New Report on Connecticut’s Social Studies Standards Details Troubling Effect on Students

The National Association of Scholars’ Civics Alliance coalition released a comprehensive report critiquing Connecticut’s social studies standards, which is the state’s guide for teachers detailing what students should be learning from Pre-K through 12th grade.

The 34-page report, titled “Disowned Yankees: How Connecticut’s Social Studies Standards Shortchange Students,” details how the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) produced the curriculum, the result of implementing the curriculum, as well as “recommendations for how to fix the adoption process and the substance of Connecticut’s social studies instruction, by substantive revision of the Standards.”

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Connecticut Delegation Blasts Army over Helicopter Contract

Blackhawk Helicopter

Connecticut’s congressional delegation is calling on the Army to provide more details about its decision to reject a local company’s bid for a multimillion-dollar defense contract to build long-range helicopters.

Sikorsky Aircraft, maker of the iconic Blackhawk helicopters, submitted a proposal to the Army in 2018 to develop a new armed scout helicopter. But last week, the Army announced that it was scrapping its Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program, delivering a major blow to the company.

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Connecticut to Wipe Out $1 Billion in Medical Debt

Gov. Ned Lamont

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont plans to cancel up to $1 billion in medical debt for hundreds of thousands of residents, making it the first state to take the step.

Lamont made the announcement Friday during an appearance on ABC News, saying the plans call for leveraging $6.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds the state has received to wipe out the medical debt held by about 250,000 residents who meet the basic income qualifications.

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Connecticut Proposal to Phase Out Gas-Powered Vehicles Gets a New Lane

Matt Ritter

CT lawmakers ditch plans for special session on EV mandate.

Consideration of a proposed ban on sales of new gas-powered vehicles in Connecticut could happen in regular legislative session, but will not happen in a special called one.

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Ousted Iran Deal Negotiator to Teach Yale Class on Israel-Palestine Conflict Despite Ongoing FBI Investigation

Robert Malley

Robert Malley, a Biden administration official who was embroiled in controversy while working as Special Envoy to Iran, is set to teach a course on the Middle East at Yale University.

The syllabus for the class, which is titled “Contending with Israel-Palestine,” says the course will take “an in-depth look at important questions surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” according to Yale Daily News.

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Connecticut’s Democrat AG Shuns Ranked Choice Voting

William Tong

The election process known as ranked choice voting isn’t compatible with one of the oldest state constitutions in America, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, says. 

Tong released an 11-page legal opinion Tuesday stating that the system of voting, which allows voters to rank their choices of candidates, violates at least two standing provisions of the Connecticut Constitution. The state’s attorney general said it was a “close call,” however.

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Connecticut Doles Out More Security Money to Houses of Worship

Churches, synagogues and mosques in Connecticut are getting more money to bolster their facilities against terror attacks or hate crimes, according to Gov. Ned Lamont. 

Lamont said state funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program will expand to $5 million this year. The grants can reimburse nonprofits for the cost of metal detectors and surveillance cameras, adding more lighting, fencing, or locks and other security upgrades.

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Poll: Connecticut Voters Oppose Electric Vehicles Sales Mandates

EV Charging

A majority of Connecticut voters oppose a Democrat-led push to phase out the sale of gas-powered vehicles in the state, according to a new poll.

The poll commissioned by the Specialty Equipment Market Association — a trade association representing aftermarket auto manufacturers and retailers — found that nearly 60% of the voters surveyed opposed proposed legislation to phase out the sale of gas- and diesel-powered cars and trucks over the next decade.

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New England Outages Point to Grid Issues That Are Often Blamed on ‘Extreme Weather’

Power Grids

Storms in New England over the weekend have left thousands of people without power. Government data and studies show that these weather-related outages are becoming more frequent and lasting longer, which is often attributed to climate change, but analyses of grid resilience and research into disaster costs question that conclusion.  

In New York, about 55,000 people were without power on Monday morning after a storm brought high winds and two to four inches of rain, according to The New York Post. The same storm left as many as 45,000 households without power Monday morning, NJ.com reported. As of 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time Monday, 226,626 residents of Maine were without power, and local Maine television stations say the worst may be yet to come.

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Connecticut to Wipe Clean 80,000 Criminal Records

Connecticut is set to wipe clean the criminal records of more than 80,000 people with previous convictions under a long-delayed law set to go into effect in the new year. 

The Clean Slate law, which was approved by the state Legislature in 2021, will automatically erase the criminal records of people seven years after the date of their conviction for a misdemeanor or 10 years after the date of their conviction for certain low-level felonies if they hadn’t been convicted of other crimes.

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Connecticut Non-Disclosure Agreement Advocates Enlist Former FOX News Anchors

Gretchen Carlson

A push to ban non-disclosure agreements in Connecticut is getting a boost from former Fox News anchors turned women’s rights advocates pushing for its approval.

Connecticut lawmakers are expected to revisit a proposal that would ban employers from imposing contracts that prevent employees from talking about their claims of workplace sexual harassment or assault. Democrats back in the proposal say they expect to file the bill in early 2024 when the new legislative session begins.

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Connecticut Reduces Workers’ Compensation Rates for Employers

Connecticut businesses will pay less for workers’ compensation insurance next year, with the state again reducing premiums paid by private employers, which regulators say reflects an ongoing decline in claims. 

The Connecticut Insurance Department has approved an annual workers’ compensation rate filing for 2024 with a decrease of 9.8% in voluntary market loss costs and a decrease of 10.5% in assigned risk plan rates. 

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Report: Connecticut’s Revenue Down, Budget Still Balanced

Connecticut’s revenues are down about $460 million, according to a new report, which says the state’s financial outlook remains positive despite a drop in tax collections.

The consensus revenue forecast, released by the Office of Policy and Management and Office of Fiscal Analysis on Monday, shows the state is likely to close out the fiscal year more than $630 million above initial budget projections. That’s still a surplus but well below the $1.1 billion projections when the budget was approved in June.

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Yale Is a ‘Campus Without Care’ After Hosting ‘Anti-Israel’ Event, Jewish Students Say

Two students said Yale University barred them from an “anti-Israel” event this week, prompting them to listen through the door to “two hours of denial, lies and incitement” against Jews like themselves.

Sahar Tartak, a sophomore, said in a post on X that she believes her school “has become a campus without care for its Jews.”

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Tong and 18 Other Attorneys General Oppose Opt-Out Option from LGBTQ+ Books for Second Graders

 A coalition of 19 attorneys general filed an amicus brief in support of a local Maryland board of education’s policy that does not allow parents to opt their children out of LGBTQ+ inclusive texts. The lawsuit was filed by three families against the Montgomery County Board of Education, with two of the three families suing on behalf of policies for their second grade children, while the third did not list the grade level of its elementary school children. The parents, who are Muslim, Roman Catholic, and Ukrainian Orthodox, filed their lawsuit on religious freedom grounds. 

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Group Seeks to Overturn Connecticut Religious Exemption Ban

Critics of a Connecticut law banning religious exemptions from school vaccination requirements have lost several rounds in federal court but are planning to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

A lawsuit, filed by We the Patriots USA Inc. on behalf of parents whose children attend a school at Milford Christian Church, argued that Connecticut violated their First Amendment rights by repealing the state’s long-held religious exemptions to childhood vaccines.

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Blumenthal and Other Democrat Lawmakers Urge Biden to Reduce Energy Costs

A group of Democratic senators are calling on President Joe Biden to provide more funding for fuel assistance with winter approaching. 

In a letter to Biden administration officials, Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, led by nearly 30 other Democrats, urged the White House Office of Management and Budget and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to “take additional steps” to reduce energy costs for Americans through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. 

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Connecticut Attorney General Pledges to Scrutinize Gas Rate Hike

Connecticut’s consumer advocates are pushing back against natural gas rate increases sought by one of the state’s largest utilities, which comes as the company fights state regulators’ rejection of an electric rate hike in court.

In filings to the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, Southern Connecticut Natural Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas request approval to increase their average gas distribution rates by 5-9% during the winter season.

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Yale Study: Asians Feel ‘Invisible’ in Medical School

A group of Yale doctors and other healthcare researchers recently published a small study that stated there is “anti-Asian racism” in medical school programs and concluded that Asian students are “invisible.”

However, the researchers who conducted the study rejected the idea that a small sample size and biased sampling methods made the study inapplicable.

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Connecticut to Move Presidential Primary Date

Connecticut is one of the last states in the nation to hold a presidential primary, but that would change under a proposal awaiting action by Gov. Ned Lamont.

A proposal approved by the state Legislature last week during a special session would change the presidential primary date to the first Tuesday in April, which in the next nominating cycle would be April 2. Under the current law, the primary is held on the last Tuesday, which would be April 30. Lamont, who backs the move, is expected to sign the bill into law.

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Connecticut to Spend $25 Million on New Voting Machines

Connecticut will spend $25 million to replace its aging voting machines ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Gov. Ned Lamont said the State Bond Commission will vote at its Oct. 6 meeting to approve the borrowing to purchase new ballot-counting tabulators for use in elections and primaries statewide. He said the current voting machines are over 17 years old and approaching the end of their useful life.

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Connecticut Lawmakers Press for Absentee Ballot Probe into September Incident

Connecticut lawmakers are calling for an investigation and changes in state election laws following allegations of absentee ballot fraud in a mayoral election.

Following the Sept. 12 primary, John Gomes, a Democrat who challenged incumbent Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, released video footage showing a woman depositing absentee ballots into a dropbox a week before the election. Gomes lost to Ganim by 251 mail-in or absentee votes despite beating him at the polls, according to the election results.

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Connecticut’s Indexed Minimum Wage Set to Rise in 2024

Wages will rise for hundreds of thousands of low-skilled workers in Connecticut next year under a 2019 law that pegs the state’s minimum wage to the federal employment index. 

Beginning Jan. 1, Connecticut’s wage floor will rise from $15.00 per hour to $15.69 per hour as a result of the state’s first-ever economic indicator adjustment. 

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Former Yale Student Accused of Rape Can Sue His Accuser for Defamation, Court Rules

A former Yale student who was acquitted of rape in 2018, and later kicked out of the college, can sue his accuser for defamation over statements the accuser made during a school hearing, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in June, according to the New York Post.

Saifullah Khan sued Yale in 2019 for $110 million, and has been attempting to bring his accuser into the lawsuit, according to the Post. The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled ruled that he can sue the accuser, and that she shouldn’t received “qualified immunity,” which prevents people from being sued over statements in judicial cases, from her testimony that Khan raped her in 2015.

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Connecticut’s Indexed Minimum Wage to Rise in 2024

Wages will rise for hundreds of thousands of low-skilled workers in Connecticut next year under a 2019 law that pegs the state’s minimum wage to the federal employment index. 

Beginning Jan. 1, Connecticut’s wage floor will rise from $15.00 per hour to $15.69 per hour as a result of the state’s first-ever economic indicator adjustment. 

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Connecticut Health Exchange Plans to Rise by 9.4 Percent

The cost of health insurance plans offered through Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act Exchange will increase next year by nearly double digits, state insurance regulators said.  

The Connecticut Insurance Department has approved a 9.4% proposed rate increase for health insurers for plans available on and off Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange.

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Group Drops Anti-Affirmative Action Lawsuit Against Yale After Compromise

The group responsible for the nationwide overturning of affirmative action has dropped its lawsuit challenging the race-based admissions policies of Yale University.

According to Politico, Students for Fair Admissions (SFA) came to an agreement with the Ivy League school in which they would voluntarily drop their lawsuit, in exchange for Yale making several changes to its admissions policies prior to the Fall 2023 undergraduate application season.

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Connecticut Picks Up Health Care Costs for Paraeducators

Connecticut taxpayers will be covering some health care costs for thousands of paraeducators as the state seeks to fill workforce shortages in public schools.

A new program rolled out Wednesday by state Comptroller Sean Scanlon includes a one-time $5 million subsidy that will help pay paraeducators’ health insurance bills not covered by local school districts. 

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Ramaswamy Blasts DeSantis ‘Monster PAC’ Following Report of Fake News Dirty Politics

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is blasting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and “Monster PAC” following a report exposing the political action committee\’s campaign in “spreading dirt” and “misstatements” about the poll-rising Ramaswamy.

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Yale University Seeks African American Studies Professor Versed in ‘Feminist and Queer Studies’

Yale University is seeking a “Global Black and African Diaspora Studies“ tenured associate professor well-versed in topics such as ”African/diasporic queer and feminist activism” and “transnational feminist and queer studies” to begin July 1, 2024.

“The Program seeks candidates whose research and teaching focus on the formations and lived experiences of Blackness, with emphasis on global, comparative, indigenous, or transnational perspectives drawn from African, Indigenous, Asian, Middle Eastern, European, or Latin American and Caribbean contexts,” the job posting by the Ethnicity, Race, and Migration Department states.

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Connecticut Attorney General’s Office Receives Criticism for Poor Fiscal Management

Connecticut’s top law enforcement office is being faulted for poor accounting practices that have cost the state millions of dollars in unretrievable debt and allowing unauthorized overtime that tripled during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The report by the state Auditors of Public Accounts, released Wednesday, found that an estimated $10 million owed to the AG’s office and other state agencies from court settlements and other receivables is “unrecoverable” and cited decades of lax accounting practices for the loss of revenue to state coffers.

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Connecticut Police Union Votes ‘No Confidence’ in Leadership

The union representing Connecticut state troopers has taken a vote of “no confidence” in the police agency’s leadership, citing their response to the controversy over a phony ticket scandal.

The union spells out its grievances in a scathing letter to State Police Commissioner James Rovella and Deputy Commissioner Colonel Stavros Mellekas, accusing them of fostering “an environment of mistrust” in the agency and that has “failed to protect their Troopers” and of making decisions “based on self-preservation.”

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Connecticut Bans Harvest of Horseshoe Crabs

Connecticut has banned the harvesting of horseshoe crabs along its coastline amid concerns about the ecological health of the species, which is prized for its life-saving blue blood.

The ban, approved by the state Legislature, outlaws horseshoe crab hand harvesting beginning on October 1. Anyone caught violating the law faces a $25 fine for each crab harvested. There are exemptions for scientific and medical purposes if it is determined that doing so will not harm the overall horseshoe crab population.

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Connecticut Taps Federal Pandemic Funds for Free School Meals

Connecticut is tapping into federal funding to provide hundreds of thousands of public school students with free breakfast and lunch.

The state Department of Education announced that $16 million of funding the state received from the American Rescue Plan Act will be diverted to Connecticut’s free school meals program for the 2023-2024 school year, allowing students to get free meals regardless of their family’s income.

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Appeals Court Upholds Connecticut Ban on Religious Exemptions

A federal appeals court has upheld a 2021 Connecticut law banning religious exemptions for immunization requirements for schools, colleges and early education, but critics of the restrictions are vowing to take their case to the Supreme Court.

In the 2-1 ruling issued on Friday, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling that rejected a lawsuit challenging the repeal of the state’s long-held religious exemptions to childhood vaccines. 

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Connecticut AG and 13 Other AGs Want Action on ‘Plastic Pollution Crisis’

Fourteen state attorneys general asked the Biden Administration to do more to “combat the plastic pollution crisis.”

An Aug. 3 media release, the group stated, “Plastic does not fully degrade, instead breaking down into smaller pieces called microplastics, which have been found in drinking water, food, air, and even human blood and living lung tissue.”

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Connecticut and Other States Weigh In Against Idaho’s Abortion ‘Travel Ban’

Washington state’s attorney general is among 20 attorneys general to have filed legal arguments in a federal lawsuit challenging Idaho’s law that makes it illegal to either obtain abortion pills for a minor or to help them leave the state for an abortion without their parents’ knowledge and consent. 

In a Tuesday news release, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the collective states’ amicus brief is in support of a lawsuit filed last month in U.S. District Court against Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador. The plaintiffs allege that Labrador’s interpretation of the law threatens to punish medical providers and residents outside Idaho’s borders for giving information and assistance to minors about legal abortion access in their states.

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Connecticut to Phase Out Fossil-Fuel Vehicles by 2035

Connecticut will join a handful of states in banning the sale of new fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2035, but critics say the dramatic shift to electric vehicles will be costly for consumers and could impact energy supplies.

On Wednesday, second-term Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont rolled out new regulations that will require car manufacturers to ramp up sales of electric vehicles in Connecticut leading to a ban on the sale of new fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2035.

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Connecticut Gov. Lamont Hires Former U.S. Attorney to Probe Police Ticket Scandal

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has tapped a former federal prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation of allegations that state police may have issued hundreds of “fake” tickets.

Lamont said he has hired former U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly to investigate allegations outlined in a recent audit by a taxpayer-funded group that reviews police records to look for racial bias in law enforcement activities. Lamont said the inquiry seeks to determine “how and why the misconduct occurred” and why it went undetected for years.

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Connecticut Utility Regulators Reject Proposed Rate Increase

Connecticut utility regulators have rejected a proposed rate increase by one of the state’s largest utilities, which was seeking another $130 million from energy consumers. 

The state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority turned down a request from United Illuminating to increase electric rates by nearly $131 million over the next three years. Instead, the agency approved a rate increase of just over $2 million for next year, which is still subject to final approval by the PURA board.

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Connecticut Governor Signs into Law Four Bills Protecting Access to Abortion, Contraception, and Transgender Medical Treatments

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) signed into law a series of bills Wednesday that seeks to protect abortion rights and access to both contraception and college students’ transgender drugs and surgeries.

In an official statement, Lamont also noted the new Connecticut laws counter those in Republican-led states that have sought to protect unborn life from abortion, and teens from life-altering transgender drugs and surgeries.

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Federal Judge Rejects Challenge to Connecticut’s Ban on Firearms in Parks

A federal judge has tossed a challenge to a Connecticut law banning firearms in state parks, saying the lawsuit lacks standing because the regulation isn’t enforced.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Janet Bond Arterton, issued on Wednesday, upholds a more than a century-old Connecticut law prohibiting lawfully licensed firearm owners from packing in state parks and wildlife preserves. 

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Acquitted Yale Student Can Sue Rape Accuser for Defamation: Court

A former Yale University student who beat back rape accusations can sue his accuser for defamation, the State of Connecticut Supreme Court ruled recently.

Saifullah Khan’s lawsuit can proceed after the court ruled on June 27 that the former Yalie, who was expelled, can sue his accuser because the university’s sexual assault proceedings did not resemble actual judicial procedures.

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Tax Cut on Beer to Support Connecticut Craft Brewers

Connecticut’s craft beer makers are getting a break on their excise tax bill as part of a broader measure aimed at fostering the brewing industry.

The state’s excise tax on beer dropped by 16.7% beginning on July 1, which lowered the tax on a 31-gallon barrel of beer to $6, from $7.20 previously, and the excise tax on wine from $0.24 to $0.20 per gallon.

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Connecticut Truckers Tax Revenue Below Expectations

Connecticut is coming up short on revenue from a controversial highway tax on truckers, with the state bringing in less money than expected during the first few months of the new levy.

Figures from the state Department of Revenue Services show the Highway Use Tax generated only $18.6 million from January through April, roughly half of what state budget writers had anticipated. 

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Connecticut Bans Utilities from Charging for Lobbying Costs

Connecticut has joined a handful of states banning utilities from passing on the costs of lobbying the state government to energy consumers.

A new law, tucked into a package of bills signed by Gov. Ned Lamont last week, will prevent large investor-owned utilities from recovering the costs associated with lobbying, as well as legal fees, memberships, dues or contributions to a business or industry trade associations or groups, among other changes. 

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Connecticut Baby Born at 22 Weeks Is ‘Story of Hope’ as She Survives Odds and Is Discharged Home

The smallest baby ever born at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, was celebrated by staff across the hospital as she was discharged last week following four months in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“Born at just 22 weeks, Baby Zahraliz Francis Angueira, the smallest baby ever born at Saint Francis Hospital, graduated from our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after four months and headed home today!” the hospital posted to Instagram. “Our colleagues from across the hospital gathered to provide well wishes to the family and celebrate their story of hope.”

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Report: New England’s Embrace of Electric Vehicles, Infrastructure

by Brent Addleman   Five of six New England states have earned praise through a new report examining electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. Massachusetts led the way in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s report “2023 State Transportation Electrification Scorecard,” just edging out Vermont in the newest rankings. “We…

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Connecticut Lawmakers Push for Military Funding

Members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation are touting hundreds of millions of dollars for the state in a new military spending bill.

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, approved by the Senate Committee on Appropriations last week, includes more than $331 billion for Connecticut submarine building facilities and veterans’ services, according to lawmakers who pushed for the funding.

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Connecticut Gov. Lamont Signs Healthcare Costs Containment Bill

Gov. Ned Lamont has signed a bill to reel in Connecticut’s rising healthcare costs through stronger regulation of hospitals and drug prices.

The legislation, signed on Tuesday, calls for banning the use of anti-competitive healthcare contracting practices, improving transparency in pricing for medical treatments, limits on hospital “facility fees” and multi-state bulk purchasing program to lower prescription drug costs, among other changes.

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