Campus Sex Assault Reform Legislation Offered in Congress

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:


A bipartisan group of eight senators introduced legislation today that U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, one of the bill’s Democratic proponents, likened to a bill of rights for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses.

“The broad principles of this bill are incontrovertible,” Blumenthal told Capitol Watch. “The days of blaming the survivor are done. Schools can no longer demean or dismiss this problem. A survivor can no longer be blamed for what she wore or where she went or what she drank.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

The bill seeks to add structure to the way colleges and universitties and law enforcement deal with campus sexual assault cases. Critics have charged that such cases are now often mishandled in awkward and at times ineffective combinations of school disciplinary bodies and the traditional criminal justice system. If passed by Congress, the law would require schools to clearly and publicly settle their relationship with local law enforcement in dealing with reports of assault.

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Regan Vogel, center, got her head stuck in railings at the state Capitol Wednesday. She was eventually freed. (CHRIS KEATING)

Child Eventually Freed After Head Stuck In Railings At State Capitol Complex

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It was a beautiful summer day for the Vogel family at the state Capitol complex in Hartford as they headed toward their goal of traveling around the country and eventually reaching all 50 state Capitol buildings.

Courtney Vogel, a mother of three, was enjoying the sights in the building before heading off to the bathroom, and putting her husband, Jeff, in charge. Then disaster struck.

Their 2 ½-year-old daughter, Regan, wanted a better view of the sights down below from the third floor at the Legislative Office Building and pushed her head in between the small railings.

But she got stuck.

Despite having Vaseline put around her head, Regan could not get out for at least 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the estimates by the panicked parents.

“It felt like a day,’’ said Courtney Vogel, who was now relieved after the unexpected ordeal.

When asked what she was trying to see, the 2 ½-year old said, “People.’’

The family stopped briefly in Hartford as part of a long haul from Quebec down to Delaware. They had visited the state Capitol in Montpelier, Vermont earlier this week on the day before they arrived in Hartford. When they are not on summer vacation, they live in the small town of Farmville, Virginia, which has a population of about 8,000.

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Large Numbers of Domestic Violence Restraining Orders Never Get Served

by Categorized: General Assembly, Uncategorized Tagged: , Date:

An estimated 40 percent of the restraining orders issued by New Haven judges in domestic violence cases between 2010 and 2011 never got served, according to testimony provided to a state task force Wednesday.

The record of serving restraining orders in abuse cases in Bridgeport doesn’t appear much better, said Aaron P. Wenzloff, a staff attorney with the New Haven Legal Assistance Association. He said statistics from that city’s courts indicate that 30 percent of the restraining orders issued between October and December of last year were never served.

At its first meeting, the legislative task force heard about a long list of problems with the current system of providing restraining orders to protect victims of domestic abuse.

Bureaucratic delays, communication problems, inadequate information and low payments to state marshals, and failures by some marshals to meet required deadlines all contributed to the many failures to serve restraining orders, various state officials said.

The panel is charged with coming up with recommendations for reforming Connecticut’s system of domestic abuse restraining orders. Activists have complained for years that gaps and delays in the system have allowed abusers to seriously injure and even kill victims who have sought protection.

State policy is to only pay a marshal for a single successful attempt to serve a restraining order on a person accused of domestic violence, said Robert B. Gyle, vice president of the association representing state marshals. A state Attorney General’s opinion limits payment to a marshal to just $30 plus travel expenses and only if the service is successful.

Members of the task force questioned whether such a limited payment system discourages marshals from making multiple efforts to find the target of a restraining order.

Wenzloff and other officials said abuse victims applying for restraining orders often run into difficulty finding a marshal to serve the court papers.

Gyle said marshals frequently don’t have much information about where the target of a restraining order is living, or where he or she works, making it difficult or impossible to serve the order. He said it’s virtually impossible to find someone when their listed address can be as vague as “the streets of Waterbury.”













Bacchiochi Amends Financial Report After Disclosure By Courant Columnist

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Penny Bacchiochi Date:

Prompted by a blog post by a Hartford Courant columnist, state Rep. Penny Bacchicochi of Stafford is amending her mandatory financial disclosure forms to report income she received from a political campaign.

Courant columnist Kevin Rennie reported that Bacchiochi had failed to report $27,000 that she received while working on the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Christopher Shays in 2012.

Bacchiciochi is currently running for lieutenant governor in the August 12 Republican primary against former mayor Heather Bond Somers of Groton and former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker of Bridgeport.

Under the law, all state legislators must report the sources of their income in an annual statement. That includes their salaries as legislators and any other outside income, including money from rent or partnership distributions.

“It’s just an oversight when you fill out the disclosures,” Bacchiochi said when contacted by Capitol Watch. “I reported the income in 2011. I received income in two different years.’’

Bacchiochi said that she worked in both the 2011 and 2012 calendar years, but did not report the income from the 2012 year.

The statement of financial interests is a 17-page application that includes a confidential addendum. Legislators who have no outside income can leave many of the questions blank. Continue reading

DeLauro Proposes National Soda Tax

by Categorized: Washington Date:

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro on Wednesday introduced legislation to impose a tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages.

Under the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act of 2014, or the SWEET Act, drinks would be taxed based on their sugar content – 1 cent for every teaspoon of sugar.

A 20-ounce bottle of soda contains about 16 teaspoons of sugar – approximately double the American Heart Association’s daily recommendation, DeLauro said.

State Selling Ads On Connecticut Ferries

by Categorized: Connecticut, Transportation Tagged: , , Date:

Two historic state-owned ferries have been carrying vehicles and passengers back and forth across the Connecticut River for generations, but this year is the first time they have been emblazoned with commercial advertising.

Chester-Hadlyme ferry crossing the Connecticut River. DOT photo.

Chester-Hadlyme ferry crossing the Connecticut River. DOT photo.

State Department of Transportation officials say Carter Mario Injury Lawyers is paying the state $5,000 to put up its ads for this ferry season (April – November). That breaks down to $2,500 for the ad on the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury ferry, and the same amount for Chester-Hadlyme ferry.

DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said agency officials decided to seek advertising for the ferries to help offset the boats’ operating deficits. In 2012, the ferries were kept operating with a combined state subsidy of $651,000 dollars.

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Blumenthal Hails VA Compromise

by Categorized: Richard Blumenthal Date:


Hours before a $17 billion emergency funding deal for the Department of Veterans Affairs was announced in Washington, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal hailed the compromise during a brief event in Hartford.

Addressing reporters and some members of the public during a noontime availability in the Legislative Office Building, Blumenthal said the legislation would attempt to alleviate long wait times and questions of healthcare quality at the VA by hiring new doctors and funding private care for some veterans.

“These negotiations have produced a bipartisan agreement that is the beginning of really good news for veterans’ health care,” he said.

Referencing the price tag, he added: “This is a big bill, but it deals with a big problem.” Continue reading

Sen. Blumenthal To Introduce Bill on Sex Assault Soon

by Categorized: Richard Blumenthal Date:


Senator Richard Blumenthal  is preparing to announce legislation to combat and respond to sexual assault on college campuses, he said on Monday.

Speaking to Capitol Watch after a press conference on the emergency funding bill for the department of veterans’ affairs, Blumenthal said that he and Senate colleagues Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, and Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, may introduce the sexual assault legislation by the end of the week. Blumenthal, McCaskill, and Gillibrand have been vocal in their attention to campus sexual assault and how schools adjudicate those cases.

Blumenthal is an alumnus of Harvard University, a school that, with others, has recently come under national scrutiny for the way it handles reports of sexual assault. The senator said that he and other lawmakers have been in contact with leaders of various institutions about the issue, including Harvard President Drew G. Faust.

This May, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed into law new regulations for how Connecticut campuses deal with and report cases of sexual assault.

As Congress is approaching its traditional August recess, indications are that the bill won’t be considered until lawmakers return after Labor Day.

Audubon Society: State Needs Better Planning to Save Bird Habitats

by Categorized: Environment, Wildlife Date:

Connecticut’s old conservation style of buying up property to save it from development then just letting the landscape return to forest isn’t working for a lot of this state’s declining bird species, according to the Audubon Society.

The number of different types of birds in this state has been declining for decades, Connecticut bird experts are warning in a newly released report, and they are calling for important changes in the way this state manages its open spaces.

Manged grassland at Pratt Valley Preserve in Bridgewater. Connecticut Audubon Society photo.

Managed grassland at Pratt Valley Preserve in Bridgewater. Connecticut Audubon Society photo.

“Managing areas for wildlife is a lot more complicated than just letting them go,” said Alexander R. Brash, president of the Connecticut Audubon Society. “Because our landscape is already human dominated and no longer naturally balanced, we must determine what we want a landscape to look like and then actively manage the process to achieve that goal.”

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Malloy Trails Foley In NYT/CBS Poll

by Categorized: 2014 Election Date:

Republican candidate Tom Foley has a nine percentage point lead over incumbent Democrat Gov. Dannel Malloy, according to a poll released Monday by the New York Times, CBS and nonpartisan research firm YouGov.

The poll showed Foley leading Malloy 42 to 33 in a hypothetical general election match-up. The Greenwich businessman and former U.S. ambassador was the 2010 Republican nominee and is seeking a rematch against Malloy this fall. He faces an Aug. 12 primary against state senate minority leader John McKinney.

Malloy won by about 6,400 votes last election, and previous Quinnipiac University polls this year have shown the two in a dead heat, suggesting another close race if Foley wins the nomination.

The NYT/YouGov/CBS poll collected data using an online survey – a switch from telephone polling, which is the traditional research method used by Quinnipiac University and others.

“Random-digit dialing has long been the gold standard for public polling, but declining response rates may be complicating the ability of telephone polls to capitalize on the advantages of random sampling,” New York Times reporter Nate Cohn wrote in an article about the survey and its methodology. But, he wrote, “There are still questions about the effectiveness of web panels, which can reach only the 81 percent of Americans who use the Internet.” Cohn also observed that phone polling allows for a level of randomization in selecting a sample of voters that cannot be obtained with a web survey.

A breakdown of the results shows Malloy enjoys support from women, black and Hispanic voters. In each of those three categories, he had at least a 10 point lead over Foley.  54 percent of black voters said they would vote for Malloy, with only 25 percent polled saying they would vote for Foley. Similarly, 49 percent of Hispanic voters supported Malloy, compared to only 8 percent who supported Foley.