House Unanimously Approves Limited Liability For Horse Owners

by Categorized: General Assembly Date:

The state House of Representatives voted unanimously Thursday for a bipartisan bill that reduces the liability of horse owners in civil lawsuits.

The bill was prompted by a high-profile lawsuit that reached the Connecticut Supreme Court regarding the liability of horse owners, and the legislative measure was expanded to include ponies, donkeys, and mules. The state’s highest court had ruled against the owners of a horse that had bitten a two-year-old child who was bitten on the cheek in 2006 at a Milford garden center.

 Rep. John Shaban, a Republican attorney from Redding, said, “It’s a common-sense measure to push back an errant body of case law.”

Rep. DebraLee Hovey, a Monroe Republican, said the state Supreme Court is “a group of individuals who know very little about the industry” of horses.

Rep. Steven Mikutel, a Griswold Democrat, said, “To label a whole species of horse as vicious or dangerous is ridiculous. … You might as well say dogs can be inherently vicious or cats can be inherently vicious.” Continue reading

Cafero Says UTC Could Lay Off Workers And Still Get 35 Percent of Tax Credits

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Larry Cafero Date:

With bipartisan support, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday in favor of a deal to allow Hartford-based United Technologies Corp. to use state tax credits as it seeks to build a new headquarters for the famed Pratt & Whitney division in East Hartford.

The bill passed by 134 to 4 with four Republicans voting against the measure. All Democrats present in the chamber voted in favor.

House Republican leader Larry Cafero said Thursday that UTC, under the bill, could lay off 1,650 workers and still get 35 percent of the state-paid tax credits that are being debated by the state legislature.

“Huh?” Cafero asked on the floor of the House at the state Capitol during the debate.

“That’s the part that bothered me,” Cafero said. “My concern is, what if it goes wrong?”

The deal that was crafted by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration has been widely praised by both business and labor, as well as Democrats and Republicans in Cafero’s own caucus.

“I hope I can be comforted and not so confused,” Cafero told his colleagues Thursday. “I encourage all of us to get those answers to those questions.”

“Let’s be honest. It’s about UTC and UTC alone,” Cafero said. “If this bill passes, God bless them. I wish them all the luck in the world.” Continue reading

Republicans Offer Alternative Budget That Would Eliminate Rebates, Keno, and EITC

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Ben Barnes, Brendan Sharkey, Gov. Dannel Malloy, John McKinney, Keno, Larry Cafero Date:

With less than three weeks remaining in the legislative session, Republicans offered an alternative budget Thursday that rejects Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s $55 tax rebates and eliminates keno gambling.

The Republican plan would save the state more than $120 million per year by eliminating the state earned income tax credit for the working poor, but that idea was immediately criticized by Democrats.

Republicans said they were offering a gimmick-free alternative to the second year of the two-year budget that restores funding to multiple accounts that include transportation and clean energy.

“This is an honest approach that eliminates the ugly gimmicks and ‘techniques’ that have been employed to balance the budget only on paper,” said House Republican leader Larry Cafero of Norwalk. “Absent the gimmicks, the Democratic budget would be $150 million over the spending cap and out of balance.”

Republicans also blasted the statements by the Malloy administration, citing a University of Connecticut economist, that sending the rebate checks back to residents would stimulate the economy so much that it would create 1,200 new jobs.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” said Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield. “Show me those jobs that are created. … You can’t make this stuff up. Real people in the real world don’t believe that adding that money [from rebates] creates jobs.”

Cafero asked, “If you got another 55 bucks, that’s all of a sudden going to create 1,200 jobs? What world does that happen in?”

But Malloy’s budget director, Ben Barnes, said that the Republican proposal falls short on several points as “a political document that’s heavy on rhetoric” that was produced “after months of grandstanding” against Malloy’s budget.

“Perhaps most troubling, it includes a $120 million tax increase on Connecticut’s working poor by eliminating the EITC, what Ronald Reagan called ‘the best antipoverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress,’ ” Barnes said.

Barnes continued, “It also contains $54.8 million in phantom spending cuts that are not detailed anywhere.  Finally, it does all this and yet their bottom line spending is less than 0.1 percent different from the Governor’s proposed budget. So much for cutting spending.”

The detailed Republican proposal includes more than 400 line items of cuts and additions in a wide variety of state departments, covering environmental protection, corrections, public safety, education, labor, transportation, motor vehicles, criminal justice, public health, and children and families. 

Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, the highest-ranking senator, said, “I didn’t see any bold ideas proposed by the Republicans. … After a big buildup, I think it was a big letdown.” Continue reading

Scotts CEO Warns Malloy About Reviving GMO Seed Ban Bill

by Categorized: Agriculture, Environment, GMOs Tagged: Date:

A bill to ban genetically modified grass seed and sod from Connecticut’s lawns was uprooted and dumped on the legislative mulch pile by the House last week, but that wasn’t good enough for the head of Scotts Miracle-Gro.

EPA photo.

EPA photo.

The chairman of that company wrote Gov. Dannel Malloy Thursday warning that any revival of the ban or any moratorium on the new grass seed could lead Scotts to reconsider its investments in Connecticut.

Scotts is creating a grass seed using genetically modified organism (GMO) technology. This new form of lawn grass could survive being sprayed with Monsanto’s popular herbicide, Roundup. That would allow homeowners to use Roundup to kill every weed in their yard without hurting the grass.

Environmentalists are worried that could result in a huge boost in pesticide and herbicide use, which could create more pollution, and that the new type of grass could spread and endangering Connecticut’s organic farms. They fear Scotts’ new GMO grass seed could be available soon and wanted the ban in place now, but House lawmakers rejected that plan on a bipartisan vote.

Jim Hagedorn is chairman and chief executive officer of Scotts, and he wrote to Gov. Dannel Malloy Thursday because he is “dismayed that so many uninformed comments have been made about our technology.” Continue reading

YouTube Gun Debate: McKinney Says Record Distorted; Dems Say Pandering

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy Date:

Gun control has been a highly controversial issue for decades, and that is continuing in the current election year.

The issue came up again when Republican gubernatorial candidate John McKinney was questioned in an exchange that was captured on YouTube. He was asked if Republicans gained control of both chambers of the state legislature and voted to repeal the gun-control bill that was passed last year, would he sign it.

McKinney responded, “If the legislature repeals something, I think the governor owes great deference to what the legislature does, and I would.”

McKinney was blasted for that response.

“It is unbelievable that John McKinney, who voted for the gun control bill “SB 1160,” now says if he were governor and the legislature sent him a bill repealing the legislation, he would sign it,” state Democratic Party chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said in a statement. “This is political pandering at its worst.”

But McKinney responded, “The misleading attack by the Democrat Party and the Malloy campaign represents exactly what’s wrong with politics. They took a two-hour long conversation and reduced it down to a 22-second sound bite to distort my record and the truth.”

“In our republic, the will of the people is expressed through its elected representatives. I stand by my comments: if the legislature repealed a law, I as governor, would give them great deference.” Continue reading

99th Commemoration of Armenian Genocide at State Capitol Next Week

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

The historic House of Representatives chamber will be the site of the 99th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide next week.

Historian Ruth Thomasian, who is known for her work as a photo archivist, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker in the chamber at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 26.

State Rep. Christopher Wright, a Bristol Democrat who serves as the event chairman, said, “The April 26 ceremony will be held to remember our martyrs and honor our survivors.”

Armenians mark April 24, 1915, as the day when Turkish authorities began arresting Armenians in a systematic program of annihilation. The Turkish government has denied that genocide occurred.

Between 1915 and 1923, about 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the government of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. Another 500,000 were deported. But news of the genocide was not widely known until after World War I. Continue reading

Group Launches Radio Campaign For Two Charter Schools In Bridgeport

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

In the ongoing battle over charter schools, a group of parents and school-reform supporters has launched a new radio campaign in Bridgeport.

The group, known as Families for Excellent Schools, supports the state school board’s decision of April 2 to create four new public charter schools, including two in Bridgeport that are known as the Great Oaks and Capitol Preparatory Harbor schools.

The radio spots can be heard in Bridgeport on English and Spanish-language radio stations.

“Two new public charter schools are due to open and hundreds of families who’ve been stuck on waiting lists will finally have access to a great neighborhood school,” the radio spot says. “It’s a new day in Bridgeport.” Continue reading

Anti-Fracking Groups Give Malloy Petition, Stage Demonstration

by Categorized: Environment Tagged: Date:

A coalition of environmental groups and activists Wednesday offered Gov. Dannel Malloy a petition carrying thousands of signatures of people who want to ban any waste from natural gas “fracking” operations from coming into Connecticut for storage or disposal.

More than 50 people representing five different organizations also staged a brief demonstration outside the State Capitol to urge lawmakers to pass the proposed fracking waste prohibition.

Jennifer Siskind of Food & Water Watch holds an anti-fracking waste banner at Wednesday's State Capitol demonstration.

Jennifer Siskind of Food & Water Watch holds an anti-fracking waste banner at Wednesday’s State Capitol demonstration.

Malloy’s administration has called for authority to regulate toxic wastes from fracking (technically called “hydraulic fracturing”). The process involves pumping millions of gallons of water and chemicals deep into shale deposits to force out natural gas and oil. The wastes that result can contain toxic chemicals and may even be radioactive.

Continue reading