Politics

Political news from WNPR

Connecticut Senate Backs Cutting Penalties for Drugs

Jun 3, 2015
Heath Alseike / Creative Commons

The state Senate has approved legislation that would make drug possession a misdemeanor for the first two offenses and establishes other changes in criminal justice policy.

The legislation approved on a 22 to 14 vote early Wednesday requires third and subsequent convictions to be punishable as felonies.

Keith Allison / Creative Commons

Connecticut lawmakers have voted to reverse a state Supreme Court ruling -- which had been criticized by the media -- that said police are only obligated to release basic information about arrests to the public while prosecutions are pending.

Michelle Lee / Creative Commons

Connecticut's House of Representatives passed a $40 billion state budget after Democratic leaders worked through the night to secure enough votes.

The bill, which needed 72 votes, was approved Wednesday morning 73 to 70. It now heads to the Senate, which by law must act on the package by midnight when the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn for the summer.

Lisa Jacobs / Creative Commons

The clock is ticking down on the end of the regular legislative session. It’s that time of the year when reporters and capitol observers try to make sense of what’s happening: what legislation gets passed, what gets killed, and what gets moved to the "budget implementer."

The Senate has approved the USA Freedom Act, which will alter the way U.S. agencies conduct surveillance and gather data. A final vote on the bill came late Tuesday afternoon, after amendments to the bill failed.

Update at 9:30 p.m. ET: Obama's Signature

Following an expedited enrollment process, President Obama signed the bill into law late Tuesday.

It's not often that the Dalai Lama calls out a fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

But that's what happened last week when he was asked about Aung San Suu Kyi, who has declined to speak out on the worsening plight of the Rohingya minority in her homeland of Myanmar.

Chion Wolf

The former Democratic senator and gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont returns to the show. Ned Lamont recently visited a key and controversial country in world affairs: Iran. We debrief with him about his trip, Middle Eastern affairs, and the world business climate.

Also, on the eve of the end of the legislative session, how does he think the new state budget will affect Connecticut's businesses?

Michelle Lee / Creative Commons

Democratic legislators appear to be rethinking their final budget plans, after General Electric and Aetna both said they would consider leaving Connecticut if new taxes are instituted. Insurer Travelers also blasted the plans.

Michelle Lee / Creative Commons

Democratic lawmakers are praising a budget deal that emerged over the weekend with Governor Dannel Malloy. But Republican legislators say they were left out of the talks. 

Helder Mira / Creative Commons

The end of the legislative session is drawing near, which means it’s time for Where We Live to check in with some of our state lawmakers. 

Photo Phiend / Creative Commons

Rank-and-file Connecticut lawmakers will be briefed Monday on a tentative two-year budget agreement reached between Governor Dannel Malloy and the General Assembly's Democrats early Sunday. 

A vote on the latest, proposed $40 billion fiscal package is expected later on Monday. Listen to WNPR's Where We Live for an update from legislators.

Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

Republican Presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio heads to Connecticut this week.  He’ll be the keynote speaker Thursday at the 37th Prescott Bush Awards Dinner in Stamford.

 

(This post was last updated at 11:09 p.m. ET.)

It was a dramatic day on the floor of the United States Senate on Sunday. Unable to overcome parliamentary maneuvers by Sen. Rand Paul, the body adjourned and let three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act expire at midnight.

Trying to beat a midnight deadline during a rare Sunday session, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to fast track a House bill that would overhaul the government's bulk collection of Americans' phone records.

Confusion and emotion broke out at Friday's FIFA Congress — and it wasn't over embattled leader Sepp Blatter. The leaders of the Israeli and Palestinian soccer organizations shook hands.

The much-discussed "handshake for peace" happened after the Palestinian Football Association withdrew its proposal that FIFA suspend Israel from international competition.

Photo Phiend / Creative Commons

A bill that creates a multi-step process for possibly opening a new tribal casino in Connecticut is heading to the governor, among other bills awaiting action at the Capitol.

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Chicago. The Illinois Republican, 73, is charged with trying to evade cash withdrawal requirements, and with lying to the FBI about it.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is on board with the latest trend among prominent politicians, and not just because he's running for president. Sanders is one of a few presidential hopefuls having fun with their 404 page. That’s the page on a website that comes up when a user enters an address for a page that doesn’t exist.

Updated at 12:33 p.m. ET

Former New York Gov. George Pataki is adding his name to the list of Republicans running for their party's 2016 presidential nomination.

Updated at 5:25 p.m. ET

Republican Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, announced Wednesday that he is running for president.

"Working families don't need another president tied to big government or big money," he said in Cabot, Pa.. "And today is the day we're going to begin to fight back."

With Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains behind him, Sen. Bernie Sanders officially kicked off his presidential campaign Tuesday afternoon at Waterfront Park in Burlington.

Paul Morigi / Brookings Institution / Creative Commons

FBI Director James Comey recently made his second visit to the New Haven field office since becoming director nearly two year ago. He said he spoke with local police chiefs about how law enforcement can better participate in the conversation about race and profiling.

Photo Phiend / Creative Commons

Even in a non-election year, there are a lot of political questions: Who gave you that money? Where are you spending that money? Who is representing Connecticut's 18th senate district? May we speak with the state treasurer? Finally, where is Charter Communications actually located?

This hour, our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse will ask these questions and attempt to get some answers.

Updated to reflect that Santorum is now officially in the race.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is praying for political lightning to strike twice.

Even after pulling an upset win in the Iowa caucuses four years ago and going on to survive the longest against eventual nominee Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential hopeful is again the underdog in a much more crowded 2016 field.

Josh Hough / Creative Commons

Since the ISIS takeover of Palmyra in Syria, hundreds are feared killed by the so-called Islamic State. Amateur videos posted online yesterday also appear to show buildings of the ancient city damaged in the fighting.  Palmyra is considered to be one of the most important cultural centers in the world.

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

Ireland has become the first-ever country to approve same-sex marriage by referendum, voting overwhelmingly to approve it despite opposition from clergy in the heavily Catholic nation, according to official results announced today.

Reuters says in Friday's vote "more than 60 percent of eligible voters cast their ballot, the highest turnout at a referendum there in over two decades."

Earlier, both sides in the debate acknowledged that the "yes" vote had succeeded.

The Senate voted 62-37 late Friday to grant President Obama additional trade powers, which the president plans to use in pushing through an extensive new agreement with a group of Asian countries.

The administration's Trans-Pacific Partnership has been opposed by labor groups and some Senate Democrats because of concerns that the deal could cost some U.S. workers their jobs.

Updated at 3:40 p.m. ET

Emails released Friday by the State Department appear to confirm Hillary Clinton's assertion that she received no classified information on her personal email account while she served as secretary of state. Still, some of the emails were classified at the FBI's request after the fact — something the White House says is not uncommon.

Connecticut State Capitol / Wikimedia Commons

A bill allowing electric car-maker Tesla Motors to sell directly to Connecticut consumers has cleared the state House of Representatives.

Despite some concerns about the effect it will have on local auto dealerships, the bill passed 116 to 32 Thursday. It now awaits action in the Senate.

Fighters with the self-declared Islamic State have seized the last border crossing in Syria, where they control half of the country, according to a British-based monitoring group.

Syrian government forces withdrew from al-Tanf, known as al-Waleed in Iraq, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The border crossing lies at the extreme northwest of Iraq's border with Syria.

Voters in Ireland are deciding whether the country will amend its constitution to make same-sex marriage legal.

The vote on Friday follows months of debate in the heavily Catholic country. Opinion polls suggest the referendum will pass and Ireland will become the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in a national vote.

But, as NPR's Ari Shapiro points out, "Polls in this part of the world have been totally wrong in the past.

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