One-Third of Connecticut Legislators are Women, Reversing State Trend, Ranking 14th in U.S.

As the new Connecticut legislative session gets underway, 33.5 percent of lawmakers are women, the 14th highest percentage among the states.  The Connecticut legislature now includes 61 women, apparently the high water mark in state history, and exceeding the national average among the states of 28.5 percent. In the Senate, there are currently 9 women out of 33 members.  Eight of the nine are Democrats.  In the House, which currently has 149 members, 29 are Democrats and 22 are Republicans.

Connecticut’s 33.5 percent is from 182 seats, with five vacancies to be filled in special elections on February 26.  Candidates for those seats have not all been selected.

The ranks of women dropped by two in the Senate between Election Day and Opening Day of the legislative session, with former Senators Terry Gerratana of New Britain and Beth Bye of West Hartford accepting positions in the Lamont Administration and not taking the oath of office for a new legislative term.  Two male House members and a male Senate member also did not take their oaths of office in order to join the administration.

Nearly one-third of the women in the legislature this year - 20 of the 61 female legislators - are in their first term in the General Assembly.  Last year, women represented just over 27 percent of the legislature’s membership.

The 2018 election marked a slight comeback for Connecticut in terms of female representation.

Prior to this year, the state had fallen from ranking 8th to 19th during the past decade in the percentage of women serving in the legislature, with the percentage dropping from 31.6% as recently as 2009, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Connecticut’s 2009 legislature included 59 women, 31.6 percent of the membership, the 8th highest percentage among the states. In 2011, there were 56 women, 29.9 percent.

For their 2019 legislative sessions, the states with the largest contingent of female legislators are Nevada 50.8%, Colorado 47%, Oregon 41.1%, Washington 40.1%, Vermont 39.4%, Arizona 38.9%, Alaska 38.3%, Maine 38.2%, Maryland 37.8%, Rhode Island 37.2%, Illinois 36.2%, Michigan 35.8% and New Mexico 34.8%.  As with Connecticut, the numbers in other states may vary slightly due to resignations or elected legislators opting not to serve.

Nationally, women hold 2,110 of 7,383 state legislative seats.  Democrats hold more than twice as many – 1,430 Democrats and 663 Republicans. That is an increase of more than 300 Democratic women and a drop of about 40 Republican women in state legislatures across the country compared with 2017, according to NCSL data.


Task Force Report on State Response to Alzheimer’s Nears Completion

Thirty-one states have published a plan to respond to what advocates describe as the “escalating crisis” of Alzheimer’s Disease. Connecticut may be next, and is one of 13 states currently in the midst of developing plans.

The Connecticut Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association was among the leaders in crafting and shepherding legislation in the 2013 General Assembly session to create a task force to study the care provided to persons diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and dementia in the state.  That Task Falzheimers-wordsorce has been up and running throughout the fall, and is poised to announce its recommendations next month, just ahead of the start of the 2014 legislative session in February.

The 23-member task force of key agencies and community stakeholders convened in September, under the auspices of the Legislative Commission on Aging, to prepare findings and recommendations on ways to improve early detection, better coordinate health care services, set training requirements for health care providers and other professionals, services for early-stage and younger onset, and support to family caregialz mapvers.

The Task Force was co-chaired by State Commissioner on Aging Edith Prague and Rep. Joseph Serra of Middletown.  Members included Laurie Julian of the Alzheimer’s Association in Connecticut and other diverse community stakeholders appointed by legislative leadership and representatives from state agencies including the Department of Public Health, Department of Emergency Services, Department of Banking, Department of Labor and Department of Social Services, as well as six current legislators.

Over 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and as many as 16 million will have the disease in 2050. Nearly one in every three seniors who dies each year has Alzheimer’s or another dementia. The cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is estimated to total $203 billion in 2013, increasing to $1.2 trillion (in today’s dollars) by mid-century. Between 2000 and 2010, nationally, the number of people who died as a result of breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, stroke and HIV all declined, while the number of people who died with Alzheimer’s increased by 68 percent.

In Connecticut, there were 820 deaths due to Alzheimer’s Disease in 2010, there are more than 63,000 individuals with Alzheimer’s in nursing homes in the state and it is estimated that 68% of nursing home residents have a cognitive impairment. As of 2010, there were an estimated 2,800 people between age 65-74 with Alzheimer’s in Connecticut, 30,000 between 75 and 84, and 37,000 age 85 or older.

The task force, in accordance with the legislation, will make recommendations in areas including:alz stats

  • services provided to persons diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and dementia; including persons with early-state and early-onset of Alzheimer's disease, and such persons' family members and caregivers
  • legislative policy changes to better serve such persons, family members and caregivers;
  • coordination between state agencies and private community-based health care providers to serve such persons, family members and caregivers;
  • case management services for such persons, family members and caregivers;
  • the transition of such persons from one health care facility to another; and
  • the placement of such persons in community-based settings or health care facilities other than nursing home facilities, when feasible.

The state legislature acknowledged the growing numbers of residents impacted by the disease, passing the bill unanimously earlier this year, with 67 co-sponsors. It was signed into law in June by Gov. Malloy.  The Alzheimer’s Association has been actively involved in the effort. The organization’s   Connecticut chapter is based in Rocky Hill, with regional offices in Hamden, Norwalk, Norwich and New Milford.

In accordance with the legislation, the task force report is due to be published early next month, according to officials at the State Legislative Commission on Aging.