Matt Dwyer | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

Matt Dwyer

News Anchor / Producer / Reporter

Matt Dwyer is a producer for Where We Live and prepares and delivers midday news headlines. Counting his time in college, Matt has been doing news on the radio in Connecticut since 1996, at stations including WTIC AM, WILI AM/FM, and WHUS FM.  

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The state House of Representatives has voted to extend Gov. Ned Lamont's pandemic emergency authority to July 20. Lawmakers also voted in favor of limits on how long public emergency declarations can last. The emergency authority legislation has yet to be voted on in the senate. Lamont has used his COVID-19 emergency powers to alter state laws and enforce emergency orders since a committee of state lawmakers signed off on expanded authority more than a year ago.

Image courtesy of the iQuilt Partnership.

This hour, a look into a future that might be for the city of Hartford. 

Some planners want to bury I-91 along its path between the Connecticut River and downtown Hartford.  

They would reimagine the levee underneath the highway as a green hill overlooking the river. 

They envision extensive development in nearby parts of Hartford with restored water views.

Connecticut First District Congressman John Larson is no stranger to big plans for highways in the Hartford area.  He sees a unique opportunity for the city.

Former state lawmaker Robert Ward has died at the age of 68. Ward rose to the rank of Republican House Minority leader. He also served as commissioner of the state Department of Motor Vehicles, and as a state auditor. The Connecticut Mirror reports that Ward had kidney problems. His health had been declining in recent months.

The Catholic archbishop and bishops from Hartford, Bridgeport, and Norwich today announced that they will no longer excuse their followers from attending weekly masses. During the pandemic, Catholics in Connecticut were told they did not have to attend mass. They will be asked to return to the pews after May 22. Face masks will still be required. Many churches, mosques, and synagogues in the state held online services and gatherings during the pandemic, but most social distancing requirements will end in the state on May 19.

CHION WOLF / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC RADIO

This hour, we speak with Connecticut Comptroller Kevin Lembo on his public option proposal to give more people the chance to join a health insurance program overseen by the state.

The Connecticut Partnership Plan is already offered to municipal workers and school employees. 

But how would he pay for it?

And how would he avoid frightening away insurance companies that are big employers in the state?

President Joe Biden will deliver the keynote address to this year's graduating class of Coast Guard Academy cadets. The ceremony is May 19 on the campus in New London. The number of people allowed to attend will be much lower than normal, because of the pandemic. Biden spoke at a Coast Guard Academy graduation once before, when he was Vice President in 2013. Presidents give speeches to the U.S. Military academies on a rotating basis. Last year's Coast Guard Academy ceremony was held virtually because of the pandemic.

Insurance giant Chubb is giving up on its efforts to purchase The Hartford Financial Services Group. In a conference call Wednesday, Chubb chairman and CEO Evan Greenberg responded to a question about the attempted acquisition.

Representative Sean Scanlon
CHION WOLF / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC RADIO

This hour, it affects virtually everyone in the state of Connecticut in one way or another, but it can be difficult to understand.  

The state budget decides how much we pay in taxes, and it helps determine the level of resources for important services like education, care for elderly people, and public health.  

We dive into the politics and process of funding state government.

What do you care about?

Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

As Connecticut legislators debated a proposal Tuesday to remove the religious exemption to mandatory vaccination for school-aged children, a large crowd of people opposed to the bill gathered outside the state Capitol in Hartford in protest. 

A Stamford company is disputing an NBC News story focusing on the firm's failure to deliver a special kind of syringe -- so far -- during the pandemic. NBC reports that ApiJect was awarded contracts and loans under the Trump administration, to supply syringes prefilled with COVID-19 vaccine, but so far none have been made available for patients. The devices have not been approved for use. It is unclear if any requests for approval of their use have been made. At one point the company had said it would supply 100 million prefilled syringes by the end of last year.

Keith Phaneuf / CTMirror.org

This hour, we speak with the top Republican in the state house the next steps after a fight in the state House over a vaccine bill. The proposal would end the practice of allowing parents to avoid vaccination for their children by claiming religious objections. The house approved the measure, but it has yet to come up for a vote in the senate. Also, is the governor doing the right thing, by planning to end most COVID-19 restrictions next month?  

Connecticut Sen. Christopher Murphy has applauded the president's decision to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11. In a speech on the floor of the senate, Murphy said the decision to bring the troops home is the right one. He says after 20 years, it’s clear that continued  U.S. military presence will not create political stability in Afghanistan. Murphy is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler
FRANKIE GRAZIANO / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC RADIO

This hour, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Chairman Rodney Butler discusses  the ongoing debate over a major expansion to legalized gambling in Connecticut, and the impact of COVID-19 on tribal members. 

CHION WOLF / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC RADIO

This hour, we speak with Congressman Joe Courtney for the latest on political maneuvers in Washington, as the president seeks passage of a broad infrastructure bill. Should there be changes to security at the US Capitol, after another violent incident claimed the life of a capitol police officer?  And we get an update on the future of submarine work at Electric Boat in Groton.

Ella Grasso
From the 2019 Connecticut State Register and Manual

We look at the career of Ella Grasso. Known as the first woman in the country to be elected governor who did not follow her husband, and the person who led the state through the Blizzard of 1978.

She was also a state lawmaker, secretary of the state, and member of Congress from Connecticut, at a time when politics was mostly a man’s world.  

The new mayor of Boston has connections to Connecticut. Kim Janey's grandparents lived in Connecticut. She studied at Greater Hartford Community College, now called Capitol Community College in Hartford. Janey was raising a young daughter at the time. She tells the Boston Globe that that period of her life forced her to grow up pretty fast. Janey will hold the job of mayor for at least seven months. She moved to the mayor's office from her position as city council president after Martin Walsh left during his term to join the Biden administration.

Yale student Nathan Chen is taking part in the World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm, Sweden this week. He has won two world championships in the past, and he won a bronze medal at the Olympics. NBC Sports has reported that he is expected to take a year off from competitive figure skating after the next Olympics to complete his education in New Haven.

Connecticut's two senators are proposing $300 million in federal funding to help people and businesses with crumbling foundations. If the plan is approved, half of the money would be provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The rest of the funds would go to states like Connecticut that set up nonprofit organizations to help homeowners pay to replace the foundations of their houses and condos. Tens of thousands of foundations in eastern Connecticut were built with concrete that was contaminated and which corrodes over time.

Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on his push to reopen and to vaccinate Connecticut. With variants of the disease appearing in the state, is this the time to loosen restrictions?

Plus, a gambling expansion deal was reached between the state and Connecticut’s two casino-owning tribes. What hurdles are left to clear?

CHION WOLF / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC RADIO

A recent Connecticut Mirror report found a big drop in the number of students enrolled in school in Connecticut.  How has the pandemic hurt students, and how can state lawmakers help?  One of the leaders of the General Assembly Education Committee joins us.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Legislative Black and Puerto Rican Caucus says he is trying to dispel vaccination myths and get more Black and Hispanic residents interested in getting COVID-19 shots.  

CHION WOLF / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC RADIO

Lawmakers are busy as public hearings are held on big issues at the General Assembly. 

This hour, House Majority Leader Jason Rojas discusses racial justice and law enforcement issues at the General Assembly and in his district in Manchester, along with the significance of one legislator moving from the house to the senate, efforts to legalize marijuana, and more.

The Chief States Attorney and all thirteen of the states attorneys in Connecticut have signed on to a letter praising the independence of their offices. The letter was released late Friday. It’s a response to a proposal in the General Assembly that would set a range of new rules for the state prosecutors to follow. The bill would also move the states attorneys from the Division of Criminal Justice, to the executive branch of state government. That might give a governor more influence over the office.

In New London, Democratic mayor Michael Passero returns for a second four-year term, beating out both GOP and Green Party candidates.
Harriet Jones / Connecticut Public Radio

This hour, the expansion of State Pier in New London advanced with Friday's announcement of an agreement between the city and two companies taking part in the project.

But at the same time, the quasi-public state agency overseeing the project faces ongoing scrutiny.

The latest issue under investigation: the Connecticut Port Authority’s half-million-dollar payment to a company with ties to a former authority board member.

A Hartford HealthCare worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Starting Monday, everyone in Connecticut 55 and over can begin scheduling COVID-19 shots. That’s an expansion from the previous rules, which limited vaccinations to people over the age of 65, first responders and medical workers. Vaccination is also being opened up to educators and child care workers. The online scheduling tool opened up at midnight.

Thousands of students in one of the largest school districts in the state are returning to in-person classes 5 days per week, starting today. Hartford students in ninth grade and younger have been hybrid learning, with some of their classes in person, and some online. Older high school students in Hartford will continue to split their time between online and in-person learning for the time being. Hartford has had problems with many student not engaging with online learning.

White people in Connecticut are more than twice as likely as Black and Hispanic people to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. That's according to numbers released Thursday by the state Department of Public Health. Eight percent of white people are fully vaccinated. Less than four percent of Black and Hispanic residents are fully vaccinated. But the state health department says there is some uncertainty in those numbers.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin speaks at a press conference announcing the opening of a neighborhood vaccine clinic at the Parker Memorial Community Center in the North End of Hartford.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin discusses coronavirus’ impact on students in Hartford, and vaccination efforts.  What does the governor's plan to focus more on age in vaccine distribution mean for people of color and low-income people in Hartford?

The mayor also has new responsibilities on his plate: Pushing for high speed rail in the region and leading the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, an organization of cities and towns.


Joseph Lemieux, CT Senate Republicans Office

It was a long night for members of the General Assembly’s Public Health Committee, who conducted a public hearing on vaccine bills that was scheduled to go as long as 24-hours. Republican State Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly joins us to talk about the proposals, which would prevent residents from claiming religious objections to school vaccine requirements.

MATT DWYER / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC RADIO

In the first half of the show, Connecticut Mirror budget reporter (and budget guru) Keith Phaneuf previews Governor Ned Lamont's 2-year state taxing and spending plan. The proposal is being released later today. In the short term, things are better than they appeared back in the spring. But the state still faces a fiscal slog in the long term.

In the second half of the show, UConn Professor Christopher Vials considers lessons learned from four years with Donald Trump in the oval office. American democracy survived, but is it in worse shape than it was four years ago? Is a second impeachment the right path for the country?

Ministers, police, and the mayor of New Haven are speaking out today, after a violent weekend in the Elm City. Police Chief Otoniel Reyes says officers are working around the clock to solve these most recent acts of violence.

The shooting death of Yale grad student Kevin Jiang brought the total number of homicides in New Haven to six, Just five weeks into the year. The Yale School of the Environment is holding a community gathering today.

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