Category Archives: General Assembly

Busway Construction Causes Shutdown Near State Capitol For Weekend

by Categorized: 2014 Election, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Hartford, Tom Foley Date:

The construction of the new busway will cause an exit to be closed this weekend near the state Capitol.

The eastbound off-ramp on Interstate 84 will be shut down at exit 48A for the entire weekend, according to state officials.

The closure is scheduled to begin at about 10 p.m. Friday, and motorists will be directed to take a detour to the adjacent Capitol Avenue exit, which is heavily traveled on weekdays among those headed to the state Capitol and the adjacent Legislative Office Building.

The exit’s off-ramp is scheduled to be all clear by 5 a.m. Monday as commuters start heading back to the Capitol and nearby offices.

Backed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the busway has been heavily criticized by some lawmakers and Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield. The most recent criticism came during the Republican gubernatorial debate at The Hartford Courant, where McKinney referred to the project as the “busway to nowhere that nobody is going to use.” Continue reading

Foley, McKinney Save Criticisms For Malloy At First GOP Debate

by Categorized: 2014 Election, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, John McKinney, Tom Foley Date:

ROCKY HILL – Republican gubernatorial candidates Tom Foley and John McKinney squared off here Thursday night in their first face-to-face debate of the primary season – sharply criticizing Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and avoiding any direct criticisms of each other.

The candidates blasted the actions of Malloy and the Democratic-controlled state legislature for increasing spending and passing the largest tax increase in state history in 2011 that they said is still hurting the state’s economy. They criticized a new tax that has since been phased out on electricity generators, such as the Dominion nuclear power plant in Waterford.

Sitting about 10 feet away from each other on a stage and separated by a moderator, the candidates discussed a wide variety of issues from the minimum wage and the Common Core educational standards to the proposed baseball stadium in Hartford for the New Britain Rock Cats professional baseball team.

Foley and McKinney hammered the Hartford-to-New Britain busway that is currently being constructed for more than $550 million – with the federal government paying for the vast majority of the costs as the only “shovel-ready’’ construction project that was set to go when Malloy took office.

“It was the only way that he could immediately create jobs,’’ Foley told a crowd of more than 50 people in a hotel ballroom. “This was borrowing a lot of money to create some jobs.’’

McKinney offered similar remarks, saying, “It was a waste of money. … Fixing roads and bridges is important. Building busways are not.’’

Regarding tolls, McKinney said the state legislators who support tolls are those who do not live near the state borders.

“It’s just another tax, and people are already over-taxed,’’ McKinney said of tolls. “The amount of Connecticut residents who pay those tolls will far surpass’’ the money paid by out-of-state drivers who are traveling through Connecticut.

The candidates saved all of their criticism for Malloy and steered away from the recent criticism that McKinney had for Foley.

“John and I have both entered into an agreement to keep it positive,’’ Foley said after the debate, adding that he expects it to remain that way because McKinney is “honorable.’’ Continue reading

Malloy Vetoes Bill to Compensate Towns for Police Recruits that Jump Ship

by Categorized: General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Uncategorized Tagged: , Date:

Gov. Dannel Malloy has vetoed legislation designed to prevent or delay new police recruits from jumping ship as soon as they’re certified as officers, leaving one town to take a job in another.

Municipal officials in places like East Haven complain their community is picking up the costs of training and certifying new recruits only to see new recruits leave within months for jobs in less stressful cities and towns.

East Haven cops

East Haven has seen large numbers of officers retired, resign or be indicted in recent years as a result of long-standing problems within its police department. But other departments in Connecticut have experienced similar problems in the past as new officers leave for more attractive or better-paying positions in other communities.

East Haven Police Chief Brent Larrabee, told the New Haven Register earlier this year that the cost of sending a recruit through training and certification is about $100,000.

The bill passed unanimously by the 2014 General Assembly would have required town that hires away an officer within two years of that recruit being certified in another community to reimburse the officer’s original department for training and certification expenses.

“I am sympathetic to towns’ legitimate interest in protecting their investment after paying for the cost of police officer training,” Malloy said in his veto message. But Malloy, who Stamford’s mayor for 14 years, also said he’s “concerned that imposing a two-year limitation… may unduly constrain police officers’ professional mobility.”

He suggested lawmakers take another look at the issue next year. This was the eighth  bill vetoed by Malloy so far in 2014.

Connecticut’s legislature rarely overrides a governor’s veto. To do so requires two-thirds majorities in both the House and the Senate.

 

 

Malloy Vetoes Bill Banning Chocolate Milk in Schools

by Categorized: Education, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy Tagged: Date:

Gov. Dannel Malloy, saying he likes chocolate milk, announced today that he will veto legislation that would have inadvertently banned chocolate milk from Connecticut school cafeterias.

malloy meetings

“I love chocolate milk,” said Malloy, whose staff emphasized the point Thursday morning by tweeting a photo of the governor drinking some of the brown beverage. He said the added sodium content in chocolate milk wasn’t enough to warrant banning it from school cafeterias.

Nutritionists say chocolate milk bans result in some school kids giving up on any kind of milk with lunch, and that means they may be missing out on key nutrients.

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Tea Party Outlines Its Strategy

by Categorized: General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Gun control, Joe Visconti, John McKinney, tea party, Tom Foley Date:

Energized by Dave Brat’s surprising victory over House GOP leader Eric Cantor of Virginia on Tuesday, tea party activists in Connecticut have mapped out an electoral strategy that involves ousting Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and helping Republicans take control of the state Senate.

Working with members of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, the Quiet Corner Tea Party Patriots are also aiming to roll back Senate Bill 1160, the sweeping gun control legislation signed into law last year after the Newtown school shootings.

In addition to trying to overturn the law through the courts, the groups are pursuing an electoral strategy.

“Step one: beat Malloy,” Dale “Duffy” Dauphinais, chairman of the Quiet Corner Tea Party Patriots said in an email that was sent to members Wednesday.

Dauphinais said the GOP candidate will be sorted out by the Aug. 12 primary. “Foley is the favorite,” he said in the email, which was obtained by the Courant. “McKinney is despised for his leadership  and vote for and passage of SB 1160.”

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Taxpayer Tab for Fixing State Capitol Skylights: $800,000

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

The  State Capitol’s beautiful stained-glass skylights, which have been falling apart for years, are finally getting repaired at an estimated cost of $800,000.

capitol

“It’s a scary number,” admitted Eric Connery, facilities administrator for the office responsible for upkeep of the historic building.

The cost becomes more understandable when you consider the amount of work necessary to get these hundreds of glass panels fixed. The skylights sit five stories above the State Capitol’s lobby on either side of the building.

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Behind The Scenes At Capitol On Last Day: Sharkey, Williams, and Meyer

by Categorized: General Assembly Date:

Tensions between the leadership of the House and the Senate bubbled up again Wednesday afternoon during a speech honoring departing Senate President Don Williams.

Sen. Ed Meyer was speaking about Williams’ “judgement and integrity” and he offered the following anecdote. “You’ll recall a few weeks ago, our Senate leader introduced a controversial bill on GMO grass seed,” Meyer said.

williams-head

The bill, which would have banned grass seed produced with genetically modified organisms, cleared the Senate but suffered a lopsided defeat in the House.

“The House leader…appears to have counseled to vote against it and beat it. And kind of dissed us and dissed our Senate leader.” Meyer said.

Fast forward to Tuesday, when Meyer and other Senate Democrats were talking to Williams about what bills they would raise in the frenzied final days. The conversation centered on a property tax reform bill championed by House Speaker Brendan Sharkey.

Meyer said most members of the Senate circle believe Sharkey’s proposal is “bad policy and not the direction we should go in for our universities and hospitals.”

The discussion focused on whether Senate leaders should raise and kill Sharkey’s pet bill, just as they believe House leaders had done with Williams’ pet bill banning GMO grass.

But Williams would have none of it, Meyer said. “Our leader had the good judgement and integrity to say to us ‘that’s not the direction we’re going to go.”’

“That’s leadership,” Meyer added.

UPDATE: Sharkey’s reverse PILOT bill never passed in the Senate.

 

Car Breathalyzer Bill Wins Final Approval In House

by Categorized: General Assembly Date:

The House Wednesday gave final legislative approval to a measure that requires individuals found guilty of driving under the influence to install breathalyzers in their car, a switch that reduces drivers’ license suspension periods while expanding use of a “ignition interlock devices,” a technology that requires operators to pass a breathalyzer test before starting the vehicle.

The measure, which passed the senate yesterday, reduces the drivers’ license suspension period for DUI violations but imposes the new requirement as a condition for restoring the suspended license. Supporters say the new technology will make the roads safer by preventing DUI offenders from turning their car on if they are intoxicated. It’s a more constructive alternative to long license suspensions because it allows individuals to continue working, getting an education, and taking care of their families – but also ensures that they change their behavior, lawmakers said.

The bill cleared the House on a vote of 147-0, with four members absent. It now goes to the governor’s desk.

Under current law, the license suspension period ranges from 90 days to 3 years, depending on blood alcohol content and number of prior offenses. The new bill changes the suspension period to 45 days for all offenses, but the length of time for which the IID requirement would be in place would depend on previous offenses and BAC. Drunk driving prevention advocates have advocated for the change.

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What’s Left On Legislative Agenda With 12 Hours To Go?

by Categorized: General Assembly Date:

Twelve hours remain in the 2014 legislative session, and several bills await action in one chamber. Here are some items left on the agenda as the clock winds down.

1. Granting adopted children access to certain adoption records

2. Claim by Charla Nash, who was mauled by a chimpanzee in Stamford

3. Giving property owners greater say when a utility company proposes trimming and removing trees on their land

4. Sunday bow and arrow deer hunting on privately-owned land

5. The establishment of a Connecticut Port Authority

6. House Speaker Sharkey’s property tax reform measure that requires colleges and hospitals to pay property taxes on land if, when they purchase it, it is on municipal tax rolls

7. Juvenile sentencing bill giving prisoners serving lengthy sentences for serious crimes they committed in youth a chance at freedom

8. Crackdown on voyeurism offenders

9. New penalties for “revenge porn”, the online distribution of intimate images of someone, usually a former spouse or partner, in an attempt to embarrass or humiliate

10. Erin’s Law, a mandate that public schools teach children about the dangers of sexual abuse

11. A requirement that pharmacies to notify consumers, in plain language, about their medical privacy if they waive their rights to participate in store rewards programs

12. A measure that would requiring public high schools to teach labor history as part of curriculum

13. A three-year moratorium on fracking waste that requires DEEP to develop regulations

14. A measure to prohibit someone acquitted of murder by reason of insanity from receiving money through the victim’s estate or life insurance policy

15. A ban on intimidating immigrant workers

16. A measure to make the knockout game a class D felony

17. A bill requiring individuals found guilty of driving under the influence to install “ignition interlock devices” – car breathalyzers – in their vehicles. The technology forces drivers to pass a breathalyzer test before they can start their vehicle.

Bill Banning E-Cigarettes For Minors Clears House

by Categorized: General Assembly Date:

With the clock running on the 2014 legislative session, the House of Representatives gave final legislative approval to a bill banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.

The unanimous vote came just before midnight, as the House was racing through a flurry of bills in advance of adjournment at midnight Wednesday. The Senate approved the measure in late April.

The bill also cracks down on the sale of loose cigarettes and launches an education program for retailers who violate the state’s tobacco laws.

Supporters say the bill will result in lower rates of nicotine addiction for young people by cracking down on e-cigarettes, battery-powered devices that vaporizes liquid solutions, most of which contain varying levels of nicotine. The device, often shaped like a cigarette, heats a solution, creating a vapor that is inhaled.

Gov. Malloy proposed the bill and applauded lawmakers for approving it. “By prohibiting the sale of e-cigs and other vapor products to minors, we are preventing our youth from engaging in behaviors that may lead to addiction to nicotine, or use of other more conventional tobacco products,” Malloy said.

Meanwhile, on the federal level, the Food and Drug Administration plans to begin regulating electronic cigarettes for the first time, according to the Los Angeles Times. The agency will ban sales to minors and requiring manufacturers to put health warnings on the nicotine-delivering devices, just as they are currently required to do on tobacco products.

Some anti-smoking advocates, including Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut’s 5th District, are pressing for regulations barring e-cigarettes from advertising to children and adding flavors such as watermelon and bubble gum to their product.