Connecticut legislature

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Governor Malloy was supposed to give his State of the State address on Wednesday, but the snow pushed it back to Thursday at noon. Ah, yes… it’s still winter. Storm today, more snow predicted this weekend. We hope you’re home snuggled in.

As a matter of fact, this hour on The Wheelhouse, our weekly news roundtable, we need your help. Sure, we’ll talk about politics: priorities for the legislative session, education reform, and a new plan to raise the minimum wage. But we also want to hear from you: are you snowed in? Going to work, or not?

Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed raising Connecticut's minimum wage to above $10.00 an hour.

The minimum wage in the Nutmeg State just went up last month to $8.70 an hour. Under legislation passed last year, it will rise again to $9.00 an hour next January, but according to the governor, that's not enough. 

Jon S / Creative Commons

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities has released its list of legislative priorities for the year. One of them would allow towns and cities to publish full public notices online, and not in newspapers. The move could save public money, but it is opposed by the state's newspapers.

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Lawmakers have drafted legislation to address sexual assault on college campuses. It will be the first bill heard by the Higher Education Committee when it convenes next month.

CT-N

The Malloy administration wants to set aside more cash to help the state's manufacturers. The proposal seeks authorization from the legislature to set up a $25 million fund to help advanced manufacturing companies.

Ray Hardman / WNPR

Supporters of legislation that would allow terminally ill patients the right to die gathered at the Capitol Wednesday. The event was sponsored by the advocacy group Compassion & Choices.

Last year's legislation that would have allowed a terminally ill patient to request medication from a doctor that would end his or her life didn't get out of the Public Health Committee. Right-to-die supporters say this year could be different, with a new aid in dying law in Vermont and a recent court action in New Mexico.

Office of Governor Malloy

Governor Dannel Malloy announced on Thursday that his budget will include more money to improve school security across the state. Last year, over 600 schools got state funding. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The Democrats have unveiled their plan for jobs and the economy for the coming legislative session in Hartford. But they're facing some skepticism from across the aisle.

WNPR/CPTV

The proposal to address the behavioral, mental, and emotional needs of children is a requirement passed under legislation that was passed by the General Assembly last year. The plan is in response to the shooting in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. DCF is looking to create the plan with help from families along with experts and other advocates. It should be completed by October.

Thomas MacMillan/Melissa Bailey / The New Haven Independent

Two incumbent state legislators and a former alderman plan on running in next month’s special election for New Haven’s open state Senate seat. The post became vacant after Toni Harp became the city’s new mayor.

WNPR/CPTV

The State Bond Commission, along with Governor Dannel Malloy, held a meeting on Thursday. One of the items was a request from the Department of Social Services for just under $6 million to provide grants-in-aid to eight social service providers. An additional request was made for $3 million toward grants-in-aid to non-profits in Stamford, Pomfret, and Branford. 

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A task force of state legislators met on Thursday to consider the possibility of expanding video gaming in Connecticut. Co-Chairs of the task force are State Representative Peggy Sayers (D-Windsor Locks, Windsor) and State Senator Andres Ayala (D-Bridgeport).

Chion Wolf / WNPR

This is the last edition of our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse for 2013. We're looking back at the year that was (and is) with our team of reporters and analysts.

We'll discuss the performance of the state legislature, which passed gun legislation after Sandy Hook, quietly approved Keno, and loosened campaign finance laws while former House Speaker Chris Donovan's campaign workers went on trial for corruption charges.

What will you remember about 2013?

Harriet Jones

It’s been a momentous year for the gun industry in many ways, and for Connecticut’s gun makers more than for most. Events in Newtown changed the landscape for an industry which some people feel is implicated in the tragedy.  

Chion Wolf / WNPR

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.

New state legislation may soon be considered to address enforcement gaps in existing federal regulations related to mental health coverage.

Connecticut will soon see nine microgrid pilot projects in eight communities across the state.

Harriet Jones

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.

 

Making a Tough Marijuana Industry

Jul 8, 2013

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.

Chion Wolf

Yesterday, Governor Malloy signed an executive order establishing the Office of Early Childhood, an idea that has broad support, and funding from the legislature.

"There was no doubt that this legislation, until it apparently got tied up in some politics, was going to pass," said Malloy.

Officials Pleased With Energy, Environmental Bills

Jun 20, 2013

(Photo Courtesy Flickr, edkohler)

Promises - easy to make and tricky to keep.

In the case of Governor Dannel Malloy, he promised throughout the legislative session that he wouldn't raise taxes.  And, by his account, he didn't.  (Others disagree.)

But here's a riddle.  If you promise not to raise taxes, and you've cut all you say you can cut, and you STILL need money to balance the state's books, what do you do?

Answer: Keno.

Lawmakers Tap Energy Funds To Balance Budget

Jun 12, 2013
Energy Tomorrow, Flickr Creative Commons

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.

Energy Tomorrow, Flickr Creative Commons

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.

Chion Wolf

Senator Beth Bye may be leaving this legislative session more disheartened than any other lawmaker.

Despite being funded in the state budget, the Office of Early Childhood was never actually created.

One of the bills biggest supporters is Bye, who was honored earlier this month as a 'Child Champion' by the CT Early Childhood Alliance.

"This is probably the most discouraging situation I've run into since I've been in elected office," said Bye.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Senator Beth Bye may be leaving this legislative session more disheartened than any other lawmaker.

Despite being funded in the state budget, the Office of Early Childhood was never actually created.

One of the bills biggest supporters is Bye, who was honored earlier this month as a 'Child Champion' by the CT Early Childhood Alliance.

"This is probably the most discouraging situation I've run into since I've been in elected office," said Bye.

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.

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