Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rep. DeLauro proposes SAFER Streets Act

This is a copy of the SAFER Streets Act proposed by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3. In a statement, DeLauro said it is intended to"get weapons off the streets."

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Blumenthal questions Hagel

In a statement , U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. said he questioned defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
Here is a C-SPAN video of that event (entitled 'Senator Blumenthal's Questions for Hagel
Clipped from:Secretary of Defense Nomination Hearing, Part 2 Jan 31, 2013):

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Murphy: NRA political spending 'ineffective'

In a prepared press statement, , U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., released "a report on the National Rifle Association’s... ineffective political spending in the 2012 election."

"The report, which was developed using fundraising data from 16 contested 2012 U.S. Senate campaigns and the 2012 Presidential campaign, reveals that the NRA actually loses more races than it wins, and disproportionately spends money against Democrats," the statement said.

Further,  "This report is the first in a series of reports that Murphy will release on the ineffectiveness of the national gun lobby," the statement said.

“The NRA’s response to the tragic Sandy Hook shooting last month has been absolutely revolting and tone-deaf. It’s also been out of step with its own members, many of whom support common-sense anti-gun violence measures like universal background checks,” Murphy said, also in the prepared statement. “This report starts to debunk the myth that if you cross the NRA, you have a political price to pay. We have to help Members of Congress understand that the NRA just isn’t what it used to be.”

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Office of State Ethics: 'Audit Report for Public Official Financial Disclosure Statements'

The Connecticut Office of State Ethics today released its Audit Report for "Statements of Financial Interests." 

This was the body of the press release (scroll down to read the report):

"Legislators, as well as certain other public officials and designated state employees, must file SFIs with the OSE by May 1 each year.  These statements describe associated businesses, all sources of income over $1,000, securities in excess of $5,000; real estate holdings; and leases or contracts with the state.  A confidential portion of the statement requires disclosure of sources of any debts over $10,000. 

Statements of Financial Interests (“SFIs”) serve as a tool to maximize public confidence in governmental decision making.  The policy underlying this requirement has been in effect since the enactment of the Ethics Codes in 1977.  An SFI provides a checklist or reminder to the official/employee to be mindful of potential conflicts of interest, and it provides a baseline of information which can be compared to subsequent years for the purpose of determining potential misuse of office for financial gain.

The Audit Report, based on randomly-selected reports of 10% of required filers, revealed that the vast majority of required filers did so in a timely manner and fully disclosed the appropriate information.  Overall, 89% of the audited forms presented no errors or omissions and were timely filed.  For forms that were not in complete compliance, the highest occurring examples of errors or non-compliance were: (1) failure to disclose the filer’s state income (5.5% of audited forms); (2) failure to adequately identify the name of securities held in excess of $5,000 (3% of audited forms); and, (3) failure to timely file the form (2.1% of all forms).

The full report is attached to this release and is also available on the OSE’s Web site,

“As the audit notes, there was a continued rise in accuracy and completeness of the SFI forms to previous years audits,” said OSE Executive Director, Carol Carson.  “I am very proud of OSE staff, for doing more with less.  During difficult fiscal times, we increased education, advice and training, improved our online filing system and worked with ethics liaisons at Executive Branch agencies to encourage online filing, because online filings have a lower percentage of errors than paper filings and provide the public with greater transparency.”

Blumenthal introduces ammunition 'Background Check Bill'

 U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. on Jan. 29  introduced the "Ammunition Background Check Act of 2013," according to a statement.
The bill would require "an instant background check for the sale of gun ammunition," the statement said.
"In conjunction with introducing the bill, Blumenthal held a conference call with Brian Malte, legislative director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Both organizations support the bill," the statements said.

Read documents Blumenthal released here (all information in this post was contributed):

And here:

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Blumenthal on 'Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013'

In a press release issued Thursday, the office of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., announced that  a "bipartisan coalition" of senators led by Sens. Mark Begich, D-AK, Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, and Blumenthal introduced legislation "to expand mental health first aid training and increase the effectiveness of mental health care across America."
The bill is an expanded version of the bill introduced last year by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-AK, according to the release..

Sens. Begich, Ayotte, Blumenthal, Jack Reed, D-RI,  Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, Michael Bennet, D-CO, Roy Blunt, R-MO, and Marco Rubio, R-FL, are original co-sponsors of the Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013, the release said.
The act, "provides funding for training programs to help the public identify, understand, and address crisis situations safely. The bill also calls for protocols for initiating timely referrals to mental health services available in communities," the release said. 

“Gunmen responsible for mass shootings highlight how mental illness can cause carnage and killing,” Blumenthal said, also in the statement. “We need to identify and treat people suffering from mental illness before they damage or destroy other lives. By providing resources to train our school officials, law enforcement professionals, and emergency personnel how to recognize and refer people with mental health issues, the Mental Health First Aid Act will increase the health and safety of our communities.” 

The bill will provide grants for mental health first aid training programs for groups of individuals such as teachers, first responders, police officers, school and college administrators, veterans, and nurses. The bill also outlines a particular focus on training in rural areas," the statement said..

Specifically, the bill would (all of the following as contained in the statement and is unedited here: 
  • Highlight available mental health resources in local communities, including Community Mental Health Centers, emergency psychiatric facilities, hospital emergency rooms and other programs offering psychiatric crisis beds;
  • Teach the warning signs and risk factors for schizophrenia, major clinical depression, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, trauma, and other common mental disorders;
  • Teach crisis de-escalation techniques; and
  • Provide trainees with a five-step action plan to help individuals in psychiatric crisis connect to professional mental health care.
The bill is endorsed by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA, and the Center for Human Development at the University of Alaska Anchorage, the statement said.

The statement also noted that
The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ), who was former Rep. Gabby Giffords’s former district director and was wounded two years ago.

Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed.

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Esty on ''Assault Weapons Ban of 2013'

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty Thursday joined fellow members Congress and mayors, law enforcement officers, gun safety organizations and other groups, and victims of gun violence to introduce legislation on military-style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition feeding devices, the "Assault Weapons Ban of 2013," according to a statement.

"The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 would reauthorize and strengthen the 1994 assault weapons ban which expired in 2004," the statement said.

See Esty speak here:

Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed.

President Obama: What he had to say about opening combat units to women

This is a press release from the White House on women in combat. It is presented unedited here:

"Today, by moving to open more military positions—including ground combat units—to women, our armed forces have taken another historic step toward harnessing the talents and skills of all our citizens.  This milestone reflects the courageous and patriotic service of women through more than two centuries of American history and the indispensable role of women in today’s military.  Many have made the ultimate sacrifice, including more than 150 women who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan—patriots whose sacrifices show that valor knows no gender. 

Earlier today I called Secretary of Defense Panetta to express my strong support for this decision, which will strengthen our military, enhance our readiness, and be another step toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals of fairness and equality.  I congratulate our military, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for the rigor that they have brought to this process.  As Commander in Chief, I am absolutely confident that—as with the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’—the professionalism of our armed forces will ensure a smooth transition and keep our military the very best in the world.    Today, every American can be proud that our military will grow even stronger with our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters playing a greater role in protecting this country we love."

Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed.


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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ConnCAN calls on state leaders to 'protect progress on education reform'

In a release Wednesday, the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, also known as ConnCAN, an education advocacy organization, urged Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the General Assembly "to protect the progress made for students" in Connecticut "with last year’s groundbreaking education reform law."

The release cited Public-Act 12-116.

"Less than one-year later, several key measures of the education reform law may be under attack in the midst of lawmakers’ efforts" address state budget issues, the release said.

"Connecticut suffers from the worst-in-the-nation student achievement gap on the National Assessment of Educational Progress." the release said.
"In order to address this problem, (Malloy) championed a legislative effort last year to enact a set of much-needed reforms, which the General Assembly approved with nearly unanimous support," the release said.
 “When it comes to improving educational outcomes for all kids, Governor Malloy has led the charge to fight for improvements our students so desperately need,” said Jennifer Alexander, show in photo and acting CEO for ConnCAN, also in the release.

"Since the passage of Public Act 12-116 last May, a dire budget crunch forced state legislators to make some tough choices: last month’s deficit mitigation plan cut a total of $11.4 million from education funding, and nearly half (47 percent) of those cuts were to key pillars of the education reform law," the release said.

According to the ConnCan release, elements of the state reform package that were cut last month include
(These are unedited and presented as provided)
The Commissioner’s Network: which was created last year to turn around 25 of our state’s lowest-performing schools, and help the thousands of Connecticut students who are stuck in these failing schools – had nearly one-third of its annual budget ($2,425,000) gutted by last month’s deficit mitigation plan.
Per-Pupil Funding for Charter Schools: Per-pupil increases for charter school students – necessary to begin closing the state’s unfair funding gap between traditional public school students and public charter students – took a $2 million haircut, which equates to slashing $300 from each student.
New Statewide Educator Evaluation Program: The new statewide educator evaluation program – created to provide the feedback and support necessary to further empower high-performing teachers and principals, make certain that low-performing teachers get the help they need, and allow for the swift dismissal of those who consistently fail to improve – received up to a $1 million cut in funds as part of the deficit mitigation plan.

Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed.


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