THURSDAY EVENING UPDATE

AMAZON DROPS CONNECTICUT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Connecticut’s economic development commissioner says she’s disappointed Amazon didn’t choose the state as a potential site for its second North American headquarters, but was assured the state’s proposal was a strong one. Catherine Smith said Thursday she spoke with a top Amazon official who said the application was “very strong” but the “data-driven selection process that was used favored more metropolitan areas.” The state of Connecticut had submitted an application that included sites in Hartford and Stamford. Other communities, including New Britain, Bridgeport, Danbury and New Haven, submitted individual proposals. None appeared on the list of 20 metropolitan areas that will move onto the next phase of the selection process. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says the state remains committed to working with business leaders to grow jobs in Connecticut.

MGM SPRINGFIELD STARTING TO OPEN

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) – MGM has opened the first building of its resort casino complex in Springfield, Massachusetts. About 50 employees moved into the casino’s new administrative office this week. The building will eventually house some 300 corporate and human resource workers, as well as a training school for prospective casino workers. The nearly $1 billion casino development is expected to employ some 3,000 workers and cover three city blocks when it opens in September. The hotel, casino and entertainment complex will be Massachusetts’ first Las Vegas-style resort. Wynn is also building a resort in the Boston suburb of Everett planned for 2019. The MGM project has already prompted Connecticut’s policymakers and the Mashantucket-Pequot and Mohegan tribes to plan for a satellite casino in East Windsor to mitigate the impact on its gambling industry.

EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGES AGAINST FORMER ATTORNEY

John Butts (WFSB)

A former attorney from Salem is facing embezzlement charges. 65-year old John Butts is accused of taking more than 165-thousand dollars from Kimberly Corbett. Authorities say Corbett never received any money from Butts, after he handled the sale of her deceased father’s condominium in December 2015. Corbett should’ve received more than 154-thousand dollars. Butts is due to appear in Norwich Superior Court January 25th.

HADDAM NEEDS HELP

HADDAM, Conn. (AP) – The town of Haddam is asking the governor to declare a state of emergency because the river that runs through the community has become jammed with massive chunks of ice. First Selectwoman Lizz Milardo signed a proclamation Wednesday saying the ice jams flowing down the Connecticut River poses a “danger to life and property.” She says the small town about half hour south of Hartford doesn’t have the resources to deal with the potential emergency alone. Some residents have already evacuated low lying areas as a precaution. The U.S. Coast Guard sent cutters down the river to try and break up the ice Thursday. The town of Kent along the New York border has also declared an emergency for flooding along the Housatonic River that’s prompted evacuations and road closures.

FISCAL PANEL SAYS WE HAVE ANSWERS

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Leaders of a new state panel say they’re optimistic the General Assembly will seriously consider their recommendations for making Connecticut a more competitive and financially stable state. Jim Smith and Robert Patricelli, co-chairmen of the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth, say they think lawmakers now realize the state’s fiscal woes have reached a crisis level and they need help from the business community. Smith is a retired bank president and Patricelli is a former insurance executive and entrepreneur. The commission, created by the legislature, has until March 1 to present its recommendations to the General Assembly for consideration this session, which begins next month. Lawmakers are required to take some action. The group, comprised of mostly business leaders, is examining issues such as unfunded pension liabilities and transportation.

CT OFFICIALS DEMAND HOUSING BENEFITS CONTINUE

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Connecticut’s governor and two U.S. Senators want the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reverse a surprise decision that rescinds temporary housing benefits to 36 Puerto Rican families living in the state after being displaced by Hurricane Maria. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says the state was informed about the decision at noon on Thursday. It came three days after FEMA told the state it was approving an earlier request to extend Transitional Shelter Assistance through February 14. Malloy says FEMA told his administration on Thursday that the extension was an error by the agency. He says the families then began receiving orders at 2 p.m. to leave their hotels immediately. In a letter to the FEMA administrator, Malloy urges him to “correct this egregious error” and immediately grant the extension.

HEADLESS COURTROOM CHICKENS

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) – Authorities in Connecticut are investigating the discovery of two decapitated chickens inside a courtroom. Judicial marshals and maintenance staff investigating a putrid smell made the grisly discovery Wednesday morning in the public seating area of a courtroom in a state courthouse in Bridgeport. The headless chickens were under a bench. Authorities say the carcasses were decorated in silver, green and gold glitter. There was no immediate indication how the decapitated chickens got there and the discovery is under investigation. The Connecticut Post reports that decapitated chickens have been found outside city courthouses before, but never inside. The placement of decapitated chickens is used in Santeria, an Afro-Caribbean religion, to protect a person from being found guilty of a crime.

PROPOSED RI BUDGET LEGALIZES SPORTS BETTING

Gov. Raimondo

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has released a nearly $9.4 billion state budget plan that cuts Medicaid programs and generates new revenue through sports betting and increasing access to medical marijuana. The Democrat submitted the plan Thursday. The legislature will review the proposals and present its plan before the 2019 fiscal year begins in July. Raimondo’s recommended budget is about 1.5 percent higher than last year’s enacted budget. The $3.8 billion general revenue budget is 1.7 percent higher. It would close an estimated $204 million deficit. Raimondo projects sports betting could generate $23.5 million in revenue and adding medical marijuana dispensaries could generate $5.1 million. The health and human services budget, which includes Medicaid, faces a $100 million cut. Raimondo is asking for a $250 million bond for school construction.

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