<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Connecticut Political News, NY and CT Politics, and More]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:50:42 -0400 Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:50:42 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[GOP Staffer in Chicken Suit Faces Charges After Clucking at NH Governor, Senator]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 11:25:01 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/zona+chicken+suit.jpg

A GOP state committee staff member has been charged with disorderly conduct after heckling New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Governor Maggie Hassan at this past Saturday's Old Home Day parade.

Michael Zona, of Manchester, was dressed in a chicken suit when he began to interfere with the parade, reports The Eagle-Tribune.

The 23-year-old allegedly ran out into the parade route toward Shaheen and Hassan, clucking at them.
"I believe Senator Jeanne Shaheen should be holding town halls and I have a First Amendment right to express that point of view. I wasn't bothering anyone. I wasn't disturbing anyone. In fact, I got a good deal of encouragement from people along the parade route," said Zona in response to the incident.
Zona was escorted from the parade after failing to comply with numerous requests to stop. 
“At one point, the governor had to take a few steps back toward her security staff,” Detective Christopher Olson told The Eagle-Tribune.
Julia McClain of the New Hampshire Democratic Party used the incident to blast the state Republicans, saying the party "wastes taxpayer resources and local law enforcement time with these juvenile antics when we should be discussing critical issues that matter--like raising the minimum wage, creating good paying jobs, and protecting social security and Medicare for our state's seniors."

Photo Credit: Twitter: John DiStaso]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Council Speaker Tweets About HPV Diagnosis, Urges Annual Check-Ups]]> Mon, 03 Jun 2013 14:40:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/MarkViverito.jpg

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced via Twitter Sunday that she had "high-risk HPV" in an effort to boost awareness about the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the country and encourage women to have regular gynecological exams.

In a series of tweets, Mark-Viverito divulged that she learned Friday she had the infection, and that she hadn't been to a gynecologist in two years prior to her most recent visit.

"At recent #GYN visit alarmed to find out last one, 2yrs ago. Friday got call re: results. Told have "high risk HPV". #Biopsy needed #ASAP," she tweeted.

"Tuesday I'm there. To say I'm not wee bit worried = lie. "High risk HPV" can POTENTIALLY but NOT definitively lead to cervical #cancer."

Mark-Viverito, 45, tweeted that she is "an extremely private person," but that her position has given her a platform -- and a responsibility to use it.

"Our health should never be compromised," she tweeted. "Annual physicals have to be sacred. Yet our health care system doesn't lend itself to this for many."

Mayor de Blasio called Mark-Viverito's decision to share her experience "brave" and "exemplary."

About 79 million people in the United States have HPV, and another 14 million contract it each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone can get it once they become sexually active, and nearly half of the new infections each year occur among people ages 15 to 24, according to the New York City Health Department.

Most people who get HPV have no symptoms of infection. Each year, about 12,000 women diagnosed with HPV nationwide develop cervical cancer, the most common cancer associated with the infection, and about 4,000 of them die from it.

To learn more about HPV treatment and prevention, including a vaccine, click here.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: McMullan/Sipa USA]]>
<![CDATA[Former Vt. U.S. Sen. Jeffords Dead at 80]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 17:57:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/James+Jeffords.jpg

Former Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., died Monday at Knollwood, a military retirement home in Washington, D.C., a former aide said. He was 80.

A navy veteran, Jeffords made a name in politics as a state senator and attorney general before he was elected to seven terms in the U.S. House, once splitting with his fellow Republicans in opposing a President Reagan tax cut plan. Vermonters voted him into the Senate in 1988, where he was a champion for environmental causes.

The moderate, even liberal, Republican shocked Washington in 2001 when he said the GOP had drifted too far to the right for him. He quit the party, became an independent, and caucused with democrats.

“I am confident it is the right decision,” Jeffords said upon making his famous “jump.” “I hope that the people of Vermont will understand it.”

Jeffords announced in 2005 he would not seek re-election the next year, citing declining health.

"I think we have to bring back people like Jim Jeffords, who say running for office is really a form of public service," former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin said Monday.

Kunin remembered Jeffords as a good-hearted guy who just wanted to do what he thought was right; not tow some party line. "The comparison is rather painful, where we now have a Congress that prides itself on doing nothing, where in those days, people really went there to get things done and to improve the lives of the public," Kunin said.

"He's going to be very sorely missed," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who was in the U.S. House when Jeffords was in the Senate. "He was a guy who, I think, much preferred to be around Vermonters here in Vermont than among the big shots in Washington. It wasn't who he was."

Tom Vogelmann, the University of Vermont's agriculture and life sciences dean, told New England Cable News he thinks of Jeffords as "one of the giants." The University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is housed in the building that bears Jeffords' name.

"He was a very strong supporter of education, a very strong supporter of environmental legislation, and that's the curriculum that's basically taught in this building," Vogelmann told NECN. "So we have thousands of young people who are training here and that's all adding to his legacy."

Reflections on the life and legacy of Jim Jeffords poured in Monday. Here are several of those:

President Barack Obama:

Michelle and I send our deepest sympathies to the family of Senator James M. Jeffords on his passing. Jim devoted his life to service - as a Naval officer, a local leader in his hometown of Shrewsbury, and eventually as a U.S. Senator representing his beloved Vermont. During his more than 30 years in Washington, Jim never lost the fiercely independent spirit that made Vermonters, and people across America, trust and respect him. Whatever the issue - whether it was protecting the environment, supporting Americans with disabilities, or whether to authorize the war in Iraq - Jim voted his principles, even if it sometimes meant taking a lonely or unpopular stance. Vermonters sent him to Washington to follow his conscience, and he did them proud.

Our prayers are with the Jeffords family, including his son Leonard and daughter Laura. And we're grateful to Jim for his legacy of service to Vermont and the United States of America.

Vice President Joe Biden:

Jim Jeffords was a personal friend, a great senator, and a good man. He was not only beloved by the people of Vermont, but by anyone who ever worked with him. For the nearly four decades I served in the United States Senate, nearly half were spent with Jim as a colleague. Jim knew that with a country as diverse as ours, there is a need for consensus to move the country forward. He was a man who dealt with his colleagues without pretext and with complete honesty. And he always knew what he was talking about—and his colleagues and constituents always knew where he stood on an issue. Jim was a reflection of Vermont—independent and non-ideological and always about solving problems. Jill and I are saddened by his passing and join his family, friends, and his former staff in remembering all that he stood for: basic fairness and principled independence.

Former President Bill Clinton:

Hillary and I are saddened by the passing of our friend Senator Jim Jeffords, who served the people of Vermont and the United States for more than 30 years. Jim was one of our strongest advocates for better health and education, a cleaner environment, and increased opportunities for people with disabilities. I will always be especially grateful for his support of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Brady Bill, and our 1993 health care reform effort. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his many friends across the country.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.:

He was a partner in our work for Vermont, and he was a friend. He was a Vermonter through and through, drawn to political life to make a difference for our state and nation. Part of his legacy will also stand as an enduring chapter of the Senate's history.

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.:

I know I share the view of all Vermonters today in expressing condolences to the family of Senator Jim Jeffords on his passing, and our gratitude to him for his life of service.

While Jim would certainly wave away the notion, he was indeed a legend in Vermont and the nation. With characteristic decency, humility and civility, and a dogged persistence, he made his mark in Congress. Millions of children with disabilities are better off today because he lead the charge for their equal access to education. Americans are breathing cleaner air and drinking cleaner water because of his fierce advocacy for the environment and clean energy. And budding artists across the nation receive the boost of his encouragement every year thanks to his legacy as the founder of the annual Congressional Arts Competition.

And, in 2001, the world saw what his fellow Vermonters already knew: Jim Jeffords, above all, had the courage of his convictions.

Jim and his wife, Liz Daley Jeffords, were mentors to me in my early days in the House of Representatives. I am deeply grateful to them both for their friendship, their support and their contributions to Vermont and our country.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt.:

I join Vermonters and citizens nationwide today in celebrating the life of Jim Jeffords, a true gentleman and an independent-minded maverick in the best tradition of our state. Jim followed in the footsteps of Senators Bob Stafford and George Aiken, always putting the interests of Vermonters and the nation ahead of partisan politics. He followed his sense of right in all that he did, and was never afraid to seek compromise by reaching across the aisle for the good of our country. Jim’s contribution to Vermont spanned his service in the Vermont House, as Attorney General, and as Vermont’s Representative in the U.S. House, where he developed his passion for high quality public education that forged his policy work on behalf of our kids and continued throughout his career. The passing of Senator Jim Jeffords will be felt throughout Vermont and our country. We need more like Senator Jeffords. My heart goes out to his children and extended family.

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vt.:

The story of Vermont politics cannot be told without Jim Jeffords. He served in the most honorable way a person can serve: Selflessly, and always with the best interests of others at heart. He did what he felt was right, not what he felt would make him popular. Whether it was during his time in the Vermont Senate, or as Attorney General, or in the United States House of Representatives, or in the United States Senate, Jim valued the voices of Vermonters and leaves a legacy we can all learn from: Respect over rhetoric, pragmatism over pandering, and love for Vermonters overall.

In our large, and largely faceless, system of government, he demonstrated the power that one person speaking for their constituents can have. His example of moderation and independence is what I’ve tried to model my own career off of. My sincere condolences go out to Laura, Leonard, and the entire Jeffords family.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Decision 2014: General Election Challengers]]> Sun, 17 Aug 2014 10:09:31 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/decision+2014+ep+6+seg+1.jpg

Hear from the gubernatorial challengers on this week’s episode of “Decision 2014.”

Tom Foley and Heather Somers share how their business and public experience will benefit the state if they’re elected. The GOP primary winners speak with George Colli in their first joint and only one-on-one post-primary interview.

Also, potential third-party candidates Joe Visconti and Jonathan Pelto join Gerry Brooks in a spirited conversation on why they are more than just “spoiler” candidates.

The conservative Visconti and liberal Pelto are awaiting word on whether they received enough signatures to earn a spot on the November ballot. Their entrance into the governor’s race could have a significant impact on its tone and outcome.

In the third segment, CT Mirror’s Mark Pazniokas and CT News Junkie’s Christine Stuart analyze the primary night results and where the races go from here.

Episode 6: The General Election

  • WATCH: Tom Foley and Heather Somers in an exclusive sit-down interview with George Colli after the primary.
  • WATCH: Possible third-party candidates Jonathan Pelto and Joe Visconti tell Gerry Brooks why they should be taken seriously in the general election… if they make it onto the ballot.
  • WATCH: Veteran political journalists Mark Pazniokas and Christine Stuart wrap up primary week with Gerry Brooks.

Online exclusive

  • WATCH: Are Pelto and Visconti serious contenders? Gerry Brooks continues his conversation with Mark Pazniokas and Christine Stuart.

<![CDATA[Foley and Somers Make Debut Together]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 18:33:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/FOLEYSOMERS1PIC814.jpg They're ready to put the primaries behind them and unify the party.]]> <![CDATA[McKinney Throws Support to Foley]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 20:58:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/FOLEYMCKPICK81314.jpg They promise to unite the Republican party and work together to defeat Governor Malloy in November.]]> <![CDATA[GOP Candidates for Governor Complete Ice Bucket Challenge]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 22:33:16 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/foley+ice+bucket.jpg

The day after winning the primary election, Republican candidate for governor Tom Foley got cold and wet in support of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Foley and former competitor State Sen. John McKinney, who conceded the election Tuesday night, appeared together at Foley’s campaign office in Trumbull Wednesday morning in a display of party unity. McKinney said in his concession speech his efforts now will be focused on helping elect Foley in the November general election.

After addressing the media, McKinney poured ice water over Foley’s head as part of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to raise awareness of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. McKinney completed the challenge last night and nominated Foley to do the same. Both politicians said they will also donate $100 to the ALS Association.

The challenge, which began with 29-year-old ALS patient Pete Frates, has taken social media by storm. The cameras are rolling as participants douse themselves with icy water, then challenge their friends and family members. Anyone who opts out of the icy shower is asked to donate.

NBC Connecticut team members such as Gerry Brooks, Shirley Chan, Bob Maxon, Kevin Nathan, Amy Parmenter and Abbey Niezgoda have taken the icy plunge.

Donations have been pouring in. Fundraising has spiked to $1.35 million over the past couple weeks, compared with just $22,000 at the same time last year, a spokesperson for the ALS Association told NBC News earlier this week.

Locally, the Association has raised $20,000 more than last year, according to Jacky Denicola, events coordinator for the Connecticut chapter of the ALS Association.

<![CDATA[Florida Ad Tries to Connect Pot With Date Rape]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 16:30:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/potdaterapead.jpg

The campaign against medical marijuana in Florida is in high gear as it tries to link easier access to pot to date rape in a new online ad campaign.

The website, "Vote no on 2," claims that if the medical marijuana bill is passed, teenagers will have easier access to pot. A Twitter picture then asks if the new face of date rape will look like a marijuana cookie.

“These are products that are very dangerous,” said Javi Correoso of Vote No on 2. “They are a lot more powerful than smoking a joint and they can lead to various serious situations and circumstances.”

Correoso said that “potentially” includes date rape. But Dr. Jorge Bordenave of Larkin Community Hospital insisted that Correoso is wrong.

"Right now, as we know, you can get pot anywhere, on the corners, kids get pot,” said Dr. Bordenave, who supports legalizing medical marijuana. "There has been no incidents of date rape with the pot they are smoking currently. So what they are saying is trying to scare the people; trying to lie to the people."

Other organizations like United for Care said there are plenty of benefits for patients with cancers, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other ailments. Dr. Bordenave also pointed out that other legal vices are doing major damage.

“We have more people dying of alcohol, tobacco smoke than marijuana,” Bordenave said. “I did research recently; out of the 25 FDA approved drugs most commonly sold in the United States, in one year there were 10,000 deaths. There were no deaths from marijuana.”

Still, opponents say that the medical marijuana oil recently approved by the legislature is enough and there should be no smoking of marijuana allowed, despite any medical benefits.

“What Amendment 2 is is an amendment that has so many loopholes that it allows for marijuana to be used for non-medical reasons such as pot cookies and pot smoking,” Correoso said.

Voters will have the final say in November when the state constitutional amendment is on the ballot.

Photo Credit: Vote No on 2]]>
<![CDATA[John McKinney Concedes Primary]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 14:35:50 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/DECISION_2014_SEG_1_AIR_DATE_081014_1200x675_316713539728.jpg

State Sen. John McKinney, of Fairfield, has conceded to Tom Foley in the primary election that will determine GOP candidate for governor, according to campaign spokesperson Jodi Latina.

Foley led McKinney 56 to 44 percent with 99 percent of ballots counted (44,464 votes for Foley, 35,563 votes for McKinney, according to the unofficial results), and the Associated Press has delcared him the winner. He'll face Gov. Dannel Malloy in the general election in November.

The state is still awaiting the results of the lieutenant governor primary. It's a close race, with Heather Somers neck-and-neck with party-endorsed candidate Penny Bacchiochi. Both Somers and Bacchiochi have earned 34 percent of the vote; David Walker has won 32 percent.

Seventy-three percent of lieutenant governor ballots have been counted so far.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Low Voter Turnout on Primary Day]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 20:23:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/VOTERPIC81214.jpg Many polling places saw only a trickle of voters come through the door.]]> <![CDATA[Decision 2014: The Primary Preview]]> Sun, 10 Aug 2014 10:23:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/mckinney+foley+decision+2014+week+5.jpg

Follow the GOP candidates for governor as they campaign around the state on this week's episode of NBC Connecticut's "Decision 2014."

George Colli talks with John McKinney as he and his running mate, David Walker, visit the state pier in New London. George also joins Tom Foley as he walks the streets of Bridgeport, the city many believe cost him the election in 2010.

Gerry Brooks analyzes the race with Danbury Mayor and one-time GOP candidate for governor and former Malloy strategist and adviser Roy Occhiogrosso.

Todd Piro talks about the impact the tragedy in Sandy Hook is having on the campaigns.

Epsiode 5 – Aug. 10, 2014

  • WATCH: Tom Foley and John McKinney make their final pitches to voters before the Aug. 12 primary.
  • WATCH: Gerry Brooks moderates the discussion between Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Roy Occhiogrosso.
  • WATCH: Todd Piro talks with Quinnipiac Professor Rich Hanley on the impact of the tragedy in Sandy Hook on the campaigns.

Online Exclusives

  • WATCH: John McKinney talks education reform, the gun bill and why Republicans should vote for him.
  • WATCH: Tom Foley discusses the gun bill, mental health and why he should be the candidate to take on Gov. Dannel Malloy.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Vet Bill Brings Funds to West Haven VA Community Center]]> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:55:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/VAbillPic00000000.jpg Senator Blumenthal calls passage of Veterans Bill the "end of a long, dark chapter."]]> <![CDATA[Decision 2014: Hitting the Campaign Trail]]> Sun, 03 Aug 2014 10:03:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/foley+mckinney+decision+2014.jpg

We're just over a week away from the primary, and the campaign between GOP rivals Tom Foley and John McKinney is heating up.

The two candidates spent time in New Britain this week, courting voters in the Hardware City with Republican Mayor Erin Stewart.

The candidates talk with George Colli about everything from urban development, small business initiatives, tax relief and homelessness.

Former NBC Connecticut political chief and host of “Connecticut Newsmakers”, Tom Monahan catches up with Gerry Brooks. Monahan weighs in on the Governor and Lt. Governor races.

With the primary election coming up on Aug. 12, Todd Piro asks Sec. of State Denise Merrill what everyone needs to know about where and how to vote in the state.

Episode 4 – Aug. 3, 2014

  • WATCH: George Colli hits the campaign trail with Tom Foley and John McKinney as they visit New Britain.
  • WATCH: Gerry Brooks catches up with the former NBC Connecticut Political Chief Tom Monahan.
  • WATCH: Todd Piro talks with Sec. of State Denise Merrill about how to prepare for the Aug. 12 primary.

Web Exclusives

  • WATCH: Tom Foley talks business with George Colli in New Britain.
  • WATCH: John McKinney explains his middle-class tax relief plan.
  • WATCH: New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart advises GOP hopefuls on how to get the vote in Connecticut cities.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[5 Things to Know About New House GOP Leader McCarthy]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 15:27:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/450883992.jpg

House Republicans are getting a new second-in-command this week, as Rep. Kevin McCarthy takes over for outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The California native was selected for the position in June, after Cantor was handed a surprising defeat by a little-known GOP challenger in Virgnia's primary election.

The promotion puts the 49-year-old McCarthy, who has quickly risen through the leadership ranks during his four terms in Congress, next in line to potentially succeed House Speaker John Boehner.

Here are five things you may not know about the new majority leader:

He got his (lucky) start in sandwiches.

A young McCarthy used a $5,000 lottery prize to start his own business, opening a sandwich shop called Kevin O's Deli at age 19. The shop he has descibed as "Subway before there was Subway," offered "fresh Dutch Krunch white rolls every day," and sandwiches "hot upon request," according to The Orange County Register. McCarthy says he used the profits from later selling that deli to finance his college education. The experience of building a business before hitting 21, he says, helped shape his views on limited government regulations and taxes.

He sees (some of) himself in “House of Cards.”

When Netflix’s popular political drama debuted in 2013, a few things felt a little too familiar to McCarthy, who, like the show’s fictional lead, Rep. Francis Underwood, served as majority whip. That framed whip hanging in Underwood’s office? A spitting image of the one McCarthy received as a gift from Cantor. The scene where Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, tells members “Vote your district, vote your conscience, don't surprise me"? Sounds strikingly like what McCarthy says he tells his own conference. The real-life whip believes those nods came out of a meet-and-greet he had with Spacey before the show started filming. He says the similarities between him and Underwood, a Democrat known for his duplicitous and Machiavellian ways, stop at those superficial references, though. "This one is made professionally about Washington, but it's not Washington," he said of the show during an appearance in Sacramento. "Don't believe what you see in there, but it's intriguing."

He co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the California state Capitol, that is. McCarthy, first elected to represent his home district in Kern County in the state Legislature in 2002, rose to leader of the Assembly’s Republican caucus during his first term. That put him at the bargaining table with then-Gov. Schwarzenegger, who entered office via a 2003 recall election, on state budget negotiations and other major issues facing the Golden State. McCarthy left California's Capitol for the halls of Congress after the 2006 election, when he won the House seat vacated by his own political mentor and former boss, former Republican Rep. Bill Thomas.

He’s an all-star Instagrammer.

McCarthy’s filter-laden Instagram account has attracted more than 12,000 followers to date. While cameos from the likes of Beyonce, Ringo Star and cute dogs don’t hurt, the GOP congressman also uses the social platform to post behind-the-scenes photos from his political and personal life (including frequent “Throwback Thursday” pictures). His social media savvy led BuzzFeed to name him the “best Republican congressman on Instagram” in 2013.


He splits with some GOP conservatives on immigration.

McCarthy hails from one of the nation's bluest states. But the California native hasn’t strayed much from the GOP line in his own time in office, voting with his party 96 percent of the time, according to one Washington Post analysis.  Still, he's split with the more conservative factions of his caucus on at least one key issue seen as a potential factor in Cantor’s primary defeat: immigration reform. Unlike his tea party-aligned colleagues, McCarthy has expressed support for creating a path to legal status for the country’s undocumented immigrants. His campaign for majority leader drew criticism from some conservative commentators, who blasted his backing of immigration reform, Sandy relief funding and a budget compromise. Despite some differences in ideology and style, McCarthy, a skilled networker and social butterfly, has made many friends in Washington, thanks in part to his success in raising cash and building a program to train and support up-and-coming candidates.

Get More at NBC News

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Bill Proposes Tax on Sugary Drinks]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:14:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tlmd_tlm_soda_generica03.jpg

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro is pushing for a new bill that would tax sugary drinks in an effort to cut the cost of health care and raise awareness of medical conditions related to caloric sweeteners like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.

The Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act would impose a tax of 1 cent per teaspoon of sweetener, according to a release from DeLauro’s office.

Tax money would fund prevention and treatment programs for obesity, diabetes and other conditions that can be caused by sweetened beverages, as well as research and health education, the release says.

According to the release, health conditions related to sugar sweeteners cost an average of $190 billion in medical expenses per year. Taxpayers foot more than 20 percent of the bill.

The full text of the bill is available online.

<![CDATA[CA Has 1st Openly Gay Governor - For Part of Day]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:52:01 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/toni+atkins+swearing+in.jpg

For eight or nine hours on Wednesday, California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins will be acting as the state's top chief executive— the first openly gay governor in state history.

That's because this week, the three above her on the state org chart are not in town.

Gov. Jerry Brown is on a trade mission in Mexico this week. As the Washington Post noted, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom filled in for a bit, but is on the East Coast for a Special Olympics event. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg then took over for a while, but he had plans to be in Chicago on Wednesday.

"I feel so grateful," Atkins said in an email on Wednesday forwarded by her spokesman. "I wish my parents could see this. Now I know that may sound hokey to many. But honestly, this is what is going through my mind. If Governor Brown wants a few more days away I'm here for him!"

Atkins spokesman Will Shuck confirmed Atkins will "hold the role of acting governor for approximately one business day, ending this evening on the return of governor." 

Atkins, D-San Diego, is the first openly lesbian leader of either California chamber, succeeding the first openly gay Assembly speaker, John Pérez, a Democrat from Los Angeles.

She shared on her Facebook page that filling in is nothing new: during her time on the San Diego city council, the now 51-year-old Atkins served as acting mayor after other city officials stepped down. She was the first lesbian to hold that position, too.

But Atkins was not focusing on making history due to her sexual orientation on Wednesday. She took the opportunity to highlight her roots -- growing up "in poverty in Virginia" -- and her journey to becoming acting governor for a day.

Atkins, who has focused on funding state universities and advocating for victims of violence and abuse during her time at the Capitol, had a full calendar ahead of her.

But the first act, she tweeted out, was to make sure the temporary first dogs of California - Haley and Joey -  got their morning walk. She shares her pooches with wife, Jennifer LeSar, in the South Park/Golden Hill community of San Diego.

Photo Credit: CA State Assembly]]>
<![CDATA[Decision 2014: The Lieutenant Governor Debate]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 21:53:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/decision+2014+lt+gov+debate.jpg

On this week’s show, NBC Connecticut’s Gerry Brooks moderates a debate among the three Republican candidates for lieutenant governor.

Penny Bacchiochi, Heather Somers and David Walker discuss their qualifications for rounding up the GOP ticket in the general election.

Also, George Colli talks campaign ads with Steve Wolfberg, the chief creative officer at Cronin and Company Marketing Communications

Every Sunday at 10 a.m., hosts Gerry Brooks, Todd Piro and George Colli interview candidates and newsmakers, breaking down statewide races and important issues.

Episode 3: The Lieutenant Governor Debate

  • WATCH: Gerry Brooks moderates segment 1 of the debate among the three GOP lieutenant governor candidates.
  • WATCH: Gerry Brooks moderates segment 2 of the debate among the three GOP lieutenant governor candidates.
  • WATCH: In segment 3, Steve Wolfberg, of Cronin and Company Marketing Communications, breaks down the candidates ads as the Aug. 12 primary approaches.

Online Exclusive

  • WATCH: Steve Wolfberg continues his analysis of the candidates' ads.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Decision 2014: Episode 2, July 20, 2014]]> Sun, 20 Jul 2014 10:24:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/MalloyEDIT.jpg

On this week’s show, Gov. Dan Malloy, former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley and “Meet the Press” host and moderator David Gregory.

Tune in to NBC Connecticut's "Decision 2014" for the most in-depth political coverage in the state.

Every Sunday at 10 a.m., hosts Gerry Brooks, Todd Piro and George Colli interview candidates and newsmakers, breaking down statewide races and important issues.

Episode 2: The Frontrunners

  • WATCH: Gov. Dan Malloy gets personal with Gerry Brooks about some of the toughest days he’s faced in his first term. The governor also shares his feelings about the potential Rocks Cats move from New Britain to Hartford.
  • WATCH: Tom Foley talks with George Colli about why the next governor should be an outsider, the role his family is expected to play in this campaign and the types of schools he wants his two young children to grow up in.
  • WATCH: Todd Piro talks with “Meet the Press” moderator David Gregory about this week's hot issues, including immigration and the investigation of the crash on Malaysia Airline Flight MH17.

Online Exclusive

  • WATCH: Tom Foley reacts to the governor’s decision not to house 2,000 undocumented children in Southbury and discusses the impact of third-party candidates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Immigration Debate Continues in Connecticut]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 19:44:50 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/immigrationpic7182014.jpg

The immigration debate continues in Connecticut after Gov. Dannel Malloy turned down the federal government’s request to house undocumented children at a facility in Southbury.

“I have to say to you that I don’t believe that these large facilities to mass folks is the right way to go,” Malloy said Friday.

Malloy said a large part of his decision was due to the insufficient size and safety of the facilities in question, which would have sheltered 1,000-2,000 undocumented immigrant children who have recently entered the country without adults.

“We were asked specifically about Southbury, and that place just isn’t in shape,” Malloy said. “We have lead problems, we have asbestos problems.”

According to a letter from Malloy’s Chief of Staff, Mark Ojakian, to State Rep. Juan Candelaria, federal authorities first contacted Malloy’s office July 3.

“The request for assistance was quite narrow,” wrote Ojakian. “Among other requirements, the agencies were seeking facilities that contained no less than 90,000 square feet of open space, which needed to be ready and available for immediate use. The facilities also needed to be ADA and NEPA compliant, with additional outside space as needed for trailers that hold showers, restrooms, and kitchens. As has been reported, GSA made specific inquiries into whether the Southbury Training School might fit these needs.”

He went on to say that the Southbury school and other vacant properties were reviewed and shown to be inadequate.

Candelaria said Malloy’s decision doesn’t seem to be an outright “no.”

“It’s not that the governor said no, it is ‘no’ to the Southbury facility,” Candelaria said. “[Are] there other possibilities that we can house these children?”

Although he hasn’t named alternative ideas, Candelaria is hoping for a creative solution.

“I know that families have actually come forward and said, ‘You know, we want to house these people,’” he said.

Massachusetts has approved two locations, but Malloy points out that one of those sites is on federal property. He said Connecticut will continue to cooperate but that Washington must also do its part.

“The Congress of the United States has an obligation to pass the bill, to appropriate the funds necessary to do this work,” Malloy said. “They also should pass comprehensive immigration reform. But with respect to our ongoing work with the federal government, we will continue to be a partner."

<![CDATA[Decision 2014: NBC Connecticut Talks Politics]]> Sun, 13 Jul 2014 08:39:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/decision+2014+web.jpg

Tune in to NBC Connecticut Sunday mornings to hear for the most in-depth political coverage in the state.

"Decision 2014" is a half-hour show of local political coverage that will make you better informed this election season.

Every Sunday at 10 a.m., hosts Gerry Brooks, Todd Piro and George Colli will interview candidates and newsmakers, breaking down statewide races and important issues.

The show kicks off this Sunday, July 13, and you’ll hear from a couple challengers in this year’s governor’s race.

Episode 1 – The Challengers

  • WATCH: State Sen. John McKinney talks with George Colli about why he should be the GOP’s choice to face off against Governor Dannel Malloy.
  • WATCHJonathan Pelto sits down with Gerry Brooks about how the third-party candidate has gone from ultimate democratic party insider to a pariah.
  • WATCHChristine Stuart of CTNewsJunkie analyzes the interviews with Todd Piro.

Online exclusives:

  • WATCHJohn McKinney and George Colli talk about the potential impact of more Connecticut Native American tribes becoming federally recognized and more.
  • WATCHChristine Stuart and Todd Piro discuss more of the issues facing the candidates this election year.

<![CDATA[Berkeley Set to Require Free Medical Pot for Poor]]> Fri, 04 Jul 2014 12:55:16 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/06-11-2014-medical-marijuana-generic.jpg

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Berkeley will likely soon be required to provide free pot to low-income members and homeless people, according to an ordinance approved by the city council on Tuesday.

The city is also looking to approve a fourth dispensary, raising the current limit of three locations.

The proposed ordinance, first reported by the East Bay Express, requires that Berkeley dispensaries give away two percent of the amount of cannabis they sell each year low-income people. And the pot can't be poor quality either. The proposed city ordinance reads (PDF) that the "medical cannabis provided under this section shall be the same quality on average" as marijuana "dispensed to other members."

“It’s sort of a cruel thing that when you are really ill and you do have a serious illness... it can be hard to work, it can be hard to maintain a job and when that happens, your finances suffer and then you can’t buy the medicine you need,” said Sean Luce with the Berkeley Patients Group.

In order to be eligible, a person must qualify for exemption from local taxes and fees, an income level that's set every year by the city council. That equates to $32,000 a year for one person and $46,000 a year for a family of four.

The ordinance is awaiting final approval, but could become law in August.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>