Capital briefs

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Bill would reform Citizens Election Program

HARTFORD — The House of Representatives passed legislation last week meant to help close loopholes in current campaign finance laws.

The proposal caps organizational expenditures by state political parties, reduces individual donor limits to state political parties from $10,000 to $5,000, eliminates grants to unopposed candidates, bars state contractors from donating to a federal account to fund a state race and reduces all publicly-funded Citizens Election Program grants by 25 percent, according to a press release issued by the office of state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-70).

“This legislation will put a substantial amount of money back into the state budget while also helping to restore public trust in the state’s election system,” said Rebimbas, a member of the General Administration and Elections Committee, in the release. “The program was originally designed to eliminate corruption and take special interest money out of the election process, but recent published accounts indicate those protections have fallen short of their intended goals. The proposal passed last [week] will strengthen the process and save millions of taxpayer dollars.”

Since 2008, the 1,185 publicly-funded CEP campaigns have cost $80.7 million, according to the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, the release stated. The spending reductions in the bill are estimated to save $7 million in a gubernatorial election year and $2.4 million in presidential cycles.

The proposal passed the House 134-12 and was sent to the Senate for action.

Legislation increases access to opioid antagonists

HARTFORD — Legislation aimed at addressing the opioid issue in Connecticut has passed in the House of Representatives.

The bill (HB6856) requires practitioners to check the patient’s record in the prescription drug monitoring program and to review the patient’s record at least every 90 days, if prescribing for prolonged treatment with narcotics, before prescribing greater than a 72-hour supply of any controlled substance, according to a press release issued by the office of state Rep. Theresa Conroy (D-105).

There were over 2,000 accidental and unintentional opioid-involved deaths that occurred in 150 of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns between 2009 and 2014, according to the release.

“The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis across Connecticut that requires aggressive action by the state,” Conroy said in the release.

The legislation also increases access to opioid antagonists that work to reverse the effects of opioids. The legislation will allow pharmacists to dispense Naxalone without a prescription, according to the release.

The bill was sent to the Senate for action.

Bill would change assessments for high school juniors

HARTFORD — The state Senate approved a proposal last week that would end the requirement that 11th-grade students participate in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium testing.

The proposal would allow high school juniors to instead take a nationally recognized college readiness exam.

“High school students are practically under siege from testing,” said state Sen. Joseph Crisco, Jr. (D-17) in a press release. “This bill will help us to relieve some of the pressure our students are facing and allow them to focus on their classes. Standardized testing must have a benefit for our students. This bill will help make sure that is the case moving forward.”

SBAC is a Common Core Standards-aligned set of tests that Connecticut administers to students from third grade through eighth grade, and once in high school. Legislators have heard objections from principals, teachers, parents and students regarding the SBAC tests, particularly the testing burden placed on high school juniors, the release stated. In addition to the SBAC test, many juniors also take the SAT, Advanced Placement exams and class finals within a short time period.