By Eric Bedner
HARTFORD — The newly formed Commission on Women, Children, and Seniors began operation last week, following the General Assembly’s decision to consolidate three legislative commissions into one.
The commission will operate with expanded authority, which includes elements of the former Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, the Commission on Children, and the Commission on Aging.
Its overall budget is $700,000 and includes operating expenses for the 63-member board whose membership initially will include commissioners with unexpired terms from the former commissions.
The commission is a nonpartisan arm of the General Assembly, and researches best practices, coordinates those affected by issues, and promotes public policies to benefit the state’s women, children, and senior citizens.
Its goal for women is to promote economic security through leadership development, and policies including paid family leave and pay equity, as well as ensuring access to reproductive health care and eliminating gender-based discrimination in the workplace and government.
The new commission will attempt to empower families and community leaders on behalf of children, remove obstacles that prevent children from reaching their full potential, and promote their physical, social, and emotional wellbeing.
Furthermore, the commission aims to promote economic security and independence for seniors, support senior living communities, and enhance their safety by preventing physical and financial exploitation.
The commission’s executive director, Steven Hernandez, previously served as director of public policy and research for the Commission on Children.
“As staff to the legislature, I am keenly aware of the profound opportunity we have to research and promote cutting-edge policies on behalf of the state’s women, children, and seniors,” he said. “While the needs and aims of these populations may be unique, the shared goals of dignity, access, and opportunity will guide our work and will resonate with every resident of the state.”
Hernandez earned a law degree in 2001 from the Washington College of Law at American University, and prior to serving in Connecticut worked for seven years as legislative and budget director for a Washington, D.C., councilman.