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State News Stories

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WHAT PASSED

 

Medical Marijuana: Legislation allows minors with certain debilitating conditions to use Connecticut's medical marijuana program.

Restraining Orders: The legislation requires people with temporary restraining orders against them to transfer their firearms to police or a firearms dealer within 24 hours after being served with the order.

Opioid Abuse: First-time opioid prescriptions for adults are limited to seven-day dosages under a bill that combined ideas from more than 50 bills submitted this session to address opioid drug abuse. Subsequent prescriptions can be filled for longer periods.

Retirement Accounts: The bill creates a new agency that will establish a Roth individual retirement savings account program for private sector workers whose employers have at least five employees. Workers would be automatically enrolled unless they opt out.

Animal Advocates: Under the bill, law school students or attorneys would be allowed to volunteer as legal advocates to assist in the prosecution of animal abuse cases.

Teacher Records: School boards will be required to provide information to other districts about whether a teacher applicant was disciplined for abuse, neglect or sexual misconduct.

School Threats: The bill makes it a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for intending to cause the evacuation of a school or school grounds with a threat.

 

Bill allowing armed police on campuses moves to governor

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut lawmakers have given final legislative approval to a bill that ultimately allows the state's community colleges to form special armed police forces to patrol the campuses.

The legislation cleared the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the final day of the legislative session. The bill, which already passed in the Senate, now moves to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's desk.

Under the proposal, the special forces would be subject to approval from the Board of Regents for Higher Education. The officers would generally have the same powers as municipal police and must be certified by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council.

Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, has said students and teachers want the armed police because they don't feel safe on campus.

Bill requiring schools to adopt consent policies passes

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut lawmakers have decided to require public and private colleges and universities to adopt clear policies regarding student consent to sexual activity.

The Senate voted 35-1 on Wednesday in favor of legislation requiring affirmed consent to be the standard in determining whether someone has agreed to sexual activity. Affirmed consent is described as an "active, clear and voluntary agreement by a person," or "yes, means yes," according to the bill's proponents.

The bill already has cleared the House of Representatives and now moves to the governor.

Democratic Sen. Mae Flexer says the standard would be used in campus sexual assault investigations, disciplinary cases and in training of students about the issue of sexual assault.

Republican Sen. Joe Markley, the bill's sole opponent, says these cases will still be "he said, she said."

Lawmakers vote to allow coverage of 3-D mammograms

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut lawmakers have passed legislation that attempts to encourage 3-D breast screening.

The Senate on Wednesday voted unanimously in favor of a bill that requires insurers to cover tomosynthesis screenings if a woman wants that type of mammogram conducted.

The bill already cleared the House of Representatives and now moves to the governor's desk.

Current state law requires insurers to cover baseline mammograms for women age 35 through 39 and annual mammograms for women 40 years and older.

Republican House Minority Leader Themis Klarides (THEHM'-his KLEHR'-ih-dehs), who pushed for the bill, says the 3-D procedure will make it easier to detect early signs of breast cancer.

Democratic Sen. Joe Crisco, who spoke about how his wife is currently fighting breast cancer, calls the bill "a very strong stand for women's health."

Connecticut lawmakers move to update handicapped signs

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A proposal to modernize the ubiquitous handicapped symbol that marks parking spaces, building entrances and restrooms in Connecticut is heading to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's desk.

The Senate on Wednesday voted 33-3 in favor of a bill that requires the Department of Administrative Services to come up with regulations designating an updated symbol of access for people with disabilities. That symbol must depict a dynamic figure leaning forward with a sense of movement.

The updated signs would be used when old signs must be replaced.

Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr., a disability rights attorney, urged support of the bill, saying "symbols are very important" in changing people's minds about others with disabilities.

Several lawmakers opposed the bill, voicing concerns of some disability rights activists offended by the proposed change.

 

WHAT FAILED

Tesla:
The Senate failed to take up a bill that would have allowed electric car maker Tesla Motors to sell its vehicles directly to consumers, bypassing the state's franchise system.

Fantasy Sports: Despite being included in an early tax bill, lawmakers decided not to act on legislation that would authorize fantasy sports after Attorney General George Jepsen warned it could risk Connecticut's slot machine revenue-sharing agreement with the state's two federally recognized Indian tribes.

Gambling Study: A proposal to study the impact of allowing a third casino in Connecticut died in committee. Meanwhile, the two federally recognized tribes did not submit a proposal for legislation approval to open their proposed jointly owned, third casino to compete with the MGM Resorts International casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, saying they'll return with a site next year.

Weaponized Drones: A proposal creating a new class C felony for those who attach weapons to drones has failed for the second year in a row. While it passed in the House of Representatives, it didn't come up for a Senate vote.

Cecil's Law: The House of Representatives failed to vote on a bill that would ban the importing, possessing, offering for sale or transporting in Connecticut big game specimens, including certain elephants, lions, leopards and two rhinoceros species.

 

Bill aimed at protecting state lands clears legislature

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - An effort to give the public greater say about transfers of state-owned land in Connecticut has cleared the General Assembly.

But the proposal did not pass the Senate or House of Representatives Wednesday with enough support to place a proposed constitutional amendment before voters this fall. Proponents needed a three-quarters majority.

Eric Hammerling, executive director of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, says the vote was still a "huge victory." The bill must now pass next year by another simple majority to appear on the 2017 ballot.

Under the proposal, voters will be asked to support amending the state constitution to require a public hearing and two-thirds vote of the legislature before the ownership of state-owned land can be transferred.

Proponents say state-owned parks and forests are currently at risk.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut lawmakers have officially adjourned their regular legislative session, knowing they'll be back next week at the state Capitol to vote on a revised budget for the new fiscal year.

The House of Representatives and Senate both wrapped up the session at midnight on Wednesday in the traditional flurry of activity.

Minutes later, lawmakers in both chambers passed resolutions spelling out rules for a special legislative session that Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff says will be held on May 12.

Democratic legislative leaders hoped to vote Wednesday, the final day of the legislative session, on an 11th-hour budget deal they reached Tuesday night with Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. However, they scrapped those plans after it become clear they wouldn't have enough time to pass that bill and related legislation.

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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut man is suing the city of Bridgeport and its police department after he was arrested three times and was detained in a repeated case of mistaken identity.

The Connecticut Post reports Pedro Martinez filed the suit Tuesday in Bridgeport federal court following numerous run-ins with police officers who mistook him for another Pedro Martinez wanted in Texas.

The lawsuit states that after Martinez's third arrest in August 2015, Bridgeport officers refused to compare his fingerprints with the Martinez from Texas and kept him in custody. Martinez was arraigned on criminal charges, but was later released by a Superior Court judge because his fingerprints didn't match the wanted man.

Attorney Robert Berke says the illegal detainment violated his client's civil rights.

Bridgeport officials declined to comment.

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SYOSSET, N.Y. (AP) Officials are investigating why a small plane broke apart mid-flight, killing three people on board and scattering debris across a residential Long Island neighborhood.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Robert Gretz says the plane's pilot reported an issue with his instrument panel before the plane crashed in Syosset Tuesday afternoon. He says it's uncommon for planes to break apart mid-flight.

Gretz says two men and a woman on board were killed. He says investigators are still collecting pieces of the plane, stretched across two miles.

Newsday reports the six-seat aircraft is registered to David Berube of Bristol, Connecticut. He's licensed to fly and land multi-engine planes but it's unclear if he was piloting the plane.

The victims' names were not released.

A preliminary report is expected within a week.

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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) A New Haven man charged with sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy in the bathroom of a Bridgeport church has pleaded guilty just before his trial was about to start.

The Connecticut Post reports that 32-year-old Gary Robinson agreed to plead guilty Tuesday to risk of injury to a minor.

Robinson faces up to four years in prison at sentencing scheduled for July 1, but the judge said Robinson's lawyer could ask for a shorter term.

Prosecutors say the boy's parents are not happy with the plea but have agreed to go along with it to spare their son from testifying.

The assault occurred at the Prayer Tabernacle Church of Love in 2012.

Two other men await trial in the case.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A search of a reputed mobster's Connecticut home produced the seizure of numerous firearms, not a half billion dollars' worth of artwork stolen from a Boston museum as federal agents hoped.

Officials say a Mac 11 machine gun, two handguns, a silencer and ammunition was taken by FBI agents from the Manchester home of Robert Gentile.

Gentile's attorney says the search was the FBI's attempt to pressure his client into divulging information about a March 1990 heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

The alleged New England Mafia member has been targeted by federal authorities since a gangster's widow claimed that her husband gave Gentile two of the stolen paintings.

The attorney says Gentile has no information about the stolen art's whereabouts. The U.S. Attorney's office had no comment.

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Police have arrested a man in connection with a fatal hit-and-run crash in New Haven.

Antonio Calderon, of New Haven, is charged with felony evading, second-degree manslaughter and related crimes in the March 7 crash that killed Michael Kucher, of New Haven.

Police say the 27-year-old Calderon was driving the vehicle that struck Kucher as he was crossing Grand Avenue just after midnight. The vehicle fled after hitting Kucher. One witness reported the driver was known as ``Wolverine'' and had vampire-like fangs.

Kucher died from his injuries March 16.

Police say surveillance video from the area of the crash shows the vehicle that hit Kucher was racing two others.

It's unclear whether Calderon has a lawyer who could comment. Online records didn't list a phone number for Calderon.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Legislation that would bar people with temporary restraining orders against them from possessing firearms is heading to Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's desk.

The Senate on Monday voted 23-13 in favor of the bill, which has been debated in each of the last few sessions following high-profile, deadly cases of domestic violence involving guns.

Malloy, a Democrat, says he'll sign it into law.

Proponents hope the legislation will help victims of domestic violence.

The bill requires a person to transfer firearms to police or a firearms dealer within 24 hours after being served with a temporary restraining order. The weapons would be returned if a judge determined at an expedited hearing not to impose a formal restraining order.

Opponents voiced concerns about due process rights of the gun owners.

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WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) - Waterbury police officials have announced that the department's recent initiative targeting midlevel drug dealers in the city has produced warrants for 50 offenders.

Police Chief Vernon Riddick said Monday that 30 of the 50 suspects implicated in "Operation Stamp Out" were in custody.

Investigators say the ages of those arrested range from 18 to 60 years old. Many were charged with possession with intent to sell after being caught in stings conducted by undercover officers.

A department spokesman said that officers seized nearly 2,300 bags of heroin, an ounce of both crack cocaine and marijuana, two guns and close to $24,000 in the drug sweep.

Mayor Neil O'Leary says the operation sends the message that Waterbury is cracking down hard on drug dealers.

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SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. (AP) - A reported gunpoint kidnapping at a Connecticut park that prompted seven cruisers to speed to the scene turned out to be a false alarm.

Police in South Windsor say a report Monday of a man getting out of the trunk of a car with his hands tied behind his back and duct tape covering his mouth while two other men held him at gunpoint was just three men filming a school project.

Responding officers saw a camera on a tripod and learned that there was no kidnapping. The gun was not real.

Deputy Chief Scott Custer tells the Hartford Courant the men, whose names were not released, were cited for creating a public disturbance.

Custer says the students should have alerted police beforehand that they would be filming in the park.

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Demonstrators and Black Lives Matter activists gathered in front of the New Haven Police Department headquarters to protest a 27-year-old man's arrest at a liquor store over the weekend.

The New Haven Register reports (http://bit.ly/1Tfecxl ) Jeffrey Agnew Jr. alleges that he was assaulted by officers Saturday night after he had what he claims was a nonviolent, nonthreatening dispute with a clerk at a Whalley Avenue liquor store.

Agnew says he initially cooperated with police following the incident only to be beaten and arrested by three officers. He has been charged with disorderly conduct and interfering with police.

A police press release announcing Saturday's arrest stated that Agnew refused to be taken into custody and became violent with the officers.

Chief Dean Esserman declined to comment on Agnew's allegations.

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VERNON, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut man's drastic response to a long wait for the bathroom has led to criminal charges.

Officers were called to a Vernon apartment complex at about 3 a.m. Sunday for reports that a highly intoxicated man fired a gunshot indoors.

Police say the 22-year-old Shawn Cummins was at a neighbor's apartment when he grew restless while waiting for the bathroom, pulled out a 9 mm handgun and fired a round into the closed bathroom door. He left and allegedly fired another shot into an outside wall. No one was injured.

Cummins faces several charges including unlawful discharge of a firearm. He was held on $20,000 bail pending arraignment Monday. Police say he had a firearms permit.

It could not immediately be determined if he had a lawyer.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - One of Connecticut's longest-serving prosecutors is retiring after a 46-year career that included winning death sentences against two men in one of the state's most infamous crimes - the 2007 home invasion killings of a woman and her two daughters.

New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington is leaving the post he has held since 1978 effective June 1. He became a state prosecutor in 1972 after two years as a prosecutor in Washington, D.C.

The 73-year-old Dearington says the job was about helping people, not just putting away the bad guys.

Dearington convinced juries to impose death penalties against Joshua Komisarjevsky (koh-mih-sar-JEF'-skee) and Steven Hayes for the home invasion killings in Cheshire. The state later abolished capital punishment, leaving the two men to serve life sentences.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's budget problems have worsened once again.

New state revenue estimates, revealed Friday evening by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget director, show the current fiscal year is projected to end June 30 about $256 million in deficit. That's up from a $141.4 million estimate released just last week.

Meanwhile, the projected budget deficit for next fiscal year, which legislators and Malloy are struggling to fix before Wednesday's legislative adjournment deadline, has grown to $960 million, up from $922 million. In January, the deficit for 2016-17 was projected to be $570 million, but income tax and other revenue collections have steadily worsened.

Ben Barnes, Malloy's budget director, said the new figures mean the fixing the deficit "got a little harder."

The new revenue projections were agreed upon by the governor's and legislature's budget offices.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Those who attach weapons to drones in Connecticut could soon face a serious criminal penalty.

A wide-ranging bill that cleared the House of Representatives on a 131-14 vote Friday creates a new class C felony for using weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles. It is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

A similar proposal died last year due to inaction. The debate was reignited this year after a college student in Clinton posted videos online of a drone-mounted handgun firing rounds into the woods and a flying flamethrower lighting up a spit-roasting Thanksgiving turkey.

The bill, which now awaits Senate action, also creates a new crime for launching or landing a drone near a correctional facility. The bill also allows law enforcement to use drones in certain circumstances.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Malloy administration says changes in Connecticut's drug laws have cut in half the number of people in jail awaiting trial for simple drug possession.

The state Office of Policy and Management says there were 83 people in pre-trial detention Wednesday on drug possession charges in Connecticut, down from 166 in October.

Mike Lawlor, the state's undersecretary for criminal justice policy, says that's because bails have been much lower since the crime was reclassified on Oct. 1 from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Lawlor says the idea is that people arrested for possession need treatment, not prison.

Those still in prison after being sentenced for possession also is down, from 341 in October to 277. Lawlor says most of those were sentenced for crimes committed before the law changed.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut is moving closer toward requiring public and private colleges and universities in the state to adopt clear policies regarding student consent to sexual activity.

The House of Representatives on Thursday voted 138-7 in favor of legislation requiring affirmed consent to be the standard in determining whether someone has agreed to sexual activity. Affirmed consent is described as an "active, clear and voluntary agreement by a person," or "yes, means yes," according to the bill's proponents.

Under the bill, this affirmative consent can be revoked at any time during the sexual activity.

Rep. Gregg Haddad, a Democrat from Mansfield, says most colleges and universities in the state already have similar policies, but he says it's important that all schools adopt the same standard.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A 64-year-old Bridgeport man is facing a sentence of more than 50 years in prison after being convicted of repeated sexual assaults on his young granddaughter.

The Connecticut Post reports a six-member jury found Joseph Burroughs guilty of first-degree sexual assault, third-degree sexual assault and four counts of risk of injury to a minor on Thursday.

The victim, now 9 years old, testified during the three-day trial that Burroughs sexually assaulted her on numerous occasions beginning when she was 5 years old.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Ann Lawlor praised the jury for their hard work to "reach the appropriate verdict."

Burroughs spent five years in prison after he was convicted of manslaughter with a firearm in 1989.

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MERIDEN, Conn. (AP) - A jury has cleared six Connecticut police officers of allegations that they conducted an illegal body cavity search on a man in 2011.

The federal civil rights suit was decided Thursday.

The suit filed in 2013 by Derrick Bryant, who had been held on drug charges. He alleged Meriden police performed a cavity search in a station holding cell without a warrant. Under state law, a warrant is required for police to search body cavities other than the mouth.

The officers maintained they never did a cavity search and simply removed drugs they found in Bryant's buttocks.

The officers' lawyer tells The Record Journal "fine officers who were publicly defamed have been vindicated."

Bryant's attorney says she's "dismayed" by the verdict but has not yet decided whether to appeal.

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) Police say four teachers at a Connecticut elementary school were hurt trying to control a rampaging 10-year-old student throwing tables and chairs inside a classroom.

Administrators at the Timothy Dwight School called police at about 1 p.m. Wednesday asking for assistance with a student who was having behavioral issues.

Police say one teacher had a bruised leg and was taken to St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport. A second teacher was taken to a doctor by a friend before officers arrived on the scene.

Two teachers declined medical attention.

No students were hurt. The 10-year-old boy was released to his parents' custody.

School administrators did not comment.

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Brothers Convince Little Sister

of Zombie Apocalypse

  

TAYLOR SWIFT

May issue of "Vogue"

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