Blumenthal Hails VA Compromise

by Categorized: Richard Blumenthal Date:

By MATTHEW Q. CLARIDA

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:

By MATTHEW Q. CLARIDA

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.

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.”

Visconti Says He Has More Than 7,000 Signatures

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:
Photo provided by Visconti campaign

Photo provided by Visconti campaign

Joe Visconti, a former Republican town council member in West Hartford who is now petitioning to get on the November gubernatorial ballot, said Sunday he has collected more than 7,500 signatures.

Viscont need to collect valid signatures from 7,500 registered voters in Connecticut by Aug. 6.

Visconti and his supporters say they have been criss-crossing the state with petitions in hand. This week, they intend to go to Naugatuck on Tuesday, Southington on Wednesday, Torrington on Thursday and Manchester next Sunday.

 

 

3 GOP Lt. Gov. Candidates In First Major TV Debate Sunday

by Categorized: 2014 Election Date:

The three Republican candidates for lieutenant governor faced off in their first major debate Sunday, touting their backgrounds and saying they are all pro-gun candidates who support the Second Amendment.

All three said their backgrounds in both the public and private sectors make them the best candidate for the second-highest ranking elected position in the state.

State Rep. Lisa Marie “Penny” Bacchiochi of Stafford Springs, former Groton mayor Heather Bond Somers and former U.S. comptroller general Dave Walker of Bridgeport sat side by side in a television studio at NBC 30 in a “mini-debate” that lasted about 15 minutes.

The aspirants are facing off in the August 12 Republican primary, and they all said they could serve with either Greenwich business executive Tom Foley or Senate minority leader John McKinney of Fairfield – who are running for governor in the same primary.

Host Gerry Brooks noted that none of the three are well-known statewide, which is expected to change with the TV broadcast Sunday and then another debate on August 3 on WFSB-TV, Channel 3 with longtime host Dennis House.

All three candidates received an “A” recently from the National Rifle Association on gun control, while McKinney received an “F” because he voted in favor of the gun control bill that was signed by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy after 28 people died in the tragic shootings in Newtown in December 2012.

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Questions on Connecticut Science Center Plan With $4 Million State Grant

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

Just five years after it opened, the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford is scheduled to get an additional $4 million state grant this week to launch an ambitious 10-year plan to expand and upgrade the center’s exhibits and facilities.

State officials said some of the center’s expansion plans include creating more educational lab space, transforming one portion of the existing building into a greenhouse and butterfly conservatory, and paying off debts relating to the center’s heating, cooling and ventilation systems.

Connecticut Science Center photo.

Connecticut Science Center photo.

The additional funding for the heating and cooling system drew questions from two Republican senators, L. Scott Frantz of Greenwich and Rob Kane of Watertown. They wrote to Gov. Dannel Malloy this week asking for more information about why money was needed for a heating and cooling system that was only five years old.

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Professor Lieberman

by Categorized: Education, Joe Lieberman Date:

Napolitano, Mueller Testify At Senate Homeland Security Committee HearingBY MATTHEW Q. CLARIDA

Former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman will teach a course this academic year at Yeshiva University in New York.

Lieberman has been appointed to an endowed teaching chair named for him, and will give three public lectures in addition to teaching one undergraduate course. The university said that the lectures will be on topics “ranging from Judaism to public service and the Middle East.”

Lieberman’s chair was endowed by a gift from two major supporters of the school, Ira and Ingeborg Rennert.

“I am very honored that Yeshiva University is establishing this Chair, deeply grateful that Ira and Ingeborg Rennert are making it possible, and personally surprised that YU and the Rennerts have asked me to be the first occupant of the chair,” Lieberman said in the press release. “I am excited about working with the students at YU to engage and inform their interest in public policy and public service.”

Lieberman spent 24 years representing the state in the U.S. Senate and served in the state Senate for 10 years and as the state attorney general for six years. He sought the vice presidency in 2000, running with Albert A. Gore, and lost after a controversial recount in Florida and a divided ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Murphy: Re-Authorize Export-Import Bank

by Categorized: Banks, Chris Murphy, Trade Date:

BY MATTHEW Q. CLARIDA

Sen. Chris Murphy toured a factory in Bristol on Friday and called on congressional colleagues to reauthorize the recently controversial Export-Import Bank.

Murphy, a Democrat, said that, if necessary, he will move for a temporary re-authorization of the bank, but that he prefers a long-term agreement in order to insure that the bank can make long-term deals and commitments. Some Republicans, particularly in the House, have challenged the bank’s purpose and appear poised to oppose re-authorization.

The Ex-Im bank provides financing to support international transactions involving American businesses. The bank has come under fire for its support of major corporations, such as Boeing Inc., which has received financing assistance to sell planes to foreign carriers, angering at least one American airline, Delta. But proponents of the bank point out that the majority of the bank’s transactions — though not necessarily the majority of its funds — involve small businesses.

In a press conference call before touring Bauer Inc., a Bristol company that manufactures aircraft parts, Murphy said that the Em-Im bank is good for Connecticut businesses.

“The benefit doesn’t just flow to GE and Sikorsky,” Murphy said. “Sikorsky has a network of hundreds of suppliers all throughout the state who benefit from that financing as well.”

While some have argued that economic theory does not support the mission of the Ex-Im bank — these people claim that the bank simply finances projects that the private sector would probably support otherwise — Murphy tried to give the issue more context.

“We need to live in the real world, and the real world involves all of our competitors offering similar types of financing and guarantees,” he said. “The reality is the advantage that the Ex-Im bank gives in providing relatively low rates of finance is necessary because the same advantage is available to our competitors.”

Penny Pritzker, the federal commerce secretary, was also on the call. She said that the Ex-Im bank gives small businesses a chance when the private sector may not.

“If I’m a small business dealing with a more local or regionalized bank, it’s very difficult for that loan office to get their arms around the credit risk that they’re taking,” she said. “[The Ex-Im bank] is a really critical piece of the financing chain.”