help with the Wells for Uganda project.
  • Gary: Happy to be down to conducting 101 Club meetings.
  • Sandie: She was on Block Island last week and the Mud Slides (not weather related kind) and they were very good. Best place is Champlin’s Tiki Bar.
  • Mike Sinclair: Correction on last week’s Bulletin. The Dudley Farm’s String Band, of which he is the base player, will be Thursday night at the Guilford Library at 7 pm.
  • Al: Thanks to the Board for their support of the parade committee; another $ for 11 days in Maine.  He has been playing golf for 50 years and has never had a hole in one. Now it is 51 years!
  • Bob Hartmann, Jr: For Winnie: She could not be here but she is offering $5 for the privilege of knowing Carl Balestracci and for her birthday check for the Foundation.
  • Patrick: Has $.50 for the pot.  He has decided to re-adopt Fr. John.
  • Dave Hadley: $10 because he missed his birthday last week and because his wife is going to become an American citizen after 50 years of marriage. 
  • Stax: Thx for the birthday song.  And he wants to thank every single Rotarian for their help at the LobsterFest; and a week and a half of boating.


Guest Speaker: State Representative Sean Scanlon (D)


Sean spoke about the major events that occurred at the state capitol this year. Rep. Scanlon was most instrumental in gaining passage of the following pieces of legislation:


Ethan’s Law.  Joined by state lawmakers, including Rep. Scanlon, and advocates for commonsense gun safety laws, Governor Ned Lamont  held a bill signing ceremony on the Guilford town green to commemorate final passage of a measure closing a loophole in state statutes on the safe storage of unattended firearms in homes. Named “Ethan’s Law,” the legislation was sought by Kristin and Michael Song, the parents of Ethan Song, 15, who was shot and killed on January 31, 2018 while handling a .357 Magnum pistol at a neighbor’s house.

The pistol was one of three unattended firearms he and a friend knew were kept in a bedroom closet owned by the friend’s father. The firearms were stored in a cardboard box inside of a large Tupperware container. While each of the weapons were secured with operable gun locks, the keys and ammunition for the firearms were located inside of the same box.

At the time of the shooting, it was a class D felony to improperly store a firearm or leave it where a minor could get access without permission of a parent or guardian, but only if that stored gun was loaded. Prosecutors found no evidence to show that the gun was loaded at the time it was accessed, so the owner was not charged with a crime.

The bill Governor Lamont signed, Public Act 19-5, amends that statute to require that firearms be properly stored regardless of whether they are loaded or unloaded. It also changes the definition of a “minor” to anyone up to age 18, up from 16 under current law.


Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Reimbursement Parity

Rep. Sean Scanlon, House chairman of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, led the House Monday in a unanimous vote to approve legislation mandating insurance coverage for mental health and treatment of substance abuse.

The legislation requires insurance companies to cover mental health and substance use disorder treatment at the same level as physical health. The bill also requires insurance companies to submit documentation each March to the Insurance Commissioner certifying whether they are complying with parity.

“No one in Connecticut should be discriminated against because they have a disease of the brain versus a disease of the body,” Scanlon said. “I’m so proud to have led the bipartisan and unanimous passage of this important bill to ensure equal access to care for all in our state.”

Scanlon wrote House Bill 7125, An Act Concerning Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits, and introduced it in his committee. The bill now goes to the Senate for approval.

Along with former Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr. and Rep. Brenda Kupchick (R-Fairfield), Scanlon introduced similar legislation in 2018 in response to a December 2017 study by Milliman Co., an independent consultant, that showed Connecticut was the worst state in the nation when it came to parity compliance.

Milliman’s report showed that 34 percent of mental health office visits were considered “out of network” compared to only 3 percent for medical office visits.

“The Milliman report was a shocking call to action for those of us who care about access to mental health services and today’s vote is a giant step in the direction of ending discrimination toward and stigmatization of mental health and ensuring that everyone can get the treatment they deserve,” Scanlon said.


Health Insurance Reform- Connecticut Option

Rep. Scanlon was successful this year in having the legislature pass health insurance reform that was recently signed into law by Gov. Lamont.

Under a new “Connecticut Option,” individuals and small businesses will have the choice of buying a new high-quality, high-value health care plan that could save them up to 20 percent in premiums. Consumer advocates and health care policy experts will assist the Office of Health Strategy (OHS) in designing the Connecticut Option, which insurance companies will be able to offer through their own provider networks or through a network developed by the Office of the State Comptroller. Offered alongside current high-quality plans on the exchange, Connecticut Option plans will leverage our incredible public agencies and one of the state’s leading industries to provide innovative alternatives tailor-made for our residents and employers.

The proposal also takes several steps to lower costs in the individual market. It provides additional financial assistance to low-income residents who qualify for federal subsidies and more middle-class residents who currently struggle with the high cost of health insurance. That assistance will be funded by restoring the responsibility fee on residents who can afford but choose not to purchase health insurance. The proposal also restores the reinsurance program that reduced premiums in the early years of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Similar programs in other states have reduced premiums by more than 10 percent. Finally, it increases competition in the market by requiring insurance companies that serve state employees to also provide cost-effective plans through the exchange.


In addition to reviewing recently passed legislation, Sean addressed an issue that will likely continue to be debated in Hartford that will effect Guilford residents:


Tolls on Ct Major Highways


A number of questions were raised by members with respect to the idea of imposing tolls on major highways in Ct including what was the expected impact on diversion of traffic to US 1 and other parallel state highways that would not be tolled. (Editor’s Note: The academic research, published in peer reviewed journals, overwhelming concludes that diversion of car and truck traffic will have a major impact on parallel highways like US Route 1 and Route 5 that parallels I-91. We can expect an increase in car and truck traffic on US Route 1 of between 25 and 40% depending on the toll rates.)


Rep. Scanlon stated he would prefer to see tolls nearer the state lines rather than multiple tolling places along turnpikes. Rep. Scanlon stated he did not think Gov Lamont had enough votes from members in the General Assembly, including Democrats, to pass his proposal at this time. 


The latest news on this issue, published in local CT newspapers on 7/18 is as follows: 


From the Guilford Patch.  “HARTFORD, CT — It appears that truck-only tolls and limited tolls near bridges are back on the table as potential options for Connecticut, at least at this informal negotiating stage among Connecticut politicians.


Gov. Ned Lamont (D) campaigned on truck-only tolling, but changed his stance in February to widespread tolling of all vehicles on the state's major highways. He said that truck-only tolling wouldn't produce nearly enough revenue and could run into some legal challenges. Lamont wanted to get a toll bill passed during the regular legislative session, but that didn't happen. Several lawmakers said a summer special session is a long shot.


House Majority Leader Matt Ritter (D-Hartford) told Hearst Media that truck-only tolling would have to be done in a way that would avoid a legal challenge, which Rhode Island is facing. A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Rhode Island filed by representatives of the trucking industry, but the decision is being appealed.

Lamont senior advisor Colleen Flanagan Johnson said that truck-only tolling may not win required federal approval, but Lamont remains open to a number of tolling options. Tolls near bridges and other major infrastructure projects is also back on the table as a potential option, according to Hearst Media.

Lamont is also considering loosening the belt on his "debt diet" plan by allowing $300 million more in state bonding over the next two fiscal years with $100 million of that going to transportation projects, according to the CT Mirror. That deal would include a scaled-back toll plan.


Republicans were quick to criticize the potential change of plans.

"With the inconsistency, number of changes and modifications to 'plans' does anyone trust this Governor's word," tweeted Republican House leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby). "When I give the people of Connecticut my word, it means something. I'm a no on tolls!"

Republican State Senate leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) wrote a letter to Lamont asking for more details on the state bonding package.

"The governor's letter is offering Democrats more play money at the same time he is creating an illusion that he will be prioritizing transportation," Fasano said. "If the governor does not plan to push for a bonding plan that truly prioritizes transportation by scaling back on bonding for wants with full transparency, then he needs to stand strong on his debt diet."

At various points there have been a dizzying array of toll proposals.

  • Lamont campaigned on truck-only tolls.
  • Shortly after taking office he changed his mind to tolls for all vehicles on I-95, I-91, I-84 and Rt. 15.
  • Lamont wanted a regular session vote on tolls then acquiesced to a special session vote, but then went back and said he wanted a regular session vote. In the end he urged lawmakers to pass a budget on time (which they did with time to spare) and to take up tolls at a later date.
  • In June he offered a state income tax reduction along with toll credits for low-income residents.
  • Lamont is now open to a number of tolling options including truck-only and bridge-specific tolls.



Check the club website and click on "Upcoming Programs" on the right column to see planned speakers.