Connecticut lawmakers averted a $4.5 million cut to legal aid for the poor that was expected to reduce services for the state’s neediest residents. The legislature approved a plan to continue using increased court filing fees to fund legal aid. It was part of a massive budget bill adopted just before the legislative session ended on Wednesday.
Connecticut legislators are putting the finishing touches on their work—as this year's regular legislative session is scheduled to end at midnight tonight. While numerous bills still need approval from one chamber or another, many major pieces of legislation from this year's session have already been approved. The list includes a revised $19 billion dollar state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
Governor Dannel Malloy, joined by Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp ---- announced today that nearly 80 percent of the overhead power lines on the New Haven commuter rail between Southport and Bridgeport have been replaced.
The state Senate approved a $19 billion annual budget over the weekend. It postpones three tax breaks for shoppers and retired teachers as the state's surplus dissolves in the state’s sluggish economy. Democrats rallied around the package that provides funding for public education, housing, after-school programs, social service needs, and transportation infrastructure. The budget now awaits Governor Dannel Malloy's signature.
A key lawmaker in the Connecticut General Assembly is embracing a White House proposal to loosen restrictions on tolling federal interstates. Rocky Hill state Representative Tony Guerrera-- a co-chairman of the legislature’s Transportation Committee-- says that tolls are the answer to Connecticut’s declining gas tax revenues. He said it would also allow the state to reduce its high taxes on gasoline.
Governor Dannel Malloy is being honored in Washington, D.C. for his efforts to bolster affordable housing in Connecticut. The National Low Income Housing Coalition presented Malloy with the Edward W. Brook Housing Leadership Award on Tuesday at the group’s annual Housing Leadership Awards Reception.
Governor Dannel Malloy announced a plan today for the state to play a major role in purchasing and protecting a 1,000 acre parcel, as open space, along Long Island Sound. The Preserve, located in the towns of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook, is considered to be the last, large unprotected coastal forest between New York and Boston.
Hundreds of people with HIV/AIDS rallied at the state capitol today to meet with legislators for the 10th Annual AIDS Awareness Day sponsored by the CT AIDS Resource Coalition. Governor Dannel Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and state comptroller Kevin Lembo were all on hand for the rally. Nationally, it’s estimated that 25% of all those living with HIV don’t know it.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz was in Hartford today for a review of New England’s energy issues. The federal review was ordered by President Barack Obama to develop a strategy for public works needed to transport, store and deliver energy to consumers. Officials said that during the severe winter natural gas prices soared to more than $120 per million British thermal units.
Heroin use is rising at an alarming rate here in Connecticut and in the northeast. According to U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty, 257 state residents have died from heroin overdoses, many in her district, which covers Torrington and Waterbury. Thursday, Esty met with the mayors of those two cities, along with law enforcement and public health professionals to explore options to combat the problem.
Hundreds of advocates for prohibiting the storage of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” as it’s called, delivered petitions with over 5,600 signatures to lawmakers at a rally on Wednesday at the LOB. Though Connecticut doesn’t have the natural resource deposits to engage in the process of digging for natural gas, many fear that companies seeking to store the waste created by the process will make their way to into Connecticut from outside the state. They want Governor Dannel Malloy and lawmakers to prohibit it.
Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would further protect the public’s right to record police officers. The bill has been pushed through the Judiciary Committee, which approved it two weeks ago. They’re awaiting waiting again for the Senate and House to act. Current law already allows people to record police from a safe distance, but the bill would take it a step further by allowing people to sue officers who interfere with the recording of their actions.
Former Connecticut governor John Rowland has pleaded not guilty to federal charges. For the second time in a decade Rowland is facing political corruption charges. Just a week ago Rowland resigned from his radio talk show and late yesterday was indicted on seven counts by a federal grand jury in New Haven.
Connecticut lawmakers are again trying to ban discrimination against unemployed job seekers. Advocates say the problem has not gone away even though the jobless rate has fallen from 9.5 percent in November 2010 to 7 percent in February. A similar proposal failed in 2012. The legislation would prohibit employers from mentioning in a job ad that being unemployed disqualifies an applicant.
Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman observed Equal Pay Day by citing their administration’s progress on the issue today. Malloy says raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour will improve the economic security of women and their families in Connecticut. But he says it is unacceptable for women, doing the same work, to earn 78 percent of what men earn.
Federal inspectors found more than 7,100 defects and deficiencies in the Metro-North Railroad over the last decade, but records show regulators launched an investigation only after two high-profile accidents last year. In an open records request by Hearst Media, federal inspection reports between 2003 and 2013 show inspectors last year found broken joint bars and loose or missing rail braces that hold tracks to the ties in Bridgeport, Norwalk, New Haven and Stamford.
Governor DannelTech stands for Pathways in Technology Early College High School. The new school will be located at Norwalk High School. By the start of the next academic year there will be about 27 of these schools across the country. The schools integrate high school and college curricula for grades nine through 14. Students who complete the program graduate with both a high school diploma and an associates degree in applied science at no cost.
Former governor John Rowland is staying quiet over a scandal to which he is connected. Rowland told listeners during his radio show yesterday that he would respect the process of a case involving former congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley. Both pleaded guilty on Monday to illegal contributions after they gave Rowland $35,000 and failed to report it on financial disclosures.
Former congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband Brian Foley have pleaded guilty to using a fake consulting contract with former Governor John Rowland. Both Foleys appeared in U.S. District Court on Monday. They admitted to conspiring with Rowland and others to violate campaign finance law by concealing $35,000 Brian Foley paid Rowland in 2011 and 2012. The payment went through a business and law office associated with Foley's nursing home chain.
Connecticut residents have until midnight tonight to obtain an insurance plan and avoid a federal tax penalty. Residents without health coverage can shop and compare plans at accesshealthct.com. Anyone who remains uninsured when the deadline expires will face a penalty of either 1 percent of the family's gross household income or $95 for each uninsured individual -- whichever amount is greater.
Governor Dannel Malloy is running for a second term as governor. He made the announcement in Hartford today. Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman will also be running for re-election. Malloy said because of the need to begin the process of setting up the infrastructure for fundraising in order to qualify for public financing, he and Wyman couldn't wait until the end of the legislative session in May to get started.
Patients at Connecticut hospitals in 2012 contracted infections during treatment at rates “significantly” higher than the national rate. According to a report released this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Connecticut patients contracted infections during or after colon surgery at a rate 27 percent higher than the national average.
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.
Metro-North has finished upgrading its signal system. That means trains approaching five moveable bridges and two critical curves on the New Haven Line will automatically stop when engineers fail to slow down. The emergency stop provisions were put in place at two curves-- one in Bridgeport, the other in Port Chester, New York. The Federal Railroad Administration issued the order in December after a deadly train derailment in The Bronx.
Bridgeport's City Council has approved a massive solar energy project this week that could bring thousands of solar panels to a former city landfill. The city of Bridgeport will lease about 16 acres of the space to United Illuminating. UI’s ratepayers will pick up the roughly $35 million tab to build the array.