Category Archives: General Assembly

Partisan Clash Over Easing Connecticut’s Voting Rules

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Connecticut, Democrats, General Assembly, Republicans, Uncategorized Tagged: , , , Date:

How and when people should be allowed to vote has become a highly partisan issue around the United States in recent years, and Connecticut’s turn is now arriving smack in the middle of a heated political campaign season.

Democratic and Republican state lawmakers squared off Wednesday at a legislative meeting over the seemingly innocuous issue of how to explain to voters a proposed state constitutional amendment that’s on the ballot this November.

Photo courtesy of Connecticut State Government.

Photo courtesy of Connecticut State Government.

The real debate wasn’t about the wording, but about the proposed amendment that would remove current restrictions on the General Assembly’s ability to allow things like early voting or “no excuse” absentee ballots. Republicans insist the change could lead to more voter fraud, but Democrats say all they want to do is to make it easier for people to vote.

Connecticut’s constitution doesn’t allow early voting systems like those now used in 33 other states, such as opening the polls on the Saturday before an election. At least 27 states permit registered voters to use “no excuse” absentee ballots – but Connecticut will only allow an absentee ballot if someone is too sick or is out of state at the time of that Election Day.

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45th Anniversary Of Expansion of Legislative Powers

by Categorized: General Assembly, John McKinney Date:

It was 45 years ago this summer when the Connecticut legislature made a bold move at the time and established a special management committee that allowed for the creation of the modern legislature.

The move, adopted in the summer of 1969, allowed for the establishment of separate policy and fiscal staffs. Through the years, those have grown into the highly influential Office of Fiscal Analysis and Office of Legislative Research that have permanent, year-round staff members – unlike 45 years ago.

The leaders who made it happen included two future members of the U.S. Congress – state House Speaker William R. Ratchford of Danbury and then-House Minority Leader Stewart McKinney of Fairfield.

While lawmakers today take it for granted that the fiscal and policy offices have allowed the legislature to have equal power, the legislators in 1969 needed to override a veto by Governor John Dempsey to create the Office of the Joint Committee on Legislative Management. That office is now led by a $165,000-per-year executive director with a staff that functions as the administrative arm of the legislature. Continue reading

Courant Endorses David Walker of Bridgeport For Lt. Governor

by Categorized: 2014 Election, General Assembly, John McKinney, Republicans, Tom Foley Date:

The Hartford Courant has endorsed for U.S. Comptroller General David Walker of Bridgeport in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor.

The editorial states, “If you harbor the suspicion that state government could run more efficiently and less expensively, you might want to call in a no-nonsense accountant with a green eyeshade to poke around the bureaucratic labyrinth. Someone like David Walker.

“Mr. Walker is one of three candidates, along with former Groton Mayor Heather Bond Somers and state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, vying for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in the Aug. 12 primary. We believe Mr. Walker’s credentials best match the state’s needs, and endorse him in the primary.”

The newspaper also endorsed Walker’s running mate, Senate minority leader John McKinney of Fairfield, for governor in the primary against Greenwich business executive Tom Foley. Continue reading

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dodd Likes Pelto, But Supports Malloy In Tight Race For Governor This Fall

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Chris Dodd, Congress, Connecticut, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Jonathan Pelto Date:

Former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd goes way back with fellow eastern Connecticut Democrat Jonathan Pelto.

When asked if he has known Pelto for about 30 years, Dodd responds, “Actually longer than that.”

The relationship goes all the way back to the mid-1970s before Dodd became a prominent member of the U.S. Senate and a national political figure as general chairman of the Democratic National Committee under President Bill Clinton.

“Jonathan was about 12 or 13 years old when I was a freshman member of the House when I received a paper from a young man in Storrs, Connecticut on energy policy,” Dodd told Capitol Watch recently in an interview. “I put it in the Congressional Record. The author was Jonathan Pelto.”

Fast forward to 2014 and Pelto is now gathering signatures in an attempt to get on the ballot in the race for governor. Despite his long relationship with Pelto, Dodd says he will be voting for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“I have great admiration for Dan Malloy,” Dodd said. “He’s not a back-slapper. He’s not a glad-hander. I don’t need someone to make me feel good with rhetoric. He’s trying to get our state in a good, strong place. I’d rather have a leader like than than someone who makes me feel good. I like Jonathan, but I’m a Dan Malloy guy.”

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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