Lester St. James
Lester St. James
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The Hawk Mornings

State News Stories

Connecticut firefighter apologizes for 'Let them die' remark

GLASTONBURY, Conn. (AP) - A volunteer firefighter in Connecticut has apologized for suggesting that a drug used to revive opioid overdose victims should be banned so that "when people overdose, you let them die." The Hartford Courant reports that Glastonbury firefighter James Stanley made the remark Sunday during a confrontation with Black Lives Matter activist Ivelisse Correa. Stanley apologized for the comment when the Courant reached out to him by Facebook messenger. The Glastonbury Fire Department said on its Facebook page that the comment was not a reflection of those who "dedicate themselves to protecting the residents and visitors of Glastonbury."

Bill that changes how inmates are counted clears Senate

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A bill that would change the way prisoners are counted when Connecticut's legislative district lines are redrawn has cleared a major legislative hurdle. The state Senate on Wednesday voted 35 to 1 in favor of the bill, which now awaits action in the House of Representatives. Currently, those incarcerated are counted as members of the community in which they are imprisoned. Under this bill, they would instead be counted toward the city and town where they lived before entering prison, which advocates contend would be fairer to those communities. Enfield state Sen. John Kissel cast the sole negative vote.

High court mulls if women-only areas at gyms discriminate

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Connecticut Supreme Court has heard arguments over whether fitness clubs can have women-only exercise areas. Justices wrestled with the issues of sexual discrimination, the differences between men and women and even the definition of gender during Wednesday's hearing. The case involves two men who complained about women-only exercise areas at an Edge Fitness club in Stratford and a Club Fitness in Bloomfield. They claimed sex discrimination. The state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities appealed to the Supreme Court after one of its own hearing officers ruled the female-only exercise areas were not discriminatory. Justices are expected to issue a ruling in several months.

House votes to grant all adoptees access to birth records

The House of Representatives has voted to grant all adoptees in Connecticut access to their birth certificates. Tuesday's 115-28 vote followed an emotional and personal debate over whether the privacy rights of certain birth parents should trump those of adoptees seeking information about their past. The bill now awaits action in the state Senate. Current state law allows access to original birth certificates for people, 18 years and older, whose adoptions were finalized on or after Oct. 1, 1983. That's the date when the state adoption form was changed and a clause added, warning that birth parents' identities could be disclosed.

Connecticut to get grants withheld by Trump administration

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut will receive $6.4 million in federal law enforcement grants that had been withheld by the Trump administration in a dispute over immigration enforcement. Attorney General William Tong says the Biden administration has rescinded conditions placed on the funding in 2017 that would have forced states to do such things as allow the federal Department of Homeland Security access to any immigrant being held in a state correctional facility. The decision ends a lawsuit filed by seven states, including Connecticut that argued that conditions on those grants interfered with the rights of states and localities to set their own law enforcement policies.

Walsh, Raimondo push apprentice programs at submarine maker

GROTON, Conn. (AP) - U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo promoted federal funding for job apprenticeships during a visit to submarine maker Electric Boat in Connecticut. They said job training is going to be a key to putting back to work people who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. They were joined at Electric Boat on Tuesday by Connecticut members of Congress and Gov. Ned Lamont. Walsh and Raimondo touted the $285 million in President Joe Biden's massive infrastructure proposal that would create up to 2 million apprenticeships. Electric Boat is training apprentices for a hiring spree needed to fulfill its multibillion contracts to build U.S. submarines.

Conn. first state in U.S. to fully vaccinate 50% of adults

While touting CDC data that shows the state is the first in the U.S. to have more than 50% of adults age 18 and older fully vaccinated, Gov. Ned Lamont said there continues to be a slowdown in the rate of vaccinations.

“You can tell it’s not going up as quickly any longer,” Lamont said.

“So what we are doing is reinforcing our messaging,” he added.

As of Monday, nearly 1.4 million Connecticut adults have been fully vaccinated, 50.3 percent of all residents age 18 and older.  New Mexico and South Dakota are just behind Connecticut at 49.9 percent and 49.8 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, the state continues to see new cases. Since Friday, there have been more than 1,300 confirmed or probable COVID-19 infections. The number of hospitalizations, however, dropped by 41 to 342. Meanwhile, there have been 15 additional COVID-associated deaths since Friday, for a total of 8,112 people.

The 7-day average positivity rate is below 2 percent, the first time in over six months. 

Conn. paid family medical leave program surpasses initial projections

The Connecticut Paid Leave Authority has registered 108,911 businesses and collected more than $102 million in first quarter contributions for Connecticut’s newly established paid family and medical leave program, surpassing initial projections.   The authority had set a goal of registering 104,000 businesses. 

Businesses began registering for the program on January 1st. Paid leave benefits will become accessible to qualified workers across the state beginning January 2022.

Paid Leave Authority CEO Andrea Barton Reeves said the authority will now focus on identifying and reaching out to the small businesses that do not meet the Department of Labor definition of businesses because they have fewer than ten employees. Those businesses are also required to withhold on behalf of employees. While many have already registered, Barton Reeves said the authority will work to ensure they have communicated with as many as possible.

The program is 100% employee funded through payroll deductions of half a percent from employee paychecks. Withholding began on January 1.

Employees who are eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period must have earned $2,325 in the highest earning quarter of the past five quarters, must be currently employed or previously employed, and working in the state during the 12 weeks immediately preceding the leave request.

Qualifying reasons include birth of a child or placement of a child for adoption or foster care; caring for your health or that of a loved one or family member; serving as an organ or bone marrow donor; caring for a family member injured in military active duty; or being impacted by family violence.

Barton Reeves says business cooperation with this new process has been extraordinary and workers across Connecticut who will be eligible for paid leave next year will be the beneficiaries. 

President Biden to speak at Coast Guard Academy commencement

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) - President Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver the keynote address during this month's graduation ceremonies at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The address, scheduled for May 19, will be the second time Biden has addressed a graduating class at the academy. He also served as the keynote speaker in 2013 while serving as vice president. This will be Biden's first commencement address to a military service academy and his first official visit to Connecticut as president. Lyndon Johnson was the first president to speak at a Coast Guard graduation, addressing cadets in 1964.

3 hospitalized after pregnant moose is fatally struck by car

GOSHEN, Conn. (AP) - Police say three people were hospitalized after a car struck and killed a pregnant moose in Connecticut. The accident happened shortly after 9:30 p.m. Saturday in the town of Goshen. State police say a 2011 Subaru was traveling north on Route 272 when a moose appeared in the roadway, causing the car to strike it. The moose, who was pregnant, was killed. The driver and two passengers were taken to Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington with minor injuries. Two additional passengers did not require hospitalization. The car was towed from the scene.

Police probing emergency call as 'swatting' incident

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. (AP) - An emergency call that led Willimantic police to close down streets Saturday night is being investigated as a possible "swatting" incident. The caller claimed to be a juvenile male and said he had a firearm and was planning on killing his parents and then himself. Adjacent residents were evacuated and a reverse 911 call warned nearby residents to shelter in place. But when officers arrived at the multifamily residence they found no one matching the description of the caller. Police are considering the incident an example of "swatting," the name given to a hoax emergency call designed to provoke a response by a SWAT team.

Tick populations on the rise in Connecticut

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Experts say the Connecticut's tick population is increasing this season and features some new species. They say the increase is due to a variety of factors including shorter and warmer winters and longer and wetter springs and summers. The New Haven Register reports the state counted more than double the number of ticks through April 30 than it did last year. Adding to the challenge is that tick-borne illnesses can have symptoms resembling those of COVID-19. Experts urge people working or spending extended periods of time outdoors to check for ticks, remove them carefully and submit them to the state.

Maker of drug to treat opioid addiction agrees to settlement

State Attorney General William Tong has announced a $300 Million multistate settlement with a company  to settle allegations that it falsely and aggressively marketed and otherwise promoted the drug Suboxone, resulting in improper expenditures of state Medicaid funds.

Indivior, a Delaware company, will pay a total of $300 million to resolve various civil fraud allegations impacting Medicaid and other government healthcare programs. Connecticut will receive $7.9 million in the settlement and an additional $200,000 for Connecticut Department of Social Services’ state-funded programs.

Tong says this settlement sends a strong message that states across the nation are united in taking aggressive action against those who fraudulently and callously contributed to the opioid epidemic.

Suboxone is a drug product approved for use by recovering opioid addicts to avoid or reduce withdrawal symptoms while they undergo treatment. Suboxone and its active ingredient, buprenorphine, are powerful and addictive opioids. The settlement resolves allegations that, from 2010 through 2015, Indivior, directly or through its subsidiaries:

The civil settlement resolves the claims against Indivior brought in six qui tam lawsuits pending in federal courts in the Western District of Virginia and the District of New Jersey.

Demand for vaccine in Connecticut drops 50% over 2 weeks

Gov. Ned Lamont says demand for COVID-19 vaccinations in Connecticut has decreased by about 50% over the past two weeks. That is prompting state officials to now focus heavily on reaching people - especially younger residents - with the state's fleet of mobile vaccination vans and walk-up vaccinations at more than 100 existing clinics. The Democrat said Thursday that plans are underway to bring the vans to large workplace, fairs, parades and other large gatherings. As of Thursday, more than 1.32 million residents have been fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, outdoor restrictions at bars and restaurants with be lifted as of Saturday.

UConn student arrested after swastika painted on building

STORRS, Conn. (AP) - A 21-year-old UConn student has been charged with a hate crime after police say he painted a swastika on a campus building at the start of the Passover holiday. Kristopher Pieper was being held Thursday in lieu of a $5,000 bond on charges including intimidation based on bigotry or bias and criminal mischief. It was not immediately clear if he has hired an attorney. He's accused of painting the antisemitic symbol on the school's chemistry building, which is located directly across from UConn Hillel, the Jewish student organization, on March 27. Police say he told them he was upset with certain Jewish religious practices.

UConn trustees green-light $70 million on-campus hockey rink

STORRS, Conn. (AP) - The University of Connecticut's Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a new $70 million plan to build a 2,600-seat hockey rink on campus. The facility will be smaller and much more expensive than originally anticipated. The school began planning a 4,000-seat rink in 2013 when its men's hockey program joined Hockey East, one the nation's top conferences. In 2018, trustees approved a $45 million plan for a 2,500-seat rink that was expected to open this year. But that plan fell through when it became clear that the facility could not be built with that budget.

Connecticut ends its state religious vaccine exemption

Gov. Ned Lamont has signed a bill into law that ends Connecticut's long-standing religious exemption from childhood immunization requirements for schools and day care facilities. The Democratic governor announced in a tweet that he had signed the legislation Wednesday. The action came hours after the Democratic-controlled Senate passed the bill late Tuesday night and thousands of opponents rallied outside the state Capitol, arguing the legislation infringes on their religious liberties and parental rights. Opponents hope to overturn the law in court. Proponents say the new law is needed given a slow and steady increase in requests to be shielded from required vaccinations.

Derby man who was shot by officer faces weapons charges

ANSONIA, Conn. (AP) - A 29-year-old Derby man faces weapons charges after allegedly firing a gun at a passing car before being shot by a police officer. Corneilus Mccullough was being held Tuesday in lieu of $300,000 bond on charges including carrying a pistol without a permit and criminal possession of a firearm. Police say Mccullough and another person approached an officer in his cruiser and began banging on his windows asking for assistance. They say Mccullough then fired a gun at a passing car before the officer shot him in the leg. The shootings happened on Monday around 7 a.m. Mccullough is on the state's Deadly Weapon Offender Registry and does not have a valid pistol permit.

State Attorney General urges passage of EAGLES Act

State Attorney General William Tong is urging Congress to pass the EAGLES Act, a national program to prevent targeted school violence. The legislation is named after the mascot of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed February 14th, 2018. The Act would expand the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center with a greater focus on school violence prevention.

The Act’s safe school initiative contains research and training components, allows dissemination of evidence-based practices, and authorizes the Center to work with state and local officials to develop research and training.

In the letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, 37 attorneys general write, that it's unfortunate to have to turn to the threat assessment expertise of the Secret Service in order to keep educators and students safe at school, but that gun violence in schools has become all too commonplace.

They say every student and educator deserves to feel safe at school.  Tong says Connecticut knows too well, that isn’t the case.  He added that this federal legislation is an important tool in the fight to keep all forms of violence out of schools so that children can learn and grow in an environment free from fear.

NTAC was created in 1998 to provide information on threat assessment to the Secret Service and those who work in criminal justice and public safety. NTAC started studying targeted violence in schools after the Columbine High School Shooting in 1999 which led to the establishment of school threat assessment programs.

Emissions testing resumes in Connecticut

Emissions testing resumes in Connecticut following a nearly month long pause due to a malware attack on the system used by this state and 7 others. 

Applus Technologies restored service to all Connecticut emissions test centers Tuesday.

The DMV enacted a plan to tackle the backlog which provides customers ample time to complete their testing.  Customers impacted by the outage now have up to 60-days to complete their emissions testing requirements.  If the emissions test or the retest expired between March 30th and April 30th, motorists must complete testing by June 30th. 

The DMV will also waive all emissions test late fees through June 30th.

Records indicate that approximately 53,300 vehicles were due for their emissions test between March 30th and April 26th.

The malware attack was initially detected on March 30th by Applus Technologies.  It temporarily interrupted vehicle inspection and emissions testing programs. A thorough investigation is still underway, although Applus is not currently aware of any risk to personal data for motorists in Connecticut.

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Lester St. James
Lester St. James
6:00am - 10:00am
The Hawk Mornings