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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

News Roundup - March 1, 2005

A few things happening today besides this bust of a snowstorm.

Governors Meet: Rell Stays Home

Not wanting to violate her own ban on out-of-state travel, Gov. Rell did not go to Washington this week to meet with the president, other governors and the state's congressional delegation.

This is a shame, because a moderate, well-liked Republican governor from a "blue" state is quite a novelty.

The travel ban apparently wasn't the only reason she stayed home:

Other reasons for Rell's being one of only six state governors not attending was that she wanted to catch up on phone calls and meetings she put off while recuperating from cancer surgery in December. (Lightman)

She also had to wash her hair, look after the cat, run a few errands... I get the feeling that she doesn't feel comfortable with the national party or the national political scene in general. She barely attended the GOP convention in September, and, outside of a congratulatory phone call in July, has not spoken with President Bush. Gov. Rowland seemed to live for these events, but he, of course, was a political animal. It's becoming increasingly obvious that Rell is something quite different.

Gay Rights Group OKs Civil Unions

The gay rights organization Love Makes a Family apparently has had a change of heart, and now says that they will not oppose civil unions. Earlier, the group said they'd oppose civil unions for same-sex couples as part of a broader push for full marriage rights. (See my previous post on this subject.)

Why the change of heart?

The group's opposition, roundly criticized by some of its legislative allies, would have put Love Makes a Family in the awkward position of lobbying - alongside its longtime political adversaries - against a bill that would greatly expand the rights of gay and lesbian couples. (Altimari)

That, and no one was listening to them.

Ultimately, Love Makes a Family's argument failed to win support from the judiciary committee - only one member, Sen. Mary Ann Handley, D-Manchester, voted against civil unions because they do not go far enough. (Altimari)

This is smart, and allows the left to unify around the bill (which is facing tepid opposition from the usual suspects). Overwhelming support in the Assembly for civil unions won't end the marriage debate, as LMAF fears: it will instead legitimize it.

Ethics Bill for Contractors Approved by Committee

The government administration and elections commitee approved a bill designed to reform rules governing state contracts:

The legislation would standardize a mish-mash of contracting rules and create a new state oversight board with the authority to ban a contractor implicated in corrupt practices from doing business with the state for up to five years. (Pazniokas)

This, finally, is the legislative result of the Rowland scandal. Cheers!

So when will the new rules take effect?

Sen. Donald DeFronzo, D-New Britain, a committee co-chairman and one of the bill's architects, said state contracting rules are so arcane that the new rules cannot be fully implemented until October 2007. (Pazniokas)

Great. Well, at least something got done before the zeal for ethics reform evaporated entirely.

Snow Cancels Pro-Newton Rally

A rally for embattled Senator Ernest Newton II was cancelled due to the threat of snow yesterday:

"We hope to reschedule for Monday or Tuesday next week, depending on the weather," said the Rev. Mary Lee, who was to have led the rally at the Main Street courthouse. "We were expecting about 150 people to come." (Thompson)

Alas, not even very much snow showed up.

ELECTION ALERT: 83rd House District (Meriden/Berlin) special election today!!! Full results tomorrow.

Sources:
Altimari, Daniela. "Change Of Heart On Civil Unions". Hartford Courant 1 March 2005.
Lightman, David and Mark Pazniokas. "Rell Stays Home As Governors Get Together". Hartford Courant 1 March 2005.
Pazniokas, Mark. "Panel Approves Contract Ethics Bill". Hartford Courant 1 March 2005.
Thompson, Joel. "Pro-Newton rally canceled". Connecticut Post 1 March 2005.

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