Wyman Wields Gavel In Alaska

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Most years, Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman’s biggest responsibility is presiding over this state’s Senate or holding down the fort when her boss is traveling out of state. But this week she’s in charge of the National Lieutenant Governors Association annual meeting in Alaska, no less.

Wyman is acting as chair of the conference, which is being held at Girdwood, a classy ski resort near Anchorage, Alaska. She got the job because the dude scheduled to hold the conference gavel, Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, was unable to make the trip to our most northern state.

Image courtesy of Girdwood Chamber of Commerce.

Image courtesy of Girdwood Chamber of Commerce.

“I am honored to chair the 2014 meeting and work with my colleagues to serve the public, grow our economy, support our military men and women, and affect positive change for our states,” Wyman said in a prepared statement.

Sounds like quite an agenda for a group of folks whose primary official mission is to hang around in case a governor dies, is too sick to lead a state, or resigns for one reason or another.


Expert Says No Need To Panic Over Recall of Listeria-Tainted Fruit

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The listeria-related recall of potentially contaminated fruit this week from certain grocery stores in Connecticut and across the nation is no reason for people to panic, a Yale University medical expert said Wednesday.

Dr. Joshua Copel said the mere fact that someone recently ate a peach, plum, pear or other recalled fruit from Trader Joe’s, Costco or one of the other stores involved doesn’t mean they need to be tested or to see a doctor.

“Most people don’t get sick from exposure to listeria,” said Copel, who specializes in maternal fetal medicine with the Yale Medical Group. “Just having had the fruit doesn’t mean you need any particular treatment or testing.”

State officials said Wednesday they’ve had no reports of anyone in Connecticut coming down with listeriosis from the potentially contaminated fruit involved in this recall. Experts say the disease is rarely fatal, but can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, headaches, muscle aches, and nausea.

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NRA Rates Foley a B-

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gun control Date:

The National Rifle Association’s Political Action Committee has given Connecticut gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley a B- rating.

His Republican primary opponent, John McKinney earned an F.

Foley’s grade puts him among the ranks of “generally pro-gun candidate[s],” the NRA said. “However, a “B” candidate may have opposed some pro-gun reform or supported some restrictive legislation in the past.”

Among candidates for lieutenant governor, Penny Bacchiochi, a state representative from Stafford, earns the groups top rating: an A. She is seen by the organization as a “legislator with not only an excellent voting record on all critical NRA issues, but who has also made a vigorous effort to promote and defend the Second Amendment.” In addition, Bacchiochi received the NRA’s endorsement.

Her Republican opponents, Heather Somers, the former mayor of Groton, and former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker both also earned A ratings. Somers was A- and Walker’s was a qualified A, because it is based on his responses to an NRA questionnaire and not a voting record.

The organization only released its rating for candidates involved in primaries. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who does not face a primary, was not rated, through the NRA and other gun-owners’ groups have been sharply critical of the governor and his policies.


No Fees At Connecticut State Parks This Weekend

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No one’s going to have to pay to get into a Connecticut state park this weekend, and it’s all about the 100th anniversary of the creation of our state park system.

“To encourage everyone to visit a state park this Centennial year, we are waiving fees at our parks this Saturday  and Sunday,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement issued Wednesday. “We will not charge the usual parking fees and we will not collect admission fees at state park museums.”

State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection photos.

State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection photos.

For more information about the free parks weekend, you can go to www.ct.gov/freestateparksweekend.

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“You Don’t Want Two Clones”: McKinney and Walker Diverge on Guns

by Categorized: 2014 Election, David Walker, Gun control, John McKinney Date:

Republicans John McKinney and David Walker forged an alliance based on a strategic need to pool resources as well as a shared vision for strengthening the state’s economy.

But that doesn’t mean the gubernatorial running mates agree on every issue facing Connecticut. In fact, they diverge sharply on gun control, one of the defining controversies of the campaign.

McKinney, a state senator representing Newtown, was a key supporter of the sweeping gun control legislation that passed in the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings. For that, and for his past support of gun control efforts, the candidate for governor earned an F rating from the NRA

Senate Republican Leader John McKinney. Hartford Courant photo.

Senate Republican Leader John McKinney. Hartford Courant photo.

and was branded “a true enemy of gun owners’ rights.”

Walker, who is running for lieutenant governor, defines himself as “a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment.” He earned a qualified A from the NRA. (The grade is qualified because Walker, who has not held elective office, does not have a voting record on gun-related policies, although the NRA views him as a pro-gun candidate because of his responses to organization’s questionnaire.)

The split on guns could make for some uncomfortable moments on the campaign trail but Walker shrugs it off. “You don’t want two clones,” said Walker, who is not a pistol-permit holder but does own several antique guns that have been in his family for generations.


Still, Walker is taking some precautions. His campaign has two different lawn signs, one reading McKinney/Walker and one with just Walker’s name.

“We’re going to have both because the truth is, there are certain parts of the state where a McKinney/Walker sign might be OK and there are certain parts of the state where it may not be OK,” he told members of the Bridgeport Republican Town Committee last week. “John and I are in strong agreement with regards to most policy issues on fiscal policy. We disagree on a few issues such as the 2nd Amendment. I’m a very strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment [and] that’s a big issue for certain parts of the population.”

And he reminded the Bridgeport Republicans on the way the system works: “All of you know you vote separately for governor and lt. governor
and while John McKinney and I have formed an alliance, the fact is when people go into the voting booth, they’re going to have to make a separate judgement on governor and lt governor.”



Sen. Maynard Injuries Not Life Threatening

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Sen. Andrew Maynard’s injuries from his serious accident this week are “non-life threatening,” according to a statement released Tuesday by his family.

Maynard, 52, is in “serious but stable condition and is resting comfortably with family and friends by his side” at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, his sister, Denise Mahoney, said in the prepared statement.

Sen. Andrew Maynard

Sen. Andrew Maynard

According to police, Maynard fell from an outside staircase at his house in Stonington early Monday morning and suffered multiple severe injuries. Several sources said he was carrying something at the time, and a neighbor was with him at the time of the fall.

A police spokesman said the initial investigation indicated the fall was accidental.

Maynard was taken to Westerly Hospital in Rhode Island and later transferred to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence for additional treatment.

The accident stunned politicians in both parties at the State Capitol

Maynard, 52, has served in the Senate since 2007 and is now a deputy Senate majority leader and co-chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee. His southeastern Connecticut district covers Stonington and seven other neighboring communities.

Here is the statement issued Tuesday afternoon by Senate Democrats:

“State Senator Andrew Maynard’s sister, Denise Mahoney, today released the following statement, on behalf of the Maynard family, regarding her brother’s medical condition:

“First, our family would like to thank the outpouring of support we’ve received in the way of thoughts and prayers from so many friends around Connecticut.  Additionally, the team of doctors and nurses at Rhode Island Hospital have been exemplary in their service.

Andrew suffered a fall early Sunday morning.  He suffered non-life threatening injuries and is in serious but stable condition and is resting comfortably with family and friends by his side.

122nd Assembly Special Election Is On Today, But Voters Will Do It All Again in November

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Voters in Connecticut’s 112nd Assembly District, which includes parts of Stratford, Shelton and Trumbull, are going to the polls today in a special election to choose a (temporary) successor to the late Rep. Larry Miller, who died last month.

The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

vote image

If it strikes you as odd that those folks will be voting today and then again in the regular election in November, you can blame it on the special election deadlines created by the General Assembly.

State law does provide for a scenario where a special legislative election could be conducted at the same time as a regular November election. But only if that legislative seat becomes vacant within 49 days of the regular Election Day. Otherwise, a separate special election has to happen.

Today’s voting pits two Shelton residents against each other: Democrat Arlene Liscinsky and Republican Ben McGorty.

But even if McGorty wins this special election to fill out the remainder of Miller’s term (which ends in January), he also faces an Aug. 12 Republican primary opponent in Michael Vickerelli.

So it’s possible that McGorty could win this special election but not even make it on the November ballot.

Budgets and Bumblebees: The Rise and Fall of the State Surplus

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Keeping track of official estimates of Connecticut’s state surplus over the past few months has been a little like attempting to describe the flight of a bumblebee: It’s down, it’s up, down, and there it goes, up again.

And all those swerves and swoops, even if they appear rather dramatic at the moment, probably don’t mean that much in the end.

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget experts announced Tuesday that the state ended its 2013-14 fiscal year on June 30 with a budget surplus of $121.3 million.

Photo courtesy of Connecticut State Government.

Photo courtesy of Connecticut State Government.

That’s considerably higher than the state Comptroller’s Office estimate of a $33.2 million budget surplus that came out at the beginning of this month. And that early July surplus guesstimate was $75.5 million below what the budget gurus were expecting back in May, and way, way beneath the $500 million surplus projected several months earlier.


All these ups and downs are essentially little more than blips for a $19 billion budget operation, variations that can be influenced by a host of different factors.

Sales tax collections can increase or decline due to weather or consumer confidence. Corporate, income and capital gains taxes can rise and fall as well, and are often altered by the course of Wall Street’s fortunes. Even the sudden death of a very wealthy Connecticut resident can mean tens of millions of dollars in estate tax revenue officials hadn’t planned to get.

Surplus and deficit projections can also change as a result of more or less spending by state agencies.

Last year’s surplus ended up at $270.7 million, or about 1.6 percent of that year’s budget. If this year’s surplus comes out to $121.3 million – and that’s won’t actually be known until October – it would amount to less than .2 percent of this year’s budget.

Malloy, who is running for reelection this year, was promoting the fact that the surplus will be deposted in Connecticut’s budget reserve or “Rainy Day Fund.” He also noted that this will be the third year in a row that the state has put money into its reserve account, which now amounts to $392 million.

“Depositing this surplus into the Rainy Day Fund, combined with our efforts to limit spending, are just a few ways that we are taking responsible steps to restore the fiscal health of our state,” Malloy said in a statement.

Republicans, of course, take a very different view.

Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, scoffed at Malloy’s surplus estimate Tuesday.

“Why stop at only a $121 million surplus,” asked Fasano, who is one of the top GOP Senate leaders. “Why not bond for more expenses? Why not move more money away from the Special Transportation Fund? Why not employ every tactic we can think of to grow the Rainy Day Fund without cutting expenses, and then pretend to be a fiscally prudent state?”

The almost-final number on what this year’s surplus actually was won’t be known until the State Comptroller’s Office issues it’s end-of-year finding in early October. And no money can be put into the Rainy Day Fund until after the state’s official budget audit is completed in December.
















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CT Science Center, Mark Twain House Head List of Cultural Sites Getting New State Grants

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A $4 million grant to the Connecticut Science Center and another $2.2 million for the Mark Twain House & Museum head up an impressive list of state funding proposals for cultural institutions that are expected to win approval Friday.

The agenda for this week’s state Bond Commission also includes $650,000 for improvements to the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford; $600,000 to the Music Theater of Connecticut for creation of a new music facility in Norwalk; and $300,000 to the Connecticut Historical Society for renovation work.

Photo Courtesy of Mark Twain House & Museum

Photo Courtesy of Mark Twain House & Museum

The funding for the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford will pay for replacement of heating, air conditioning and ventilation equipment, technology upgrades and additions to science exhibits, according to state officials.

Officials at the Mark Twain House said the $2.2 million being allocated for that popular tourist attraction will pay for long-needed maintenance and improvements.

“We face major challenges regarding certain aspects of our site,” Cindy Lovell, executive director of the Mark Twain House, said in a prepared statement.

Needed renovations include improvements to deal with water infiltration and humidity in the museum’s historical collections, repairs to deteriorating exterior stairs and courtyard, and an inefficient heating, cooling and ventilation system, according to Lovell.

McKinney Says Foley “Doesn’t Deserve the Opportunity to Lead Our Party Against Dan Malloy”

by Categorized: 2014 Election, John McKinney, Tom Foley Date:

With three weeks to go before the Aug. 12 primary, the two Republican candidates for governor continue to spend advertising dollars attacking one another on fiscal matters

On Monday, John McKinney released a blistering new television ad accusing his rival Tom Foley of twisting his stance on budgets and taxes.

“Tom Foley is just not being honest about my record,” an indignant McKinney says in the 30-second commercial.

“The truth is, it’s Tom Foley who won’t cut spending. I will,” said McKinney, who has served in the state Senate for 16 years.

The ad comes less than a week after the Foley campaign began airing a spot branding McKinney and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as “career politicians, insiders…pushing failed policies.”

In particular, Foley’s ad claimed McKinney and Malloy both back “billions in higher taxes.”

McKinney released a detailed statement along with his new ad countering Foley’s assertions. His ad also seeks to turn the tables on Foley and link him to Malloy.

“For Tom Foley to knowingly distort my voting record isn’t honest,” McKinney said. “We deserve a governor who has the highest degree of integrity and who will be truthful with the people of Connecticut. My record of fighting for the taxpayers is clear. I am offering real leadership and a plan to fix the state budget. Tom Foley has no plan. He refuses to engage in debates. He doesn’t deserve the opportunity to lead our Party against Dan Malloy this fall.”

McKinney said 19 general fund budget or budget-related tax bills have come up for a vote during his 16 years in the Senate.

“Of those bills, 4 made no tax changes, 5 were bills that cut taxes and 10 were bills that increased taxes. I voted for 4 of the 5 bills that cut taxes. And I voted against tax increases 9 of 10 times,” he said.

The one time he voted for a budget that included a general fund tax increase? That was in 2007 when the cigarette tax rose from $1.51 to $2.00 per pack, McKinney said.

The same year, McKinney also voted for a bill that authorized $500 million in Special Transportation Obligation bonds for the purchase of 342 new rail cars, plus transit buses, a dial-a-ride program for the elderly and disabled, renovations to the state pier in New London and several municipal airports.

“In order to pay for this infrastructure investment the legislature agreed to a phased-in increase in the Petroleum Gross Receipts Tax from 5.0% in 2005 to 8.1% in 2013,” McKinney said.

“Why Tom Foley is opposed to this vital investment in the infrastructure of the transportation systems in our state is beyond me,” McKinney added.