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Klarides in End-of-Session Wrap-up News Conference

Klarides, House & Senate GOP Unveil A Better Budget Plan for Conn.

House & Senate Republicans Urge Legislators to Adopt Clean Election Proposals

HARTFORD – Connecticut House and Senate Republicans slammed Democrats for their failure to lead on the important issue of campaign finance reform. Democrats are pushing forward a campaign finance bill that fails to close clean election loopholes and address the flaws exposed during the last election cycle.

The proposed legislation, SB 1126 An Act Concerning Revisions to Campaign Finance Laws, drafted by Democrats in the Government Affairs and Elections (GAE) Committee, also excludes all of the Republicans’ campaign finance proposals made this year in an effort to strengthen the Citizen’s Election Program.

“Connecticut’s Citizen’s Election Program is broken, and so is Connecticut’s promise to taxpayers,” said Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven). “Nearly a decade ago, Connecticut made a deal with taxpayers: fund state campaigns with taxpayer money in exchange for clean elections untouched by the influence of special interest groups. But after years of attacks on this program, Connecticut is unable to uphold its end of the bargain. We have an obligation to right this wrong. Unfortunately, the legislation now under consideration by the GAE Committee does not go far enough to plug the holes in this quickly sinking ship.”

“Republicans have offered five sensible fixes to Connecticut’s broken campaign finance system to close loopholes and once again eliminate pay-to-play for state contractors. They were ignored. And the bill up for consideration makes things worse,” House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby) said. “This bill does nothing to regain the public’s expectation of clean elections in Connecticut,” Klarides added.

Senate and House Republicans proposed a package of reforms to election laws this year, including the following changes:
1) Cap organizational expenditures by state parties (SB 612)
2) Reduce individual donor limits to state parties from $10,000 to $5,000 (HB 6084)
3) Stop state contractor funds from being used in state races (SB 385)
4) Eliminate grants to unopposed candidates (SB 224)
5) Reduce all Citizens’ Election Program grants by 25% (SB 225)

None of the above proposals were included in the overarching committee bill.

Republicans also took issue with two sections of the Democrats’ proposal that would further weaken clean election laws. One section would change regulations to limit the time the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) can conduct an audit to three months and would prohibit audits on candidates who were audited in the previous election cycle, which could foster system abuse. Another section would eliminate an SEEC regulation which would open the door to allow candidates to funnel their unused campaign funds to another candidate through coordinated campaign expenditures, thereby circumventing the intention of public financing.

“Those who want more transparency in Connecticut political campaigns will be sadly disappointed if this legislation passes in its current form,” said Sen. Michael McLachlan (R-Danbury), Ranking Member of the Government Administration and Elections Committee. “If this bill becomes law, money will continue to trump sunlight, and Connecticut will continue down the wrong path. Our campaign laws already have gaping loopholes, but those loopholes will grow even larger with this legislation.”

Long-term Transportation Plan Announced by Klarides, House and Senate Republicans

HARTFORD — Today House Republican Leader Themis Klarides joined House and Senate legislators roll out a plan to prioritize transportation across the state of Connecticut. By securing a predictable and sustainable funding source and empowering transportation experts to plan for the future, “Prioritize Progress” aims to create a safe, reliable and multi-model transportation network including roads, bridges, rail, bus, and port improvements.

“This is a comprehensive transportation plan that accomplishes many goals: It defines a 10-year horizon where we propose funding an additional $5.3 billion to re-build our infrastructure. We do not raise any taxes and the plan does not include tolls,” said state Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby), House Republican Leader. “This plan will also save Connecticut $305 million in debt services.”

“Over the past century our state has never had a truly predictable and reliable revenue stream to fund transportation projects,” said Senator Len Fasano (R-North Haven), Senate Minority Leader. “Our plan will reprioritize state spending to put the focus on transportation. We are proposing a way to live within our means and simultaneously advance Connecticut for the future.”

The “Prioritize Progress” plan involves (1) establishing a predictable and sustainable funding stream for transportation totaling at least $1 billion every year for the next 30 years, and (2) reinstituting the Transportation Strategy Board to aid the Connecticut Department of Transportation in identifying community needs and prioritizing safety improvements.

Benefits of the plan include:
– An annual transportation funding mechanism guaranteeing at least $1 billion annually over the next 30 years
– No tax increases
– No tolls
– A reduction in the current level of state bonding
– Flexibility in setting transportation priorities
– A sustainable and predictable funding plan to support future generations

Key components of the plan would require the state to:
– Reserve a set amount of General Obligation Bonds to be used solely for transportation priorities.
– Preserve current Special Tax Obligation bonds dedicated to transportation.
– Fill all vacant positions at the Department of Transportation to ensure that the agency can efficiently carry out the state’s needed transportation projects. As of January 1, the DOT is 114 positions below where they were 6 months previously.
– Re-establish the Transportation Strategy Board (TSB) to work alongside CTDOT to assess proposed projects, identify community needs.

Klarides, House & Senate GOP Call for Changes to Clean Elections Program

HARTFORD–Connecticut Senate and House Republicans are calling for the state to clean up its clean elections program. At a press conference at the Legislative Office Building today, Republican legislators outlined a plan to close loopholes in the state’s current public campaign financing laws.

“Connecticut a decade ago made a deal with the taxpayers of this state: Underwrite the elections and take the money out of politics. Today, the system that we have bares little relationship to the program that was originally adopted and that taxpayers and voters were sold,” said Representative Themis Klarides (R-Derby), House Republican Leader.

“Time and time again we have seen the majority party chip away at the clean election system that Connecticut once took great pride in. We created a public financing system to ensure honest, fair elections. But that’s not what we have now. It’s time to close the loopholes,” said Senator Len Fasano (R-North Haven), Senate Minority Leader.

The Republican legislators are proposing a package of legislative reforms to election laws including the following changes.

1)     Cap organizational expenditures by state parties

Currently, political parties can make unlimited organizational expenditures on behalf of participating candidates. Republicans are proposing the following limits:

  • Candidate for Governor                                      $250,000
  • Candidate for Constitutional Officer                 $75,000
  • Candidate for State Senate                                 $10,000
  • Candidate for House of Representatives          $3,500

2)     Reduce individual donor limits to state parties from $10,000 to $5,000

In 2013, individual donor limits to state parties was increased along with the amount state parties could make in organizational expenditures to a campaign. Republicans are proposing to roll back donation limits to previous levels.

3)     Eliminate grants to unopposed candidates

Currently, candidates for state office (constitutional officers, senators, and representatives) are eligible for Citizens’ Election Program (CEP) grants even if they are unopposed.  The amount of their grant equals 30% of a full-grant. Republicans are proposing to eliminate these grants.

4)     Stop state contractors from donating to a federal account to fund a state race

The State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) needs to be able to enforce Connecticut’s current laws that contractors from donating to state races. Republicans are proposing legislation to help SEEC enforce this law.

5)     Reduce all Citizens’ Election Program grants by 25%

By reducing CEP funds across the board, the state can save taxpayers approximately $7 million in gubernatorial election years and $2.4 million in Presidential years.

 

Current Grant Amounts

Proposed Grant Amounts

(25 % reduction)

Governor

$6,500,400

$4,875,300

Constitutional Officer

$812,550

$609,412

State Senator

$94,690

$71,017

State Representative

$27,850

$20,887

“We must re-double our efforts to eliminate certain grants, reduce the money we spend on elections and curb the influence of outside groups that have been allowed over time to re-enter the field,’’ said Representative Klarides.

Rep. Themis Klarides Supports VNA Community Health Care’s Fall Prevention Program at Woodbridge Senior Center

Falls can happen to anyone, but if you’re over 65, a fall can be especially devastating. According to the Connecticut Collaboration for Fall Prevention, which provides up-to-date, research-based protocol for clinical and community settings. In an effort to extend this message of caution and save our senior citizens from falls, Rep. Themis Klarides attended the “Keeping Woodbridge Residents on Their Feet” event at the Woodbridge Senior Center.

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Following a special lunch served by the Senior Center, representatives from American Medical Response and VNA Community Healthcare began a presentation on how falls happen, and how they can be prevented.

According to the program, falls are the number one cause of accidental injury in CT residents aged 55 and over. An older adult seeks emergency services because of a fall every 18 seconds.  For that reason, senior citizens are encouraged to seek help. Even the proper use of a cane can aid in getting seniors up and moving about safely. Because increased mobility leads to stronger, balanced bodies, recommended forms of exercise include Tai Chi, Yoga and Dance.

Seniors were also advised to be aware of the following potential fall causes:

  • Difficulty walking, getting up or sitting down.
  • Losing their balance.
  • Taking four or more medications on a regular basis.
  • Drops in blood pressures and dizziness.
  • Problems with vision, hearing, numbness in feet, memory and confusion.
  • Foot pain and ill-fitting shoes.
  • Hazards at home.

To safeguard against these dangers, it was suggested that seniors seek sturdy shoes with a high-grip sole, talk with their doctor about shortening prescription lists, replace unsteady furniture and remove obtrusive furniture, and make sure all aspects of their environments are visible at all times by turning on lights, taking a moment to observe, and keeping glasses clean.

In addition to Fall Prevention, the VNA is available to help regarding the following services:

  • Benefits or entitlements.
  • Medicare.
  • Medical Alarm services, such as MobileHelp (1-800-800-1710).
  • Private care.
  • Community services.
  • Support groups.

For further information, questions, or concerns, speak to a nurse at 1-866-862-0888 or visit ConnecticutHomecare.org.

For more on Fall Prevention, please visit www.fallprevention.org.

The VNA HelpLine is also available toll free at 1-866-474-5230.

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Rep. Klarides Attends Unveiling of New Fitness Center at Derby High School

Derby High School was recently selected as one of three school districts in Connecticut to receive a $100,000 gift from the National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils.  On Wednesday the school unveiled a brand new fitness center, which will be open to middle school students and eventually to the public on weekends.

Though this is a small school district, Derby was chosen over 200+ applicants mainly because of its variety of school programs that encourage healthy lifestyles. Efforts of teachers, students and the community to promote healthy habits include the middle school’s sixth grade healthy cooking participation, the high school’s fundraiser for the American Heart Association and the district’s partnerships with Griffin Hospital to display “NuVal” nutrition scores in schools and the non-profit “Valley Initiative to Advance Health and Learning in Schools.”

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“I would like to thank Coca-Cola and AOL, who donated the money to the Foundation that provided this wonderful resource for our students,” said Rep. Klarides (R-114). “The Derby school system and community is truly in need of these infrastructure and equipment upgrades, which will go a long way toward helping our young folks learn and compete. In order to focus on their learning, students need to feel physically strong and healthy. This will improve their mental and emotional well-being and ultimately, their academic performance. The success of our students and educators is critical, and these improvements are money well invested.”

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For more information on the National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils, please visit: http://natgovfit.org/

Sources:

Photos Courtesy of the Valley Independent Sentinel.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Rep. Themis Klarides Supports Women Making a Difference in the Valley

Rep. Themis Klarides recently honored five recipients with legislative citations during the Valley Women’s Health Initiative’s 13th Annual “Women Making a Difference in the Valley” luncheon hosted by Elizabeth Kennard.

The luncheon, held at the Grassy Hill Lodge in Derby, CT on October 2, 2014 (at the start of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month), honors professionals and volunteers who have significantly contributed to, and positively impacted, their Valley communities while also raising awareness for breast cancer.

Themis Valley Women's Health Initiative 106 (webpost 2)Themis Valley Women's Health Initiative 082 (webpost 2)

“I am proud to support Griffin Hospital’s Valley Breast Care Fund, which helps ensure that women are updated with basic information to help minimize health risks,” said Rep. Klarides (R-114), a member of the Public Health Committee. “Health Care centers and physicians have an obligation to educate their patients on the importance of regular screenings, so they can make informed decisions about their health. Part of that requires an understanding of recognizing the signs in light of early detection.”

Themis Valley Women's Health Initiative 152 (webpost)

Left to Right: Rep. Klarides, Honoree Pamela Petro and Senator Joe Crisco.

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Rep. Klarides and her sister, Nicole Klarides-Ditria, Deputy First Selectman of Seymour, CT.

This year the committee honored four women—Kayleigh Apicerno (Seymour), Marion Bradley (Beacon Falls), Pamela Petro (Shelton), and Carolyn Schuster (Derby).

Kayleigh Apicerno, a Customer Service and Marketing Assistant at HOMA Pump Technology, Inc., is also the founder of Cloud Media Marketing, a company that aims to teach small businesses how to utilize social media, cloud, and mobile technology. Apicerno also volunteers for United Way, SeymourHistoricalSociety.org, Pinktoberfest, Young Emerging Professionals, and many others.

Marion Bradley, a pharmacist living in Beacon Falls, founded the Beacon Falls Pharmacy. Bradley supports the local schools’ fundraising efforts, and is active within the local Rotary Club and Boy/Girl Scouts, St. Michael’s Ladies Guild, and St. Michael’s Church.

Pamela Petroa, a Process Engineering Manager and Community Support Organizer at Unilever, also works for the University of Connecticut on the School of Engineering’s Industrial Advisory Board. Petro volunteers for the Spooner House, the CT Food Bank and the Griffin Hospital Breast Wellness Center. Petro has also volunteered as the Planning Committee and Safety Director for the Housy One-Miler.

Carolyn Schuster, a registered nurse, and has worked for Waterbury Hospital, Yale-New Haven Hospital, the Visiting Nurses of Southern CT, Kindercare, Oxford, and Pediatric and Adolescent Healthcare. Schuster volunteers in her community by handing out books to children, knitting and distributing scarves to those in need, collecting stuffed animals for children involved in domestic violence cases, or assisting at community fairs.

In addition to the nominees named above, the committee also recognized Nancy M. Cappello, Ph.D and Senator Joe Crisco, each receiving a Special Recognition Award.

Dr. Cappello, Executive Director and Founder of Are You Dense, Inc. and Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc., has devoted her life to educating the public about dense breast tissue and how it can create challenges in identifying breast cancer, often leading to delayed or missed diagnoses—as evidenced by her own struggle. Dr. Cappello has had a long and successful career as an educator, an administrator, and as a consultant.

“This event hosted by the Valley Women’s Health Initiative is not only a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness for National Breast Cancer Awareness,” said Rep. Klarides, “but to recognize local women who have made positive contributions to the Valley. The unique perspective that female leaders bring to our community is invaluable as we face issues more diverse and challenging than ever before. I am hopeful we will continue to create opportunities for underrepresented groups while striving toward a society that recognizes achievement irrespective of gender. Congrats to the 2014 Valley Women Making a Difference honorees. A truly remarkable group of inspiring women!”

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Left to Right: Valley Women’s Health Initiative Co-Chair Kate Cosgrove, Nancy Cappello, VWHI Co-Chair Dr. Stephanie Wain, State Senator Joe Crisco, and Rep. Themis Klarides.

To browse the album with the rest of the photos from this event, please visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cthouserepublicans/sets/72157639526347983/

For more information on the Valley Women’s Health Inititive or Breast Cancer Awareness, please visit: http://www.griffinhealth.org/About-Us/Community-Care/Valley-Womens-Health-Initiative.aspx and www.AreYouDenseAdvocacy.org.    

 

 

Legislation Effective October 1, 2014

With the start of October come new laws that may directly affect you, your business or your community.

An entire list of these laws can be found by clicking here.

Here are a few highlights:

An Act Concerning Guardians Ad Litem (GAL) and Attorneys For Minor Children in Family Relations Matters, which puts into effect new requirements and Superior court procedures regarding the appointment of guardians ad litem and counsels for minor children (CMC) in family relations and other matters. The act provides a list of factors for GALs and CMCs to consider in determining the best interest of the child and establishes new compensation requirements.

An Act Concerning Long-Term Care Insurance Premium Rate Increases, which requires long-term care (LTC) insurance providers to disperse premium rate increases of at least 20% over a time period of at least three years. It requires LTC carriers to notify individual policyholders and group certificate holders of any rate increase and provide the opportunity to reduce benefits in order to reduce the rate.

An Act Concerning Stolen Valor, Veterans’ Service Officers and Technical Corrections to the Definition of Veteran, which addresses the crime of falsely portraying oneself as the owner of a military medal to deceitfully acquire money, property or other tangible benefits. The penalty remains to be a fine ranging between $500 to $1,000 and/or up to six months imprisonment.

Nail Salon Fundraising Event to Raise Awareness for Domestic Violence

Support National Domestic Violence Awareness Month By Participating in “Heart for the Cause:”

Get Your Ring Fingernail Painted Purple and Enter to Win a Necklace from Chazon Designs!

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. On the first Monday in October, a Day of Unity is celebrated to encourage communities to make a difference in rememberance of the women and children killed by domestic violence. According to Safe Horizon, about 1 in 4 women will suffer from physical assualt by an intimate partner in their lifetime – about 3 million children are witness to this in their own homes every year. Most of these incidents are never reported.

The Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence Services is a local resource that provides services for victims and their children. All services offered – including walk-in crisis services, support groups, community education, volunteer and internship programs, a 24-hour hotline, an emergency safe house, and legal advocacy – are free of charge at their locations in Ansonia and North Haven. Services support 170 different languages, are confidential, and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Photo courtesy of bhcare.org

Starting on October 1st, Chazon Desgins, a local jewlery designer, will be hosting a month-long Nail Salon Fundraiser. “Heart for the Cause,” as Chazon Designs owner Victoria Butler has decided to call the event, will be held at local Nail Salons including those in Orange, Woodbridge and Derby. A donation of $5 or more at a participating salon will not only get your ring fingernails painted purple, but will help raise awareness and funds for the Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence Services. “When people ask you about your nails,” says Butler, “you can tell them that you have a ‘Heart for the Cause.'” Plus, one lucky donor will be the winner of an iconic “Tugging on my Heart Strings” necklace donated by Chazon Designs!

If you wish to purchase the pendant, Chazon Designs will be offering an intro price and free shipping throughout the month of October. A portion of their profits are donated to The Umbrella Center in an effort to raise money and awareness for the victims of domestic violence.

 

Photo courtesy of chazondesigns.com

If you know of a salon that might like to participate in this fundraiser, Butler encourages you to speak with them and email her if interested.

Please join me in supporting this initiative put an end to Domestic Violence.

For more information on the “Heart for the Cause” event, please call 203-982-4508 or visit www.chazondesigns.com.

For more information on the Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence Services, please visit: http://www.bhcare.org/page/16596–Center-for-Domestic-Violence-Services

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