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Connecticut legislature

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.

Nancy Eve Cohen

Last year the state legislature and Governor Dannel Malloy approved a controversial land swap deal in Haddam. Now, the developer who initiated the swap has now withdrawn from the deal.

Riverhouse Properties offered 87 acres of forest land in the Higganum section of Haddam in exchange for 17 acres of state owned open space along the Connecticut River. After years of resistance from environmentalists and town officials, the state okayed the land swap deal during the 2011 legislative session.

The state senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill to end Connecticut’s death penalty.

Michael Kappel (Flickr Creative Commons)

Governor Malloy signed a bill today that caps the gross receipts tax on the wholesale price of gasoline. The law will give drivers a small break at the pump.

The legislation was unanimously approved last week by the General Assembly. The governor waited until today to sign the bill to give Connecticut businesses affected by the law time to adjust their computer systems.

The law caps the gross receipts tax at $3 per gallon wholesale. Currently the wholesale price is about $3.20 per gallon, which means a savings at the pump of a little over a penny.

Harriet Jones

As the price of gas climbs past $4 a gallon, there’s another phenomenon you may well have noticed at the pump – the re-emergence of cash and credit pricing. It comes as some retailers renew the push for legislation to curb credit card swipe fees. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

It’s a busy lunchtime at J & A Gas and Go, a filling station on the main drag into Manchester.  And while most customers simply swipe their cards at the pump, some come inside before filling up.

“I’m getting gas – how much? -- five on two …..”

Chion Wolf

Today we’ll check in with Andrew Fleischman, the Chairman of the state education committee.  They considered Governor Malloy’s education reform bill this week - and depending on who you ask, the resulting document is “bold” or “gutted.”  

A bill aimed a reducing the numbers of Connecticut students arrested at school passed a legislative committee this week. Supporters of the measure say too many kids are being arrested for low-level, non-violent offenses.

Connecticut Judicial Branch data show that nearly 20% of the cases that ended up in juvenile court during the first six months of the current academic year began when kids were arrested at school.  

"41% of those were for breach of peace or disorderly conduct."

That’s Hannah Benton, staff attorney with the Center for Children’s Advocacy.

The legislature’s Education Committee has passed a revised version of Governor Malloy’s proposed school reform bill.  

Speaking before last night’s vote, co-chair Andrew Fleischmann said members of the education committee respect the Governor’s broad vision on school reform and sought to fine tune and improve the measure.

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