Tag Archive | "Sen. Eric Coleman"

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Hartford Officials Host Public Safety Law Debate

HARTFORD — Hartford officials hosted a Community Forum on the Second Chance Society Bill to discuss the impact of the new public safety law.

Members of the public and representatives from local community groups were in attendance to learn more about the new initiative and have their questions answered by State Rep. Matt Ritter’s State Sen. Eric Coleman (D-Bloomfield) and others.

Connecticut Department of Corrections Commissioner Scott Semple and Undersecretary of Criminal Justice and Policy Planning Mike Lawlor served as panelists at the forum and discussed the predicted impact of the Second Chance Society Law.

“The Second Chance Society initiative will lower incarceration rates for non-violent crimes so that minor offenses don’t carry disproportionate penalties,”  Coleman said. “This is a new policy that’s being  instituted in states across America,  and I think the more the public learns about it, the more questions that are asked and answered about it, the greater the support will be.”

For years, Connecticut’s drug policies have swelled its prisons with nonviolent drug offenders who struggle to reintegrate into society upon release. A “Second Chance Society” will reverse these policies largely by reducing jail time for such offenders.

“Gov.  Malloy’s goal is to reduce crime by focusing on violent, high risk offenders.  The Second Chance Society reforms will help substance abusers succeed in recovery, find housing and employment and stay out of jail.  The barriers to employment and housing that many ex-offenders face will be eliminated for those who have turned their lives around,” remarked Undersecretary Lawlor.

“It is promising to see community engagement with such an important topic on the table. The Connecticut Department of Correction will continue to enhance our Reentry efforts to compliment  Malloy’s Second Chance Society,” said Commissioner Scott Semple.




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Assembly Votes to Aid Sawyer Students

HARTFORD — Help may be coming to students who were abandowed by Sawyer business school and others last year.

That’s because State Sen. Eric D. Coleman (D-Bloomfield) and Sen. John Fonfara (D-Hartford) joined their Senate colleagues in unanimous vote today to pass legislation to assist the abandoned students of the former Sawyer School in Hartford.

sawyer-schoolSawyer schools in Hartford and Hamden and the Butler School in Bridgeport closed abruptly with no warning. According to reports, 218 students at the Sawyer schools and 137 at the Butler School were left stranded without a path to graduation.

New legislation, Senate Bill 200, would authorize the Office of Higher Education to identify students who have completed their coursework and provide them with a certificate of completion. These certificates would serve as proof that students have mastered the skills necessary to enter the workforce in their field of expertise.

“This bill will help resolve the terrible plight of the hardworking students at the Sawyer School, many of whom had jobs lined up in anticipation of their graduation, and who have been obstructed from entering the workplace as a result of this terrible situation,”  Coleman said. “It is just that these students will soon receive the degrees they worked so hard to earn.”

“ These students did the right thing by investing in an education, and now we should do the right thing by helping those ready to graduate find a path forward in their careers,”  Fonfara said. “Resources are already available to help former Sawyer students, and I hope that all will take full advantage of them.”

The Connecticut Office of Higher Education is currently working with students who had not yet completed their studies at the time of the schools’ closure to help release them from their student loan obligations or transfer to another school. A helpline has been set up for these students at 1-800-842-0229, and more information may be found atwww.ctohe.org.

The bill now awaits action in the House of Representatives.


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Gov. Malloy Appoints Supreme Court Judge

HARTFORD — The Connecticut Judicial system has its third black judge.

This was welcome news to Sen. Eric Coleman (D) who chairs the General Assembly’s Judiciaary Committee.

Coleman today praised Gov. Dannel Malloy’s decision to appoint Appellate Judge Lubbie Harper, Jr. to the Connecticut Supreme Court

“Judge Lubbie Harper, Jr. has been a star in Connecticut’s justice system from the commencement of his service as a judge, and has attracted a lot of attention for his no-nonsense, down-to-earth style,” Coleman said in a statement to the press. “Judge Harper is an admirable selection on the part of Governor Malloy, and I am sure he will do an outstanding job as our newest Supreme Court Justice.”

Judge Harper currently serves as an Appellate Judge, as chair of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System, and as Connecticut’s representative to the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts.

He was nominated to the Appellate Court in 2005 by Governor M. Jodi Rell, and to the Superior Court in 1997 by Governor John G. Rowland.

Harper, 68, graduated from the University of New Haven, received his Masters from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Connecticut School of Law. He lives with his wife Twila in North Haven, Connecticut.

The Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on Judge Harper’s nomination on March 11.


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City Legislators: State Budget Solid On Education, Cities…

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD —  Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposed 2012-2013 budget so far is solid on education.

That was the consensus among most Democrats and Republicans on Wednesday after Malloy gave his first budget address before the House of Representative and Senate at the Capitol in Hartford.

Overall, the city’s top political leaders were cautiously optimistic about the governor’s proposed $18.2 billion budget and praised the commitment to education refrom, from preK-12  to higher education.

“What I’m hearing is good,” said Hartford’s 7th Assembly District Rep. Doug McCrory (D). McCrory is also vice chair of the Education Committee.

The 2nd District State Sen. Eric Coleman (D) agreed.

“Certainly, I like what’ve heard,” said Coleman, whose district includes Bloomfield, Windsor and Hartford. “But as we all know, there has to be an examination of the details. We have to face up to our reality…some things might be cut.”

Malloy said last week that one proposed cut not in the budget is a slash to the state’s Educational Cost Sharing grant. The ECS is a formula used to disburse money to schools. The governor also reiterated his commitment to closing the academic achievement gap.

“It is dismaying to all of us, that Connecticut has the largest achievement gap of any state in the nation,” he said in his 38-minute speech. “That so many of our children are falling behind without ever getting the chance to get ahead — is something we should not tolerate. That’s why, despite the fiscal challenges we face, I refuse to put an additional burden on our cities and towns by reducing funding for local education.”

Malloy also proposed education reform in the state’s school funding formula, support for future funding of universal prekindergarten education and teacher tenure rules so that administrators can retain talented teachers.

In addition, he proposed a new student data and teacher accountability system, $60 million for magnet schools, $6.5 million for charter schools, $7.2 million for Open Choice program and $50,00 for Regional Educational Service Center to study ways to regionalize transportation and save money.

Of the $18.2 billion proposed 2012-2013 budget,$2.8 billion, or 15 percent, is allocated to education.

Malloy’s budget address on educational issues also received applause from some Republicans.

Malloy reaches across to shake a hand after he presented his proposed budget at the Capitol on Wednesday

Republican Chairman Chris Healy said he “gives him credit on education.”

But, Healy said, Malloy’s budget doesn’t cut anything.

“The Democrats definition of tax cuts is not spending more than what was spent last year,” Healy said.

And therein lies the crux of the debate on the budget as it moves to the Appropriation Committee next week. The proposed budget includes a “broadbase”  tax increase of $1.5 billion. Budget Chair Benjamin Barnes said in his briefing that 19 percent of new taxes would paid by businesses and 81 percent of it by individuals.

Other highlights of the governor’s proposed budget includes a reduced number of state agencies by 30 percent, or from 82 to 53. Also, the first five companies bring 200 or more jobs to the state would receive a series of tax credits.

Sen. John Fonfara who represents the 1st District of Hartford and Wethersfield, said he is in favor of the proposed budget because it addresses energy reform, pre-school education and job creation. With the proposed budget, if approved “cities like Hartford will get the attention it needs,” said Fonfara (D). “We have some who understands the need of cities.”

But 5th District State Rep. Marie Kirkly-Bey (D) said she was concerned about proposed cuts that would affect the poor. Kirkley-Bey said the only direct mention of something that favors the poor is the Earn Income Tax Credit. Malloy calls for a “robust earned income tax credit of thirty percent.” This would allow an additional $1,7 00 per year for a family of four, he said.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said he welcomes all the help the city and can get from the state and the EITC is a key issue that affects the city.

“I applaud the Governor for supporting a State Earned Income Tax Credit and additional monies for affordable housing and homelessness prevention efforts,” Segarra said in a statement to the press. “I am also pleased by his willingness to provide municipalities with optional local revenue generators; it clearly demonstrates that, as a former Mayor, he understands our present limitations, needs and challenges.”

Union officials also reacted to Malloy’s proposed budget, which calls for cuts in the higher education system, including community colleges.

“The Governor’s proposed budget is just that, a proposal.  As I have noted previously, this is a kind of political and economic theater,” said Steve Cohen, president of the Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges in a email to members. “We are only now at the end of Act I, Scene I, so we have a long way to go until the “play” ends.

From Feb. 23 to March 4, the Appropriation Committee will hold public hearings to discuss the many needs and challenges in Hartford and other towns and cities. Residents can voice opinions, recommendations and suggestions to the state’s proposed 20012-13 budget.

Or they can do so at Malloy’s scheduled town hall meetings across the state in the coming months.

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