Posted on January 3, 2019 by admin
HARTFORD – House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today reminded consumers and business owners they can combat rising energy rates by shopping around for alternatives to the Standard Service generation rates that rose with the beginning of the new year.
The alternatives can be found by accessing energizect.com and entering data that will lead customers to potentially cheaper sources.
“Connecticut residents and business, already burdened with the highest electrical rates in the country, are again facing another hike in their monthly bills,’’ Klarides said. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority in November approved the rate hikes in response to the higher generation costs and purchase agreements the utilities were exposed to.
The estimated average monthly rate hike for Eversource customers is $12 and $16 for Avangrid (United Illuminating) customers.
The high consumer costs are the result of failed deregulation of the industry dating to the 1990s, a lack of natural resources in Connecticut and subsequent regulations that require higher cost energy to be available to consumers.
Klarides said the reality is that Connecticut’s location at the end of the natural gas pipeline puts it at a disadvantage to virtually every other state. “We must pursue strategies that do not penalize the very people who can least afford these increases in their monthly bills,’’ she said. “But people should know there are alternatives to the Standard Service rates offered by Eversource and Avangrid right now.’’
The state Consumer Counsel’s office urges customers who shop for alternative rates to carefully review all offers, and the terms and length of contracts, before signing them.
Posted on November 3, 2018 by admin
HARTFORD – House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today mocked Democrats voicing last-minute support for a Naugatuck Valley fire school that they never advocated for in the past, calling the staged press event at the Derby train station a desperate ploy to sway voters four days before the election.
The Democrats, Klarides said, had eight years to convince Gov. Malloy to fund the project but it was never a priority. “All we heard today from the Democrats was empty rhetoric.’’
She added, “This effort by Democrats running for office four days before the election is a pathetic attempt to blur the reality that this Democratic administration never supported the Naugatuck Valley fire school.’’ Klarides noted that Democrat Lieutenant Governor candidate Susan Bysiewicz was among the Democrats who claim to support the project.
“If I were Susan Bysiewicz I would want to talk about anything other than the racially tinged incident involving her state police driver and one of our Republican candidates who is African American,’’ Klarides said, referring to the trooper Bysiewicz fired the day before after the incident involving Republican Ernestine Holloway became public. Holloway said the trooper told her she needed a local permit to canvass homes in her district.
Klarides has been at the forefront of the effort to get the fire school to be built in Beacon Falls completed. The Malloy administration last month said the project had been mothballed despite wide support among emergency services personnel who say the school is critical to enhancing public safety. The land in Beacon Falls has been purchased by the state and proposals solicited.
Malloy administration officials told Klarides and others that they have no plans to go ahead with the construction.
Klarides said, “We will continue to work hard to get this project completed. The Democrats were in position to deliver for the thousands of people in the 22 towns that would directly benefit from this fire school and they did not come through.’’
Klarides added, “It’s unfortunate that Governor Malloy failed to move this important public safety project forward. But, no matter who the governor is next year House Republicans will make sure the next governor realizes that this project must move forward.”
Posted on October 11, 2018 by admin
The Radiological Society of Connecticut has recognized State Rep. Themis Klarides for her advocacy of patients and legislation that will encourage women to have life-saving breast cancer screenings.
The award is timely as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The radiologists gave Klarides their “Patient Hero” award at their semi-annual meeting in New Haven on September 13.
Klarides was the lead sponsor of House Bill 5208 this past session that will enable women to have their annual breast exam using the latest technology without having to pay a deductible or co-pay.
“A 3-D mammogram is vital to detecting breast cancer early,” said State Rep. Themis Klarides. “No women should be denied a 3-D mammogram because they can’t afford to pay a deductible or co-pay. I am proud my colleagues in the legislature recognize the importance of a 3-D mammogram and supported this legislation that will help save hundreds of lives.”
The technology, called Breast Tomosynthesis, is a three-dimensional mammogram which enables the radiologist to better determine if small cancers are present in the breast. The test has reduced by 40 percent patient callbacks for an additional test due to the uncertainty of images.
“This legislation is critical for our ability to make sure that patients continue to have access to these needed mammography tests. We thank Representative Klarides for her leadership on the issue,” said Alan Kaye, MD, president of the RSC.
House Bill 5208 includes Breast Tomosynthesis in the definition of a mammogram so that a patient no longer will be charged a deductible or co-pay for the annual screening.
The RSC thanked Klarides for sponsoring the bill and for showing a “significant knowledge” of healthcare policy using that knowledge to benefit patients.
Klarides serves as the leader of the 71-member House Republican Caucus.
The legislation passed both the House and Senate this year and was signed into law by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as Public Act 18-159. It is effective January 1, 2019.
Posted on October 1, 2018 by admin
HARTFORD – House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today blasted Gov. Malloy and Democrats for spending up to $75 million on various local bonding projects last week, but refusing to make good on the planned Valley Regional Fire School in Beacon Falls, a critically needed public safety project that has languished for years.
“Gov. Malloy and the Democrats on the state Bond Commission put millions more on the state’s credit card but when it comes to public safety for hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents there is no money,’’ Klarides said. “We have already committed more than $1.4 million to the fire school but the Democrats in charge have stopped the project and have said it will not go forward.’’
Klarides and other lawmakers representing some of the 22 towns within the Valley Region met with Department of Administrative Services officials recently to update the status of the school. They were shocked to learn from DAS that the governor’s budget office will not provide funding to construct the $14 million facility. More than 650,000 people reside in the 22 Valley Region towns.
Chuck Stankye, past president of the Connecticut State Firefighter Association (CSFA) said it is vitally important that the Valley Fire School be built. “Firefighters need this facility to help them protect the public. When that bell goes off, we are there to save lives and property,’’ he said. Stankye was dismayed following the meeting with DAS but vowed to push the issue.
The fire schools are critical for firefighters to train and maintain certification. The Valley firefighters have to travel around the state for training where operating hours are limited at various firehouses.
“It is outrageous that this school has been mothballed. Instead, the state Bond Commission last week spent millions on non-essential projects,’’ Klarides said. She also noted that last summer Gov. Malloy rammed through the Bond Commission another $10 million for a needless study on tolls after three have already been completed.
The legislature has actually authorized $26 million for fire schools and Klarides and other lawmakers called for the Bond Commission to allocate the needed $14 million from that pool of money. Because the project has languished, the approved 2016 bid for has since expired and it will have to be re-bid. Construction was supposed to be completed by January of 2018 but has never begun.
The fire school plans date to 2002 when the CSFA and the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control created a priority list for construction of new schools. The Valley Fire School was scheduled to be the first one on the list to be built. The Beacon Falls site is shovel ready, Klarides pointed out.
The CSFA and the CFPC on Sept. 14 passed a resolution reaffirming its duties to administer the fire schools and to adhere to the construction schedule. The Valley Fire School is still slated to receive the next round.
“Clearly, the priorities of this administration and the Democrats in the legislature are wrong when it comes to investing in public safety versus spending money on items that some lawmakers would like to have,’’ Klarides said.
Posted on September 6, 2018 by admin
NEW HAVEN, CT – Marrakech, Inc. has been awarded a $10,000 contribution from AT&T to support its New Haven Work to Learn program, a youth educational/vocational program providing supportive services to assist youth as they transition into adulthood.
Through Marrakech Youth Coaches, the program provides training and services in the following areas: education, vocational employment, financial literacy, life skills, personal and community connections, physical and mental health, and housing. The program helps struggling young adults develop the life and work skills necessary to find employment and pursue educational goals that will lead to self-sufficiency. All areas of skill building are conducted on site at the program located in New Haven.
The AT&T contribution will support several stipends for students who are participating in educational, employment, financial literacy and life skills groups, as well as on-site youth businesses and community internships.
“The youth we support come to us facing a multitude of barriers and unfortunately this type of programming has been cut time and time again. These services significantly increase self-sufficiency and quality of life, create positive community participation and develop natural supports within our neighborhood. It is only out of the foresight and generosity of our community partners to invest in these outcomes for people. We thank AT&T for many years of insight and support” said Heather Latorra, Marrakech Inc. CEO.
Posted on September 4, 2018 by admin
HARTFORD – 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. 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,’’ Klarides said.
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.
Posted on August 16, 2018 by admin
HARTFORD – 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.
House Republicans have repeatedly submitted legislation from the caucus that would have done so, but each time it has failed to gain final approval after 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 is 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.
Posted on July 30, 2018 by admin
HARTFORD – All 71 House Republicans have submitted signed petitions calling for a special legislative session to address the $10 Million toll study that Gov. Malloy and Democrats approved last week with an eye toward re-installing tolls in Connecticut.
Posted on July 17, 2018 by admin
“Borrowing millions to study how tolls would impact commuters is frivolous if not ridiculous. We’ve seen other studies, we’ve heard from consultants. We already know the answer to the question he’s asking: it’s going to make it even more expensive to live in Connecticut. Republicans have spelled out how we’d fix roads and bridges—by prioritizing existing dollars. For those who view tolls as some sort of magic solution, it’s time to put a reasonable and concrete plan forward. They should tell us how much it’ll cost everyone, and where you’ll trim government to save money elsewhere. But, clearly, this governor’s new pursuit to spend millions we don’t have as he heads for the exit door shows he has no interest in cutting costs. History has shown the governor does whatever he wants. Taxpayers of this state can’t afford to subsidize whatever costly whims he decides to pursue over the next few months. What’s next? The installation of new judges we neither need nor can afford. We’ve had enough.”