You may have noticed that the federal government shut down today. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called this a "sad day for America." But it's not keeping Connecticut down. Today, the state's new health care exchange takes its first spin around the Internet (if on slightly unstable web-wheels), and -- you know you've been waiting for this -- a bunch of new laws go into effect. Maybe you forgot just how good October 1 would be to you. That and more in today's Wheelhouse Digest.
A big question since the massacre at Sandy Hook is how much, if any, information from the crime scene should be released to the public. That debate continues. The question at hand isn't should the state have passed a bipartisan, sweeping new law to exempt crime scene evidence from public disclosure. The question is should it have done so in secret, at the end of the legislative session, without public hearing.
A state task force trying to figure out how to balance victim privacy with the public's right to know is stacked in favor of privacy. That's according to a former newspaper editor and the head of a Connecticut open government group. The group is in the early stages of defining its mission.
Frustrated by what they consider a lack of clarity from the federal government on how to enforce a landmark mental health parity act, some Connecticut officials want the state to issue its own guidance for interpreting the law. "We just can't wait any longer," said Anne Melissa Dowling, the state's deputy insurance commissioner.
The state's first microgrid projects have been announced. Nine projects in eight communities have been approved as part of a microgrid pilot project - the first in the nation - conceived after Tropical Storm Irene and the October snowstorm in 2011 left large swaths of the state without power for more than a week.
When Connecticut passed a law two years ago that required employers to provide paid sick leave it was the first state in the nation to do so. And so putting that law into practice has been something of an experiment. This year, businesses asked for some changes to make the law easier to comply with. But as WNPR's Harriet Jones reports, they didn't get them.
When you hear the sound of sirens in one of Eastern Connecticut's towns, it's a fair bet that the vehicle involved belongs to American Ambulance Service, based in Norwich.
Connecticut passed a medicinal marijuana law last year, but it could be some time before an industry grows in the state. So far, more than 700 patients are on a registry list. Next month, a committee will review the final nitty gritty in terms of regulations for a Connecticut's medical marijuana industry.
After that, the Department of Consumer Protection will begin to accept licenses for dispensaries and producers. Patients diagnosed with any one of 11 disorders ranging from multiple sclerosis to PTSD can qualify.
Environmentalists are giving state legislators a mixed report card for the session that's just ended. They're happy with parts of the state's new energy policy. But a raid on clean energy funds is causing major concern.
Mary Drexler is executive director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling. When Connecticut considers a big move like adding keno to the gambling menu, it's her job to attend all the public hearings and committee meetings at which the change is discussed. It's her job to offer testimony on the bill and to recruit other experts who can offer opinion on the impact of increased gaming. This time, she didn't do any of that. She couldn't, because there were no public hearings or committee meetings. State-sponsored Keno was legalized in Connecticut by, essentially, a back room deal.
State lawmakers passed a bill this week recognizing German immigrant Gustave Whitehead as the first to fly in rather than the celebrated Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk. It was one of just a few bills passed with bi-partisan support.
The state legislative session is wrapping up with a budget deal that many observers say is full of “promises and gimmicks.” Ned Lamont, the former gubernatorial candidate agreed in a recent op-ed and he joins us with his own budget prescriptions.
Connecticut lawmakers have passed a “first-in-the-nation” law, mandating the labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs in food products. It’s headed to the Governor for his signature, but that doesn’t mean it goes into effect anytime soon.
Passage by the state house was the final step in a convoluted series of maneuvers that included a bipartisan agreement reached over the weekend. It requires any food meant for human consumption to have a label that says “Produced with Genetic Engineering.”