Politics

Political news from WNPR

City of Hartford

There's a public hearing Monday on a plan that would use money generated by a state tax to help pay off the debt for the new minor league baseball stadium in Hartford. But the governor doesn't know much about it, and the state senate Republican leader is opposed to the plan.

Office of Dannel Malloy

Governor Dannel Malloy on Friday named the state's interim education commissioner, Dr. Dianna Wentzell, to the role permanently.

DoNo Hartford LLC

The city of Hartford wants state tax dollars to help pay back the loans on its new $60 million minor league baseball stadium built for the team that's now in New Britain, and there's a measure at the capitol to get it done. But not everyone is convinced it's a good idea. 

David King / Creative Commons

Dozens of Connecticut librarians rallied at the Capitol building in Hartford Wednesday to oppose nearly $4 million in cuts in Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposed two-year budget.

Forty-five years ago, the attention of the nation and much of the world swung toward New Haven, where the murder trial of Bobby Seale and Ericka Huggins had made the city a magnet for Black Panther outrage and pushed New Haven to the brink of anarchy.

It's an amazing story with a cast of characters that includes not only the Panthers, but future black leaders like Kurt Schmoke, a Yale student who would become mayor of Baltimore, and J. Edgar Hoover, Jerry Rubin, Allen Ginsberg, Archibald Cox, Spiro Agnew, Kingman Brewster and Tom Hayden.

Computer security experts have warned for years that some voting machines are vulnerable to attack. And this week, in Virginia, the state Board of Elections decided to impose an immediate ban on touchscreen voting machines used in 20 percent of the state's precincts, because of newly discovered security concerns.

The problems emerged on Election Day last November in Spotsylvania County. The AVS WINVote touchscreen machines used in precinct 302 began to shut down.

purple_onion / Creative Commons

The state legislature's Finance, Revenue and Bonding committee heard public testimony on Wednesday on the video lottery game keno.

House Bill 7054 would give the Connecticut Lottery Corporation the authority to operate Keno, with the exception of the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos.

"The exhibition of profound grief was such as I have never seen equalled. Several overcome by their emotion, sat down upon the very ground and wept."

That was how Thomas Nelson, a U.S. minister to Chile, described the reaction of ordinary citizens in Spain to the news of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination in 1865.

Schoolhouse Rocks

Many bills, including some high-profile ones face the end of their life in the 2015 legislative session. They died a slow death due to personal drama behind closed doors. That allowed an important deadline to pass before moving bills through committee.

Also, remember Keno? That game was legalized by the legislature, then repealed the following year after public outrage. But now that the state is considering more casino gambling, the state lottery is pushing for Keno again and lawmakers are listening.

While Connecticut grapples with a budget deficit, many constituencies are defending their state funding, including librarians who spoke to Gov. Malloy this week. And the Hartford registrars of voters successfully defended their jobs in court.

If this makes your head spin, at least it's baseball season and the Rock Cats get underway in their final season in New Britain. So what happens to the stadium when they move to Hartford?

Updated at 8:10 p.m. EDT

The U.S. Capitol Police have confirmed that Douglas Mark Hughes of Ruskin, Fla. was the pilot who landed a gyrocopter not far from the capitol building.

Police searched the vehicle, saying "nothing hazardous" was found. The gyrocopter was relocated to a secure location, the department said in a statement.

Shortly after landing, Hughes was quickly named by friends and news outlets as the man who flew low over the reflecting pool to land near the Congressional buildings. He was met by police with their guns drawn.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

A state court judge ruled Tuesday that Hartford's city council does not have the authority to remove its registrars of voters, and the decision comes on the same day that the city council was set to begin its proceedings. 

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Known to many as the “first lady of the black press,” Ethel Payne fearlessly documented the struggle for civil rights in twentieth-century America. This hour, we take a look at a new biography, which celebrates the life and legacy of the pioneering journalist. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Following a disastrous 2014 election day in Hartford when voters were turned away from the polls, state lawmakers have tried to introduce various fixes to the system. And one of them died Monday afternoon.

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Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is seeking to amend a federal education bill and set aside funding to train teachers in social and emotional learning. 

Updated at 6:35 p.m. EDT.

Florida senator Marco Rubio officially announced that he is running for president during a speech in Miami on Monday. He told prospective donors he was launching his candidacy earlier today.

Marco Rubio, the charismatic, Hispanic, young (and even younger-looking) freshman senator from Florida is launching his campaign for the White House Monday in Miami.

Rubio, 43, will be entering a growing field of candidates. Right now, he's considered a second-tier candidate, polling behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the man Rubio has called a mentor.

That could change once he gets in. Rubio's advisers believe he has a path to the nomination, with assets few other candidates can match.

Hillary Clinton officially launched the campaign everyone has been expecting for months — years, really. She's running for president and to finally break open that glass ceiling she famously said her last campaign put "18 million cracks" in.

President Obama says when it comes to Cuba, "the United States will not be imprisoned by the past."

Obama met for about an hour on Saturday with Cuban President Raul Castro. It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two countries' leaders in more than half a century.

When the sit-down finally happened — after months of behind-the-scenes negotiation — even the leaders seemed surprised.

It's the handshake some have waited more than 50 years for. And the handshake some hoped would never happen.

President Obama greeted Cuban President Raul Castro at a summit meeting in Panama Friday night. Their handshake helped crystalize the diplomatic thaw that began in December, when Obama declared an end to decades of official hostility.

The State Department has recommended that Cuba be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, Sen. Ben Cardin, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

Cardin said the recommendation "is an important step forward in our efforts to forge a more fruitful relationship with Cuba."

Michelle Lee / Creative Commons

Advocates for a law to allow terminally ill patients access to life ending drugs are hoping for success next year because there's not enough support this legislative session.

U.S. Department of State

Skepticism remains in the United States and Iran about the framework agreement reached last week regarding the latter's nuclear program. Many in Congress are wary of Iran, including some of Connecticut's lawmakers.

Chion Wolf

Legislators are complaining that they’re being stopped from getting advice from departmental commissioners as they attempt to formulate a budget.

A memo from Governor Dannel Malloy’s budget chief, Ben Barnes, told agency heads that they can provide only facts and data to legislators. They may not express opinions about the best way to achieve cuts. 

NPR's interview with President Obama focuses on the pact the U.S. and allied nations recently negotiated with Iran. The framework requires the nation to reduce its nuclear capacity in exchange for the lifting of some international sanctions.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says his country will only sign an agreement restricting his country's nuclear program if economic sanctions are lifted. The remarks on state TV came as Iran's supreme leader said he's neither for nor against the deal.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also said that any arrangements must respect Iran's interests and dignity. He questioned the need for talks if they don't trigger the removal of sanctions, and he reiterated his distrust of the United States.

From Istanbul, NPR's Peter Kenyon reports:

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The shocking video out of South Carolina has race and policing back on the front page. This hour, we learn what a new CCSU report tells us about racial profiling and traffic stops in Connecticut.

vxla / Creative Commons

The United States has a long and complex relationship with Puerto Rico that changes dramatically depending on who is telling the tale. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Last week, Comptroller Kevin Lembo forecasted a budget deficit of more than $170 million. Governor Dannel Malloy then issued another round of budget cuts, leaving few legislators happy. This hour, our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse discusses Connecticut’s on-going state of "permanent fiscal crisis."

Also, we check-in on some high-profile bills going through the Judiciary Committee. And state lawmakers are considering allowing more casinos in the state, but one town is already saying they don't want one.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced today that he will seek the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

"I have a message — a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words," he told supporters in Louisville, Ky. "We've come to take our country back."

President Obama says it would be a "fundamental misjudgment" to condition a nuclear deal with Iran on the country's recognition of Israel.

Obama made the comments Monday during an interview with Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep.

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