Connecticut legislature

The legislative session just past made some major changes in the state of Connecticut. It abolished the death penalty, established Sunday alcohol sales, legalized medical marijuana and began a process of reform of the education system. But what was in it for the business community? WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

The dust is beginning to settle on the short session that finished last week, and reflection is beginning.

“From the small business perspective I think honestly there’s not much that was achieved.”

The state legislature was unable to agree on a law that that would have brought Hartford $8 million in tax revenue. And as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, there's a lot of blame going around.

Connecticut’s House of Representatives has unanimously passed a wide-ranging education reform bill. Legislators describe the bill as an important step toward improving the state’s public schools and closing Connecticut’s achievement gap.

The chamber erupted in cheers after the 149 to zero vote, giving final legislative approval to a compromise education reform measure. 

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra may have a multi-million dollar problem on his hands. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, he's hoping the state legislature will save him.

Before Alie Garry could enroll at Tunxis Community College, in Farmington, Conn., the 18-year old Simsbury resident had to take a required standardized test called, ominously, the “Accuplacer.” It told her what she might not have wanted to hear - that she needed remedial classes in math and English. But now, three years later, she is grateful for the Accuplacer.

Not every school student wants to dissect a fetal pig in biology class. And now, as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, the Connecticut legislature is considering a law that would mandate that those students have another option.

State Representative Diana Urban says students who are opposed to dissecting animals in class should have a choice to learn the same material another way -- say, using a computer simulation. And she says that the choice should be binding on local school districts. So she's proposed a bill to do just that.

Where We Live: The Minimum Wage Debate

May 1, 2012
Monochrome, Creative Commons

Connecticut’s Minimum wage - now at $8.25 - may be changing.

The state house has passed a bill that would hike it by 25 cents each of the next two years. Now it goes to the senate.

Supporters argue the increase would help low wage workers while stimulating the economy.

Chion Wolf

With everything else going on at the Capitol, it’s good someone is paying attention to the budget.

That someone is The Connecticut Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf.  Our budgetary Obi Wan Kenobi stops by to give us an update on the fiscal health of the state - along with news on the “hot button” issues like minimum wage and Sunday liquor sales.

Uma Ramiah

About a thousand teachers gathered Tuesday evening to protest Governor Dannel Malloy's plans for education reform.

"What do we want? Respect! When do we want it? Now!"

It's a rowdy rally on the steps of the state capitol. Teachers from the state's two largest unions have arrived in yellow school buses from across Connecticut. They hold up protest signs, dance to the Black Eyed Peas  --  and, they chant.

"Respect! Now!"

Unless Congress acts, interest rates on certain college loans are set to double this summer.  WNPR looks at what that would mean for Connecticut students.

More than 84 thousand college and university students in Connecticut had subsidized Stafford student loans last year.  Their interest rate was 3.4% thanks to the College Cost Reduction and Access Act which locked in a low rate for four years. 

Lawmakers continue to work on a compromise education reform bill that they hope Governor Malloy and the legislature can agree on.  One key lawmaker believes the two sides are not that far apart.   

Administration officials have been meeting behind closed doors with top leaders to craft the next version of Governor Malloy’s education reform package.  In March, lawmakers made significant changes to the original proposal, including a delay in overhauling teacher evaluation and tenure.

James Yu (Flickr Creative Commons)

Joe Lieberman has joined a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators with a plan to revamp the United States Postal Service.

The independent senator from Connecticut says contrary to what some of his colleagues may believe, the U.S. Postal service still provides a vital service, and is worth saving. "563 million pieces of mail are delivered everyday by the postal service," said Lieberman. "A lot of packages including vitally important packages containing for instance, prescription drugs are delivered by the postal service so we've got to keep it alive."

Another committee of the Connecticut legislature has approved plans to raise the state’s minimum wage. The appropriations committee passed the bill 29 to 20 on Friday afternoon. As the bill now makes its way to the full house, advocates are highlighting small businesses that support the measure. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Business advocates told an official hearing this week that Connecticut’s tax structure is too complex and too changeable. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.