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The Latest: Lamont says lawmakers will be back for tolls

June 6, 2019
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Legislators meet inside the Hall of the House during the final day of session at the State Capitol in Hartford, Conn., Wednesday June 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
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Legislators meet inside the Hall of the House during the final day of session at the State Capitol in Hartford, Conn., Wednesday June 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Latest on the closing day of the legislative session (all times local):

1:05 a.m.

Gov. Ned Lamont is closing out the regular legislative session, praising Connecticut lawmakers for their hard work, including passing a new two-year, $43 billion budget.

The Democrat said early Thursday morning that “fiscal stability is key to economic growth” and the budget, which received final legislative passage on Tuesday, “gets us going in the right direction.”

Lamont reminded lawmakers their work is not done, however.

He plans to call the General Assembly back for a special session on transportation funding, namely approval of electronic tolls. Despite spending much of the session trying to reach a deal, the House and Senate didn’t vote on a tolling bill.

Lawmakers also plan to meet again to finish some bonding bills and possibly approve a settlement Lamont reached with hospitals over a contested tax.

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12:35 a.m.

An effort to pass legislation that attempts to clamp down on alleged deceptive advertising by crisis pregnancy centers in Connecticut has fizzled.

The bill died in the Senate after lawmakers failed to take the bill up for a vote before Wednesday’s adjournment deadline. The bill previously cleared the House of Representatives.

The bill would have prohibited the typically faith-based centers from making false or misleading statements about the services they provide, while allowing the Attorney General to seek a state order to stop such deceptive advertising. Opponents claimed the bill unlawfully violated free speech rights.

Proponents say some centers misrepresent themselves as medical facilities and are designed to discourage women from seeking abortion, claims the centers deny.

NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut repeatedly urged lawmakers via Twitter to pass the bill.

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12:10 a.m.

Legislation aimed at reducing how often Connecticut residents have to visit the Department of Motor Vehicles is heading to the governor’s desk.

The Senate on Wednesday gave final legislative approval to a bill that requires residents to renew their driver’s license every eight years instead of every six years, as required under current state law.

The bill also extends the length of time between registration renewals from two years to three years. Anyone who sells their vehicle within that three-year window will be able to receive a prorated reimbursement from DMV.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, who proposed the changes, says reducing visits to the DMV makes it more convenient for residents and will also reduce wait times for others who need to conduct business in person at the DMV.

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11:55 p.m.

Legislation attempting to address a spate of juvenile car thefts in many suburban Connecticut communities is heading to Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk.

The House of Representatives gave final legislative passage Wednesday to a bill that creates a diversionary program, with services and resources to rehabilitate young offenders charged with auto theft.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano of North Haven says the legislation will help Connecticut address “a serious public safety issue from multiple fronts.”

The bill expands the circumstances under which a child can be deemed a safety risk and can be detained. It also allows for juveniles to participate in a diversionary program up to two times. After completion, the court may dismiss charges.

The bill also requires the state to examine what’s causing the uptick in car thefts

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9 p.m.

Sweeping legislation that updates police pursuit laws and could speed up the release of police body camera and dashboard camera recordings is advancing the Connecticut governor’s desk.

On an 86-60 vote, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives approved a bill prohibiting police from shooting into or at a fleeing vehicle, or standing in front of it. It also requires officers entering into another jurisdiction to notify the local police department.

Both things happened in an April 20 fatal shooting by a Wethersfield officer Layau Eulizier, who ran in front of a car that had stopped briefly after fleeing a traffic stop. He then fired through the windshield as the car moved toward him. The driver died two days later.

Some Republicans questioned why lawmakers were telling police how to do their jobs.

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8:40 p.m.

A bill requiring boaters to pay a new fee to help cover the cost of combatting invasive aquatic plants is moving to the governor’s desk.

The Senate on Wednesday voted 34-2 in favor of a bill that imposes a $5 fee for Connecticut residents and a $20 fee for out-of-state individuals who register vessels intended to operate on state waters. The General Assembly’s Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates the fee will generate approximately $400,000, to be used by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for various invasive species programs, including grants for research on managing state lakes, rivers and ponds.

Proponents of the bill say various lakes around the state are experiencing pervasive and invasive aquatic species and toxic cyanobacteria blooms, a problem that can be expensive to address.

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8:20 p.m.

Police and paid firefighters who suffer a permanent and severe injury on the job and can no longer work could receive full pay after their worker’s compensation expires.

The Connecticut House of Representatives on Wednesday gave final legislative approval to the legislation, which provides municipalities with the option of approving the additional benefits. It would require a two-thirds vote of a community’s governing body.

Republican Rep. Doug Dubitsky of Chaplan voiced concern about how a small number of people might decide to provide what could be lifetime benefits. He also raised concerns about how the bill doesn’t apply to volunteer firefighters.

The bill allows a community to pay the difference between workers compensation and the injured worker’s full salary and potentially cover the full salary after workers compensation benefits expire.

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7:40 p.m.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is urging Connecticut lawmakers to pass legislation in the final hours of the session aimed at modernizing the state’s election system and fixing problems with election-day registration.

The Democrat said she was told by Democratic Senate leaders they didn’t plan to bring the bill out for a vote on Wednesday because the minority Republicans planned to debate it for the rest of the night. The legislative session adjourns at midnight.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano of North Haven denies the GOP intended to kill the legislation. He says Republican senators didn’t have time to review the bill, which also eliminates a requirement that felons forfeit their voting rights if they’re confined to an in-state or out-of-state community residence.

The bill previously cleared the House.

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7:15 p.m.

Connecticut lawmakers are taking additional steps to address the state’s opioid abuse problem.

The Senate on Wednesday, the final day of the legislative session, advanced legislation to Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont that builds on past efforts to keep greater tabs on opioid prescriptions. For example, it requires pharmacists to offer consultations to all patients about drugs and their usage when they’re dispensing a prescription and to keep those records for three years.

The bill also requires practitioners who prescribe an opioid with more than a 12-week supply to establish a treatment agreement with their patient and discuss a care plan for chronic opioid drug use, which includes non-opioid treatment options. It also requires colleges and universities, beginning in 2020, to develop policies on making overdose reversal medications available to students.

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4:20 p.m.

Connecticut lawmakers are wrapping up the regular legislative session, their first in years with a stronger Democratic legislative majority and a new Democratic governor.

In traditional fashion, the final day is filled with a flurry of activity at the state Capitol, with members of the House of Representatives and Senate busy trying to pass bills before Wednesday’s midnight adjournment.

Gov. Ned Lamont is scheduled to address legislators shortly after the fast-approaching deadline. He’ll officially close out a session marked by the on-time passage of a two-year, $43 billion state budget on-time — one of Lamont’s priorities.

But lawmakers are expected to return to Hartford for a special legislative session to tackle some unfinished business, including the possibility of authorizing electronic tolls. Lamont has expressed disappointment the legislation hasn’t been passed yet.