Health Insurance Deadline Looms; New England Unemployment Rate Declines
Connecticut officials are discussing final efforts to enroll residents in health insurance plans before next week’s deadline. Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman appeared at the First Choice Health Center in East Hartford today along with Kevin Counihan, CEO of the state’s insurance marketplace, Access Health CT. Those who don’t sign up will have to pay $95 or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater.
The unemployment rate in New England declined in January to just over 6.5 percent, down nearly a half percentage point from the same month in 2013 and slightly lower than the national rate. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that Rhode Island’s 9.2 percent unemployment rate was the highest in the nation. Connecticut’s unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent, down from 8 percent last year.
Soaring Utility Costs
Hundreds of Connecticut residents are complaining to the states regulatory agency and to the Attorney General, over skyrocketing utility costs. The high costs are being passed on from third party energy suppliers, who have put customers on flexible plans. Attorney General George Jepsen is supporting a bill that would expand the state website to offer more information to consumers about energy rates and what they should be paying.
Minimum Wage Vote May be Set for Wednesday
Connecticut lawmakers may take up a bill tomorrow to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The bill passed the Appropriations Committee on Monday and now moves to the Senate with a vote likely on Wednesday. The bill is expected to be passed by the Democratic controlled General Assembly, despite Republican opposition.
Reports of Wolf-dogs in Southeastern Connecticut
Connecticut environmental conservation police are investigating reports of hybrid wolf-dogs attacking people and animals in the southeastern part of the state. Residents reported the possible presence of wolf-dogs around Long Pond in North Stonington and Ledyard. Animal experts say wolf-dogs lack the natural fear of humans that wolves possess and cannot be vaccinated against rabies.