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Connecticut Senator Wants End to Casino Worker Shuttle

19 February 2004

CONNECTICUT – As reported by the Connecticut Day: "State Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, is seeking to eliminate a grant program that helps Hartford-area workers commute to jobs at Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, arguing it violates a state labor law.

"The program, funded through the state Department of Transportation's Transportation Strategy Board, spends about $400,000 to subsidize bus transportation for workers who cannot afford other means of travel to the casinos.

"Prague's bill, introduced this week, would eliminate any funding allocated in Gov. John G. Rowland's proposed budget 'for the purpose of transporting Hartford residents to Foxwoods Casino.'

"The reason, Prague said, is found in Section 31-57e of the General Statutes, which says the state 'shall not provide any funds or services which directly or indirectly assist any tribe engaged in a commercial enterprise until the tribe adopts an Employment Rights Code' allowing workers to unionize.

"…Proponents of the grant program were outraged at Prague's bill, and vowed to fight it.

" …'It's been a win-win program,' said Rep. Marie Kirkley-Bey, D-Hartford, who sponsored the program initially in response to federal and state welfare-reform laws that forced recipients off welfare rolls and into the job market.

"…Rowland plans to continue funding the program in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, Cicchetti said. Kirkley-Bey, who already has been contacted by constituents worried about losing their ride to work, said anyone seeking to eliminate the funding could expect a battle in the legislature…"

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