<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Connecticut Political News, NY and CT Politics, and More]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Mon, 06 Jul 2015 07:28:01 -0400 Mon, 06 Jul 2015 07:28:01 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Trump Blames Border for SF Shooting]]> Sun, 05 Jul 2015 16:44:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/DonaldTrump_Getty_07032015.jpg

Donald Trump on Friday blamed the United States' vulnerable southern border for this week's fatal shooting of Kathryn Steinle at Pier 14 in San Francisco.

“This senseless and totally preventable act of violence committed by an illegal immigrant is yet another example of why we must secure our border immediately," the Republican presidential hopeful said in a statement.

Steinle, 32, of Pleasanton, was gunned down Wednesday evening near the Embarcadero and Mission Street in the city's South Beach neighborhood. Police arrested Francisco Sanchez following what they believe is a random incident.

New details emerged about the suspect Friday when the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency reported that Sanchez is an undocumented immigrant with nearly a dozen aliases and a long criminal history. He has previously been deported to Mexico five times, according to authorities.

San Francisco County Sheriff's Legal Counsel Freya Horne told NBC Bay Area Friday that the city and county of San Francisco are sanctuaries for immigrants, and they do not turn over undocumented people – if they don't have active warrants out for them – simply because immigration officials want them to.

For his part, Trump deemed the situation “absolutely disgraceful” and blasted his fellow candidates for lacking the “guts to even talk about it.”

“The American people deserve a wall to protect our jobs, economy and our safety,” he added. “I am the only candidate who would build it. I will make America great again!”

Trump’s candidacy announcement June 16 had a similar flavor.

"The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems," he said. "And these aren't the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best...they're sending people that have lots of problems...they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

But several business organizations — including NBC, Univision, Macy’s and NASCAR — have disassociated themselves from Trump after his incendiary comments came to light.

Hispanic leaders have also pressed the rest of the GOP presidential candidates to condemn Trump. So far, most of the candidates have either stayed mum or quietly sidestepped his statements. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has even defended him, saying that "I salute Donald Trump for focusing on the need to address illegal immigration."

Only Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is Hispanic, denounced Trump's statements as "not just offensive and inaccurate, but also divisive."

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<![CDATA[2016 Hopefuls Flood NH for July 4 Weekend]]> Fri, 03 Jul 2015 16:33:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP136093298170.jpg

Presidential hopefuls are going on parade throughout the Granite State this July 4. 

At least seven 2016 candidates will spend Independence Day courting residents who will vote in the nation's first presidential primary contest next year, according to scheduled logged in necn's 2016 New Hampshire Primary Candidate Tracker, making a combined 14 stops.

While parades are by far the most popular stops during the holiday tour — at least 11 such appearances are expected — candidates' Saturday calendars also include breakfasts, cookouts and grassroots events. Revelers along the routes in Amherst and Merrimack will watch no fewer than three candidates strut by. The resort town of Wolfeboro, where 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney owns a home, will be greeted by at least two GOP hopefuls.

For some candidates, one parade just isn't enough. Republicans Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, and Rick Perry, as well as Democrat Lincoln Chafee, are marching in two apiece. Perry, the former Texas governor, appears to have the busiest public schedule on Saturday so far, stopping by parades in Amherst and Merrimack before greeting crowds at the Windham GOP July Fourth Cookout later in the day.

The holiday hand-shaking isn't limited to July 4 itself. Christie, New Jersey's Republican governor, has been barnstorming the state since making his official entry into the race on Tuesday, including several events on Friday. Perry and Democrat Hillary Clinton are also getting their patriotic partying started early with Friday events, while former New York Gov. George Pataki and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, both candidates for the GOP nomination, will join New Hampshire residents wishing America a belated birthday with Sunday celebrations.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Plan for Longer Double Tractor-Trailers Raises Concerns]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 22:05:31 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/blumenthalstill063115.jpg

A move to make states permit longer double tractor-trailers is progressing quickly through Congress, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal today called on safety advocates to strip the provision from the transportation spending bill.

Interstate highways in Connecticut bear a number of 53-foot tractor trailers, but when two trailers are connected, the state government limits each to 28 feet.

The package delivery industry hopes new legislation will require states to permit 33-foot trailers hitched together. Blumenthal said the move would be dangerous.

"The so-called double-33s are actually deadly 33s because they are harder to steer, harder to stop, harder to save, when an innocent driver may be at risk," the senator said.

A woman from Vermont who lost her husband in a crash in Nebraska shared her story with reporters at the press briefing Wednesday.

"As we were about to crash," said Julie Magnan, "David quickly pulled my head down onto the seat. His heroic and unselfish act saved my life."

Another party involved in the debate, the Coalition for Efficient and Responsible Trucking, claims longer rigs will mean fewer big-rigs on the roads, eliminating 3.3 million truck trips each year.

Of course, that means fewer truckers.

"This fight's been going on for a long time," said Dave Lucas, of Teamsters Local 761. "We fought it when the double-28s came in. The 33s would be much more dangerous. Our roads are not geared for it."

<![CDATA[Microbead Ban Set to Go Into Effect]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 20:01:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/microbeads00000000.jpg

Connecticut is on track to become the latest state to either ban or put new limits on the sale and manufacture of plastic microbeads found in many cosmetic products.

The beads, tiny pieces of plastic commonly found in hand and face soaps, give off the feeling of a mineral soap. However, studies in other states have shown the plastic ends up in the water supply.

Under the bill the Connecticut General Assembly has signed, products with microbeads must be completely phased out of the state by 2019.

Gov. Dannel Malloy hasn't signed the bill, but sources in environmental circles said they expect him to authorize the measure.

"What it does is it allows the industry to remove the products," said Robert LaFrance with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. "It might be on inventory shelves. There’s utility in the products that they’re selling, so they want to get those out and phase them out over time."

The proposed measure also provides for a study of the microbeads and a possible biodegradable replacement that manufacturers have suggested.

"The industry wanted to do the development of a biodegradable microbead but we didn’t really know what that meant, so what we asked, and what they ended up accommodating, was to have the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering do a study to find out what those biodegradable microbeads might be and actually have them give us that so we can study them before we authorize them here in Connecticut," LaFrance said.

Middletown resident Elaine Fournier said she's been using products that contain microbeads for years, saying that she loves both the feeling and the low price tag.

Now that she's followed the news on the environmental issues surrounding them, however, Fournier said she supports the ban.

"We have enough problems in our environment right now. I think the phase out is good, however I think it should be phased out sooner," she said.

<![CDATA[Lawmakers Approve New Requirement for Vaccine Exemptions]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 19:44:05 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/169*120/meningitis5.jpg

The Connecticut General Assembly has approved a measure that would require parents to get the certification of a judge, notary or attorney before they can cite a religious exemption for their child's vaccination.

The measure is aimed at reducing the number of people who choose not to vaccinate their children.

Gov. Dannel Malloy has not yet signed the bill into law but many in the medical profession expect him to do so.

"I think so far the efforts have been incremental in encouraging parents to get their children, to have their children vaccinated, to comply with the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for full and timely vaccination," said Dr. Thomas Fromson, a pediatrician in West Hartford.

He said parents are always looking for ways to "beat the system" and the new requirement acts as another hoop of sorts for them to jump through.

"The idea of parents providing a religious exemption or allowing them to continue having a religious exemption encourages them to find a path to circumvent what we feel to be in the best interests of the child," he said.

Other doctors, like Dr. Ulysses Wu, who serves as chief of infectious disease at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford, believe such a requirement does not go far enough. Wu said if the goal is for more people to be vaccinated against harmful diseases, the exemptions need to be shelved as much as possible.

"We have not only seen increases in vaccination exemptions in this state but around the country as well, and I think it’s something that the tide needs to be turned back," Wu said. "We are starting to see more cases of measles. We’re starting to see a lot more diseases that are preventable by vaccines."

Wu's fear is that more people will look at the religious exemption as a way around vaccinating their children.

Fromson is reminding parents that if a child is not immunized, that child puts others at risk for diseases that should be preventable.

"Parental belief should not compromise the safety and welfare of the rest of the children of the school" he said.

<![CDATA[Peas in Guacamole? Obama Weighs in on Twitter Debate ]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:15:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/guacamole-GettyImages-456804252.gif

President Barack Obama has a message for The New York Times: please don't pass the peas.

Into the guacamole, at least. 

The president joined the online masses piling on the newspaper on Wednesday afternoon following a much-retweeted story suggesting "adding fresh English peas" to the popular avocado dip.

The tweet sparked cries of culinary foul from users, gaining hundreds of retweets in the process. The Times' public editor even suggested that the backlash could rival the "Minnesota Grape Salad outcry" that hit after the paper listed the obscure recipe as a state favorite. 

When asked about the suggestion during an #ASKPotus Twitter chat Wednesday, the president suggested he'll stick to a more traditional recipe. 

First lady Michelle Obama, a vocal advocate of incorporating more green veggies into daily diets, has yet to weigh in. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[New Connecticut Laws Go Into Effect for 2015]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 07:41:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/connecticut+state+capitol+building.jpg

Dozens of new laws go into effect in Connecticut Wednesday, July 1.

From now on, drivers charged with operating a vehicle under the influence will need to install an ignition interlock device in their cars in order to get their licenses back, according to the state Department of motor vehicles. They require drivers to pass a breath test in order to turn on the car and administer additional tests at random while the car is in use.

People who were born and adopted in Connecticut and are at least 18 will now have a chance to see their birth certificate. To be eligible, the adoption also has to have been finalized after Oct. 1, 1983.

Another law makes changes to college sexual assault procedures. Now, sexual assault victims can be examined and treated at a college or university's health care facility.

Starting Wednesday, parents can provide a notarized exemption statement to their kids' school to excuse them from immunizations.

Click here for the full list of new laws effective July 1, 2015.

<![CDATA[Donald Trump: "I Don't Think It Matters If I'm Nice"]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 12:17:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/donald-trump-univision-pone-fin-a-relacion-comercial.jpg

Donald Trump spoke in New Hampshire Tuesday night- just one day after getting dumped by NBC Universal and Univision due to his comments about Mexican immigrants.

"They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists," Trump said during his presidential run kick-off speech.

If you thought Trump would apologize for his comments at his first public appearance since the controversy at a pool-side reception in Bedford, New Hampshire, you'd be wrong. He brought research he said he had done to support his earlier statements.

"I mentioned the word 'rape.' I felt oh, maybe, you know, maybe there's never been a rape. Maybe there's never been a problem. Maybe there's never been a crime," Trump began. "To me, it's impossible to almost believe — 80 percent of Central American women and girls are raped crossing into the United States."

In addition, Trump stirred it up on the topics of Univision and NBC. He announced that he is suing Univision for $500 million for dropping the Miss Universe Pageant that Trump runs.

"What NBC and Univision did to these young women is disgraceful," he said.

Trump spoke for more than an hour, at one point defending himself against critics who say he's not nice.

"I don't think it matters if I'm nice or not, because I really believe this is going to be an election that's based on competence."

On the word that Trump weighs in at number two to Jeb Bush in the latest New Hampshire poll, Trump was stumped.

"It's hard to believe I'm second to Bush," Trump said. "Because Bush is not going to get us to the promised land, folks."

The Republican presidential candidate has made 14 stops in New Hampshire so far ahead of the 2016 primary. 

<![CDATA[Obama Overtime Proposal Could Impact 40,000 CT Workers]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 18:21:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/generic+money+new.jpg

President Barack Obama's announcement that he wants the Department of Labor to change the rules for who could demand overtime pay was met wit trepidation from some in the business community but joy from labor unions.

"It's about time," said Lori Pelletier, chief elected officer of the Connecticut AFL-CIO. "It's something that hasn't been done since 1975."

The president wants the Department of Labor to adopt a rule that would increase the salary threshold for someone to earn overtime from about $23,000 per year to $50,000.

Obama has argued that the threshold hasn't been changed and it hasn't evolved with inflation.

In Connecticut, about 40,000 people could become eligible to earn overtime, according to the Connecticut Department of Labor.

Pelletier said the employees who would be eligible hold positions like assistant store manager and shift manager in retail stores.

"If they’re going to have people come in Saturdays or Sundays and stay extra, you need to understand that it’s impacting family life, so it should cost a little bit more," Pelletier said.

The National Restaurant Association released a statement saying the group had concerns about what the decision would mean for labor costs.

"It seems as if these proposed rules have the potential to radically change industry standards and negatively impact our workforce," the statement says, in part.

The Department of Labor won't have a final decision on the overtime proposal until next year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[State Bans Plastic Microbeads in Cosmetics]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:49:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/pasta-de-diente-microbeads.jpg

Connecticut lawmakers have banned the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics, according to the office of State Rep. Terry Backer.

Non-biodegradable microbeads – found in soaps, cleansers, toothpaste, and other personal care items – can be hazardous to wildlife, particularly fish.

“Plastic microbeads are showing up in fish in our food chain. They absorb toxins and pose a risk to human health,” Rep. Backer said in a statement Tuesday. “Tons of plastic beads are currently being flooded into our water courses, resulting in millions of unnecessary particles.”

The ban has been incorporated into the 2016-2017 budget bill Gov. Dannel Malloy signed today. Manufacturers will have three years to phase out the use of microbeads from products sold in Connecticut, according to Backer's office.

“Were giving the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering the responsibility to test any microbead the industry puts forth as potentially biodegradable, that could potentially circumvent this ban,” Backer stated.

Alternatives to microbeads used in the past include crushed nut shells, Backer's office said.

<![CDATA[Elizabeth Warren Rallies CT Democrats at Annual Dinner]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:05:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/delauro+warren+jjb.jpg

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren fired up the crowd of more than 1,300 Connecticut Democrats Monday at the annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner, the largest fundraising event for the party each year.

Warren was invited to speak as she's become one of the most influential progressive voices in the United State Senate who's a strong ally of both of Connecticut's U.S. senators, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal.

Murphy even described her as the "class troublemaker" during his remarks.

Warren hit all of her usual topics during her 20-minute speech. She criticized Republican presidential candidates for their stances on the Affordable Care Act and recent Supreme Court decisions.

Most of her remarks were dedicated to the economy and what needs to be done to improve. She placed the blame for flat wages over the past five years on GOP approved policies of the past.

"All of the wage growth has gone to the top 10 percent in this country. Instead of working for all Americans this country is only working for those at the top. That’s not the American Dream. That’s the American Nightmare," she said.

Gov. Dannel Malloy addressed the crowd after Warren, saying that the Democratic Party is the "party of today and the party of tomorrow."

The 2015 edition of the JJB Dinner might have been the final one with the name "Jackson" in its name.

Democratic Committee members have discussed removing President Andrew Jackson's name from the event for his role in the oppression of Native Americans during his time in the White House.

<![CDATA[Special Session Underway With Tax and Budget on Tap]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 19:12:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/connecticut+state+capitol+building.jpg

Lawmakers convened Monday for a special session to hammer out final details on the budget as well as several other proposals that died in the final moments of the regular session.

The key priorities for the scheduled two-day session are finalizing changes to business taxes, hospital reimbursements and trimming spending.

State Sen. Martin Looney said the Democrats who control the General Assembly listened to business owners and hospitals by rolling back proposed business taxes and delaying one of them for a year.

On hospital spending, lawmakers put more money into the budget after fears of layoffs and service cuts were heavily proliferated by hospitals and their association.

"The extra money for hospitals will also lead to an additional federal match, which is important for hospitals that are operating under unfairly tight margins," Looney said.

Republicans argue that the budget is on a path of disaster following this fiscal year because of projected deficits following the two-year budget cycle.

"This is a very reactive budget from a bad budget that they passed. They tried to do away with some of the bad taxes but now they’ve left us in a bigger hole. This is extremely poor planning. This is a very bad budget. It’s the second-highest tax increase in Connecticut’s history," State Sen. Len Fasano said.

Looney argues that the projections are premature because the revenues have been so volatile in recent years.

Lawmakers will be back in Hartford Tuesday.

<![CDATA[Hartford Mayor Reacts to City Rating Downgrade]]> Fri, 26 Jun 2015 17:40:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Segarra_Calls_Voting_Problems_Inexcusable_1200x675_352556611578.jpg

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra downplayed the significance of a downgrade from Moody’s Investors Service during an interview Friday.

Moody’s cited unreliable funding sources in order to balance the city’s budget, such as the selling off of assets for cash to pay for continuing expenses.

The mayor defended the moves by saying that the city avoided a tax hike on residents.

"We've opted to sell assets in order not to increase the mill rate, which is important for our residents, our homeowners and our businesses," he explained.

The city finalized the sale of a parking garage earlier this year that netted $14 million and the mayor touted the move as a way to balance the city’s spending plan to end the fiscal year.

Mayoral candidate Luke Bronin said such budgetary decisions are irresponsible.

"It's one-time cash” Bronin said. “It comes on the heels of another garage sale the year before, which was one-time cash to close the budget deficit."

Bronin, who most recently served as legal adviser to Gov. Dannel Malloy, said such decisions set the city on a path toward future budget problems.

"The city of Hartford has been engaged in irresponsible and unsustainable budget practices. We've been selling off city assets to close our deficit. We've been raiding long-term education funds. I wish we were not being downgraded. It's going to cost us. It's going to make our job more difficult," Bronin said.

Segarra said the Moody’s decision wasn’t all bad news, because a rival ratings agency maintained the city’s current level.

"I think it's a concern. It's never good news to hear of a downgrading but the fact that at least the other bond rating agency Standard & Poor's affirmed it means that there's differing opinions as to what our status should be in regards to the rating," he said.

<![CDATA[Florida's Rick Scott Recruits Businesses in Norwalk]]> Fri, 26 Jun 2015 17:06:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/rick+scott+norwalk.JPG

Florida Gov. Rick Scott told a group of business owners at a Norwalk hotel Friday that the primary reason for his trip to Connecticut is to convince businesses to relocate to the Sunshine State.

"We’re competing!" Scott told the crowded ballroom at the Norwalk Inn. "Whether we like it or not, we’re competing. There are countries competing with other countries for jobs, there are states competing with other states."

Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development agency, which acts as a public-private partnership, purchased radio ads in Connecticut earlier in the week. The ad-buy and subsequent visit by Scott came on the heels of the Connecticut General Assembly approving both new and, in some cases, higher existing business taxes.

Scott said that’s why his state has gotten aggressive.

"When your legislature and your governor raises taxes and makes it more difficult for companies to do business, it gives me this opportunity to be here and get more companies," Scott said.

Bart Shuldman, chairman and CEO of TransAct Technologies Inc., helped organize the meeting. TransAct is a high tech printing company that does business around the world from its base in Hamden. Shuldman said his interest in Scott’s remarks was more about how to make Connecticut a better place to live and work rather than coming up with reasons to leave.

"This was not about moving jobs out of Connecticut. It’s anything but," Shuldman said. "This was non-political. No political leaders here. These were businesspeople that care about this state. We have a fantastic state, but you know what? Things are getting bad."

The Connecticut Democratic Party and labor leaders from across the state held an opposition-themed news conference outside the hotel where Scott spoke. They said the appearance was nothing more than a political ploy to boost the unpopular Florida governor’s image. Recent approval ratings have hovered below 40 percent in recent months for the second-term Republican.

"These trips are about self-promotion, not economic development," said Nick Balletto, the chairman of the Connecticut Democratic Party.

He also remarked on how GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is visiting New Hampshire for a similar economic development trip soon.

Scott said it’s not his concern that business owners are looking for tips on how to make Connecticut a better state for business. He added that his appearance in Connecticut only helps his cause of expanding job growth.

"I’m trying to make Florida into the best place in the world to make jobs. I have two daughters. I have three grandsons. I want them to live in Florida close to me and they’re not going to live there if they can’t get a job," Scott said.

<![CDATA[2016 Hopefuls on Gay Marriage Ruling]]> Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:36:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-478464492_PRide.jpg

The presidential candidates’ reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in favor of same-sex marriage broke down predictably along party lines — with Democrats tweeting about love and equality and Republicans criticizing the justices.

Hillary Clinton’s reaction was short and colorful: “HISTORY” in the rainbow colors.

Clinton came out in favor of same-sex marriage in 2013 after stepping down as secretary of state. When she ran for president in 2008, she opposed gay marriage.

Martin O’Malley praised the people of Maryland for leading the way on human dignity and equality.

He tweeted a photo of then 3-year-old Will Lewis-Benson laughing between his mothers, Amy Lewis and Tricia Benson on the day the Maryland House of Delegates approved same-sex marriage in 2012.

“There’s no greater human right than love," he said.

Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee congratulated the Supreme Court for a good ruling.

And Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent running for the Democratic nomination, said the Supreme Court had fulfilled the words engraved on its building, "Equal justice under law."

"For far too long our justice system has marginalized the gay community and I am very glad the Court has finally caught up to the American people," he said.

But Gov. Bobby Jindal accused the court of following opinion polls and trampling on states’ rights.

“Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that,” he said in a statement.

He predicted the ruling would open the way for an assault on the religious rights of Christians who disagree with the decision.

“The government should not force those who have sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage to participate in these ceremonies,” he said.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee blasted the decision as judicial tyranny and vowed he would not acquiesce to an “imperial court.”

"The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature's God on marriage than it can the laws of gravity,” he wrote.

Like other conservatives, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania accused the Supreme Court of redefining marriage and said leaders do not accept bad decisions that they believe would harm the country.

"The stakes are too high and the issue too important to simply cede the will of the people to five unaccountable justices," he wrote in a statement.

Now the public must respond, he said.

Carly Fiorina called the court an activist one that was ignoring its constitutional duty to say what the law was, not what it should be.

She said in a statement that although she was in favor of all Americans receiving equal benefits and rights from the government, she did not believe the court could or should redefine marriage.

“I believe that responsibility should have remained with states and voters where this conversation has continued in churches, town halls and living rooms around the country,” she said.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who might run but says he has not made up his mind, said when asked at a press conference that he agreed with Chief Justice John Roberts: This was not a decision for five lawyers.

Donald Trump wrote, referring to former President George W. Bush and his brother Jeb, another  Republican presidential candidate: "Once again the Bush appointed Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has let us down. Jeb pushed him hard! Remember!"

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who might run for the Republican nomination, told residents of his state that the government would not coerce them to act against their religious beliefs.

He called the decision a grave mistake.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he was disappointed with the decision. Marriage laws should be left to the states, he said.

"Our founding fathers did not intend for the judicial branch to legislate from the bench, and as president, I would appoint strict Constitutional conservatives who will apply the law as written," he said in a statement.

Ben Carson wrote that he strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision, but that the ruling was now the law of the land. He said he supported same-sex civil unions but to him marriage was a religious service.

"I call on Congress to make sure deeply held religious views are respected and protected," he said in a statement. "The government must never force Christians to violate their religious beliefs."

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said he believed that the people of each state should have the right to determine their marriage laws. But he also said he would respect the court's decision.

"Furthermore, given the quickly changing tide of public opinion on this issue, I do not believe that an attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution could possibly gain the support of three-fourths of the states or a supermajority in the U.S. Congress," he said.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said that he believed in traditional marriage and thought that the justices should have left the decision to the states.

But he added, striking an inclusive tone, "I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side."

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said the right to change marriage laws should lie with the people not the justices.

"This decision short-circuits the political process that has been underway on the state level for years," he said.

The next president must make it a priority to nominate judges and justices who will apply the Constitution as written and originally understood, he said.

He also called for respecting those who disagree.

"A large number of Americans will continue to believe in traditional marriage, and a large number of Americans will be pleased with the Court's decision today," he wrote. "In the years ahead, it is my hope that each side will respect the dignity of the other."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Fla. Governor Visits Conn. Amid Ominous Economic Reports]]> Thu, 25 Jun 2015 19:29:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/connecticut+capitol+new.jpg

Florida Gov. Rick Scott arrived in Connecticut Thursday for meetings with business owners and corporate leaders in an effort to recruit them to move to the Sunshine State.

He spoke Thursday Night in Hartford and will speak Friday morning in Norwalk.

His appearance comes in the same week that the state purchased radio ads in Connecticut, and fresh off a UConn report that Connecticut's economy has hit a slump.

"We’ve recommended they hit a reset button," said Fred Carstensen, who heads the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis.

Carstensen contends that the state has simply not made consistent decisions to grow the state's GDP and workforce.

When it comes to the new state budget, Carstensen says hospital and business taxes that lawmakers want to pass are counterproductive.

"It looks like the choices that were made, that look good from a bookkeeping point of view, are bad from the point of view of the performance of the state economy," Carstensen said.

Connecticut's business climate has come under national scrutiny over the past month with lawmakers mulling higher taxes for companies, but a recent ranking from CNBC actually gave Connecticut overall higher marks for its business climate.

Overall, Connecticut jumped 13 spots from 2014 to 33rd overall. The state ranks near dead last in categories which have either been major topics during the session or have led to harsh criticism: infrastructure and the cost of doing business.

The governor scored a major victory for his $100-billion 30-year transportation overhaul initiative when lawmakers approved a half percent of the sales tax revenue the state receives will be dedicated to infrastructure spending.

On the issue of the cost of doing business however, business leaders in Connecticut say that needs to change at some point.

"The costs on a job in Connecticut are higher than on jobs in other states but those costs are driven by inefficient spending," said Brian Flaherty, a former lawmaker and current vice president with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, which boasts 10,000 businesses among its members.

CBIA has been the loudest voice for business tax rollbacks and spending reform.

Flaherty says he doesn't put much stock in the politically motivated by Rick Scott to Connecticut, but he does say that state lawmakers have to get their fiscal house in order which will benefit the business community.

"The legislature needs to anything in its power to keep jobs in Connecticut and the way they’re going to do that is to stop over-steering it in the short term planning that goes into the budgeting. To take a look at restructuring the delivery of state service and to take a look at the way the state spends its money," Flaherty said.

Carstensen with UConn says the state has to figure out a way to make more tax credit deals and incentive package available to even more companies. He says the agreements struck with United Technologies and Jackson Labs are good examples of what the legislature could accomplish to improve relations with private employers who drive the state's economy.

"Other companies have stranded tax credits," Carstensen said. "Why aren’t we saying to them if you’re ready to make a capital investment that will anchor you here in the state. We’ll let you cash those in at 100 percent value."

Lawmakers will meet next week to hammer out the final details of the state budget.

<![CDATA[Cuts Could Mean Fewer Mammograms for Poor]]> Thu, 25 Jun 2015 18:47:17 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/3-D+Mammograms.jpg

If lawmakers approve Medicaid reimbursement cuts during next week's Special Session, potentially thousands of poor women could go without mammograms.

“For women across the state – whether they’re insured, or Medicare, or Medicaid – there will be decreased access to a life-saving tool," said Dr. Kristen Zarfos, surgical director of the Hospital of Central Connecticut.

Medicaid acts as a contract with the federal government. As long as the state reimburses hospitals and funds Medicaid at certain levels, the state receives its adequate share of federal funds. If the state levels of funding decrease, then so too does the amount of federal matching funds.

Zarfos says the cut to reimbursement could lead to fewer doctors and radiologists who could treat patients.

“What that means is that it’s going to limit access. That’s just not access for the Medicaid patient. That’s access for the Medicare patient and women with insurance because if you have facilities with fewer hours available,” she said

Lawmakers will meet next week during a Special Session when they will consider funding for all state programs and how to fund them.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[Budget Battle Continues as Democrats Meet]]> Tue, 23 Jun 2015 21:07:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/connecticut+state+capitol+building.jpg

Members of the House Democratic caucus gathered in the office of the House Speaker Brendan Sharkey to discuss the next steps when it comes to crafting the state's biennium budget.

While the General Assembly did approve a $40 billion two-year spending plan, the next issue has to do with "implementers," laws that must be passed in order for the budget to go into effect.

Sharkey wouldn't discuss what was talked about during an hours-long caucus.

He did say that members have received numerous phone calls and messages from their constituents who have worries about further spending cuts that have been proposed by Gov. Dannel Malloy.

"I think the public has made very clear what its concerns are and that’s what we’re trying to reflect in a final package. There is no public hearing process in the context of a special session," Sharkey said.

Democrats barely had enough votes to pass the budget at the close of the legislative session.

When the budget did pass, large corporations like General Electric, Aetna, Travelers and Stanley Black & Decker wrote letters to the governor with harsh criticism of corporate tax increases contained in the budget. Some companies even threatened to leave Connecticut in search of new locations for their corporate headquarters.

In the days following the session, Gov. Malloy proposed rolling back the business taxes while simultaneously cutting spending across all state services by 1.5 percent.

Republicans held a press conference to criticize the Democrats who have held meetings behind closed doors amongst themselves and with the governor for weeks. They argue that the budget has been crafted without any public oversight.

"The original budget was done in darkness and then last week there was a press meeting as I understand it in which there were going to be changes to revenue, whatever the heck that means, without one light of day," said state Sen. Len Fasano, a Republican from North Haven, "without anybody knowing what the heck that even means."

State Rep. Themis Klarides, a Republican from Derby who serves as the House minority leader, reiterated her call for the governor to wipe the slate clean and start a new budget process.

"We’re going to continue to ask the governor to do the right thing and either veto this budget or to call on the legislators and say enough is enough," she said.

Sharkey disagrees. He describes the cries of Republicans as "noise" and even accused them of deliberately working to hurt Connecticut's reputation in a sort of political game. Perception, Sharkey says, can quickly become someone's reality.

"Perception clearly does and the Republicans are not helping on that frankly. If their concern really is the perception of the state of Connecticut and those on Wall Street and those around the country well then they shouldn’t be perpetuating the hyperbole that they are," Sharkey said.

Lawmakers will meet next Monday for the start of a Special Session to finalize implementers for the budget.

<![CDATA[Florida Lures Connecticut Companies With Radio Ads]]> Mon, 22 Jun 2015 20:20:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/florida+radio+ads.jpg

Joining the likes of Indiana, Georgia, and Texas, Florida Gov. Rick Scott's economic development arm has purchased radio ad time to recruit Connecticut companies to move to the Sunshine State.

The ads from Enterprise Florida are simple. They preach an environment of low taxes, no required union membership and an overall better business environment.

"Connecticut recently increased taxes… again… this time, by over $1 billion," the ad starts. "Florida has no state income tax and has cut taxes more than 40 times over the last 4 years. Unlike Connecticut, Florida is a right-to-work state with no estate or gift tax. If you are a business that wants to pay less taxes so you can earn more money, come to Florida."

The 30-second spots are airing on radio stations across Connecticut in the wake of a budget battle that's led to a tug-of-war when it comes to the implementation of new or higher business taxes.

Earlier in June, officials with the state of Indiana took out a whole-page ad in the Wall Street Journal that recruited giants Aetna, General Electric and Travelers after they all posed threats following the passage of the state budget that included $1.6 billion in either new taxes or tax increases.

Gov. Dannel Malloy, who spoke Monday at the groundbreaking of a new research center for United Technologies, a company that renewed its commitment a year ago, said he doesn't think the Florida ad push is anything special or unprecedented.

“You know, every governor competes in every state," Malloy told reporters. "You know, we’ve brought jobs here from New York; we’ve brought them from Massachusetts and New Jersey. We’ve brought them, actually, from Florida. Everybody does this kind of stuff."

Republicans in Connecticut were quick to pile on the governor, who held a private meeting with top General Assembly Democrats to discuss the budget, along with the governor's proposed business tax rollbacks and new spending cuts.

"That's despicable," said state Sen. Len Fasano, a Republican from North Haven. "They get inside a room and they come out and announce that they have new revenue numbers and we’re going to use a different stream of revenue. What does that even mean to the public? Why do we even have session? Why do we even have public hearings?"

Fasano said the governor is failing to lead and said he couldn't blame other states for working to recruit Connecticut-based companies.

"So, if I’m Florida, Texas, Illinois, you know what I’m going to say? 'You don’t want them? You don’t appreciate them? Well, we do.' That’s why Florida is coming up here," Fasano said. "They have no income tax. They’ve cut their taxes 30 times. They don’t have an estate tax, so of course it’s going to be very attractive for the business and its employees to move to Florida."

<![CDATA[Raisin Program Unconstitutional: Supreme Court]]> Mon, 22 Jun 2015 16:06:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP060410025294raisins62215.jpg

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the government can't force raisin farmers to give up part of their annual crop for less than it's worth, a victory for conservative groups that hailed the decision as a win for private property rights.

The justices ruled 8-1 that a 1940s-era program born out of the Great Depression is unconstitutional because it allows federal officials to seize personal property from farmers without fully compensating them, even though the goal is to benefit farmers by stabilizing market prices.

The court sided with California farmers Marvin and Laura Horne, who claimed they were losing money under a program they called outdated and ineffective. They had been fined $695,000 for trying to get around it.

Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts said the government must pay "just compensation" when it takes personal goods, just as when it takes land away.

Roberts rejected the government's argument that the Hornes voluntarily chose to participate in the raisin market and have the option of growing different crops if they don't like it.

"'Let them sell wine' is probably not much more comforting to the raisin growers than similar retorts have been to others throughout history," Roberts said. "Property rights cannot be so easily manipulated."

The case was considered one of the most important property disputes to reach the high court since 2005, when the justices ruled that the city of New London, Connecticut, could use the power of eminent domain to hand private homes or businesses to developers to help stimulate economic improvement. That case sparked a backlash in many states and led more than 40 state legislatures to pass laws protecting property rights.

By contrast, Monday's ruling in the raisin case was seen as a decisive win for property-rights advocates seeking to limit government power.

"The decision confirms what should be obvious: the government cannot come and take your personal property without compensation, whether raisins or other property, on the ground that the taking is for your own good," said J. David Breemer, attorney for the Pacific Law Foundation, a conservative group that backed the Hornes.

The program was authorized by a 1937 law that allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture to keep prices for raisins and other crops steady by helping to manage supply. A 1949 marketing order allowed farmers to form aRaisin Administrative Committee that would decide how much of the raisin crop handlers must turn over to the government each year.

These raisins would be placed into a reserve pool to be sold outside the open market, used for the school lunch program or given away to charities and foreign governments. Any profits from these reserve sales would go toward funding the committee and anything left over went back to the farmers.

The Hornes refused to participate in 2003 and 2004, when raisin production far exceeded the expected demand. They tried to get around the regulations by packaging crops on their own instead of going through a middleman. But the department fined them for violating the rules.

Raisin handlers, who dry the grapes until they become raisins and then package them, were required to give up 47 percent of their crops in 2003 season, but received far less in return than their costs of production. Farmers gave up 30 percent of the crop in 2004 and were paid nothing.

Raisin prices have been relatively stable recently, and the committee has not ordered farmers to put crops in reserve since 2010.

Only a small number of other crops are regulated in the same way, though federal officials say most programs are not active. Those include California dried prunes, California dates, California almonds, tart cherries, walnuts and spearmint oil.

It was not immediately clear how the ruling might affect other USDA programs. The agency said officials were reviewing the ruling and had no immediate comment.

Roberts said the government could have restricted raisin sales by limiting production, which is how the vast majority of crops programs work.

In a separate opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer agreed that the Hornes were entitled to be properly paid for their crops, but he said the case should be sent back to a lower court to decide whether they would have been owed any money had they complied with the program.

Breyer's separate opinion was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only dissenter. She said the program did not deprive the Hornes of all property rights, it just limited the amount of potential income they could earn from it. 

<![CDATA[ Maine Sen. Angus King Diagnosed With Cancer ]]> Mon, 22 Jun 2015 12:15:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AngusKing1.jpg

Sen. Angus King of Maine said Monday he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will undergo surgery on Friday.

The 71-year-old independent said the cancer was discovered early, during a routine annual checkup. It has not spread and he said he expects to make a full recovery.

King says Maine residents should expect to see him back on the Senate floor within weeks and back on the campaign trail when he runs for re-election to a second term in 2018.

"I'm looking forward to a full recovery and to continuing my service in the Senate," King said. "And no, this does not my affect my intention to run for re-election, except my poor little prostate won't be along for the ride."

King also said that as a young man 40 years ago he was successfully treated for malignant melanoma. He said that outbreak and the prostate cancer are unrelated.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clinton and Sanders Top Candidates on Facebook]]> Fri, 19 Jun 2015 20:00:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Hilary-GettyImages-477234226.jpg

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders lead the pack of presidential candidates in early primary and caucus states — at least in terms of Facebook likes and interactions.

Discussion on the social network in Iowa, the first caucus state, and in South Carolina and New Hampshire -- early primary states -- over the last month has focused mostly on the two Democrats, according to data provided by Facebook.

The data runs from May 13 to June 13, and ends before Donald Trump entered the race. Facebook's data includes all mentions and doesn't discern between negative and positive mentions. 

In all three states, Hillary Clinton dominated interactions, which are composed of likes, shares, posts, and comments about the candidate. For example, 66,000 unique users in Iowa had 289,000 interactions about the former secretary of state.

Clinton came out as the clear frontrunner in South Carolina, and had 104,000 users making 460,000 interactions about her. The next closest candidate in the state was U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who garnered 132,000 interactions from 34,000 users. 

In Iowa and New Hampshire, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) paced closely with Clinton.

In New Hampshire -- a state that abuts Sanders' Vermont -- he enjoyed 123,000 discussions among 23,000 unique users compared with Clinton's 145,000 interactions among 32,000 unique users.

Rounding out the 18 candidates presented in the data were former New York Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat. Pataki had only had roughly 2,000 interactions across all three states, while O'Malley did slightly better, getting 5,000 interactions in New Hampshire and South Carolina and 3,000 interactions in Iowa.  

Editor's note: This post has been updated to correct the number of users who interacted with Hillary Clinton on Facebook.

<![CDATA[Marc Maron Interviews Obama]]> Sat, 20 Jun 2015 10:14:03 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/presobamamarcmarongetty123456-horz.jpg

President Barack Obama visited with comedian Marc Maron in the garage of his Highland Park  home Friday at the end of a two-day visit to Southern California.

The host of "WTF With Marc Maron" announced in his Thursday podcast that the interview with Obama, who arrived in Los Angeles Thursday for a fundraising stop, will be available Monday. The visit with Maron marks the latest unconventional interview for the president, who discussed the Affordable Care Act with actor Zach Galifianakis on comedy talk show "Between Two Ferns" and also chatted with YouTube personality GloZell.

"We think this is an opportunity to have an extended candid conversation, not necessarily about news of the day items, but I think this is going to be much more about areas of the president's life that don't always get reported in the news," Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman, told reporters aboard Air Force One Thursday en route to Los Angeles.

Secret Service personnel have been working with podcast producers to prepare for the president's visit to the historic neighborhood in northeast Los Angeles, Maron said. The interview was expected to last about an hour.

"What am I doing in terms of planning? That's a good question," Maron said on Thursday's podcast. "I'm thinking about it. I'm spinning. I haven't done political talk radio in years, no desire to.

"He's an incredibly brilliant and interesting man with a life that I'm going to talk to him about."

Past guests have included comic actors Nick Kroll, Jen Kirkman, and Bob Odenkirk.

Obama will leave Southern California following the interview, bound for the San Francisco area, where he will speak at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The president is expected to return to Southern California on Saturday, spending the night in the Coachella Valley, where he usually plays golf when he visits. Temperatures in the Coachella Valley this weekend are expected to be in the 100s.

Obama spoke at a pair of DNC fundraisers Thursday. In the lone event open to the news media, Obama told supporters he hoped they would leave with the sense that completing "the unfinished business we've got... depends on you."

"If we want the change we believe in, then we're going to have to work harder than ever in our own communities and in our own places of worship and in our own workplaces and reflect those values and ideals and then push this society and ultimately push Congress in the direction of change," Obama told a crowd of approximately 250 at the home of filmmaker Tyler Perry near Beverly Hills.

Obama went on to call for "reforming our criminal justice system in a way that we are not incarcerating nonviolent offenders in ways that renders them incapable of getting a job" after they are released; "immigration reform" that would "bring millions of people out of the shadows"; increased spending on research and making college more affordable.

Tickets for the fundraiser were priced from $2,500 to attend a reception to $33,400, the maximum allowable donation to a national party committee, which included admission to the reception, where Obama spoke, and dinner and a photo with the president. Tickets for the dinner were priced at $20,000 per couple. The price to attend the reception and have a photo taken with Obama was $10,000, according to an invitation obtained by City News Service.

Obama earlier attended another DNC fundraiser -- at the Pacific Palisades home of television producer Chuck Lorre, which was closed to reporters. Approximately 30 supporters paid up to $33,400 to attend, according to the White House.

The visit was Obama's 22nd to Los Angeles and Orange counties as president.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Newt Gingrich Takes on New Job: Tech Reviewer]]> Fri, 19 Jun 2015 11:38:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/gingrich14.jpg

Newt Gingrich's long resume just got longer.The former presidential candidate, House speaker and political consultant is now also a tech reviewer for Mashable.

His first post, a review of the Apple Watch, hit the site today, saying while there are some hiccups with the wearable gadget, it's a step in the right direction and fun for many people.

"At the moment, the Apple Watch seems best suited for busy people who need quick access to information on the go, those who want access to their schedules at a glance and anyone who likes being an early adopter of the newest technology," he wrote. "In many ways, the Apple Watch is like a beta product, but one promising a new direction, much like the first BlackBerrys and first iPhones." 

The idea to have him write for the site arose on Twitter two years ago, after Gingrich tweeted about virtual cars. A then-Mashable employee tweeted back, saying he wished the Republican would review the car for the site. 


While that review never happened, the prolific writer and technology fan later gave the site another reason to ask. In May 2015, he wrote a post for his own website about the virtual reality headset Oculus Rift. Mashable again took to Twitter to hint at the idea of him writing for the site.

With an excited response from Gingrich, a plan was set: he would be reviewing the Apple Watch. The 1,000-plus word review, which covered use of the watch during a cross-country flight and managing a busy schedule, got more than 1,000 shares within hours of hitting the Web. And the cub Mashable reporter seemed to be enjoying the job, too. 

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
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