WEDNESDAY EVENING UPDATE

BUDGET DEADLINE WON’T BE MET

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Legislative leaders say they won’t meet the General Assembly’s first state budget deadline. Thursday marks the final day for the Appropriations Committee to vote on a spending bill. However, both Democratic and Republican leaders said Wednesday more time is needed to work on a possible bipartisan agreement. House and Senate leaders say they’ve agreed to “continue bipartisan work on the state budget” beyond the committee’s deadline. They are blaming multiple weather-related closings for causing a backup in committee meetings and interfering with budget negotiations. Legislators have agreed to move along “placeholder budget bills” to keep the process moving. The General Assembly is negotiating changes to the second year of a bipartisan two-year, $41.3 billion budget approved last year.   This year’s legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on May 9.

DAIRY PROGRAM RE-OPENED

NORWICH, Conn. (AP) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is reopening enrollment to a federal program for dairy farmers to assess their insurance coverage, including those in Connecticut. The Margin Protection Program for Dairy helps provide affordable insurance to small dairy farms, especially those suffering from declining milk prices. Dairy farmers can reassess their safety net coverage and have their insurance payments adjusted according to a dairy margin, which is a difference in milk price and average feed cost. Connecticut Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney led an effort to ask U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to begin re-enrollment to the program. The new coverage will be retroactive from Jan 1. Courtney says the program will help farmers evaluate their premiums and make the “new payment schedule work,” for their operations. The enrollment period ends June 1.

MLK CEREMONY

With the goal of encouraging people to continue the work of Dr Martin Luther King, Junior, the Robertsine Duncan NAACP Youth Council holds a ceremony today at Norwich Free Academy. The event noted the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr King. He was just 39 years-old when he was shot and killed at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee on this date in 1968.

SCHOOL REVIEW UNDERWAY

The new eleven-member Norwich School Facilities Review Committee held its first meeting tonight at City Hall, setting some goals for itself. It’s charged with creating a long-term plan for the city’s educational system. Chairman, and former city alderman, Mark Bettencourt says it’s important that the group maintain open dialogue throughout the process with the school board, the city council, and the public. Members agreed it was a lack of communication that doomed a school consolidation proposal last year. The committee plans to visit all of the city’s schools when students are there to see how the system operates. Committee meetings are also scheduled to be held in the schools. The committee will meet on the first Wednesday of every month. They plan to present a final report by April of next year, with the hopes of putting a measure on the city’s November, 2019 ballot.

CHAMBER GRANTS ISSUED

Several local non-profit groups that serve underprivileged children are receiving grant money. The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut Foundation is donating over 107-thousand dollars to 38 organizations. Chairman Lou Ziegler says the Foundation has been raising money for worthy causes for the past 16 years. The Tommy Toy Fund received the largest grant at 15-thousand dollars. Five-thousand dollar grants were given to the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut and St. Vincent de Paul Place in Norwich. Safe Futures in New London received 28-hundred dollars. The Chamber Foundation has donated more than one-point-three million dollars to local non-profits since 2002.

HOME INVASION SURVIVOR MAY SEEK CONGRESSIONAL SEAT

Dr. William Petit Jr. (Record-Journal)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – The lone survivor of a deadly 2007 home invasion in Connecticut is considering running for Congress. He’s among a growing list of potential candidates eyeing the seat now held by Democrat U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who is under fire for her handling of harassment complaints in her office. She’s not seeking re-election. Connecticut Republican Party Chairman JR Romano confirmed Wednesday Dr. William Petit Jr., a Republican state representative, is considering seeking the GOP nomination. Messages were left seeking comment with Petit, who told the Hartford Courant via text that he’s in “a lot of discussions with many folks.” Petit’s wife and two daughters were killed in the Cheshire home invasion. He was severely wounded but survived. Romano says Petit is among at least five declared or potential 5th District candidates.

CARS BURGLARIZED

Police say there has been a string of car burglaries in Norwichtown. Numerous calls were received between 8 last night and 6 this morning. Most of the cars that were burglarized were unlocked. Anyone with information, or possible surveillance video, is asked to contact city police at 860-886-5561, extension 4.

WINDFARMS PROPOSED OFF NL

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) – Two developers have stepped forward with proposals to supply offshore wind farm energy to Connecticut. Utility companies Eversource and the Denmark-based Orsted made a joint proposal Monday to construct the Constitution Wind project in federal waters 65 miles off New London. Rhode Island-based Deepwater Wind on Tuesday proposed to supply 200 megawatts of electricity to Connecticut from its Revolution Wind project in federal waters between Long Island and Martha’s Vineyard. Eversource says its 200-megawatt plan could provide enough energy to power 100,000 homes. Orsted will develop and construct the offshore infrastructure, while Eversource will focus on the on-shore transmission process. The project would generate $16 million in taxes and reduce winter energy costs. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says it will select a proposal by June.

KEEP YOUR BALLOONS OFF BLOCK ISLAND!!!

NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. (AP) – Town officials have voted to ban all balloons from Block Island. The New Shoreham Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday to eliminate the sale, distribution and use of all balloons. WPRI-TV reports the ban goes into effect next Monday. Police will enforce the ordinance. Violators face a fine of up to $200. The ban is designed to help protect the environment. The balloon ban came after discarded balloons – none of which are biodegradable – became an issue to the community and the surrounding ecosystem.

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