Monthly Archives: April 2012

Your Medical Records: New CT Laws Take Away Patient Control & Privacy

If you value your privacy and want to keep control over your medical records, tell your legislators to restore the original RAISED SENATE BILL 368 (Feb. 12) that gave Connecticut residents almost complete control over their electronic medical records. What made Bill 368 so beneficial to residents was the “Opt-in” consent policy in The Health Information Technology Exchange of CT, HITE-CT, that allowed patients to choose what information would be shared, to whom it would be sent and for what purposes it would be used (except emergencies). Unfortunately, the original bill has been modified to no longer give patients this type of control. Instead, the HITE-CT currently has an “Opt-out” consent policy that allows medical providers, hospitals and government agencies, such as the state Department of Public Health, to exchange patient information for many purposes without patient consent. Continue Reading →

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Bringing Respect Back to Teaching

Some students in public schools enter the classroom not completely understanding the importance of being there. I can relate. I attended Batchelder Elementary School in Hartford, where I was not challenged academically. Expectations were low, and so was my motivation. Teachers have a huge responsibility; it is a profession that affects the lives of others, specifically children. Continue Reading →

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Who Will Stand for Children on Education Reform?

During Gov. Dannel Malloy’s education reform town hall meeting in New Haven on March 13, one student braved to ask, before a hostile crowd, “Who will speak for me?” Now, almost two months later, we still don’t have an answer to that question. With just over one week remaining in the legislative component of “The Year for Education Reform,” we still seek leadership courageous enough to stand up and speak for our students. We are still looking for leaders who will give voice to the children we, as a state, are responsible for providing with a high-quality public education. For months now, folks have spoken loudly in support of the adults in the room. Continue Reading →

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Fix Remedial Education System

In 100 years of fighting poverty, the Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS) has seen again and again that a good education throughout one’s life is critical to family economic success. CAHS produces research to drive advocacy and draws attention to the “developmental achievement gap,”  in which thousands of students now graduate from high school without the skills to succeed in college or compete in the job market. Some 60 percent of high-school graduates entering community colleges need remedial education, and most of those fail to graduate or gain a degree. Inside Higher Ed reports that “Students typically pay tuition for remedial courses that do not come with credit. Even worse, only one in four students in remedial classes will eventually earn a degree from a community college or transfer to a four-year college.” Continue Reading →

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House approves same-day voter registration

A bill that would allow election-day voter registration won legislative approval Monday night after a long and partisan House debate. “Once you’ve proven you are who you are, then you can go vote,” Rep. Russell Morin, D-Wethersfield, and co-chairman of the legislature’s elections committee, said summarizing the bill during a five-hour debate. The final vote was 83-59, with nine Democrats voting with the Republicans in opposition. One Repbublican, Livvy Floren of Greenwich, voted in favor. The bill now heads to the state Senate with the support of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Continue Reading →

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Malloy would use state’s credit card payments to cover operating deficit

Despite vowing during the campaign not to use the state’s credit card to cover its operating costs, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced late Monday he would divert more than $220 million dedicated last year to pay off debt to close a growing deficit in the current budget. And a new report showing plunging tax revenues opened a huge projected deficit in Malloy’s budget plan for next fiscal year, jeopardizing new initiatives for school districts and nonprofit social services that the governor unveiled just three months ago. That’s because fiscal analysts for the executive and legislative branches agreed Monday to downgrade revenue expectations by nearly $150 million this fiscal year, $234 million in the year that begins July 1 and by more than $310 million in 2013-14. The latter drop is huge, given that Malloy’s own numbers back in February showed his new budget plan headed for a $424 million deficit in 2013-14. If the true gap in the Democratic governor’s proposal tops $700 million 14 months from now, Republican legislative leaders warned Monday that another state tax debate is on tap for next spring. Continue Reading →

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With GOP 5th CD field, the attacks come post-debate

Torrington — The five Republicans vying for Connecticut’s only open congressional seat closed ranks around tax policy and the viability of the GOP brand in a debate Monday, saving their harshest comments for the post-debate spin. No one offered a criticism of any candidate in the room during the debate, and the only notable controversy of the campaign — the role of a disgraced former governor, John G. Rowland — went without mention. Instead, the five candidates for the Republican nomination in the 5th Congressional District, the only district strongly carried by the GOP in the 2010 governor’s race, focused on personal biography and electability during a 90-minute exchange at Torrington City Hall. From left: Andrew Roraback, Justin Bernier, Lisa Wilson-Foley, Mike Clark, Mark Greenberg
Voters shopping for a candidate most likely would have left relying on their sense of who the candidates were, not what issues divided them. The exception was abortion. Continue Reading →

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Union tries to rally support for study on state-run retirement savings plan

One of Connecticut’s largest public employee unions is trying to rally support in the waning days of the General Assembly session for a study of whether state government should offer a retirement plan to private citizens. But one of the key lawmakers behind the proposal conceded late last week that the chances of passage this year are poor with the legislature scheduled to adjourn in less than two weeks. “I think it’s very slim it is going to happen this year, but it is still a very good idea,” Sen. Edith G. Prague, D-Columbia, co-chairwoman of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, said Thursday. But if the bills should die this year, the concept likely won’t go away, Prague added. “So many folks are struggling to get by with just their Social Security,” she said. Continue Reading →

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Looks like an onion skin, but it could be electricity

Sergio Squatrito knows all about food waste. At Carla’s Pasta, his family’s company in South Windsor, in addition to an array of easy-to-prepare pasta and other Italian specialties, the company produces 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of food waste a day. “We’ve tried four different ways of getting rid of our food scraps and all of them have failed,” said Squatrito, who is vice president of operations. “I have nothing against the waste companies handling our trash, but there’s got to be a different mousetrap.” That’s pretty much Connecticut’s thinking, too. Continue Reading →

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Your child’s school and the use of physical restraints and seclusion…

As legislators consider a bill that would require school officials to report and justify every time they physically restrain a student or place a child in seclusion, the U.S. Department of Education has some interesting data on the prevalence of these practices district-by-district and school-by-school. With 904 incidents in 2009, Waterbury puts more students into seclusion than any other district. The Capitol Region Education Council physically restrains more students than any district, with 2,313 reported incidents in 2009. Under the bill, when the student involved in the incident is a special education student, officials will need to report if the method used falls in line with his education plan. The U.S. DOE also break downs the prevelance of suspensions and expulsions district-by-district and school-by-school. Continue Reading →

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Nanny state, or common sense?

On the “go list” of items cleared for action today by the state House of Representatives are things on some folks’ weekend to-do list. Are they further evidence of a “nanny state,” or overdue safety measures that you may have thought were already on the books? Been meaning to install a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector? If H.B. 5394 becomes law, those inexpensive, potential lifesavers will go from the realm of a good idea to a requirement of state law. Current law requires smoke detectors only in one-family dwellings issued new occupancy permits since Oct. Continue Reading →

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If it’s an election year, then S.B.1 is about jobs

On a bipartisan vote, the state Senate approved a highly promoted economic-development bill Friday, legislation designated by the Democratic majority leadership as Senate Bill 1 to signal job creation as a political priority in 2012. But action on the bill comes as the Senate wrestles with whether to pass or ignore the off-message priority of House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden: a bill raising the $8.25 minimum wage to the applause of labor and distress of business. Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, said Donovan’s original bill calling for a 75-cent increase this summer and again next July could not pass the Senate. Senators in front of a made-for-TV backdrop. He said he wouldn’t have a hard vote count until early next week on the compromise passed Thursday by the House: a 25-cent increase in each of the next two years, starting Jan. Continue Reading →

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Education reforms turn on politics, policy and labor law

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Senate Democrats remained at odds Friday over the union rights of teachers in the troubled schools that are at the heart of Malloy’s education reforms, with legislators questioning if some of the proposed reforms run afoul of labor laws. Malloy said he supports a continued role for unions at the troubled schools, but he sees conventional arbitration rights as a time-consuming impediment. Senate Democratic leaders said they are unsure if the administration can legally force teachers to give up arbitration rights or even reopen existing contracts. “Quite frankly, there is a threshold question that we need to have answered as to whether you can force the reopening of a contract,” said Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn. Senate leaders Martin Looney, Donald E. Williams Jr.
How can the question be resolved? “We’ve asked the administration for legal support to the idea that you could just willy-nilly open a union contract without their consent,” Williams said. Continue Reading →

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Proposed aid for left-leaning center sparks bond dispute

A proposal to give more than $300,000 in state assistance to a New Haven community center with ties to the Communist Party was pulled abruptly off the State Bond Commission agenda Friday. And while Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, whose budget office sets the agenda, insisted the item was tabled only because the New Haven People’s Center wasn’t ready to use the funds, a key Republican on the commission called the proposal an inappropriate use of state funds and charged the administration with conducting sloppy research. “An organization like this should never have made it onto the bond commission agenda,” Rep. Sean J. Williams of Watertown, one of two Republicans on the 10-member bond panel, said after Friday’s meeting. “The responsibility of the governor and his budget office is to vet this stuff.” Williams was referring to a proposal to give a $343,500 grant to the Progressive Education and Research Associates, a nonprofit entity that runs the New Haven center. Continue Reading →

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