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Connecticut lawmakers considering three firearms related bills

Several bills are making their way through the Connecticut legislature dealing with state gun laws.  One of the bill is titled Ethan's Law.  It requires loaded and unloaded firearms to be safely stored in homes occupied by minors under age 18.  Violators could be criminally charged under the measure. 

Current law only addresses loaded firearms, and if a minor is likely to gain access to it without the permission of a parent or guardian. 

Lawmakers are again considering a proposal to ban so-called ghost guns, which can be 3D printed, and include no serial number.  It stems from a concern that they'd be impossible to trace if used in a crime.  Another bill would require firearms to be stored in a locked container when left in an unattended vehicle. 

Republican Representative Vincent Candelora, who has not backed gun-control bills before, but says Ethan's Law came from a bipartisan discussion. 

Connecticut Citizens Defense League President Scott Wilson says lawmakers instead should be looking into the root cause of violence and not the crimes associated with it.  He says everyone wants a safer environment, but making it harder for law abiding citizens to possess firearms is the wrong approach.  Wilson says lawmakers are misdirecting their focus because it's people who steal guns and commit violence, not inanimate objects.


Lamont pulls plans for State Police gun range in Griswold

GRISWOLD, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Ned Lamont is sticking to a campaign promise to scrap plans for a contentious, proposed Connecticut State Police firing range in Griswold.

The Democrat announced Tuesday the Department of Administrative Services has terminated a purchase-and-sale agreement for a 113-acre piece of land near Pachaug State Forest, where the range was supposed to be located.

Many residents had expressed concern about the noise from the proposed range, which became a hot issue during the 2018 governor's race. Lamont had said he supported building a new shooting facility for the state police, but called the Griswold site the "wrong place."

Lamont says the state will now conduct a "complete analysis of the project" and search for "viable alternative locations."

The current range in Simsbury is prone to flooding.


Police had body cameras off in shooting that injured woman

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Authorities say two officers involved in a shooting that injured a woman in New Haven last week had not turned on their body cameras before the shooting.

Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner James Rovella said at a news conference Tuesday that a Hamden officer turned on his camera only after shots were fired, but the camera captured the gunfire because of a function that recalls images from the moments before it is turned on.

He said the body camera and police vehicle camera of a Yale University police officer were also turned off.

A 22-year-old woman suffered non-life-threatening injuries when she was shot during a traffic stop on April 16. Police say the officers were responding to a report of an attempted armed robbery. No gun was recovered from the scene.


Bear euthanized after breaking into another Connecticut home

SIMSBURY, Conn. (AP) - A bear known for breaking into Connecticut homes broke into one too many.

State Environmental Conservation Police said Monday they euthanized a black bear that had entered a home in Simsbury on Saturday.

Authorities say the bear's ear tag identified it as the same one that had broken into several homes last year.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection tells the Hartford Courant there were 24 reports of bears entering homes or businesses in 2018, well above the average of six per year.

There was also a more than 30% increase in the number of bear sightings last year and a record 63 bears hit by vehicles.

Officials estimate that Connecticut is home to more than 800 bears.


Search warrant issued for car involved in police shooting

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut judge has approved a search warrant for a car in which a 22-year-old woman was injured in a shooting involving two police officers.

New Haven State's Attorney Patrick Griffin announced the warrant Monday as he met with area clergy to discuss last week's shooting, which sparked several protests.

Police have said a Hamden officer and a Yale University officer stopped the car in New Haven on April 16 and opened fire when the driver abruptly got out. Authorities said the stop was related to an attempted armed robbery in Hamden, which is disputed by the driver's relatives.

Officials said no weapons were found in the car during a preliminary search.

The woman, Stephanie Washington, survived being shot.

Both officers have been placed on leave pending the investigation.


Protesters plan rally outside police station

WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (AP) - Activists are planning to gather outside a Connecticut police station in a town where officers shot and critically injured a teenager over the weekend.

Moral Monday CT, organizing Monday's protest outside Wethersfield police headquarters, is asking people to stand with the family of 18-year-old Anthony Jose Vega Cruz, who was shot Saturday and remains in critical condition at Hartford Hospital.

Police say he fled a traffic stop, crashed with a cruiser, and then drove toward an officer outside his vehicle before he was shot twice.

Wethersfield Chief James Cetran says the officer involved in the shooting is on paid administrative leave.

State police are investigating.

An 18-year-old woman in the vehicle was not hurt and was not charged.


Wethersfield officer shoots man who drove at officer

WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (AP) - Authorities say a police officer shot and injured a man who drove toward the officer after an attempted traffic stop in Connecticut.

Connecticut State Police say two Wethersfield police officers were trying to stop a car on the Silas Deane Highway on Saturday evening when the car and a police cruiser collided.

Police say one officer got out of his cruiser and the other car drove toward the officer. Police say the officer fired his gun, injuring the driver.

Police identified the man as 18-year-old Anthony Jose Vega Cruz of Wethersfield. Police said Sunday that he's in critical condition.

Police say his female passenger wasn't injured. She was briefly detained by police and released.

Authorities are asking anyone with more information to contact police.


Anti-abortion center challenges Hartford ordinance

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A new lawsuit is challenging a Hartford ordinance that requires faith-based, anti-abortion pregnancy care centers to clearly state whether staff members have medical licenses.

The Connecticut Law Tribune reports the Willimantic-based Caring Families Pregnancy Services claims in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday that the city's ordinance is unconstitutional because it amounts to "compelled speech."

The faith-based group has mobile units that offer free services in Hartford a few days each month including pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, adoption referrals, parenting classes and Bible studies. It notes the city ordinance exempts abortion clinics and other health care facilities.

Hartford Corporation Counsel Howard Rifkin says officials are confident the ordinance is constitutional. It was passed amid concerns about faith-based centers posing as legitimate clinics and providing misleading information about abortions.

 


Stop & Shop, workers reach tentative contract agreement

BOSTON (AP) - Stop & Shop supermarket workers and company officials say they've reached a tentative contract agreement.

Both parties said in news releases Sunday that a tentative three-year agreement has been reached between the company and the United Food and Commercial Workers union members who've been on strike since April 11.

The union says "today is a powerful victory for the 31,000 hardworking men and women of Stop & Shop who courageously stood up to fight for what all New Englanders want."

The company says associates' "top priority will be restocking our stores so we can return to taking care of our customers and communities and providing them with the service they deserve."

Members at 240 Stop & Shop stores in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut had been on strike. The company says the strike has ended.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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