WEDNESDAY EVENING UPDATE

STATE HIGH COURT SAYS EDUCATION FUNDING IS OK

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Connecticut’s Supreme Court has rejected a claim that the state’s educational funding formula is unconstitutional. A divided court overturned a Superior Court judge who had ordered state officials to develop plans for an overhaul of the state’s public education system, saying a huge gap in test scores between students in rich and poor towns shows parts of the system are unconstitutional. The high court, in a ruling released Wednesday, found that while there is an educational achievement gap between poorer students and “their more fortunate peers,” that does not alone violate the equal protection provisions of the Connecticut Constitution. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed in 2005 against the state by the nonprofit Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding and more than 50 parents and students.

ROWLAND MOVED

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Federal prison officials say former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland has been transferred from a Pennsylvania prison to a halfway house to finish his sentence for campaign fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The 60-year-old Republican was expected to be released May 27, nearly a year early from his 30-month sentence. The Bureau of Prisons announced Wednesday that Rowland was released from the minimum-security federal prison camp in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Officials declined to release the location of the halfway house, citing privacy reasons. Rowland was previously convicted in a public corruption scandal that forced him to resign from the governorship in 2004 and sent him to prison for 10 months.Rowland was convicted in 2014 of plotting to hide political consulting roles through sham contracts in two failed congressional campaigns.

LAMONT ENTERS GOVERNOR’S RACE

Ned Lamont (Hartford Courant)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Businessman Ned Lamont is launching another bid for the Democratic nomination for governor of Connecticut. The 2006 U.S. Senate candidate from Greenwich filed official paperwork Wednesday, joining a crowded field of more than two dozen Democrats, Republicans and others who either have declared their candidacies or are exploring possible runs. Lamont made the announcement this morning in a YouTube video. The 64-year-old beat U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman in the 2006 Democratic primary, but Lieberman won the general election as an independent. Lamont also lost to Dannel Malloy in the 2010 Democratic primary for governor. Lamont says he wants to improve the economy, raise the minimum wage and establish paid family leave.

ESCAPED INMATE CAPTURED

Jerry Mercado (Hartford Courant)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – An inmate who escaped from a Connecticut state prison is in custody. The state Department of Correction said Wednesday that 25-year-old Jerry Mercado is in custody in Georgia. Mercado escaped from the Carl Robinson Correctional Facility in Enfield, Connecticut on Jan. 7. Mercado was sentenced in August 2016 to three years for burglary. The U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force announced Tuesday it was offering a larger reward for information leading to Mercado’s arrest. Authorities believe Mercado may have stowed away in the undercarriage of a garbage truck or state vehicle to escape.

STATE POLICE COMMANDER LEAVING

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) – The commanding officer of the Connecticut State Police is leaving the post after less than two years to become a town police chief. Col. Alaric Fox is expected to begin his new job in Enfield, March 12. Town Manager Bryan Chodkowski announced on Wednesday that Fox accepted the position after being selected from a pool of more than 20 applicants. Fox says he hadn’t been looking to leave the state police, but became interested in the Enfield job after learning longtime Chief Carl Sferrazza was retiring Feb. 28. He says he has been impressed with Enfield police and his in-laws live in town. The 53-year-old Fox is a 24-year veteran of the state police. He previously worked as a Willimantic police officer, an FBI agent and a lawyer.

ANTI-SMOG LAWSUIT

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – The attorneys general for New York and Connecticut have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in the latest multi-state effort to compel federal regulators to reduce smog blowing in from upwind states. Eric Schneiderman of New York and George Jepsen of Connecticut filed the lawsuit Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan. The suit says the Environmental Protection Agency is violating the federal Clean Air Act by failing to curb air pollution that blows east into New York from upwind states such as Illinois and Michigan. The legal action is at least the fourth in the past year involving mostly East Coast states seeking to have the EPA regulate out-of-state pollutants. Last month, New York and seven other states filed a lawsuit in a federal appeals court on the same issue.

STABBING VICTIM ID

We now know the identity of the man found seriously injured Sunday evening on a Downtown Norwich sidewalk. Police say 21-year old Justin Nadeau was found in front of 99 Franklin Street with stab wounds to his body and head. He was listed in serious, but stable condition at Backus Hospital. Police say the stabbing occurred near 88 Chestnut Street. Police say they have some leads, but anyone with information is asked to call the detective division at 860-886-5561, extension 7.

MONTVILLE HOME INVASION ARREST

A 17-year old male has turned himself in to his probation officer after being charged with a home invasion in Montville. Police say the teen is accused of entering a Pequot Road apartment Sunday night through an unlocked door, threatening the occupant at knifepoint, and leaving with 15-dollars. The teen was due to appear Wednesday in Middletown Juvenile Court.

TIGERS STAYING IN NORWICH

The Connecticut Tigers will remain in Norwich through the 2020 season. The team’s Player Development Contract has been extended by two years. The Tigers are a single-A minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, and have played at Dodd Stadium since 2010. They play in the New York-Penn League. First home game for 2018 takes place June 15th.

BODY CAMERA PANEL STILL HASN’T MET

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – A Connecticut task force on police body cameras that was created last year amid calls for more accountability in law enforcement has yet to meet because lawmakers have only appointed five of the 26 members. The task force was supposed to issue a report to the legislature by Feb. 1 on ways to increase police body camera use and other issues, but lawmakers say the panel’s work may be delayed a year. Legislative leaders say last year’s state budget crisis put the task force and other matters on hold. The panel was created, in part, because few police departments showed interest in a state reimbursement program for body camera costs. State NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile is calling for an investigation into why the task force hasn’t been set up.

LAWMAKERS NOT HAPPY WITH HOSPITALS

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Lawmakers say they feel betrayed by hospitals appealing rate increases agreed to by the Connecticut Hospital Association and the administration. Martin Looney and Len Fasano, the Democratic and Republican Senate leaders, issued a statement Wednesday, calling it “a thoroughly disappointing and shocking development.” The administration’s budget secretary, Ben Barnes, informed lawmakers that most of the state’s acute care hospitals have sent letters to the Department of Social Services, appealing rate increases. Barnes fears the appeals may hinder Connecticut’s pending application for federal reimbursement tied to the rates, “putting the state at risk of significant financial harm.” In their letters, the hospitals say new rates are based on outdated data. The association insists it didn’t renege on the deal and the appeals process is a standard one to protect their rights.

AETNA SETTLES SUIT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Health insurer Aetna has agreed to pay $17 million to settle claims that it breached the privacy of thousands of customers who take HIV medications. Attorneys for the plaintiffs announced the settlement Wednesday in Philadelphia. Court documents say the Hartford-based company sent a mailing in envelopes with large, clear display windows that revealed confidential HIV information. The mailing was sent to about 12,000 customers in at least 23 states. Aetna agreed to pay at least $500 to customers whose privacy was breeched by the envelopes. The company also agreed to pay $75 to customers whose names were improperly disclosed to a mail vendor. The settlement requires court approval. Aetna says the settlement is part of its effort to rectify what it called an “unfortunate incident.” The company also says it’s taking steps to prevent a similar mishap.

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