New laws taking effect, economic summit, polls

October 3, 2011

Here are our last week’s political news highlights from and about Connecticut.

A new Health Enhancement Program, a state health plan aimed at attaining savings in state government spending was started on October 1. More than 50,000 state employees enrolled in the program, as State Comptroller Kevin Lembo announced two weeks ago. According to, the policy includes disease management programs for people with chronic conditions, and their failure to participate in these programs would result in $100 additional payment in premiums per month and “face a deductible.”
Here is a list of some of the new laws which started became effectiveon October 1:
-Requirement for health care providers to wear identification badges while at work
-Oversight of third party administrators by the Connecticut Insurance Department (CID) on annuity, life or health insurance
-Wave of the $20 fee per certified copy of a veteran’s death certificate when requested by their child, parent, or spouse
-Ban for ambulance drivers, emergency medical responders, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, and paramedics – unless for the purpose of performing their duties – from taking digital or photographic images of a person they provide medical assistance for. The new law penalizes these people in such cases by up to $2,000, a 1-year imprisonment, or both
-Permission for gun owners who are state residents to renew their gun permit by mail instead of being required to personally appear at the Department of Public Safety for this purpose

October 1 is also the first day of retirement for unionized state employees and the beginning of unionized state employees’ 2 percent minimum cost of living adjustment. This policy is among the changes between the old tentative agreement – rejected by the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) – and the alternative tentative agreement between the unions and the state government, which was ratified by SEBAC.

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that the Small Business Administration (SBA) granted $546,822 to Connecticut in an effort to increase exports in the state. The funds come from a three-year initiative by the SBA.

The governor also announced that Jackson Laboratory, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to “discover the genetic basis for preventing, treating and curing human disease, and to enable research for the global biomedical community,” will fund $809 million to the University of Connecticut Health Center from federal government grants, and philanthropy and service income over the next twenty years for creating a research institute there for the Jackson Laboratory’s purpose. The Connecticut government will add $291 million to the Health Center, about two-thirds of which ($192 million) will be in secured construction loans, according to a press release, which also adds that 6,800 will be created for that period of time.

There will be an economic summit in Connecticut on Thursday, October 6, from 9am until 3pm in Hartford. It will be hosted by Governor Malloy, and will be featuring academics and Moody’s economist Mark Zandi. One of the main topics to be discussed during that event will be how to reinvent the state. The Governor’s Economic Summit, the name of the event, is free, and has already reached maximum capacity based on preregistrations and RSVPs.

The CID announced that Oxford Health Plans filed a request to raise its premiums by 11 percent for “large group medical policies for employers of fifty-one or more workers” effective next year.

Meanwhile, the CID also reported that Aetna Health, Inc. filed a request to raise by 2.2 percent to 6.9 percent its health care premiums for employers of one to fifty workers. reported that the Appropriations, Energy and Technology and Human Services Committees unanimously passed on Tuesday a plan that would provide $61.6 million in federal assistance to qualified residents under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Congress has not acted on the LIHEAP funding yet, according to the media, inferring that none of the funds are guaranteed yet but the Malloy administration was quoted as expecting $46.4 million from it. State Representative Vickie Nardello (D – Cheshire) was quoted as saying that the funds will be taken from the state budget if the federal government funds it less than $61.6 million.

Thirty-seven non-permanent social workers at the Connecticut Department of Children and Families who were laid off in July appealed to Governor Malloy to reinstate them back to work. Non-permanent positions were reportedly not protected in the ratified alternative tentative agreement worth $1.6 billion in concessions from the state labor unions. One of these laid off workers was quoted by as saying that she voted for the alternative tentative agreement and was also reported by that media as expressing surprise that her position has not been made permanent.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen joined New England States filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a challenge of 11.14 percent rate transmission fee to electric transmission owners by opining in the joint document that a smaller increase of 9.2 percent is reasonable to maintain utility companies’ distribution systems.

Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman and Connecticut Department of Social Services Commissioner Roderick Bremby announced that the Connecticut Department of Social Services awarded Community Network of Connecticut, Inc., a nonprofit organization with the right to renegotiate a five-year contract ranging from $70 million to $73 million per year.

According to a latest Public Policy Polling survey which includes 592 Connecticut voters, U.S. Representative Chris Murphy (D, CT – 5th District) leads to his opponents in a general election against his potential republican opponents. U.S. Representative Murphy leads former WWE corporate officer Linda McMahon by 50-43 percent and former U.S. Representative Chris Shays by 43-39 percent. Meanwhile, Mr. Murphy’s opponents for the Democratic Party nomination – former Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and state Representative William Tong (D – Stamford) would loose in a general election against the main republican contenders for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by outgoing U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (I – CT), according to the poll. Data show that Ms. Bysiewicz will win against Ms. McMahon by 47-46 percent but loose against Mr. Shays by 37-48 percent. State Representative Tong will loose against both Linda McMahon and Chris Shays by 38-45 percent and by 27-46 percent respectively. The survey also features questions about possible general election between one of the democratic contenders and former U.S. Representative Rob Simmons who lost the republican primary race for the U.S. Senate a year ago to Linda McMahon who then lost against then Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. The results show that Mr. Simmons will loose against Chris Murphy by 36-45 percent but will win against Susan Bysiewicz by 42-41 percent and William Tong by 32-39 percent. Windsor attorney Brian Keith Hill, who is also seeking the GOP nomination, was not featured in the survey.

Six former Connecticut Republican Party Chairmen – Chris DePino, Dick Foley, George Gallo, Bill Hamzy, Chris Healy and Herb Shepardson – endorsed Linda McMahon in her bid for the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Representative Jim Himes (D, CT – 4th District) announced that the U.S. Department of Justice granted $5,604,080 to Bridgeport through its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services program. According to U.S. Representative Himes, the grants will be used for creating twenty new jobs for police officers this year, and will enhance safety in Bridgeport.

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