Connecticut Senate backs cutting penalties for drugs - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Connecticut Senate backs cutting penalties for drugs

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(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

The state Senate has approved legislation that would make drug possession a misdemeanor for the first two offenses and establishes other changes in criminal justice policy.

The legislation approved on a 22-14 vote early Wednesday requires third and subsequent convictions to be punishable as felonies.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made his so-called Second Chance criminal justice changes a priority. Republicans embraced parts of the Democratic governor's initiative, part of an effort to send fewer nonviolent criminals to prison while helping former inmates reintegrate into society

Sen. Len Fasano, the Senate's Republican leader, said drug use is a public health issue, not a criminal matter.

The legislation also maintains the state's 1,500-foot drug-free school zones for convictions for sale and possession. Convictions in school zones will require jail time, not mandatory minimums.

11 a.m.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's House of Representatives has passed a $40 billion state budget after Democratic leaders worked through the night to secure enough votes.

The bill, which needed 72 votes, was approved Wednesday morning 73-70. It now heads to the Senate, which by law must act on the package by midnight when the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn for the summer. If it is not passed, lawmakers would need to convene a special session before the July 1 start of the fiscal year.

Plans to vote on the budget Tuesday were scuttled after Connecticut-based General Electric Co., Aetna Inc. and the Travelers Companies Inc. each released rare public statements taking issue with about $700 million in business tax increases.

GE and Aetna both questioned whether they would remain in Connecticut.

10:40 a.m.

Connecticut lawmakers have voted to reverse a state Supreme Court ruling criticized by the media that said police only have to release basic information about arrests to the public while prosecutions are pending.

The state Senate voted 36-0 Wednesday morning in favor of the bill, which the House approved Friday. The legislation now heads to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

The bill would change the state Freedom of Information Act to require police to release arrest warrant affidavits that provide detailed information on charges and disclose other records.

The Supreme Court ruled last year that the FOI law only required police to release limited arrest information including names, charges and at least a press release.

The Associated Press and other media organizations had asked the court to rule against police.

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