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Headlines from Courant.com

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    Sen. Edward Meyer, a key swing voter in the state Senate, voted against Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's tax package because it does not include any details about the ongoing union negotiations that are necessary for balancing the budget.

    Meyer, a fiscally conservative Democrat on the tax-writing finance committee, said he opposed the package Thursday because legislators are "virtually ignorant'' of key details on Malloy's plans for $2 billion over two years in savings and concessions from the unions.

    As a legislator in both New York State and Connecticut during his long career, Meyer said, "I have voted for tax increases in order to balance the budget, but not when I have had practically no idea of what will happen on the spending side.''

    "If we vote today for this historical package of new taxes,'' Meyer told his colleagues early Thursday afternoon before the committee vote, "we and our constituents will be continuing mistakenly to support, for example, longevity bonuses, payment out of the public pensions at age 50, lifetime health insurance for our public employees and their spouses when they have only eight or 10 years of state service'' and what he described as "boondoggle programs such as Riverview children's hospital.''

    Over the past 20 years, state spending has increased by 280 percent at the same time that inflation has risen by only about 90 percent, Meyer said.

    "This budget history now requires our focus on responsible spending before we entertain an historical package of tax increases, particularly when we see that those tax increases are not sunsetted,'' Meyer said.

    He added that the legislature is holding important committee votes Thursday before state officials have completely calculated all of the annual tax returns, which were not due this year until the later date of April 18.

    When asked about Meyer's hesitancy to vote for the tax package, state Sen. Edith Prague said, "He's in a very Republican district.''

    Prague, a liberal Democrat from Columbia, said she has no problems with Malloy's tax increases and the latest plan for imposing a luxury tax of 7 percent on expensive cars, yachts, and jewelry.

    "I'm fine with that,'' Prague said of the tax package. "I'll take what I can get'' on the luxury tax.

    "I think this is a great accomplishment for the budget and the legislature,'' Prague told Capitol Watch on Thursday. "No one is being desperately hurt. Pay a few more dollars in taxes? So be it. I don't see this as onerous at all.''

    But state Sen. L. Scott Frantz, a Greenwich Republican, said that Meyer's analysis was dead-on accurate.

    "I think Senator Meyer hit about 17 nails right on the head,'' Frantz told colleagues. "This [tax] end of the budget is out of teach with reality.''


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    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will be the featured guest on "The Real Story'' on Fox CT this weekend.

    Malloy was smiling broadly Wednesday when he announced a budget agreement with the Democratic-controlled legislature on both spending and taxes. The deal is designed to close the state's projected $3.5 billion deficit for the 2012 fiscal year that starts on July 1.

    In a separate segment, two of the top legislators - Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams of Brooklyn and Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield - will debate the budget deal that Democrats have praised and Republicans have decried.

    The program airs Sunday morning on Fox and is then repeated on Sunday night on the replay loop on the CT-N public affairs network.


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    Despite widespread complaints by Republicans, the Democratic-dominated finance committee Thursday approved Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's fiscal package that would increase the state's income, inheritance, corporation, gasoline, alcohol, cigar, and cigarette taxes.

    Minutes later, the budget-writing appropriations committee approved Malloy's spending package.

    The 32 to 20 vote on the tax package came mainly along party lines, but Senator Edward Meyer of Guilford and Rep. Charlie Stallworth of Bridgeport - both Democrats - voted against the package.

    Republicans complained bitterly about the Democratic-written proposal, but their amendments were rejected on party-line votes.

    The Republicans offered an amendment that included their entire no-tax-increase budget that they had unveiled earlier this week. They said it would provide a sharp contrast to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's overall $1.9 billion tax increase that covers a wide variety of items from taxes on individuals to hospitals.

    Republicans mocked several of Malloy's recent statements, including that "Connecticut is open for business'' and that there should be a "shared sacrifice'' to solve the state's projected $3.5 billion deficit. They said that the increases in corporate taxes by an additional $81 million over two years contradicts the idea that the state is open for business, and they said the middle-class would still be hit hard as part of the shared sacrifice.

    Republicans complained that the increase in the state's inheritance tax is retroactive to January 1, meaning that it would affect people who have already died. In addition, the state's "luxury tax'' of 7 percent on high-cost items is lower than Malloy originally proposed, but lawmakers said that an unintended consequence is that the tax would be imposed on a wedding gown of $1,000 or more. The luxury tax focus had mainly centered on high-end cars above $50,000, yachts above $100,000, and jewelry items above $1,000.

    Rep. Sean Williams, the ranking House Republican on the tax-writing finance committee, said there is a better way, adding that the Democratic budget would kill jobs during a sluggish economy that is still struggling to recover.

    Although he did not vote for Malloy in the November election, Williams told his colleagues during the committee meeting Thursday that he was excited by the change that was promised in January when Malloy took office. But he said that Republicans were written off and ignored during the budget process over the past two months.

    "We took him at his word and believed this would truly be a bipartisan effort,'' Williams said, adding that talks with the governor's office were simply perfunctory exercises. At the same time, he said, legislators "would see OPM staff come in with lots of file folders under their arms'' as they headed to important meetings with the Democratic co-chairs of the budget and tax committees.

    "This is a Democrat-only budget, a Democrat-only tax package,'' Williams said. "And that's a shame. ... There has been no real reaching out. ... The governor said publicly and privately that he didn't expect one Republican vote for the budget.''

    "Where is the sacrifice, folks? You know who is sacrificing? The middle class and the small business community,'' Williams said. "We haven't created one net new job since 1989. ... Everywhere I go, people ask me, 'What are you doing up there?' ''

    "We need to go back to the drawing board. We need to work together,'' Williams said. "The guy who makes $60,000 a year and has a mortgage and a kid in college. Does this help him? ... The bottom line is we have to create jobs and create opportunities in the state, and this doesn't do it.''

    But the committee's co-chairwoman, Sen. Eileen Daily of Westbrook, defended the Democratic package and criticized the Republican budget alternative that includes a proposal to eliminate the Chester-to-Hadlyme and Rocky Hill-to-Glastonbury seasonal ferries across the Connecticut River.

    "Since the Republican budget came out, my phone has been ringing off the hook because of the proposed cancellation of the ferries,'' said Daily, a Democrat.

    She noted that Malloy, after using the word "celebration'' on Wednesday, had said that it was the wrong word to describe the agreement, which is Senate Bill 1007.

    "I think we've put together a good package, a balanced package,'' Daily told her colleagues. "It is the shared sacrifice that the governor has been talking about.''

    Rep. Patricia Widlitz, the committee's co-chairwoman with Daily, also defended Malloy's budget by saying it is a carefully negotiated, balanced proposal that would put the state back on the correct fiscal track.

    "It certainly is a tough budget. It does raise taxes,'' Widlitz said. She referred to the Republicans' no-tax-increase budget as "a last-minute attempt to throw some numbers on the table.''

    The remarks by Daily and Widlitz were echoed by two Democratic senators, John Fonfara of Hartford and Gary LeBeau of East Hartford, who both supported the budget.

    When asked by Republican Rep. Richard A. Smith of New Fairfield to justify why the tax on gasoline will be going up by 3 cents per gallon, Daily responded, "We're in as bad a shape as we ever have been. We borrowed beyond any borrowing that we should have done. ... On three cents on gas, I'm sorry that anybody has to pay it. I'm sorry I have to pay it. ... Our money is going to good use. ... With this administration, we can be sure that our money is well-spent. ... I know it's difficult, and I know that some people will feel some pain.''

    Smith, a freshman lawmaker, said he did not understand the earned income tax credit that will be created for the first time in state history. Only citizens who receive the federal income tax credit can qualify, and the state credit would be 30 percent of the federal credit. Many of those receiving the credit earn about $20,000 per year, and a reduced credit - on a sliding scale - is available for those earning more than $40,000 per year.

    "They are working people. They have to submit federal tax forms,'' Daily responded. "They will receive a check.''

    Overall, the earned income tax credit would cost the state about $110 million per year. Nationwide, about 24 states have a state earned income tax that is in addition to the federal credit.

    "The governor said in his inaugural address, and I was there, that the state is open for business,'' Smith said. "I was applauding then.''

    Smith said he is no longer applauding because the state's corporation tax surcharge would increase under the tax package from 10 percent to 20 percent for the 2012 and 2013 tax years.

    "We can't say the state is open for business and then increase the corporate tax surcharge by 100 percent,'' said Sen. L. Scott Frantz, a Greenwich Republican who said that the governors of New York and New Jersey had done a better job in handling their budget crises than Malloy.

    "If we're speaking about being open for business, let's be open for small business,'' added Rep. John Shaban, a Redding attorney in his first year as a legislator.

    Both the finance and appropriations committees held key meetings on the budget package Thursday as legislators rushed to finish their work before the Good Friday and Easter holidays.

    The budget still must be approved by the full House of Representatives and the Senate before it goes to Malloy for his signature.


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    A bill that would have instituted new rules regarding the reselling of tickets to sporting and cultural events has been killed.

    Sen. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, and Reps. Joseph Taborsak, D-Danbury, and Rosa Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck, held a press conference this morning to announce they pulling the proposal. "In today's economic environment, we do not want to pass legislation [when] we are not sure of its full impact on the business community and also the rights of...consumers,'' Rebimbas said.

    The lawmakers said they will be looking for guidance from the state Department of Consumer Protection.

    In a letter to DCP Commissioner William Rubenstein, the lawmakers asked for a breakdown of complaints regarding ticket sales, ticket prices, venue behavior and practices, ticket broker behavior and practices and paperless ticket sales.

    The bill would have set new rules on ticket sales, allowing Connecticut consumers to trade, give away or resell tickets to concerts, games and other events. It would have guaranteed consumers the right to dispose of tickets as they see fit and prohibit those who operate entertainment venues from turning away people with resold tickets. 

    TicketNetwork, an online ticket exchange company, has filed a lawsuit accusing the Bushnell's president of slander for allegedly making disparaging remarks about the Vernon-based company during a legislative hearing on a bill that would set new rules on ticket sales. TicketNetwork alleges that David Fay, president of the Horace Bushnell Memorial Hall Corp. in Hartford, made several disparaging comments about the company and its chief executive, Donald Vaccaro, according to the lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Hartford.


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  • 04/25/11--14:43: Kudos to Keating
  • Courant Capitol Bureau Chief Chris Keating has been named Master Reporter by the New England Society of Newspaper Editors.

    "Chris joins a distinguished list of Courant reporters and columnists to receive the award, which recognizes an exceptional body of work over the course of a career," according to an email sent this afternoon by Courant news manager Andrew Julien 

    Keating came to The Courant in 1990 from the Greenwich Time. He started out in the town news trenches, working in the Enfield news bureau. He also did stints in the Middletown  bureau and on the business desk, but it has been in the Capitol pressroom where he truly has made his mark.

    The society will present the awards at a ceremony in Dedham, Mass. on May 5.  


     


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    In an attempt to capitalize on the huge explosion of Internet shopping, the state is taking its first steps into the controversial world of taxing online sales.

    A key legislative committee, with the support of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, has approved an "Amazon tax'' that is expected to generate a projected $9.4 million per year from Internet sales.

    If approved by the full House of Representatives and the Senate, the tax would be the first in Connecticut history on online sales. Amazon, the well-known online retailer, is still in court in New York State after that state became the first-in-the-nation to create such a tax in 2008.

    "I think the Amazon tax is an important stake in the ground,'' Malloy said Monday at the state Capitol. "We need to have a national conversation, and I'm more than happy to participate in that, about changing our policies with respect to sales tax. We have given a definitive advantage to certain types of retailers, and that is adversely impacting employment in a place like the state of Connecticut. I'm for leveling that playing field.''

    The Malloy administration, through its tax commissioner, Kevin B. Sullivan, had initially taken a cautious view about taxing Internet sales and asked the legislature to postpone any action this year. But the administration has since changed its position.

    "I've had a series of discussions that lead me to believe that we are going to see a much more robust national discussion, and if that's going to happen, then we should be at that table,'' Malloy said. "And this is an important step at being at that table. ... This is one area where most Republican governors and most Democratic governors actually agree that we've got to do something.''

    The Internet tax has a series of complications that have made some officials question the actual amount of money that could be raised in the first year. The legislature's nonpartisan fiscal office places the number at $9.4 million in a $19 billion budget - a small percentage to start in the same way that New York projected $50 million in a $122 billion budget when the tax was first adopted in 2008. 


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    Legislators on the appropriations committee went back and forth Tuesday on a bill seeking to clarify the high school dropout age in Connecticut.

    Even some school officials are unclear about the law, said state Rep. Andrew Fleischmann of West Hartford. Some think it is 16. Others think it is 17.

    "Current law is children have to stay in school until they're 18,'' Fleischmann told fellow committee members. "The bill before us would maintain the status quo. ... It is the governor's belief, which I share, that the best policy is to maintain current law.''

    But state Sen. Rob Kane, a Watertown Republican, said he has heard different explanations from local school officials.

    "It seems that I've gotten mixed messages from the individuals I've spoken to,'' Kane said.


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    Lawmakers spent about 20 minutes this afternoon discussing a controversial measure that would require businesses with 50 or more workers to offer paid sick days. The bill appeared to pass, although a final tally won't be known until the meeting is over because the committee chairs are holding the votes open.

    The issue of paid sick time has been debated several times over the past four years. The difference this year is Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's support of the concept.

    Supporters say its a public health issue and a matter of fairness. "People shouldn't be working when they're sick,'' state Sen. Edwin Gomes, a Democrat from Bridgeport, said. "I doubt if anyone in this room goes to work sick.''

    Gomes called opposition to the measure "mean-spirited" and said it sends a message that some people are not worthy of staying home when they are ill.

    But critics say the bill is a job-killer that would place an undo burden on the state's businesses. "Long before we went into this recession....Connecticut was already one of the most business unfriendly states in this country,'' state Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said. "Now in this economic time, we chose to do things time after time, over and over again, to make it more business unfriendly.''

     

     


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    A proposal to create the first-in-the-nation statewide gun registry cleared a key committee yesterday afternoon by a vote of 23 to 13.

    The legislature's judiciary committee endorsed the proposal this afternoon, put forth by Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, to create a gun-offenders registry modelled after a similar database of sex offenders.

    Several cities, including New York City, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., have established such requirements for gun offenders, but no state has done so.

    Just as those convicted of sex offenses must check in with local authorities, gun offenders would be required to register with local police. But unlike the sex-offender registry, the information on gun offenders would be accessible only to law enforcement officials.

    The records would be expunged after four years.

    During the debate this afternoon prior to the vote, one lawmaker expressed reservations about the financial burden of creating such a database on municipalities. 


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    Layoff notices could go out as soon as next week if negotiators cannot reach a deal with state employee unions to provide $1 billion in concessions and savings in each of the next two years.

    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told reporters that Friday, May 6, is an important date because it is exactly eight weeks from the start of the state's new fiscal year, which begins Friday, July 1. Union contracts require eight weeks' notice for the most senior employees before they can be laid off, and Malloy wants any savings from layoffs to begin at the start of the fiscal year.

    If the $1 billion in savings is not achieved, he said, he would bridge the resulting budget gap with spending cuts, not tax increases. Malloy said no additional taxes would be proposed beyond the $1.5 billion tax package approved last week by the tax-writing finance committee.

    "I think everybody needs to know that we are at the point where we have a budget where revenue is not going to go up on the tax side,'' Malloy told reporters Monday. "We need ultimately to get to the point where we have a budget that we can live within or we need to start making the kinds of tough decisions -- other tough decisions, all of these decisions are tough -- that will allow us to live within that budget.''

    Negotiators have gotten back to work after a lull for the Easter holiday weekend, but Malloy declined to provide details about the substance of the closed-door talks. He did say he is asking state legislators to vote on the state budget as soon as possible.

    When asked for an update on the union talks, Malloy said, "No smoke today.'' That was a reference to the Roman Catholic tradition of sending white smoke up the Sistine Chapel chimney in Rome to signify the election of a new Pope.

    Both the Malloy administration and the unions have abided by a confidentiality agreement they made to avoid any public discussion of the talks. House Speaker Christopher Donovan, a longtime union supporter, told Capitol Watch on Tuesday night that he did not know the details of the ongoing talks.

    "I'm not involved, and people think I would be involved,'' Donovan said in an interview. "When I run into [union] people, they don't tell me anything.''

    When asked if reaching $1 billion in savings from the unions is achievable, Donovan said, "I have no idea.''

    Some insiders said that the Malloy administration was pushing hard for a budget vote in the House of Representatives, even if it came this weekend.

    "I don't think so,'' Donovan said of a possible weekend vote. "There is no reason to do it that quick.''


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    State Republican chairman Chris Healy says that the state's plan to collect the sales tax for online transactions is "a stake in the heart of Connecticut's economy'' that will backfire.

    The highly controversial sales tax is being challenged in New York State by Amazon, the well-known retailer that has branched out from its original chief mission of selling books. Since the legality of the online sales tax remains unsettled, some legislators believe the state should avoid the issue until there is greater clarity.

    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the Democratic-controlled tax committee disagree, and they collaborated on an agreement on the so-called Amazon tax that is projected to generate $9.4 million in sales tax in each of the next two fiscal years. 

    "Governor Malloy doesn't grasp the meaning of the interstate commerce clause or the devastating effect another tax on the free flow of goods and services would have on Connecticut businesses," Healy said in a statement. "What is more disturbing is the Governor and Democrats believe the only way to close the budget gap is to tax everything that lives, breathes and moves."

    Malloy had told reporters on Monday at the state Capitol that the Amazon tax "is an important stake in the ground'' regarding taxation. His tax commissioner, former state Senator Kevin B. Sullivan, had originally urged the tax committee last month to be cautious about making any changes in online sales because of the uncertainty of its legality.

    But the committee's two co-chairs, Sen. Eileen Daily of Westbrook and Rep. Patricia Widlitz of Guilford, were strongly in favor of the Amazon tax.

    Healy predicted that Connecticut could lose hundreds of jobs due to the tax because some web sites employ subcontractors who are involved in processing and shipping goods that are purchased on the Internet.


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    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has reached an agreement with legislative leaders on a planned reorganization of the state's high education administration. Officials say the reorganization will streamline management and funnel more resources to programs that directly impact students.

    "In the end, it's the students who win - by flattening out administration costs and overhead, we can direct more money to our students and classroom instruction,'' Mark Ojakian, Deputy Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, who led the Malloy administration's negotiations with Rep. Roberta Willis, co-chair of the legislature's higher education committee. "In addition, this proposal will help make these schools more functional to those who attend them."

    The agreement calls for the creation of a Board of Regents to oversee the four Connecticut State University campuses, the community-technical colleges and Charter Oak.

    It also authorizes an advisory commission to the regents, which will be charged with devising a plan for higher education that will include the University of Connecticut.

     Under the plan, the community colleges, regional universities and Charter Oak will remain separate with distinct missions. 

    "My concerns from the beginning have been the need to maintain the distinctiveness and uniqueness of mission of the colleges, particularly the community colleges," Rep. Willis said in a statement. "They serve a critical and defined need in our communities, one that must be maintained even as we seek efficiencies and savings. I have been assured that these concerns will be met through this plan."

    At a public hearing last month, hundreds of people turned out to urge Malloy to preserve the automony of each individual campus.

     


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    School superintendents would be able to waive a requirement that substitute teachers have bachelor's degrees under a bill approved by the state Senate on Wednesday, the Courant's education writer, Grace Merritt, reports.

    The bill, which now heads to the House floor, would overturn legislation that took effect last July requiring subs to have at least a bachelor's degree.

    Read the complete story here.


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    In a victory for newspapers, a bill to allow municipalities to put all public notices on the Internet was killed Wednesday by a key legislative committee.

    The rejection was the third straight year for a bill that is highly important for newspapers. Collectively, the state's newspapers receive millions of dollars annually from public notices that are required to be published in a local newspaper. The money has become even more important as other types of advertising, such as classified, have been dropping in recent years.

    The legal notices cover a wide variety of governmental information, including details of the annual town budget and notification of town meetings and zoning applications.

    The dismissal by the Democratic-controlled Government Administration and Elections committee was done Wednesday without a formal vote, which is a common practice by committees under the legislative rules. The low-key dismissal was sharply different from a high profile, all-out campaign last year that featured full-page advertisements in newspapers around the state.

    "Don't Close The Door On The Public's Right To Know'' blared one of the advertisements that was placed in the Waterbury Republican-American.

    Another ad in The Hartford Courant stated, "The Government Can't Police Itself.''

    The low-key strategy was developed this year, insiders said, because Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had told newspaper publishers that he was against the bill.  That statement came from Malloy in February when he gathered top editors and publishers at the governor's mansion in Hartford's West End for a meeting about his proposed state budget. As such, the newspapers avoided the full-blown advertising campaign this year and instead worked behind the scenes to kill the bill.

    The difference is that Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell had not only favored the idea in 2010 but inserted the idea into a budget bill. But the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association argued then - and now - that fewer people would have the chance to read the public notices because they would be buried on government web sites. Citing U.S. Census Bureau figures, the newspapers argued that less than 10 percent of citizens actually read government web sites.

    The measure this year had been initially approved by the legislature's planning and development committee by a vote of 19 to 1. The committee's co-chairman is Sen. Steve Cassano, the former mayor of Manchester and a longtime supporter of municipalities.

    The bill has been pushed through the years by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities as a way to save money for cities and towns and as a way to avoid the cost of an unfunded mandate. New Britain, for example, would have saved thousands of dollars a year.

    All 169 cities and towns in Connecticut would have saved money if they were allowed to publish the legal notices exclusively on municipal web sites.


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    A veteran police officer was found dead this morning at a cemetery in Rocky Hill.

    Sources with ties to law enforcement said that the officer had been working overnight and did not respond to radio calls. The police department was initially unaware of his location, but he was later found dead at the Center Cemetery.

    News spread quickly within the law enforcement community, and a large number of police officers responded to the scene this morning.

    Lt. J. Paul Vance, a spokesman for the state police, said on a live television interview on Fox CT that the state police had been asked to assist in the case.

    "Right now, it's an untimely death,'' Vance said in the Fox studios in Hartford.


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    Ted Kennedy Jr. has been added to the line-up for Sunday's labor rally in Hartford's Bushnell Park.

    Other speakers include Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Senate President Don Williams, House Majority Leader Chris Donovan, former Secretary of the State and candidate for U.S. Senate Susan Bysiewicz and assorted labor leaders from various industries.

    "This is not a Democrat or Republican issue - it's a workers' rights issue. Workers and their families involved in any type of business are invited to attend," said Ed Reilly, president, Greater Hartford-New Britain Building & Construction Trades and business manager, Iron Workers Local 15, said in a press release touting the event.

    However, the list of speakers doesn't appear to include any prominent Republican elected officials.

    The gathering will be held from 1 to 3 p.m., rain or shine. "We are looking for all union members and their families throughout Connecticut to attend this important statewide rally on May 1st. In fact, we are inviting all employees in the public and private sectors to join us," said Charles LeConche, business manager, Connecticut Laborers' District Council, said in the news release. 

    "At the rally, we intend to send a very strong message to the public, media and industry leaders that workers' rights need to be preserved. However, the way trends are going now, we are seeing the decline of these rights and the disintegration of the American family."

     


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    The talker of the day at today's judiciary committee meeting was HB 5460, or the so-called captive audience bill.


    The measure, which has come up at the legislature before, would prohibit employers from forcing workers to attend workplace meetings relating to the employer's views on religious or political matters. Oregon passed similar legislation in 2009.

    The bill ultimately cleared the committee by a vote of 22 to 14 (it's already been approved by the labor committee.) But the vote came after more than an hour of often spirited debate.

    Committee vice-chairman Gary Holder-Winfield spoke in favor of the measure, calling it a "good bill." He and other backers say it would protect the rights of workers who might feel coerced into attending meetings they don't feel comfortable attending.







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    Former gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont was among the star-studded guests at a big-money fundraiser at the New Jersey home of former Gov. Jon Corzine.

    Politico reports that President Barack Obama attended the dinner, where guests paid more than $35,000 each to mingle with the leader of the United States. Similar to a fundraiser that was held at a $16 million mansion last September in Greenwich's upscale Conyers Farm development, the New Jersey dinner raised money for the Democratic National Committee and the Obama campaign.


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    State Sen. Andrew Roraback ripped the proposed New Britain to Hartford busway Friday morning before the measure was approved in a fast vote.

    Roraback said the $567 million project was a waste of money at a time when the state and federal governments are running up large deficits.

    A Litchfield County Republican, Roraback said the state could buy 28,350 new Jeep Patriots at $20,000 each with the money that was being spent on the 9.4-mile busway from downtown New Britain to Hartford's Union Station.

    After comments by Roraback and Republican state Rep. Sean Williams, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy immediately called for a vote. Neither Malloy nor any of the proponents for the busway made any comments before the vote.

    The measure passed by 7 to 3 on the 10-member commission.


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    A University of Connecticut chemistry professor was arrested after a comment at a jewelry store in South Windsor.

    The professor had been shopping and allegedly told a store employee that he was there to "rob the store,'' which prompted an employee to call police. The professor and a woman, whom he had been shopping with, were found by police nearby in a Barnes and Noble bookstore.


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