CONNECTICUT

Coverage of Connecticut from New England Public Radio, NPR, and other NPR stations.

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo's office today announced that he will step down due to health reasons.

Lembo's resignation will take effect at the end of the month. His office says he "a serious and debilitating cardiac condition that has recently been worsening in intensity and severity."

In a statement, the office says doctors recommended that Lembo stop working. Lembo expressed appreciation for voters who "took a chance on a gay, vegetarian nerd that had never run for office in his life."

He has three children with his spouse Charles Frey.

Brandon Rodriguez is getting ready for his fourth-period Black and Latino history class. Rodriguez, a high school senior, says he signed up for the course to learn more about his ancestry.

“My parents were born in Ecuador, but I was born here,” Rodriguez said. “But it’s nice to learn a little bit more about your Hispanic side and the impacts or benefits they’ve done in this country.”

The state has collected about $1.7-million during the first three weeks of a major expansion of gambling in Connecticut.

The money was the state's share of online casino games and sports betting.

Casino games generated $1.2-million for the state. The remaining $500,000 came from sports betting.

The money was generated between the start of the state's 'soft launch' of expanding betting on October 12, and October 31.

Women in Connecticut have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, according to a report released by Girls With Impact, a non-profit providing women's educational support services.

The report found that the hardest hit jobs were in professions where women made up a majority of workers including education, healthcare and the food industries.

Despite COVID uptick, Lamont administration resisting mask mandate

Dec 1, 2021

Despite an uptick in COVID-19 cases post-Thanksgiving and news of a new variant, Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration said Tuesday it has no immediate plans to revive an indoor mask mandate or other coronavirus-related requirements that were common during the first year of the pandemic.

“At this stage, it is still something that is up to the individual cities and towns,” said Max Reiss, a spokesman for Lamont. “Right now, I don’t think there’s anything on the horizon on a statewide basis.”

Helen Bradshaw, who lives in Hartford’s Blue Hills neighborhood, says that when the remnants of Hurricane Ida arrived in Connecticut in September, her home of 40 years and two cars in her driveway were flooded.

“I had to do a lot of sanitizing, and I’m still working on cleaning stuff up,” Bradshaw said.

Now officials in Hartford have a new fund set up to help Bradshaw and about 50 others. On Monday, Mayor Luke Bronin introduced a $500,000 program for city residents who suffered property damage from three big storms that hit Connecticut in late summer.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont is warning residents not to be complacent during the holiday season, because the state’s COVID-19 infection rate is on the rise.

Even though the state has the highest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the country with 84% of residents 18 and older fully vaccinated, the infection rate is inching up, he said. And surrounding states are experiencing even higher rates of infection.

Morning traffic on the Mass Pike.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

There's been another major setback for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker's climate and energy plans.

Connecticut parole board grants first commutation in two years

Nov 19, 2021

The Board of Pardons and Paroles granted its first commutation in two years on Friday morning, creating a path to freedom for a man who has spent three decades in prison for murder and assault.

Connecticut health officials urged state residents to get a COVID-19 booster shot ahead of the upcoming holiday season.

Governor Ned Lamont said COVID-19 cases are on the rise in surrounding states, and that’s why Connecticut residents who had their vaccine shots more than six months ago should get a booster now.

Should nursing homes be told how to spend public funds? Some say yes

Nov 16, 2021

Last winter, as the coronavirus was still tearing through Connecticut’s nursing homes, lawmakers introduced a raft of legislation aimed at making the facilities safer.

Alex Jones liable for defamation in Sandy Hook 'hoax' case

Nov 15, 2021

A Connecticut judge has found Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones liable for damages in lawsuits brought by parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

The parents of several children sued Jones over his claims that the massacre was a hoax. Judge Barbara Bellis took the rare step Monday of defaulting Jones in the defamation lawsuits for his and his companies for failing to turn over documents to the parents' lawyers.

Gun violence prevention advocates in Connecticut want a state advisory panel to recommend more state help for gun violence victims of color. They cited a recent survey that found that two thirds of victims of color in the state do not get state help.

Hartford resident Aswad Thomas said he had a promising professional basketball career ahead of him in 2009 when he was shot twice in front of a convenience store near his home.

“Those bullets had ended my basketball career and nearly my life,” Thomas said.

Thomas Kania is the grandson of Polish immigrants, people who he says came to the United States for opportunity. Now Kania, a real estate investor, says it’s their experience that has motivated him to help others looking for a bit of opportunity of their own -- newly arrived Afghan refugees.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont is running for re-election. He said he kept his plans ambiguous before filing paperwork this week.

He expects to be the Democratic Party nominee for governor next year because he believes he’s made a difference in the three years he’s served as governor.

Congress passed a $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill last week, and, on Monday, members of Connecticut’s federal legislative delegation called its investments in local transit “transformational.”

“The rail lines are going to be back open and operating,” U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said at Hartford’s Union Station. “The highways are going to be unclogged.”

Conn. legislators consider permanent virtual school as interest grows

Nov 8, 2021

Connecticut legislators recently went on a field trip to a Massachusetts classroom that had no students.

They walked into a physical school building, up a set of stairs, and into an open space filled with cubicles. In those cubicles? Teachers who were conducting live virtual classes.

Superintendent Patrick Lattuca was the tour guide. He said anything that a brick-and-mortar school has, the virtual school has, too.

Eversource electric customers are likely to see a portion of their energy bills increase this winter.

On an earnings call Wednesday, Eversource Executive Vice President and CFO Phil Lembo said customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut could face a retail electric price hike starting Jan. 1 due rising prices at natural gas power plants, which produce power on cold winter days.

Charts: 5 things to know about juvenile crime in Connecticut

Nov 2, 2021

A pandemic bump in auto thefts and some other crimes is fueling a heated debate about how Connecticut handles juvenile offenders.

Critics say children who break the law get too many chances. But reform advocates say the state should increase services for troubled kids and keep more out of the criminal justice system.

In the series Juveniles, Joyrides & Justice, Connecticut Public’s investigative reporting team explored how the pandemic affected crime and punishment for Connecticut youth.

While massive federal aid has helped states elevate their budget reserves above pre-pandemic levels, Connecticut’s fiscal safety net has few rivals, according to a new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

State Rep. Michael DiMassa, D-West Haven, resigned his seat in the Connecticut General Assembly on Monday following charges that he allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funding that was meant to help the city of West Haven recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 100 Hartford HealthCare employees out of work after refusing vaccine

Oct 22, 2021

Just over 100 Hartford HealthCare employees — representing 0.3% of the health system’s workforce — have left the organization as of Thursday after refusing to get vaccinated for COVID-19, according to Dr. Ajay Kumar, Chief Clinical Officer.

“We don’t even use the term ‘termination,’” Kumar said. “The individual decided to choose a different path in their career. … We’re very respectful of people’s choices.”

As Connecticut’s coffers swell, calls for tax relief grow louder

Oct 22, 2021

Connecticut continues to pile up huge state budget surpluses and reduce debt, despite an economy not fully recovered from the coronavirus.

But even as government coffers swell, most of Connecticut’s COVID-19 response has been paid for with federal aid, prompting some political leaders to question Gov. Ned Lamont’s approach with a new state election year, less than three months away.

State lawmakers in Connecticut fight it out over crime bills

Oct 21, 2021
The Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut.
Photo Phiend / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/photophiend

In a state with one of the lowest crime rates in the country, Republican leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly are making a major issue of crime a year before the next General Assembly elections. Democrats, who outnumber Republicans by nearly two to one in the Assembly, accuse the GOP of misrepresenting crime data and trying to scare voters.

President Joe Biden plans to visit UConn on Friday for the dedication of a human rights center named after former U.S. Senators Thomas and Christopher Dodd.

The Dodd Center for Human Rights serves as an umbrella home for the school’s human rights programs.

It had been known as The Thomas J. Dodd Research Center since its opening in 1995 and was named for the late senator who also was a lead prosecutor for the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

Claiming that crime is escalating in Connecticut, state Senate Republicans today proposed making it easier to move some young people accused of breaking the law from juvenile court to adult court.

Underage defendants face more serious penalties if their cases are transferred to adult court. Republicans want more crimes to qualify for automatic transfers, including cases involving serious repeat juvenile offenders.

Workers to launch strike against major group home operator

Oct 12, 2021

About 185 members of the state’s largest health care workers’ union were scheduled to hit the picket lines early Tuesday morning as negotiations stalled with a major chain serving disabled people.

Employees at 28 group homes and day programs run by Sunrise Northeast, who’ve been working under a contract that expired in March, ordered the work stoppage after the union and management failed to make sufficient progress in negotiations on a new deal, said Rob Baril, president of SEIU District 1199 New England.

Connecticut state employee COVID-19 testing-or-vaccination compliance is 96%

Oct 6, 2021

With 96% of executive branch employees complying with a COVID-19 vaccination-or-testing mandate, Gov. Ned Lamont opted Tuesday against immediately suspending non-compliant employees.

The overall compliance rate and the prospect that many of the non-compliant are being tardy and not willfully defiant is sparing the governor from the difficult choice of sending workers home from short-staffed critical functions.

“I’m really happy that the folks are stepping up, doing the right thing, getting vaccinated and getting back to work safely,” Lamont said.

COURTESY OF PIXABAY

Connecticut utility customers will get an average of $35 refunded on their bills from Eversource in December and January. It’s part of a $100 million agreement with the state to atone for the company’s flawed response to Tropical Storm Isaias.

Sports Betting Set For Connecticut Debut

Sep 30, 2021

Connecticut residents can bet on sporting events beginning Thursday, but they will have to do it in person and at one of two places: Foxwoods Resort Casino or Mohegan Sun.

“Today we celebrate a new era for our Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, sports fans, Foxwoods guests and Connecticut residents,” said Rodney Butler, chairman of the tribal nation, which runs Foxwoods. “With [the] NFL season in full force, it’s game on, and we look forward to a successful launch.”

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