Politics

Political news from WNPR

(This post was last updated at 8:08 p.m. ET.)

After a process that has tested international alliances and divided politicians at home, President Obama said that Iran and six world powers had come to a preliminary understanding about Iran's nuclear program. The framework agreement was reached after years of multilateral negotiations.

Updated at 6:21 p.m. ET

Lawmakers in Indiana and Arkansas have approved changes to their respective "religious freedom" measures designed to answer critics who charged the laws were meant to discriminate against gays and lesbians by allowing businesses to refuse them service.

The amendments were passed by Legislatures in Indianapolis and Little Rock after a day of wrestling over the details of amendments to the measures.

Governor Dannel Malloy is ordering $13.7 million in additional mid-year budget cuts as Connecticut's current fiscal year deficit continues to grow.

(This post was last updated at 8:12 p.m. ET.)

Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, has been indicted on federal corruption charges.

The indictment alleges that Menendez abused his office to benefit Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor who was the senator's friend and donor. Menendez has always maintained his innocence.

During a press conference in Newark, New Jersey, Menendez said he was "confident that at the end of the day, I will be vindicated."

Ryan King / WNPR

After years of debate, controversy, and construction, commuters can finally take CTfastrak (aka, the busway). It's less than a week old, but how's it going so far? This hour, our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse discusses the long road to opening day for this bus rapid transit system.

Also, Governor Dannel Malloy is making the rounds on national television shows after he signed the first executive order banning state-funded travel to Indiana after recently passed "religious freedom" legislation. The self-described "porcupine" governor is showing his quills to the country.

Office of Dannel Malloy

Governor Dannel Malloy has formed a nonpartisan working group that will spend the next several months coming up with options to fund his proposed 30-year, $100 billion overhaul of Connecticut's transportation system.

Kin Mun Lee / Creative Commons

Municipal leaders say they’re deeply concerned about legislation that would see the state taking a bigger role in transit-oriented development in towns. 

The bill that’s currently before the legislature would create a Transit Corridor Development Authority. 

Despite criticism and protests, Arkansas legislators passed a religious freedom bill on Tuesday that is similar to the one passed by Indiana.

NBC News reports:

"Protesters gathered outside the governor's mansion in Little Rock on Tuesday morning. A final vote in the state House could come later in the day.

Even before he became president, Barack Obama was imagining the possibilities of a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran. His willingness to reverse decades of official U.S. hostility was one of the things that set Obama apart on the campaign trail.

"We have to have a clear break with the Bush-Cheney style of diplomacy that has caused so many problems," Obama told NBC's Meet the Press in November 2007.

Gov. Malloy Office / Twitter

Governor Dannel Malloy signed an executive order Monday, banning all state sponsored travel to Indiana.

Lee Cannon / Creative Commons

Governor Dannel Malloy’s transportation plans have been in the news a lot since the start of the new year. He’s set a bunch of goals -- some of them far off in the future -- but hasn’t yet figured out a way to pay for them.

We’re starting to see signs of Malloy’s efforts to figure it out in the form of proposed bills at the state legislature. 

Four troopers who opted out of the Connecticut State Police Union have filed a lawsuit claiming they're being forced to continue paying full union dues in violation of their constitutional rights. 

Vox Efx / Creative Commons

As Hartford's city council seeks to remove them, all three registrars of voters have filed suit in state court asking a judge to stand in the council's way. And on Wednesday, at least one of them will be before a state court judge asking him for emergency scheduling measures.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

After a rough start to his reelection campaign, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is again staffing up his effort with new people.  One comes from within his administration, the other is a former television reporter.

Update, 11:17 p.m. ET

The Indianapolis Star's editorial board is weighing in on the matter, rather loudly, in tomorrow's edition.

Update, 8:55 p.m. ET:

Two Democrat-dominated state governments, Connecticut and Washington state, joined the boycott against Indiana on Monday.

Mara Lavitt / WNPR

The data breach that affected Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in February affected more than a million and a half current and past Connecticut members. Most recently, Anthem announced they’ll be sending letters to those whose data was possibly leaked, offering them two years of free credit monitoring. We'll get an update. 

With Tuesday's deadline for an international deal on Iran's nuclear program approaching, foreign ministers from Iran and six world powers are trying to hash out an agreement. The debate currently centers on where Iran's nuclear fuel should be stored, and how — and when — economic sanctions should be lifted.

Other details, such as rules controlling enrichment, the length of the deal and how it would be enforced, also remain unsettled.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

As Hartford's city council gets ready for proceedings to remove its three elected registrars of voters, one of those registrars has filed suit in state court and asked a judge to stop the process.

Harry Reid, the wily Democratic Senate leader, was likely — once again — to be one of the most vulnerable incumbents up for re-election in 2016.

Few, though, would have bet the house against Reid — a sharp-elbowed campaigner — especially in a presidential year when demography will favor Democrats in a state where almost 3 in 10 people are Hispanic.

"Do you really want to go up against Harry Reid?" said one national GOP operative, pointing out Reid's bare-knuckles style of campaigning.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

It's been a rough few weeks for both the administration and reelection campaign of Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra. But his supporters say there's a lot of time left before any votes are counted. 

Connecticut House Democrats

Former Bridgeport state Rep. Christina Ayala has turned down a plea deal with prosecutors and will go to trial on election fraud charges.

The Connecticut Post reports Ayala and her lawyer appeared Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Earl Richards and confirmed her decision.

City of Hartford

The former top lawyer of Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is asking the city’s ethics commission to weigh in on whether it was wrong for her relatives to have worked at city hall while she had a high-ranking position. 

A nearly $300 million project widening Interstate 84 in Waterbury is about to begin.

The Republican-American reports that rebuilding the 2.7-mile stretch of highway that Governor Dannel Malloy has called one of the most infamous bottlenecks in Connecticut will begin Monday.

The state Department of Transportation's contact requires the project to be complete by June 25, 2020.

Thomas Hopkins / Creative Commons

A bill that would cap charges for electric services paid by residential customers is moving through the Connecticut General Assembly.

The legislature's Energy and Technology Committee on Tuesday approved a bill capping the monthly, fixed charge at $10. The bill now awaits further action in the Senate.

Politicians and consumer groups voiced concerns about a recent state decision to increase the fix charges imposed by Eversource Energy from $16 to $19.50. Eversource originally requested a $25.50 charge, saying the revenue is needed to cover the utility's expenses.

Connecticut Senate Republicans / Creative Commons

Connecticut's fiscal future seems to be upon us and it's bleak. Last year, budget chief Ben Barnes said, "We have entered into a period of permanent fiscal crisis in state and local government." As lawmakers debate and discuss the state budget, they're learning that Barnes' quote was not hyperbolic.

On our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, our panel discusses the on-going budget negotiations and what's on the cutting block. Also, another chapter in the John Rowland/Lisa Wilson-Foley scandal comes to a close as both were sentenced to prison time.

City of Hartford

Internal auditors at the city of Hartford have looked into controversial hirings at the city’s Department of Public Works, following a citizen complaint alleging that relatives of the mayor’s former top lawyer had gotten jobs with the city. 

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Former Republican congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley will serve five months in prison for her role in a campaign consulting scandal involving former Governor John Rowland.

According to reports from inside the federal courtroom in New Haven, Judge Janet Bond Arterton disputed Wilson-Foley's claim that she was a "minor player" in the crime.

There will be a question from some about Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's eligibility to run for president.

That's because even though Cruz grew up in Texas, he was born in Canada. (He renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2013.)

Democrats are sure to remind voters of Cruz's Canadian birth since some on the right have questioned where President Obama was born. The president is a native of Hawaii.

Noroton / Creative Commons

Lawmakers are planning changes to a controversial proposal from Governor Dannel Malloy that would enable the state to take land near transit stations.

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Former Republican congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley faces sentencing this week in a scheme to hide a role that former Governor John Rowland played in her campaign. 

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