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Week in CT news: Bad air, CT legislative session wraps up, Pride debate comes to Granby

A smokey haze surrounds the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven as smoke from Canadian wildfires moves over the state on June 8, 2023. Air quality levels were at unhealthy levels, with officials advising residents to stay inside and keep their windows shut.
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
A smokey haze surrounds the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven as smoke from Canadian wildfires moves over the state on June 8, 2023. Air quality levels were at unhealthy levels, with officials advising residents to stay inside and keep their windows shut.

Why it’s been so hazy out there

Smoke from wildfires in Canada has invaded the northeast part of the United States, affecting the quality of air Connecticut residents have been breathing in this week.

The air quality in Bridgeport was so unhealthy Wednesday that mayor Joe Ganim asked residents of the city to take caution if they had to go outside.

“Please be advised that being outside for prolonged periods of time is currently not safe,” Ganim said in a statement. “I implore everyone to monitor their health.”

Hundreds of wildfires are currently burning across Canada. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says smoke from the fires elevates fine particulate matter in the region and that this pollution can impact heart and lung function.

The wildfire smoke caused state and local officials to open areas of refuge indoors, postpone sporting events, and distribute N95 masks.

The legislative session ended Wednesday 

The 2023 session can be remembered for the passage ofearly voting legislation, efforts addressing wrong-way driving accidents in the wake of the death of State Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams, and the tightening of gun restrictions in Connecticut.

There was also a relatively smooth budget process.

Before the session closed on Wednesday, lawmakers had completed most of the heavy lifting associated with the budget and other bills.

News12 Connecticut political reporter John Craven credited the “clock management” of ranking Democrats in the state legislature for the session’s somewhat anticlimactic close.

“If you push big talker bills off to the last day, then your opposition, the Republicans, can wind down the clock – just like you do in a football or basketball game. So, in terms of clock management, I think they’ve really tried to get the big stuff out of the way, including the budget,” Craven said on Connecticut Public’s “The Wheelhouse.

Though there wasn’t much left to do on the final day, Wednesday’s close to the session wasn’t without drama. The state Senate struggled to get over the finish line, according to CT Mirror capitol bureau chief Mark Pazniokas, thanks to a nine-hour debate on a watered-down affordable housing proposal.

The legislature did give final approval to several bills Wednesday, including a juvenile justice reform measure and “An Act Concerning Transparency In Education.”

Parents talk with Granby school board about ‘Pride’ video

While some parents of children in Granby Public Schools were upset that a video promoting acceptance of members of the LGBTQIA+ community was shown inside Wells Road Intermediate School, others are lauding the Pride Month feature’s message.

Matt Brady, a parent of a transgender student at Granby Memorial Middle School, said during a school board meeting on Wednesday that the video was about teaching kids that some of their classmates are different, and that’s OK.

“This video is about acceptance, about not marginalizing kids like Colleen who simply want to feel good about who they are,” Brady said.

A 45-second video featuring a child saying that pride means individuals “can be whoever they want to be in their heart” was met with some resistance by some parents who challenged the school’s ability to discuss gender identity with students. That prompted a response from the school principal Pauline Greer.

“It certainly was not intended to alienate or disturb any child. In context, we were trying to remind students that it is OK to be who you are and still be treated with respect, dignity, and kindness,” Greer said.

But, there’s also been support for the video being shown to students, including from parents that want their kids to learn about inclusivity.

“The unfortunate reality is that there is a pervasive anti-LGBTQ culture among the students at our schools despite the efforts of our administration,” Kate Ciriello said at the Wednesday school board meeting.

“These topics are alive and well and our students are discussing them with or without us so we have to be a part of the conversation,” Ciriello said. “As a community we have to make sure all students feel safe at school.”

Frankie & Johnny premieres Fridays at 4:44 p.m. during All Things Considered on Connecticut Public Radio. Connecticut Public Radio’s Garett Argianas, Lesley Cosme Torres, Chris Polansky, and Patrick Skahill contributed to this report.

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.
John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. He's proud to be a part of the team that won a regional Emmy Award for The Vote: A Connecticut Conversation. In his 21st year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.

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