The Capitol Beat: April 7-11, 2014

From Gaffney, Bennett & Associates

April 7 – April 11, 2014

This week is shaping up to be a light one at the Legislature as many observe religious holidays. The following two and a half weeks until adjournment will be anything but, however, with hundreds of bills – including the budget, bond and revenue proposals – still in the hopper. Hang onto your hats!

Republicans Zawistowski Takes O’Brien’s Seat in 61st District

Preliminary results from Friday’s special election show GOP candidate and East Granby resident Tami Zawistowski prevailing in the 61st House District formerly occupied by Democratic State Rep. Elaine C. O’Brien, who recently died of cancer. She defeated Democrat candidate Peter Hill by a margin of 546 votes in the special election.

Zawistowski ran unsuccessfully against O’Brien in 2012. The 61st District includes Suffield, East Granby, and a portion of Windsor.

Tax Credit Proposal Dies in Finance Committee

A proposal to increase the total amount of business tax credits available under the Urban and Industrial Site Reinvestment program from $650 million to $800 million and increase certain thresholds triggering legislative approval for financial assistance and tax credits died of inaction in the Finance Committee on Friday.

GMO-Free Grass Seed Bill Cut Short in House

A proposal to prohibit selling distributing, marketing, using or planting lawn or turf seed that is even partially genetically engineered was cut short in the House on Thursday when 55 Democrats joined all but two Republicans to defeat the measure. The proposal, which had never received a public hearing, was a priority of outgoing Senate President Don Williams. It remains to be seen whether this causes a rift between leadership in the two chambers.

Senate Approves Bill to Give APRNs Independence

The Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would give Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) the ability to independently treat patients – a move meant to help with an anticipated shortage of primary care physicians, but one many in the health care field have concerns about.

The bill, approved along party lines –25 to 11—and supported by the Governor, would allow APRNs to practice independently, but only after practicing under a collaborative agreement with a doctor for at least three years.

Some physicians have expressed concerns that APRNs do not have the same level of education and clinical trial experience necessary to diagnose and treat patients without proper supervision.

Low Key AG Plans to Seek Another Term

In his typical low-key style, Attorney General George Jepsen took just four minutes to announce this week that he would be seeking re-election in the fall. It was only his second news conference in a month – a departure from his predecessor U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, known for frequent and often lengthy news conferences.

Jepsen served as a Democratic State Representative from Stamford, Senate Majority Leader, and chairman of the state party before becoming Attorney General. Though quiet in demeanor, Jepsen has been an outspoken defender of consumer rights.

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