Politics

Political news from WNPR

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:

Tony Webster / Creative Commons

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.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Hartford's city council is to begin its trial this week of three registrars of voters responsible for a disastrous 2014 election day. But the registrars were in state court Monday asking a judge to stop the removal process before it starts. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Fighting and heavy airstrikes in Yemen have left many wondering what lies ahead for a country that’s engaged in what many are calling a “proxy war.” This hour, we get an update from former U.S. ambassador Mark Hambley. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the U.S. to seek a better agreement with Iran over its nuclear weapons program, insisting that he's not trying to kill any deal, just "a bad deal."

Netanyahu, speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, argued that the current plan "leaves the preeminent terrorist state of our time with a vast nuclear infrastructure."

He lamented that "not one centrifuge is destroyed" under the agreement.

It's not hard to reach presidential candidate Ryan Shepard; he doesn't have a media relations office or a slick-tongued press secretary.

Shepard, 40, is a bartender at Roc Brewing Co. in Rochester, N.Y., while also working toward a bachelor's degree in creative writing at nearby SUNY Brockport. He plans to enroll in an master of fine arts writing program after he graduates.

He is also just as much a candidate for U.S. president as Ted Cruz, who was billed by many as the first and only candidate to file so far.

(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.

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