WEDNESDAY EVENING UPDATE

MACROBURST RESPONSIBLE FOR DAMAGE

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – The National Weather Service says a “macroburst” packing 100 mph winds caused extensive damage in southwestern Connecticut – not a tornado.   The Weather Service surveyed damage Wednesday from powerful storms that swept across the Northeast Tuesday. The storms were blamed for the deaths of two people in Connecticut whose vehicles were hit by trees in New Fairfield and Danbury.  The Brookfield area was hit by the macroburst, which is a downdraft that can cause tornado-like damage. Crews are still assessing damage in the Danbury area to see if a tornado hit there. The storms downed scores of trees and power lines. Utilities reported about 83,600 power outages Wednesday afternoon, down from a high of more than 120,000. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says power restoration could take days in some areas.

SPEEDBOWL OWNER BEING SUED

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) – The owner of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl charged in a sex trafficking ring is facing a lawsuit from alleged victims who say he knowingly engaged in unprotected sex for more than 40 years while infected with HIV. The lawsuit filed against Bruce Bemer follows a judge’s decision to grant a request to have the man tested for HIV in March as part of the criminal proceedings. The results were shared with the alleged victims. Bemer’s attorney, Anthony Spinella, says the request violated his client’s privacy rights and served an “attempt to inject homophobia into this case.” An attorney for the victims says potential exposure to sexually transmitted diseases is a compensable injury. Bemer has been charged with patronizing a trafficked person in connection with ring based in Danbury.

FINANCE BOARD APPROVES MORE SCHOOL FUNDING

New London’s Finance Board has approved a 600-thousand dollar increase in education spending for the new fiscal year.  That’s compared to what the City Council had proposed.  The Board made no changes to the general government budget. The council is expected to vote Monday on the second of three readings of the city budget.  It can make changes to the Finance Board’s proposal, but needs the approval of the Appropriating Board to make any spending increases.

BOAT TAX CUT BOOSTING BUSINESS

Katherine Burns

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Connecticut boat dealers say a new sales tax reduction on vessels is already giving a boost to their businesses. Kathleen Burns, the Connecticut Marine Trades Association’s executive director, said Wednesday that customers have called her office asking if tax cut is real. She says one man told her that lowering the tax from 6.35 percent to 2.99 percent, starting July 1, means his wife will now let him buy a boat.  And, he plans to buy it in Connecticut.  Burns says the call brought her “tears of joy,” noting how Connecticut boat dealers have been under serious financial pressure because of competition from states like Rhode Island, New York and New Hampshire. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a revised state budget on Tuesday that includes the new tax cut.

RI CONSIDERING POT LEGALIZATION

Joshua Miller

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – A senator in Rhode Island is introducing a bill that would legalize marijuana by following the framework set by neighboring Massachusetts.
Sen. Joshua Miller, a Democrat, introduced the bill Wednesday. The proposal would create a system to tax and regulate marijuana in Rhode Island that mirrors the system in Massachusetts. Voters there approved legalizing marijuana in November 2016. Recreational sales will become legal in July. Miller’s bill would establish a 10-percent tax on marijuana sales in addition to the state’s sales tax. It would also allow for towns and cities to implement an additional tax up to three percent. Miller says Rhode Island will miss out on revenue when Rhode Islanders cross into Massachusetts to buy marijuana. Bills to legalize marijuana in Rhode Island have stalled in previous legislative sessions.

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