State news

Bobcat that attacked golfer, horse, had rabies

SPRAGUE, Conn. (AP) A bobcat that attacked a golfer in Connecticut shortly after scratching a horse has tested positive for rabies.

The bobcat was shot and killed by state environmental police shortly after it attacked a man Thursday on the Mohegan Sun Golf Course in Sprague, Connecticut.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said in a statement the wildcat was taken for testing at the UConn Medical Lab, which confirmed it has rabies.

The golfer and the horse's owner have been notified.

The golfer, a man in his 60s whose name was not made public, was treated at a hospital for scratches.

Bobcats are common in Connecticut, but attacks on humans are unusual. The last report of a bobcat attack on a human in the state was in Bozrah in August 2014.

Court overturns rejection of plans for school for disabled

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The state Appellate Court has overturned the town of Fairfield's rejection of a proposed new school for teenagers and adults with severe learning disabilities, which neighbors opposed because of traffic concerns.

A three-judge panel of the court ruled unanimously Thursday that Fairfield's Plan & Zoning Commission was wrong in 2015 when it denied the application for the Next Steps program submitted by the nonprofit American Institute for Neuro-Integrative Development.

The judges said there was no evidence extra traffic would create hazards and ordered the application approved. The ruling overturned a lower court that upheld the rejection.

The institute currently runs a school that serves up to 40 students ages 2 to 16 with learning and development disorders. That school is right next to the site of the proposed school.

Connecticut lawmakers mulling a possible capital gains tax

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Some legislative Democrats are considering a new capital gains tax on Connecticut's high-earners, instead of following through with some of Gov. Ned Lamont's proposed sales tax changes.

Democratic Rep. Jason Rojas of East Hartford on Thursday said he expects the General Assembly's Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee will hold a public hearing, possibly on April 26, on a proposed 2% tax on capital gains income earned by wealthy taxpayers.

He says the tax could generate about $262 million annually.

Rojas says it's an option lawmakers should consider. He says it could give them the option of forgoing some of Lamont's more contentious tax changes, such as imposing sales taxes on college text books and veterinary services.

Lamont has opposed raising the marginal rates of Connecticut's personal income tax.

Officers involved in shooting that injured woman identified

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Officials in Connecticut have publicly identified two police officers involved in a shooting that injured a woman and sparked community protests.

Yale University in a statement Wednesday said campus officer Terrance Pollack was involved in Tuesday's shooting in New Haven. Officials said the 16-year veteran of the department was placed on leave pending an investigation under standard protocol.

Authorities say the Yale officer and a Hamden officer stopped a car in New Haven and shot at the driver, who was suspected in an attempted robbery in neighboring Hamden. Twenty-two-year-old Stephanie Washington was shot but survived.

Police say the officers opened fire when the driver failed to follow commands and got out of the car abruptly.

The Hamden officer, Devin Eaton, also has been placed on leave pending an investigation.

Bill advances protecting pre-existing condition coverage

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut lawmakers have moved closer toward barring certain health insurance policies from limiting or excluding coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 146-0 in favor of legislation that prohibits short-term policies, which provide coverage for six months or less, from containing a pre-existing condition provision.

Current state law already prohibits other individual and group health insurance policies and HMO contracts from imposing such provisions.

Democratic Rep. Sean Scanlon of Guilford says one in four Connecticut residents have a medical condition that existed before their health coverage began.

Scanlon says he hopes the legislation will give Connecticut residents peace of mind they will be protected "regardless of what happens in Washington," a reference to efforts to scrap the Affordable Care Act.

The bill now awaits Senate action.

House votes to toughen penalty for trucks on parkways

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Some Connecticut lawmakers are hoping a stiffer fine will make it clear that trucks are not allowed on the state's two historic, limited-access parkways.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 98-45 in favor of legislation that increases the current $100 fine to $500. It awaits Senate action.

Democratic Rep. Steven Stafstrom of Bridgeport says it's become common to see trucks on the Merritt and Wilbur Cross Parkways. The drivers often learn the hard way that their trucks are too large to pass under the overpass bridges and become stuck, tying up traffic. There was a fatal truck-related crash in 2017.

Some lawmakers questioned why the Department of Transportation hasn't recommended additional ways to deter trucks, as a 2017 law required. 

Police injure woman while shooting at man after robbery

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Authorities say police shot a woman in a car in New Haven while firing at the driver, who was suspected in an armed robbery.

State police say a Hamden officer and a Yale University officer opened fire at the driver early Tuesday morning after he got out of the car abruptly and turned toward them.

Police say the woman was treated at a hospital for a non-life-threatening bullet wound. Police say they arrested the driver, who was not injured.

Authorities say Hamden police were investigating the robbery of a newspaper delivery driver in their town shortly before 4:30 a.m. and located in New Haven a car linked to the holdup.

State police are investigating the shooting. The names of the officers, man and woman have not been released.

Labor Secretary being briefed on eastern Connecticut program

DANIELSON, Conn. (AP) - U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta is making stops in Connecticut to learn more about a program that has matched nearly 1,300 workers with local manufacturers, including Electric Boat.

Acosta on Tuesday will tour Quinebaug Valley Community College's Manufacturing Pipeline training center and speak with students enrolled in a program for future machinists.

He's also scheduled to tour Electric Boat in Groton and observe a piping and machining class, as well as participate in a discussion about the program at the American Job Center in Uncasville.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and Democratic U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal will also participate. They're expected to discuss the program's success and what still needs to be done.

The Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative has received about $6 million in federal funding.

Committee leader backing Lamont's proposed sugary drink tax

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The co-chairman of the General Assembly's Public Health Committee is throwing his support behind a proposed tax on sugary drinks.

Democratic Rep. Jonathan Steinberg of Westport says he's working to persuade his fellow Connecticut lawmakers to support the tax in order to reduce consumption and improve public health. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont included a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened drinks in his budget proposal, which still awaits legislative action.

Steinberg appeared Tuesday with representatives of the American Heart Association and American Academy of Pediatrics to draw attention to the proposal. But it remains unclear if the tax will ultimately pass. It's opposed by the beverage industry and many Republicans.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano claims Democrats are hypocrites for wanting to reduce people's sugar consumption while wanting to legalize recreational marijuana.


Connecticut police solve decapitated chicken mystery

WESTPORT, Conn. (AP) Police have captured a man they say has been leaving decapitated chickens outside a Connecticut home.

Westport police say a resident called at about 11:30 p.m. Friday to say someone had just dropped a bag containing two headless chickens and a headless pigeon on his property, then ran in the direction of a nearby railroad station.

Based on surveillance video, police found 48-year-old Ajamu Obataiye, of New York City, at the station and charged him with breach of peace, animal cruelty and illegal dumping.

Police say decapitated chickens have been left at the home on apparently random occasions over the past year. There's no known connection between Obataiye and the homeowner.

He was released on $7,500 bond. The case wasn't listed in online court records and it's unclear if he has a lawyer.

Lamont looking to borrow against future toll revenues

Gov. Ned Lamont sees an opportunity for Connecticut to get some transportation funding before the first electronic highway toll is even installed.

The Democrat has suggested borrowing against the $800 million a year tolls are projected to generate, so Connecticut can reap some upfront cash and accelerate spending on transportation.

But that's a tactic that's been blamed partly for financial challenges in at least one state, Ohio, where drivers face a gas tax increase.

Lamont's chief of staff, Ryan Drajewicz (DRAH'-zah-witz), says the administration is learning from the experiences of other states and would be careful in any borrowing. He says "we very much don't want to put the state in jeopardy."

A final tolling bill for lawmakers to consider is still being negotiated.

A "mansion tax," other ideas suggested to make taxes fair

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The state Senate's top Democrat says lawmakers should offset negative impacts of the new federal tax law on many Connecticut taxpayers.

Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney of New Haven says the legislature could consider ideas such as a "mansion tax" on valuable properties or a separate tax rate on capital gains income to ensure Connecticut's tax policy takes a larger percentage of revenue from high-income groups.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont doesn't support increasing income tax rates for the wealthy.

Looney and other Democrats complained Monday - the tax filing deadline - how the federal tax law limits the state and local tax deduction taxpayers can claim at $10,000, hurting middle-income earners.

The Office of Legislative Research estimates the change led to a $2.8 billion tax increase for Connecticut taxpayers.

Lawmakers argue ending vaccine exemption is unconstitutional

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A group of state lawmakers insists it's unconstitutional to eliminate a religious exemption to the requirement that Connecticut schoolchildren be vaccinated.

The 44 senators and representatives, mostly Republicans, have sent a letter to Democratic Attorney General William Tong expressing their belief that ending the exemption would prevent parents from freely exercising their right to religion and violate their equal protection under the law.

The letter is in response to a recent request from Democratic House Majority Leader Matt Ritter of Hartford seeking an opinion from Tong on the constitutionality of eliminating the exemption. Ritter says the exemption is being abused and should be scrapped in light of the uptick in measles and other outbreaks across the U.S.

A spokeswoman for Tong says an opinion will likely be released next month.

Report: Connecticut inpatient hospital stays on decline

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A new report shows the number of hospital inpatient stays in Connecticut is declining.

The 2018 Statewide Healthcare Facilities and Services Plan , compiled by the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy, determined the number is down more than 118,000, from 2013 to 2017.

The same report also found hospital emergency room visits declined by more than 100,000 over the same time period, while hospitalizations that could have been avoided if conditions and illnesses were managed successfully in another medical setting remained stable over the past two years.

OHS Executive Vicki Veltri says conclusions can't really be drawn from the data, but it helps officials identify cost drivers, such as the overuse of emergency departments.

The same report found heart failure is the top preventable hospitalization condition for adults. It's asthma for children.

Jury selection to begin for man charged in 2008 killings

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Jury selection is set to begin for the trial of a Connecticut man charged in a drive-by shooting in Hartford that killed two people in 2008, two months after police say he shot a third man to death.

The prosecution and defense in the case of 37-year-old Harold Patterson, of Hartford, are scheduled to start picking jurors Monday in Hartford Superior Court. Patterson's lawyer, William Gerace, says his client is innocent.

The three killings went unsolved before Patterson was arrested on murder charges in 2016. That's when police say a witness came forward and linked Patterson to the killings.

Patterson is accused of gunning down Raymond Hite in June 2008 and killing Lamar Gresham and Carlos Ortiz two months later in what appeared to be unrelated shootings.

Report finds police officers violated code of conduct

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - An investigation into a Connecticut police officer's sexual harassment complaint has concluded that a police sergeant and lieutenant violated the department's code of conduct.

The Hartford Police Department's internal affairs report released Wednesday says Sgt. Andrew Rodney used offensive language with Officer Kelly Baerga, who is the department's LGBTQ liaison.

Baerga complained that Rodney made lewd comments she felt were demeaning and made comments to another officer that seemed intended to "out" her as gay.

The report says Lt. Paul West didn't appropriately discipline Rodney or properly notify supervisors of Baerga's complaints.

Baerga says West is being unduly punished and he was the first to report her complaints while top officials took no action for months.

Rodney has said he never meant to offend.

Both men face suspension or demotion.

Connecticut minor league team to get a new name

NORWICH, Conn. (AP) - The Connecticut Tigers minor league baseball team is getting a new name.

General Manager Dave Schermerhorn says the Detroit Tigers affiliate wants to rebrand for the 2020 season as something that connects better with the local community.

The club is a member of the short-season Single-A New York-Penn League. It recently reached a new long-term lease agreement with the city of Norwich to continue playing in the 6,000-seat Dodd Stadium.

Fans are being asked to submit name suggestions on the Connecticut Tigers website . Schermerhorn says the club will whittle those down to few finalists and hold a public vote on a new name.

Schermerhorn acknowledges the team would like a brand that has better merchandising appeal. He says that could mean something traditional or a "more fun and whacky name and logo."

Stop & Shop supermarket workers in 3 states go on strike

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Workers at Stop & Shop supermarkets in three states have gone on strike over stalled contract negotiations.

United Food & Commercial Workers union workers from several locals walked off the job Thursday in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. More than 31,000 employees authorized union leaders to call for a strike.

Stop & Shop is a division of Dutch supermarket giant Ahold Delhaize and has 415 stores across the Northeast.

The company said in a statement posted on its website that it was disappointed with the strike given that negotiations are ongoing with the assistance of federal mediators. It added that management's "reasonable" offer includes across-the-board raises and health and pension benefits it says are better than most other food retailers.

The unions say the company is demanding "unreasonable" wage and benefit cuts.

Lamont offers up tolling plan changes as talks continue

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Ned Lamont says he's working with fellow Democrats to craft a final tolling bill that addresses some of the public's concerns, including language ensuring no more than 50 tolling gantries on four Connecticut highways.

Lamont said Wednesday that he and the chairmen of the General Assembly's Transportation Committee have also agreed electronic tolls would be placed every six or seven miles on Interstates 84, 95, 91 and Route 15 and people who use a Connecticut EZ-pass could pay roughly 25 to 30 cents per gantry, or 4.4 cents per mile.

Lamont says he's willing to negotiate the final details, as lawmakers try to piece together several bills into one.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano says Lamont is making "a desperate attempt" to get the tolling plan back on track.

Charles Van Doren, figure in game show scandals, dies at 93

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The central figure in the TV game show scandals of the late 1950s has died. Charles Van Doren was 93.

His son, John Van Doren, said he died of natural causes Tuesday at a care center for the elderly in Canaan, Connecticut.

Van Doren won a then-record $129,000 on the show "Twenty-One" in late 1956 and early 1957. He eventually pleaded guilty to perjury for lying to a Manhattan grand jury that investigated the scandal.

He later admitted in testimony before Congress that he had been given advance answers.

He spent the following decades largely out of the public eye.

Ralph (RAYF) Fiennes played Van Doren in "Quiz Show," a 1994 film directed by Robert Redford and also starring John Turturro.

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