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Klarides: Audit Raises Questions Over Corrections Union Stewards’ Issues

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Sep 062018
 

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today pointed to an auditors’ report that highlights failures to account for the time some Corrections Department union stewards spent attending to union business and undocumented overtime and compensation time within the system.

The report raises questions over the magnitude of the unaccounted for time because the auditors typically sample only small portions of payroll data within any state agency, Klarides said.

“This audit puts a spotlight on policies that permit the union stewards to conduct union activities
such as grievance hearings on the taxpayers’ dime,” she said. “The state employees are entitled to union
representation to deal with workplace issues but the stewards should be paid by the unions for
that work.’’

The lack of documentation, “increases the risk of unauthorized union leave,’’ the auditors wrote.

Republicans have put forth budget proposals in the past to require that the stewards be paid by
union dues for the activities outside of the workplace.

The auditors sampled 40 instances of Union Release Time/Union Business Leave forms and all
40 were not filled out correctly or did not provide enough detail to determine what activities had
taken place. The auditors also noted that overall 201 union stewards within corrections amassed
28,449 hours representing fellow workers at a cost of $894,000 to taxpayers.

When it comes to overtime and compensation time, the auditors also noted overtime was not
properly documented in some instances. In three out of 10 instances the auditors said,
“Compensatory time was not earned and approved in accordance with established policies.’’

Corrections overtime costs increased in one year from $62 million to $72 million, according to
the office of fiscal analysis.

Klarides Calls For Stiffer Drug Offense Penalties Citing Mass Overdoses In New Haven

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Aug 162018
 

Citing the mass overdoses in downtown New Haven by scores of people who used synthetic marijuana likely laced with an opioid, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today said the legislature should have strengthened penalties for those who sell opioids such as fentanyl when it had the chance.

Klarides said the House Republican caucus will again propose legislation to double the penalties for the dealing and manufacturing of opioids such as fentanyl as it has in the past few years. Each time it has failed to gain final approval after support gaining support in committee.

“What has happened in New Haven this week should be a lesson for us all. These mass overdoses tell us that the sale and use of opioids and dangerous substances such as fentanyl are out of control. We need tougher penalties on the sale and manufacture of these substances if we are going to get a handle on this epidemic,’’ Klarides said. “It is not the only answer but it needs to be part of the
solution.’’

A Yale-New Haven Hospital physician told media outlets that the Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed that the drugs contained synthetic marijuana mixed with fentanyl, synthetic opioid about 50 times stronger than heroin. More than 70 people overdosed on the
synthetic marijuana known as K2 on Wednesday. Additional overdoses have continued. The incidents have kept law enforcement and emergency responders busy in downtown New Haven.

“Tougher laws on the sale of fentanyl, in particular, will enhance the public’s awareness on just how dangerous and prevalent this substance is,’’ Klarides said.

The most recent legislation introduced HB 5551 AAC Increasing Penalties for Dealing Synthetic Drugs, hiked penalties for dealing and manufacturing fentanyl substances. In 2016 a similar bill passed unanimously in the Judiciary Committee and cleared the House only to die in the Senate.

Last year the bill passed Judiciary but was never called in the House.

The legislation would have reclassified fentanyl as a narcotic from its current status as a controlled substance. The change in classification would double the penalties to up to 15 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Klarides called the legislation a straightforward approach to a problem that should enjoy broad support.

Klarides Endorses Staneski For State Senate In The 14th District

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Jul 202018
 

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-114) today gave her full support to Pam Staneski in her race for the Republican nomination in the 14th State Senate race.

“Serving with Pam Staneski, I quickly learned Pam is a natural leader and someone I could rely on. Pam’s commitment to serving her constituents is second to none, and I have every confidence that Pam will represent the entire 14th District with the same integrity and dedication that has guided her to this point,” said Rep. Themis Klarides.

 Pam Staneski (R-119) currently serves with Rep. Themis Klarides who has lead the House Republican Caucus for the last four years, fighting the destructive economic policies pushed by Gov. Malloy.

Representatives Klarides and Davis Address Malloy’s Proposed Toll Study

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Jul 192018
 

Following is a letter sent to Gov. Malloy after he announced plans to pay for a study to bring tolls back to CT. (As you may know Malloy is NOT seeking re-election and the toll decision will be made after he is gone for good.)

Dear Governor Malloy,

We write to urge you to reconsider your proposed use of taxpayer dollars to fund a study of tolls.

Advocates for tolls in the current General Assembly have been unable to garner enough votes to allow tolls back into Connecticut. As you well know, the composition of the General Assembly and the governor’s office will be different in a few short months. The planning and preparation for tolls as described in your recent Executive Order, including environmental analysis, implies that the return of tolls is inevitable. The reality is that the coming election casts even greater doubt on the likelihood of tolls gaining sufficient support.

Your proposal to spend $10 million of taxpayer money on a study of tolls without approval from the legislature is a blatant circumvention of our Democratic process. It is also a complete waste of money that could be used to actually improve roads, fix bridges, and, generally, to address our transportation infrastructure needs – an undertaking that is supported by the legislature as a whole.

While we may not know the granular details of a plan for tolls, the preamble of your Executive Order identifies the financial challenge of the Special Transportation Fund and the state’s transportation infrastructure. We know that tolls cannot legally be implemented solely at our state borders to catch non-resident travelers. Tolls will be spread throughout the state, impacting every commuter and costing residents hundreds of millions of dollars.

For us, as Republicans, that is enough to know that we need to find another way to pay for the necessary improvements in our transportation infrastructure. Fortunately, as you are well aware, we have developed an alternative to tolls. We have shared all of the details of our plan with you and your fellow Democrats. The concept is fairly simple: Under your administration, General Obligation borrowing has increased dramatically. Our plan would take the recent increased funding for general purposes and, instead, dedicate the funding to cover the cost of transportation borrowing.

Therefore, we are urging you to reconsider your proposal to seek a $10 million bond allocation for a study of tolls at the next State Bond Commission meeting. Please do not include this as an item on the agenda. Again, there will be a new legislature and a new Governor six months from tomorrow. Let them determine whether or not the state should bring back tolls.

Republicans have begun the process of obtaining signatures for a petition to bring the legislature in for a special session in the event that the Bond Commission approves this item. We hope that enough Democrats will join us in supporting a special session to pass a bill that will prevent your administration from spending any additional money evaluating a plan for tolls.

Sincerely,

Representative Themis Klarides, House Republican Leader Ranking Member

Representative Christopher Davis, Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee

House Passes Bill to Examine Habeas Corpus Filings, Heads to Senate

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Apr 262018
 

State Reps. Themis Klarides and Nicole Klarides-Ditria testify with Marianne Heffernan, the sister of Joyce Stochmal, in support of House Bill 5465 on March 28th in the Judiciary Committee.

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides and State Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria applauded the bipartisan passage of House Bill 5407, An Act Establishing a Task Force to Promote Efficiencies in the Filing of Habeas Corpus Matters, on Tuesday.

The Klarides sisters introduced H.B. 5407, after seeing the problem first hand. The family of Joyce Stochmal, a young woman from Seymour who was murdered in 1984, did not receive notice from the Department of Criminal Justice that the defendant in their case had a viable habeas claim until very late in the process. In fact, the defendant in the case was released from prison last March through a sentence modification.

“It’s time for a major overhaul of the habeas corpus application system in Connecticut,” said Rep. Klarides. “Inmates are filing seemingly endless habeas corpus applications at the cost of taxpayers and victims. The Stochmal family and other families are not being well served by Connecticut’s criminal justice system. We need to improve the habeas corpus system and passing this bill will be the first step in that direction.”

Rep. Klarides-Ditria added, “I want to thank the Stochmal family for continuing to advocate for victims and their families. Victims’ families should come first and not notifying them of habeas corpus claims is unacceptable. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this legislation.”

H.B. 5407 now awaits a vote by the Senate. The legislative session ends at midnight on Wednesday, May 9th.

Lawmakers Stand With Veterans In Support Of Restoring Funding

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Apr 252018
 

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides and State Reps. Charles Ferraro and Pam Staneski joined veterans from across the state on Tuesday at the Capitol to express the need to restore funding to the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs.

Last week, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle presented budget proposals that restored $2 million in funding to the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs. The Republican budget plan does so without increased spending or raising taxes.

Rep. Ferraro, the Ranking Member of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said, “I am glad to see Republican and Democrats committed to restoring this critical funding to the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs. We need to make sure that our Veterans are receiving top-notch services and care and restoring this funding will help make sure this happens.”

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said, “I look forward to having bipartisan budget talks and will be fighting to get this funding restored. Our veterans and individuals who need it the most will always be our top priority during budget negotiations.”

 Rep. Pam Staneski, who is supporting a budget proposal this session that restores these proposed cuts to the Department of Veterans Affairs said, “These brave heroes put their lives on the line for us, and it is our duty to provide them with the vital services and treatment they need and require.”

More information about the Republican budget proposal can be found by visiting cthousegop.com/budgetfy19.

Klarides Says Esty Should Resign

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Apr 032018
 

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today, released this statement on Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.

“There are many unconscionable aspects to this episode that Congresswoman Esty says she regrets, now, two years after the fact. No one, man or woman, should be subjected to the verbal and physical abuse and emotional trauma that this staffer suffered in her workplace. The response from the person in charge cannot ever be three more months more work at taxpayers’ expense, a $5,000 payout and a glowing recommendation for the next job.

“I don’t think we need an ethics investigation to confirm what we already know. Congresswoman Esty should do right by the people she represents and resign.’’

NOTE: Since this statement was released, Esty announced that she will not run for re-election, yet, it seems she has no intention to resign.

House Republican Leader Klarides Votes No On Justice McDonald

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Mar 222018
 

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today voted against elevating Justice Andrew McDonald to the position of Chief Justice on the State Supreme Court following a lengthy debate in the House.

Klarides said she opposed McDonald based on his testimony before the Judiciary Committee on Feb. 26 and his position on when and when not to recuse himself from deciding cases because of conflicts of interest.

“After much thought and deliberation, I felt I could not in good conscience vote to confirm Justice McDonald as Chief Justice. His record of when he has had to recuse himself from cases and others when he has not, is troubling,’’ Klarides said.

The House voted 75-74 to approve the nomination. The vote was not along party lines.

McDonald is Gov. Malloy’s choice to succeed Chase Rogers on the high court. The nomination now goes to the Senate.

Klarides Testifies In Favor of 3D Image Screening For Women

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Mar 082018
 

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides on Thursday testified before members of the legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee about clarifying insurance codes to make certain that Tomosynthesis, a three-dimensional image screening process, is considered a mammography. Klarides was joined by Dr. Thomas Farquhar, chief of radiology at Hartford Hospital.

In 2016, Klarides got legislation passed that requires insurances companies to cover Tomosynthesis if a patient’s physician deems it necessary. But since then, Klarides has learned that some insurance companies weren’t covering Tomosynthesis because they didn’t consider it a mammography.

The committee’s leadership thanked Klarides for not only pursuing the legislation last year but for coming back this year to make sure it’s done right. Farquhar said the process is more likely to identify breast cancer, and that the test saves lives.

Klarides Responds to Gov. Malloy’s Budget Adjustments

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Feb 062018
 

This is House Republican Leader Themis Klarides’s statement regarding Gov. Malloy’s budget adjustments:

Gov. Malloy deserves credit for coming out with budget adjustments in advance of the session. This will help the legislature formulate a response and incorporate some of his ideas and policies in what promises to be another challenging year. In particular, mitigating the loss of property tax deductions for some due to federal tax changes by allowing towns to set up charitable foundations appears to be an innovative approach,’’ Klarides said.

However, returning to some of the options to balance the budget that Republicans have rejected in the past – elimination of the property tax exemption altogether, taxing non-prescription drugs, cutting all municipal aid to selected towns – is troublesome. Klarides recently criticized the Governor’s proposed toll program, as well as the tire tax and gas tax hikes, all of which were noted in the budget adjustments released today.   

“We have to deal with the current deficit and address another multi-billion hole in the next two-year budget cycle. We will put forth our ideas and see where there is common ground. We have a lot of work to do,’’ Klarides said.