Monthly Archives: November 2011

State legislative districts approved; congressional map goes to court

The General Assembly’s bipartisan redistricting commission unanimously approved new districts Wednesday for the state House and Senate ahead of a midnight deadline, leaving an unfinished congressional map in the hands of the Connecticut Supreme Court. Attorney General George Jepsen will ask the court to grant the commission an extension to continue negotiations on congressional districts, the major piece of unfinished business. A second potential legal complication: a Latino group is threatening to challenge the state Senate districts. Meanwhile, House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, a commission member and a candidate for Congress, immediately announced his resignation from the panel, ceding his seat to House Majority Leader J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden. With the state House map approved, Donovan said he will withdraw to end complaints that his presence on the commission was a conflict of interest. Continue Reading →

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Fuel experts say gasoline consumers had it easy during recent storms

There was plenty of inconvenience, but no real threat of a fuel shortage in the days following both last October’s nor’easter and Tropical Storm Irene, industry experts told a state panel Wednesday. But if Connecticut were to face a major hurricane similar to the one that struck in 1938, emergency fuel supplies could be exhausted within a week or two. Irene, which hit the state on Aug. 27-28, and the Oct. 29 snowstorm that dumped over a foot on much of northern and central Connecticut, “were more of an inconvenience than a life-threatening situation,” Eugene Guilford, executive director of the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association, told Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Two Storm Panel. Continue Reading →

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Doctors wary of looming Medicare cut, or a short-term fix

John Foley has wanted to be a doctor since he was 6, and the Norwich cardiologist still considers the chance to take care of patients “the coolest thing on the planet.” But increasingly, Foley has found himself questioning the future of the field. Despite working longer days, his income is down 45 percent from 4½ years ago, and he’s seen fellow doctors give up independent practice to work for hospitals. “It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “I never envisioned, never dreamed in my life I’d be at 49 years of age sitting here talking to a reporter about whether medicine could be sustained.” Continue Reading →

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Redistricting: General Assembly is set, not Congress

Facing a midnight deadline, the bipartisan redistricting commission is set today to approve new districts for the state House and Senate, but the panel will ask the state Supreme Court for more time to draw a congressional map. Democratic and Republican negotiators tentatively agreed late Tuesday night on new lines for 36 Senate districts, while the 151 House districts have been set for days. But the two parties were not close at midday on a congressional map, with Republicans seeking major changes that would transform the 4th District into a GOP stronghold and improve the party’s chances in the 5th. Ten years ago, the commission members convinced the Supreme Court to grant an extension, but its members could tell the court in good faith that substantial progress was being made. In 2001, the state had a six-member U.S. House delegation, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans united on one point: no one wanted to risk leaving a new congressional map to an unpredictable court. Continue Reading →

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Wheelchair-accessible cabs to be deployed, but advocates still fighting

They’re big (5,200 pounds), bright (yellow or orange-striped) and, in the coming weeks, will be navigating the streets of Connecticut. The new wheelchair-accessible cabs that are expected to soon be on the roads in the Hartford and New Haven areas will dramatically increase the on-demand transportation options for people who use wheelchairs. Metro Taxi President Bill Scalzi with an MV-1
But advocates for those with disabilities, who have praised the two cab companies that will operate the accessible cabs, say there’s still a problem, the result of two rulings by the state Department of Transportation that denied the companies additional permits to expand their fleets. “Given the demand that’s going to be generated, I don’t think the current vehicle numbers are going to be adequate,” said Michelle M. Duprey, director of New Haven’s Department of Services for Persons with Disabilities. “This is a pretty large community that has not been served at all.” Continue Reading →

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Redistricting creates two open House districts

The state House redistricting map is out. Some obvious winners and losers are in Hartford, Windsor and Milford. The map creates two open seats: One that straddles the Hartford-Windsor line; the other is in Milford. One reasonable interpretation: Rep. Marie Kirkley-Bey, D-Hartford, whose district now shifts sharply toward Windsor, is about to retire. The same is true of Rep. Richard Roy, D-Milford, who finds himself in the same district with Rep. Paul Davis. Continue Reading →

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Northeast contains highest percentage of elderly in the U.S.

The Northeast represents the region with the highest percentage of its population aged 65 and older at 14.1 percent, according to new 2010 U.S. Census data released Wednesday. Connecticut also makes the top five states possessing the largest percent of the total population aged 85 and older. The Northeast’s elderly population is the highest percentage for any regional population in the country, although the Northeast has the smallest number of people living 65 and older. The large percentage of elderly reflects the region’s rapidly aging popluation. The South contained the largest total number of elderly, followed by the Midwest, West and Northeast. Continue Reading →

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Advocates ask HHS to intervene in exchange board composition

A small business owner and critic of the state’s health insurance exchange board has asked a top federal health official to intervene and urge Connecticut leaders to change the board’s composition. Continue Reading →

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We lose boasting rights in this (green) category

Thanks to Talking Points Memo’s IdeaLab for pointing us to NPR.org, which has done a cool map tracking how various parts of the country rate in terms of buying hybrid and electric vehicles http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/11/where-do-hybrid-electric-cars-sell-best.php.  
The San Francisco area (wow, who would have imagined?) that beats out all others in this category: 8.4 percent of all cars sold are green vehicles, and the top 10 markets in the country are on the West Coast, too. http://www.npr.org/2011/11/22/142476940/map-hybrid-and-electric-sales-across-the-country
 
Continue Reading →

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We lose boasting rights in this (green) category

Thanks to Talking Points Memo’s IdeaLab for pointing us to NPR.org, which has done a cool map tracking how various parts of the country rate in terms of buying hybrid and electric vehicles http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/11/where-do-hybrid-electric-cars-sell-best.php.  
The San Francisco area (wow, who would have imagined?) that beats out all others in this category: 8.4 percent of all cars sold are green vehicles, and the top 10 markets in the country are on the West Coast, too. http://www.npr.org/2011/11/22/142476940/map-hybrid-and-electric-sales-across-the-country
 
Continue Reading →

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Thinking About Job Creation? Look Close to Home

We are delighted that the Connecticut legislature and Governor Malloy have approved a $1.1 billion jobs bill that will foster economic growth and job creation. We are especially pleased that the jobs bill focuses on small businesses, and includes money for loans and tax credits for new hires and job training. While for many, however, “small business” invokes images of local retailers, we want to emphasize the importance of investing in one of our society’s most undervalued and invisible small businesses – family child care. Investing in family child care providers is critical in these times of economic crisis, not just because family child care providers care for the majority of our most vulnerable infants and toddlers, but because investing in them has the potential to boost the state economy. A recent study conducted by the University of Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis confirms that for every $1 spent on All Our Kin’s New Haven-based family child care training program, there is a $15-$20 return to the New Haven region in terms of gross regional product (GRP). Continue Reading →

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Budget chief calls for legislature to tackle cash-starved pension system

Now that state legislators have closed the largest budget deficit in Connecticut history, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration has a new challenge: Fix a state employee pension system on a collision course with fiscal collapse in about two decades. Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, Malloy’s budget chief, presented the challenge Tuesday to the legislature’s Appropriations and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees during OPM’s annual budget briefing. And though he didn’t propose a specific timetable to meet the challenge, it could ultimately add hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to the annual state budget. “There is enormous work left to be done with respect to the fiscal condition of the state of Connecticut,” Barnes told lawmakers as part of his office’s Fiscal Accountability Report, an annual briefing on short- and long-term budget issues. “State government is leaner and more efficient” as a result of the $1.6 billion concessions deal ratified in August with state employee unions, as well as other spending cuts, agency mergers and efficiencies ordered in the $20.14 billion budget adopted in June, Barnes said. Continue Reading →

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Fiscal analysts leave large question mark over small budget surplus

Three months after the largest state budget deficit in Connecticut history was resolved, the budget remains modestly in the black — for now. But budget analysts both for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the General Assembly put a big asterisk next to surplus figures Tuesday, warning that could change quickly — for better or for worse — as delayed state income tax receipts pour in over the next few months. And the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis also told lawmakers that it remains unable to assess key components of the single-largest package of spending cuts used to balance the current budget, the $1.6 billion employee concessions deal negotiated by Malloy and state unions. “I wouldn’t say we have a real positive outlook on revenue,” Alan Calandro, OFA director, told the Appropriations and Finance, Revenue & Bonding committees during a joint informational meeting, adding quickly that his office hasn’t formed any major negative assumptions about government’s finances either. “We’re doing a lot of waiting and seeing.” Continue Reading →

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NU creates a $30 million fund for customers hit hardest by storm

Northeast Utilities today announced $30 million in rebates for the 230,000 customers left in the dark for at least a week after the Oct. 29 snowstorm, triple the original offer made three weeks ago to cope with the public-relations disaster. At the suggestion of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the rebate program will be overseen by Kenneth R. Feinberg, the lawyer who administered the victim compensation funds established after the 9-11 attacks and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Eligible customers who file claims by Jan. 31 will receive a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $200, depending on how many claims are filed. Continue Reading →

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