THURSDAY EVENING UPDATE

FIGHTING DREDGING SUIT

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) – U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney says he’s working with a broad Connecticut coalition to contest a lawsuit filed by New York state opposing a federal plan to allow dredged sediments to be dumped into Long Island Sound. The Democrat appeared Thursday with regional governmental and marine organizations, local businesses and state officials in New London to announce plans to file a brief in support of the federal court case defending both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan and Connecticut’s maritime interests. Courtney says it’s “difficult to overstate how important dredging and dredging disposal is” to the southeastern Connecticut maritime industry. Without it, he says everything from the U.S. Submarine Base to recreational boating would cease. Democratic New York Gov. Mario Cuomo argues the dumping poses environmental dangers. The dump sites are technically in Connecticut waters.

NEW CHIEF JUSTICE NOMINEE

Richard Robinson with wife, Nancy

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s new nominee for chief justice of the state Supreme Court would be the first African-American to hold the judicial branch’s top job. The Democratic governor announced Thursday that he is nominating Associate Supreme Court Justice Richard Robinson for chief justice. If confirmed by the legislature, Robinson would succeed Chase Rogers, who retired in February. Malloy’s last chief justice nominee, Associate Justice Andrew McDonald, was rejected last week by the state Senate in a mostly party-line vote in which Republicans opposed him. McDonald would have been the first openly gay state chief justice in the country. Republicans cited McDonald’s rulings, while Democrats accused Republicans of anti-gay bias. Malloy also nominated Superior Court Judge Steven Ecker as an associate justice to succeed Robinson.

SCHOOL BUDGET MEETING

Norwich aldermen and the city’s school board meet-up tonight to discuss the city’s education budget for the new fiscal year. The Board of Ed is looking for a 9-percent increase, claiming there’s no room to make any reductions. It cites increasing fixed costs, such as special education, bus transportation, and tuition payments, as well as the lack of any additional classroom space. The panel is also suggesting it may seek legal action against the city, if there’s not enough school funding. The city manager’s budget proposal gives the schools a 2-percent increase. More meetings are planned between the city council and board of education.

TOLLS MOVING AHEAD

A key General Assembly committee has okayed legislation that could lead to electronic highway tolls in Connecticut. On a party-line vote, the finance committee has okayed Governor Malloy’s proposal to authorize the state D-O-T to implement statewide tolling. Committee vice chair, Democratic Senator Carlo Leone of Stamford voted in favor, saying right now, out-of-state drivers are getting a free ride.   The measure now heads to the House of Representatives. Before a final vote, it will likely be merged with similar bills.

…AS IS RECREATIONAL POT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – A bill that would help Connecticut prepare for the possibility of legalized recreational marijuana has cleared a legislative hurdle. The General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted 27-24 in favor of the legislation, which now awaits further action by the House of Representatives. It’s unclear how far the bill will get in the current session that ends May 9. A supporter, New Haven Democratic Rep. Juan Candelaria, calls the measure “a work in progress,” to help prepare Connecticut for possible legalization. Retail sales of recreational marijuana are expected to begin in neighboring Massachusetts in July. Some Connecticut lawmakers are voicing concern about the expected cost of regulating marijuana. The bill requires various state agencies to develop a plan for regulating the drug and submitting it to the General Assembly by Oct. 1.

TROOPER REMEMBERED

Kevin Miller (WTNH)

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – A Connecticut trooper killed in a highway crash last week was honored and remembered with a large state police procession from a funeral home to the football stadium where calling hours and his funeral will be held. State troopers loaded Trooper Kevin Miller’s casket into a hearse Thursday morning. They stopped at the Tolland barracks where Miller worked during the 30-mile trip to Rentschler Field in East Hartford. The procession included state police motorcycles and cruisers.
Calling hours for Miller were held Thursday. His funeral will be held Friday morning at Rentschler.   The 49-year-old Miller died while on duty March 29 when his cruiser rear-ended a tractor-trailer on Interstate 84 eastbound in Tolland. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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