Legislative Wrap-Up: Fracking Waste Moratorium Passes; Hospital Conversions Possible
The General Assembly's session ended overnight with lawmakers finishing up work on a measure spelling out details of the $19 billion state budget.
Shortly after midnight on Thursday, before a joint session of the General Assembly, Governor Dannel Malloy listed what he saw as accomplishments from this year's legislative session. They include a planned increase in the state's minimum wage, and increased funding for local education.
Fracking Waste Three-Year Moratorium Passes
Some of the debate on the final day focused on fracking waste. Connecticut established a minimum three-year moratorium on the processing and storage of waste from natural gas exploration.
Environmental advocates oppose fracking, saying it pollutes ground water and destroys natural topography. Others say fracking waste is not actually being brought to Connecticut, and that a ban is unnecessary.
The legislation faced last-minute uncertainty, as it was the subject of a three-hour debate in the House near the adjournment of the session. The bill heads now heads to Governor Malloy's desk.
Non-Profit Hospitals May Convert to For-Profit
State lawmakers passed a bill that paves the way for non-profit hospitals in Connecticut to convert to for-profits. The Connecticut Mirror reported that the measure also includes more state oversight of hospital sales, and more oversight of transactions that involve physician practices.
Four of the state’s 28 non-profit hospitals are poised to be acquired by a national non-profit chain.
Yale New Haven Health System and Tenet Healthcare Corporation announced a partnership earlier this year, but would remain independent. Tenet is a for-profit corporation based in Dallas, Texas. The partnership plans to acquire Waterbury Hospital, Bristol Hospital, and the Eastern Connecticut Health Network, made up of hospitals in Manchester and Rockville.
Guidelines Established for Police Stun Gun Use
The state's legislature approved a measure requiring a model policy be drafted establishing guidelines for the use of stun guns by police. State police and municipal police will be required to adopt a written policy by January 31, 2015.
Officers will also have to document use of the weapons. The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut said that 14 people have died in the state since 2005 following police use of stun guns.
This report includes information from The Associated Press.