Policy and Advocacy

Policy and Advocacy

Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance (GHIAA)

GHIAA represents over 50 diverse multi-faith communities and allied institutions throughout Greater Hartford organizing together for justice.  As a founding member of GHIAA, we are deeply committed to the continuing work of the organization.

Want to get involved?

GHIAA has ongoing core leader training and anti-racism training. Talk to a USH/GHIAA leader here: Diana Heymann

The 2022/2023 campaigns included:

Education

On June 7, 2023 the CT legislature passed HB 5003 with an additional $150 million going to educational funding through the Educational Cost Sharing formula. By fiscal year 2025, this formula will be fully funded for the first time in CT history. https://cljct.org/ghiaa/education/

Gun Violence

GHIAA leaders called on lawmakers to allocate $20 million to community-based organizations doing gun violence prevention work in CT’s urban centers. Gov. Lamont countered with $2.5 million in his budget.  The final bipartisan budget passed by the House and Senate, and signed by the Governor, included over $22 million over the next two fiscal years for gun violence prevention.  https://cljct.org/ghiaa/gun-violence/

Mental Health

Human Services and Appropriations Committees voted in support of expanding HUSKY to all income-eligible individuals regardless of immigration status up to age 18 through HB 6616.  While the bill was not called for a vote by the full legislature, the final budget incorporated these provisions and expanded eligibility to age 15.

https://cljct.org/ghiaa/mental-health/

Housing

HB 6633 (which included Fair Share zoning reform) was passed by the Housing Committee but ran into major opposition in the full legislature. A stripped-down version of Fair Share was included in the omnibus housing bill that was debated for many contentious hours in the final week of the session before finally being passed. https://cljct.org/ghiaa/housing/

Environmental Justice:

On June 29, 2023 Governor Ned Lamont signed HB 6664 into effect which dissolves MIRA (Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority) as of July 1. The bill calls for a new board to be commissioned to oversee the Southend trash-to-energy parcel into its next phase. The Hartford City Council will appoint 5 members to this new board, giving residents a voice in their neighborhood.

https://cljct.org/ghiaa/environment/

GHIAA LOBBY DAY

Wednesday, May 3 members of USH joined several hundred GHIAA leaders for an opportunity to spend time meeting with our local legislators.  We were warmly received and told that GHIAA leaders are respected for our knowledge about the campaigns we represent. In other words, we do our homework! Click the link for lots of photos!  https://cljct.org/ghiaa/ghiaa-lobby-day/

GHIAA FEST 2023

USH hosted an outdoor celebratory dinner and wrap-up of the 2023 legislative season on June 13. Lots of GHIAA leaders and families enjoyed the evening while the children had fun in our playground.

Testimony before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, May 2023

in Washington D.C.

Gloria Bent, a member of the Social Justice Council, testified in May 2023 before

the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in Washington, D.C. She

testified about her family’s experience with Navihealth, a company that uses

computer predictions to control the costs of caring for millions of older and

disabled Americans who are enrolled in privatized Medicare plans, such as United

Health Managed Medicare. Navihealth’s algorithms denied benefits to her

husband, Gary Bent, who was sent home prematurely from a nursing home after

brain surgery on a cancerous lesion. When forced out of the facility due to the

denial of benefits by Navihealth, Bent went home with a fever and a throbbing pain

in his head and neck. He returned to the hospital the following day and stayed for

three weeks, battling bacterial meningitis. He died in March 2023. Gloria Bent’s

testimony gave a human dimension to this pernicious practice of using algorithms

to deny patients much needed health care benefits. link to her written statement before the Senate Committee

Testimony before the State of CT Education and Appropriation Committees

Diana Heymann, a Social Justice Council member, testified in February 2023, before the Education and Appropriation Committees of the Connecticut State Legislature. Diana is a former elementary school teacher in Hartford, East Hartford, and Bloomfield. She testified on behalf of House Bill 5003 which proposed a change in funding for the state’s schools to provide for more equity among school districts. Heymann testified about a special program that she participated in that brought inner city students into a classroom with students from a better funded, more affluent school system. Even though the results of the program were praised by educators—the test scores of the inner-city students soared—the program was discontinued for lack of funding. Diana Heymann’s testimony gave a teacher’s perspective on the unfairness of funding schools based solely on the tax base of the school’s community.