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State News Stories

Sesame Street puppeteer Caroll Spinney dies at age 85

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Sesame Workshop says Caroll Spinney, who gave Big Bird his warmth and Oscar the Grouch his growl for nearly 50 years on "Sesame Street," died Sunday at the age of 85 at his home in Woostock, Connecticut. The Sesame Workshop said in a statement that the legendary puppeteer lived for some time with dystonia, which causes involuntary muscle contractions. Spinney voiced and operated the two major Muppets from their inception in 1969 when he was 36, and performed them almost exclusively into his 80s on the PBS kids' television show that later moved to HBO.

Portal to provide online licensing services for notaries

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Notaries in Connecticut can now handle their licensing needs online. Democratic Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has unveiled a new, online portal that will allow notaries to apply for new licenses, renew active licenses and reinstate expired licenses. All licenses will then be delivered by email to the notary within three business days. Merrill says the portal will make the process simpler and faster.

Judge: Woman's lawsuit over prison medical care can advance

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A judge has ruled that a lawsuit about whether a woman who gave birth in a Connecticut prison cell was denied medical care can advance toward a trial. Tianna Laboy's lawyers argue that officials inside York Correctional Institution in East Lyme, Connecticut did not provide proper prenatal care during her pregnancy and ignored her pleas for help during four days of labor last year. The state asked that the lawsuit against the Connecticut Department of Correction be thrown out, arguing Laboy did not file the required grievance and hadn't exhausted administrative remedies. The Hartford Courant reports U.S. District Judge Janet Hall ruled last week there was no available remedy.

UConn to propose increased tuition for all students

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - University of Connecticut says it will propose a tuition increase next year for all students in an effort to reduce annual increases in tuition. The Hartford Courant reports university President Thomas Katsouleas says the proposed hike in tuition next year would be around 4.4% for in-state students and about 1.7% for out-of-state students as part of a five-year plan. The tuition hike must still go through the university's board of trustees for approval. In-state tuition is currently $13,798, while out-of-state tuition is $36,466.

Feds: Over 60 Latin Kings members arrested along East Coast

BOSTON (AP) - Authorities say more than 60 members of the Latin Kings have been arrested on federal racketeering, drug and firearms charges, including the leaders of the street gang's East Coast operations. The majority of Thursday morning's arrests took place in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. But authorities say the gang's East Coast operations stretched into New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Florida. Authorities say the arrests are the result of a five-year investigation. A lawyer who has represented the alleged overseer of the gang's operations declined to comment.

Connecticut hospitals, governor reach legal settlement deal

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Connecticut Hospital Association and Gov. Ned Lamont have reached a long-awaited settlement agreement. The deal announced Thursday will lead to the withdrawal of legal claims that potentially exposed the state to as much as $4 billion in liability. The seven-year agreement still needs to be approved by the General Assembly. The Democratic governor said the settlement marks a new chapter in the state's relationship with the hospitals. The two sides have been at odds for years over a tax on hospitals that was part of a complicated plan to secure more federal Medicaid reimbursement funds. Under this plan, the tax will be stabilized and the Medicaid reimbursement rates to hospitals will increase 2% annually.

Teen injured in 2015 bus crash awarded $23M in damages

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut jury has awarded more than $23 million in damages to an autistic teenager who suffered severe head injuries when his school bus crashed into a tree. Gabriel Goncalves, of Wolcott, was a sixth-grader at the time of the June 2015 crash. The bus driver told investigators he swerved to avoid a car that had veered into his lane. Lawyers for his family argued that the injuries changed his personality and reversed any progress he had made learning to function with autism.

Ex-port authority staff describe challenges creating entity

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Former leaders of the Connecticut Port Authority described Wednesday numerous challenges they faced during the early days of setting up the new quasi-public entity, charged with advancing the state’s maritime economy.

Scott Bates, the authority’s former board chairman, told the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee the volunteer board of directors had the “daunting mission” of starting a new quasi-public agency “from scratch” with $400,000 and two Department of Transportation employees on temporary loan. He said the group’s only asset was the state pier in New London, which needed more than $100 million repairs.

“There was a lot of work going on in those first years, but we didn’t have the resources we needed,” said former Old Lyme First Selectman Bonnie Reemsynder, another former port authority board chairman who succeeded Bates.

The General Assembly created the authority in 2014.

The committee held Wednesday’s forum after an audit revealed various issues, including a lack of statutorily required policies. Auditors previously said the authority operated temporarily without accounting records detailing bank transactions.

The authority originally came under scrutiny for paying Reemsynder’s daughter $3,000 for office art. Republican legislator voiced concerns about such “egregious” spending by the authority. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont called for Reemysnder’s resignation and overhauled the authority’s leadership.

Police in Connecticut search for missing 1-year-old girl

ANSONIA, Conn. (AP) - Police in Connecticut are looking for an "endangered" 1-year-old girl who went missing from a home where they are investigating a suspicious death. Ansonia police say they conducted a welfare check at home in town on and found the girl's mother was dead in what is believed to be a domestic homicide. The little girl, identified by police as Vanessa Morales, should have been at the home but was not there.

Civil trial begins for estranged husband of missing mother

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The estranged husband of a missing Connecticut mother of five has gone on trial in a civil lawsuit filed by his wife's mother, who claims he owes her about $3 million in unpaid loans. The trial began Tuesday in Hartford. Gloria Farber is suing Fotis Dulos and his home building company. Farber's daughter, Jennifer Dulos, of New Canaan has been missing since May 24. Fotis Dulos says the money he received was a gift. He testified Tuesday that Farber's husband was like a second father to him.

Connecticut treasurer aims to divest gun stock

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's treasurer will announce plans to divest $30 million worth of shares in civilian firearm manufacturer securities. In a plan first provided to The Associated Press, Democratic Treasurer Shawn Wooden will unveil a plan Tuesday that could mark the first time Connecticut has taken the step of divestment in firearm-related companies since the 2012 Newtown shooting. It requires approval from an advisory board. His plan also encourages banks and financial institutions to have gun policies.

Police in Connecticut search for missing 1-year-old girl

ANSONIA, Conn. (AP) - Police in Connecticut are looking for an "endangered" 1-year-old girl who went missing from a home where they are investigating a suspicious death. Ansonia police say they conducted a welfare check at home in town on and found the girl's mother was dead in what is believed to be a domestic homicide. The little girl, identified by police as Vanessa Morales, should have been at the home but was not there.

66-year-old man struck by truck has died

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Police say a 66-year-old pedestrian struck by a pickup truck in Hartford over the weekend has died.

Police say Daniel DeJoseph was struck while walking across Franklin Avenue at about 4:45 p.m. Saturday.

He died at Hartford Hospital at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

Police the 47-year-old male truck driver stayed at the scene and is cooperating with investigators.

Police say DeJoseph's death is the city's 15th traffic fatality of 2019. There were 21 fatal crashes in 2018.

52 charged with driving under the influence over holiday

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) Connecticut State Police say they arrested 52 people suspected of driving under the influence and investigated two fatal traffic crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday enforcement period.

Troopers responded to more than 7,200 calls for service in the five-day period that started at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and ended at 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

They issued 385 speeding tickets and 1,257 citations for other violations including cellphone usage and unsafe lane changes.

Troopers investigated 593 crashes, including 61 with injuries. The fatal crashes occurred in Plainville and Norwalk.

During the Thanksgiving holiday period last year, state police made 25 DUI arrests and investigated 573 accidents, two of which were fatal.

Navy awards contract for 9 additional attack submarines

GROTON, Conn. (AP) The U.S. Navy has awarded a $22.2 billion contract for the construction of nine additional Virginia class submarines.

The office of U.S. Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island on Monday announced the contract for General Dynamics' Electric Boat in Connecticut and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. in Virginia, the two companies that have been building the attack submarines in partnership.

The submarines included in the latest contract are to be delivered to the Navy between 2025 and 2029.

They also will be slightly larger and have additional capabilities compared with earlier Virginia class submarines. The newer subs will weigh about 10,200 tons and have a length of 460 feet.

Reed's office says the contract includes an option for a tenth submarine that could raise the contract value above $24 billion.

Connecticut's fiscal condition to be discussed at Capitol

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - State lawmakers will learn more from Gov. Ned Lamont's budget director and the General Assembly's fiscal office about the condition of Connecticut's budget, including projected deficits.

Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw and Office of Fiscal Analysis Director Neil Ayers are scheduled to present their fiscal accountability reports for fiscal years 2020 to 2024 to members of the General Assembly's two budget-writing committees Thursday.

OPM has projected Connecticut will finish the current fiscal year with a $19.6 million operating deficit in the state's main spending account, while OFA has estimated the deficit will be $29.7 million. Both project operating deficits in the future fiscal years as well.

The reports examine other aspects of the budget, including projected borrowing, transportation funding, and major cost drivers affecting state spending.

Bill allowing pharmacists to give kids the flu shot at risk

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - It's unclear whether efforts next year to make the seasonal flu vaccine more accessible to children will get any traction.

Given the anticipated debate about whether to end Connecticut's religious exemption from certain childhood vaccinations, the CEO of the Connecticut Pharmacists Association says his group doesn't plan to push for a bill in the next regular legislative session that would allow young people to get a flu shot from a pharmacist.

Nathan Tinker says concerns raised by parents skeptical about the safety of vaccines could impede efforts to make the flu vaccine more accessible.

Groton Sen. Heather Somers, a Republican, says she still plans to resurrect the bill when lawmakers return in February. She says the legislation will save lives.

Currently, pharmacists can only administer flu shots to adults.


Sen. Blumenthal: Legislation targets online "cyber Grinches"

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is pushing legislation aimed at what he describes as "cyber Grinches."

The Connecticut Democrat said the goal of the bill - which he unveiled this week - is to try to block the use of so-called "bot technology" that he says allows individuals to bypass security measures to scoop up large batches of the hottest toys of the season and then resell them at inflated prices.

Blumenthal said the practice is unfair and may contribute in part to the scarcity of some of the toys.

Blumenthal compared the practice to ticket scalping.

In 2016 Blumenthal pushed legislation to crack down on those who used the same technology to unfairly scoop up tickets.

Man dies after being struck by SUV while crossing street

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) - A 68-year-old man has been killed in Connecticut after being struck by a car while crossing the street.

Police in Middletown say the man had been crossing Newfield Street at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday when he was struck by a Dodge SUV.

Authorities haven't released the name of the victim yet but say he was taken to Middlesex Hospital in Middletown and later pronounced dead.

Police say the driver, 28-year-old Daryl Franklin, was not injured. It's not clear if he faces any charges. Police say the investigation is ongoing.


Leader of gun rights group stepping down after 10 years

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The leading voice of gun rights in Connecticut is stepping down after a decade of leading an advocacy group that has grown to more than 33,000 members.

Scott Wilson is giving up the president's post at the Connecticut Citizens Defense League. The group will elect a new president Tuesday, while Wilson will remain on its executive board.

Wilson was thrust into the national spotlight after the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown. He called for protecting gun rights as many others demanded gun control measures after 20 children and six educators were killed.

The 55-year-old New London native has been an outspoken advocate for the Second Amendment, despite being accidentally shot by his brother when he was 14.







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