CONNECTICUT

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

Philip Morris International -- one of the largest tobacco companies in the world -- is moving its U.S. headquarters to Connecticut from New York. The business says it will site its head office at a yet-to-be-chosen location in Fairfield County, bringing 200 jobs to the state. The relocation is slated to be complete by summer of 2022.

Connecticut’s two federally recognized tribes that run casinos in the state have sued their insurance carrier over denial of claims for millions of dollars in losses during the pandemic.

Connecticut lawmakers did not consider the multi-state Transportation and Climate Initiative plan this year. But Governor Ned Lamont said he’s optimistic that Connecticut would eventually join the initiative.

The advent of Juneteenth as a federal holiday this year also saw the day more widely celebrated than ever in Connecticut. While the state’s larger and more diverse cities have long held annual Juneteenth events, many of Connecticut’s smaller towns also marked the occasion this year.

For years, Doug McGarrah has suffered from bullet train envy.

“Those of us who have been fortunate enough to travel to places like Spain or Japan, we all marvel at these wonderful ways of getting around on high-speed rail,” said McGarrah, a partner at the law firm Foley Hoag in Boston. “We come back to America, and we get on our systems that are — let’s just say substandard.”

But with Congress debating a massive infrastructure bill, McGarrah and other proponents of high-speed railways hope to seize the moment.

A sign outside a Pride store in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

This week, Pride gas stations and convenience stores started giving a free large cup of coffee — iced or hot — to those who have been vaccinated.

The Senate voted 16-11 Thursday for final passage of a bill legalizing the production, sale and possession of recreational cannabis in Connecticut, bringing down the curtain on a frantic finish to a campaign that steadily unfolded over a decade. 

In light of Connecticut recently passing sports betting legislation, Massachusetts remains one of the last states in the reigon to jump on board. A joint committee is meeting to discuss 19 bills associated with sports betting. State Senator Eric Lesser, author of one of the bills, talks with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder on why he's leading the push for legalization. 

If Massachusetts does end up on the sports betting bandwagon, who will benefit from the revenues? State Representative Orlando Ramos explains why social equity should be a factor.

Connecticut House Approves Recreational Marijuana; Senate To Vote Thursday

Jun 17, 2021

The House of Representatives voted 76-62 Wednesday for legislation that would create a legal market for recreational marijuana in Connecticut, overcoming a threatened veto over an 11th-hour effort to rewrite the rules for awarding valuable licenses for cultivation and sales.

Connecticut schools get funds from casinos run by two indigenous tribes — and about a dozen schools with indigenous mascots could lose that funding. That’s if a new part of the state budget goes forward.

As Connecticut looks to pass cannabis legislation, Massachusetts is working to evolve theirs to be more socially equitable. Segun Idowu, CEO of Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) talks with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder about his testimony in a hearing on how lawmakers need to be fair on who receives funding in this booming business.

Longtime Wethersfield Police Chief James Cetran has been fired.

Wethersfield’s town council Tuesday night approved the decision of Town Manager Gary Evans to terminate the embattled chief in a 6-1 vote that came at the end of a six-hour hearing.

Connecticut Senate Passes Cannabis Bill, Governor Vows Veto Over Changes

Jun 16, 2021

Questions of profit, preference and equity brought Senate debate of cannabis legalization bill to a dramatic halt Tuesday, with the office of Gov. Ned Lamont vowing a veto over new language broadening the eligibility of applicants for licenses to produce or sell marijuana.

New numbers from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that Connecticut’s northeast corner is seeing a much slower COVID-19 vaccination rate when compared to other parts of the state. 

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont is closing the Northern Correctional Institution in Somers three weeks earlier than planned.

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder examine healthcare and sports surrounding the transgender community that is estimated at 1.4 million people in the United States according to the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School. 

Transhealth Northampton is a groundbreaking, independent, and comprehensive trans healthcare center. CEO Dallas Ducar talks about the clinic's importance.

Saturday will mark five years since the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.

Among those killed in the early morning of June 12, 2016, was Torrington High School graduate Kimberly “KJ” Morris.

Connecticut lawmakers are likely to end their regular legislative session tonight with unfinished business. That would require them to return for a special session. This year it’s not the budget that has lawmakers running down the clock.

Connecticut may be on the verge of legalizing recreational marijuana after years of debate. A bill has passed the state Senate — it’s now before the House of Representatives, and Governor Ned Lamont said he’ll sign it.

On Friday June 4, Connecticut overwhelmingly passed Jennifer's Law in the House. Known as Senate Bill 1060, the bill expands the definition of domestic violence. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with CT Senator Alex Kasser who co-authored the bill. 

Beth Leventhal, Executive Director of The Network/La Red, discusses how this Massachusetts-based group counsels, advocates, and provides resources for LGBT+ survivors of domestic violence.

The Connecticut House is to take action on the state’s next two-year budget on Tuesday — just 24 hours before the legislative session ends. That leaves little time to debate contentious bills that are pending, including marijuana legalization.

Transportation Emissions Plan Down To 3 Members After Conn. Walks Away From Pact

Jun 8, 2021

The regional effort to reduce vehicle emissions along the East Coast that advanced in December with just four of 13 interested jurisdictions agreeing to take part appears to have dwindled, at least for the time being, to include just Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C. as active participants.

Gov. Ned Lamont and legislative leaders didn’t reach a deal Friday on a new two-year state budget, but they claimed that next step was just around the corner.

Though details remain to be ironed out, Lamont, House Speaker Matt Ritter and Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney said they resolved differences involving municipal aid and the spending cap.

Union strikes at more than 200 group home locations across Connecticut have been called off in a late-hour funding deal between workers and state officials.

Representatives at SEIU District 1199 New England said in a statement that union members reached a two-year, $184 million funding agreement with state leaders, effectively ending a scheduled strike by more than 2,100 workers that was to begin 6 a.m. Friday. 

Since April 27, eight nooses have been discovered at the construction site of an Amazon warehouse in Windsor. While Amazon and the companies it has hired to build the massive fulfillment site try to find out who’s responsible for the nooses, local Black social justice leaders are criticizing the e-commerce giant’s efforts.

A Connecticut man was arrested and charged Thursday for his involvement in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Richard T. Crosby Jr. was charged with six federal offenses, including felony obstruction of justice. That has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 

Unionized group home workers, and operators, are appealing to state leaders to set aside more funding for the industry as a strike scheduled for Friday looms.

Their demands follow closely behind a funding deal last month between the state and union nursing home workers to reach a $20 minimum wage and better benefits. 

Nearing A Budget Deal, Lamont, Democratic Leaders Compromise On Taxes

Jun 3, 2021

While state officials continued to creep closer to a budget deal, another key piece appeared to fall into place Wednesday: a state income tax cut for middle class families — but not until 2024.

The package also includes relief for Connecticut’s struggling restaurants, but much less than was originally proposed. Meanwhile, tax increases on wealthy households and a new digital media levy are out.

June is known as Pride Month to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community. In Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont signed an act that updates the state's parentage laws. Senior staff attorney Polly Crozier from GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders) talks with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder on how this new law is a boost for same-sex parents and where gay rights are headed.

Dr. William Leap, a professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies and author of Language Before Stonewall, breaks down the history of the acronym LGBTQIA.

Bullets Hit Connecticut State Capitol Building

Jun 2, 2021

State legislators returned to the state Capitol on Tuesday to learn that the Hartford landmark had been damaged by gunfire, most likely early Monday or Tuesday when the building was unoccupied, officials said. Damage appeared to be caused by two or three rounds.

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