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The State of Connecticut (i /kəˈnɛtɪkət/) (state code CT) is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and New York to the west and south (because various islands of New York span Connecticut's entire coast).
Southwestern Connecticut is part of the New York metropolitan area; three of Connecticut's eight counties, including most of the state's population, are in the New York City combined statistical area, commonly called the Tri-State Region. Connecticut's center of population is in Cheshire, New Haven County.
Connecticut is the 29th most populous state, with 3.4 million residents, and is ranked 48th in size by area, making it the 4th most densely populated state. Called the Constitution State and the Nutmeg State, Connecticut has a long history dating from early colonial times and was influential in the development of the federal government.
Connecticut's first European settlers were Dutch and established a small, short-lived settlement in present-day Hartford at the confluence of the Park and Connecticut rivers, called Huys de Goede Hoop. Initially, half of Connecticut was a part of the Dutch colony, New Netherland, which included much of the land between the Connecticut and Delaware rivers.
The first major settlements were established in the 1630s by the English. Thomas Hooker led a band of followers overland from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and founded what would become the Connecticut Colony; other settlers from Massachusetts founded the Saybrook Colony and the New Haven Colony. Both the Connecticut and New Haven Colonies established documents of Fundamental Orders, considered the first constitutions in North America. In 1662, the three colonies were merged under a royal charter, making Connecticut a crown colony. This colony was one of the Thirteen Colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution.
Connecticut enjoys a temperate climate due to its long coastline on Long Island Sound. This has given the state a strong maritime tradition. Modern Connecticut is also known for its wealth. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Connecticut had ready access to raw materials which helped to develop a strong manufacturing industry, and financial organizations flourished: first insurance companies in Hartford, then hedge funds in Fairfield county. This prosperity has helped give Connecticut the highest per capita income, Human Development Index, and median household income in the country.
Connecticut is bordered on the south by Long Island Sound, on the west by New York State, on the north by Massachusetts, and on the east by Rhode Island. The state capital is Hartford, and the other major cities include Bridgeport, New Haven, Stamford, Waterbury, Norwalk, Danbury, New Britain and Bristol. There are 169 incorporated towns in Connecticut.
The highest peak in Connecticut is Bear Mountain in Salisbury in the northwest corner of the state. The highest point is just east of where Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York meet (42° 3' N; 73° 29' W), on the southern slope of Mount Frissell, whose peak lies nearby in Massachusetts.
The Connecticut River cuts through the center of the state, flowing into Long Island Sound, Connecticut's outlet to the Atlantic Ocean.
Despite its size, the state has regional variations in its landscape and culture from the estates of Fairfield County's "Gold Coast" to the rolling mountains and horse-farms of the Litchfield Hills of northwestern Connecticut. Connecticut's rural areas and small towns in the northeast and northwest corners of the state contrast sharply with its industrial cities, located along the coastal highways from the New York border to New Haven, then northward to Hartford, as well as further up the coast near New London. Many towns center around a "green," such as the New Haven Green, Litchfield Green, Simsbury Green, Lebanon Green (the largest in the state), and Wethersfield Green (the oldest in the state). Near the green typically stand historical visual symbols of New England towns, such as a white church, a colonial meeting house, a colonial tavern or "inne," several colonial houses, etc., establishing a scenic historic appearance maintained for both historic preservation and tourism.
Due to the climate, degree of urbanization, and economic status of the state, it offers easily accessed forests, rivers, lakes, waterfalls and a coastline, all developed for recreation.
The northern boundary of the state with Massachusetts is marked by the distinctive Southwick Jog or Granby Notch, an approximately 2.5 mile (4.0 km) square detour into Connecticut. The actual origin of this anomaly is clearly established in a long line of disputes and temporary agreements which was finally concluded in 1804, when southern Southwick, (whose residents sought to leave Massachusetts), was split in half.
Although Connecticut has a long maritime history, and a reputation based on that history, Connecticut has no direct access to the sea. The jurisdiction of New York actually extends east at Fishers Island, where New York shares a sea border with Rhode Island dividing Narragansett Bay. Although Connecticut has easy access to the Atlantic, between Long Island Sound and Block Island Sound, Connecticut has no direct ocean coast.
The southwestern border of Connecticut, where it abuts New York State, is marked by a panhandle in Fairfield County, containing the towns of Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Darien and part of Norwalk. This irregularity in the boundary is the result of territorial disputes in the late 1600s, culminating with New York giving up its claim to the area, whose residents considered themselves part of Connecticut, in exchange for an equivalent area extending northwards from Ridgefield to the Massachusetts border as well as undisputed claim to Rye, New York.
Areas maintained by the National Park Service include: Appalachian National Scenic Trail; Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor; and Weir Farm National Historic Site.
The Scoville Memorial Library is the United States oldest public library. The library collection began in 1771, when Richard Smith, owner of a local blast furnace, used community contributions to buy 200 books in London. Patrons could borrow and return books on the third Monday of every third month. Fees were collected for damages, the most common being "greasing" by wax dripped from the candles by which the patrons read.
Interior portions of Connecticut have a humid continental climate, while other parts, especially the Connecticut shoreline (southern four counties), have a humid subtropical climate with seasonal extremes tempered by proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The city of Bridgeport (on Long Island Sound), like most other areas in metropolitan New York, has a humid subtropical climate under the Koppen Climate Classification system. Hartford (35 miles inland) has a humid continental climate. The coast of Southern Connecticut is often considered to be the farthest north on the U.S. east coast that subtropical "indicator" species such as the Dwarf Palmetto, Needle Palm, Windmill Palm, Crape Myrtle and the Southern Magnolia can be successfully cultivated.
Winters are generally considered to be cold, with average temperatures ranging from 31°F (−1°C) in the maritime influenced southeast to 23°F (−5°C) in the northwest in January. The average yearly snowfall is about 25–100" (64–254 cm) across the state, with higher totals in the northwest. Spring has variable temperatures with frequent rainfall. Summer is hot and humid throughout the state, with average highs in New London of 81°F (27°C) and 87°F (31°C) in Windsor Locks. Fall months are mild and bring colorful foliage across the state in October and November. During hurricane season, tropical cyclones occasionally affect the region. Thunderstorms are most frequent during the summer, occurring on average 30 times annually. These storms can be severe, and the state usually averages 1 tornado per year.
The Connecticut region was inhabited by the Mohegan tribe prior to European colonization. The first European explorer in Connecticut was the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block. After he explored this region in 1614, Dutch fur traders sailed up the Connecticut River (then known by the Dutch as Versche Rivier—" Fresh River") and built a fort at Dutch Point near present-day Hartford, which they called "House of Hope" (Dutch: Huis van Hoop).
John Winthrop, then of Massachusetts, received permission to create a new colony at Old Saybrook at the mouth of the Connecticut River in 1635. This was the first of three distinct colonies that later would be combined to make up Connecticut. Saybrook Colony was a direct challenge to Dutch claims. The colony was not more than a small outpost and never matured. In 1644, the Saybrook Colony merged itself into the Connecticut Colony.
The first English settlers came in 1633 and settled at Windsor, and then at Wethersfield the following year. However, the main body of settlers came in one large group in 1636. The settlers were Puritans from Massachusetts, led by Thomas Hooker. Hooker had been prominent in England and was a professor of theology at Cambridge. He was also an important political writer and made a significant contribution to Constitutional theory. He broke with the political leadership in Massachusetts, and, just as Roger Williams created a new polity in Rhode Island, Hooker and his cohort did the same and established the Connecticut Colony at Hartford in 1636. This was the second of the three colonies.
The third colony was founded in March 1638. New Haven Colony (originally known as the Quinnipiack Colony) was established by John Davenport, Theophilus Eaton, and others at New Haven. The New Haven Colony had its own constitution, "The Fundamental Agreement of the New Haven Colony", which was signed on 4 June 1639.
Because the Dutch were outnumbered by the flood of English settlers from Massachusetts, they left their fort in 1654.
Neither the establishment of the Connecticut Colony or the Quinnipiack Colony was carried out with the sanction of the English Crown, and they were independent political entities. They naturally were presumptively English, but in a legal sense, they were only secessionist outposts of Massachusetts Bay. In 1662, Winthrop took advantage of this void in political affairs and obtained in England the charter by which the colonies of Connecticut and Quinnipiack were united. Although Winthrop's charter favored the Connecticut colony, New Haven remained a seat of government with Hartford until after the American Revolution.
Winthrop was very politically astute and secured the charter from the newly restored Charles II, who granted the most liberal political terms.
Historically important colonial settlements included:
Its first constitution, the "Fundamental Orders", was adopted on January 14, 1639, while its current constitution, the third for Connecticut, was adopted in 1965. Connecticut is the fifth of the original thirteen states. The original constitutions influenced the US Constitution as one of the leading authors was Roger Sherman of New Haven.
The western boundaries of Connecticut have been subject to change over time. According to the Hartford Treaty with the Dutch, signed on September 19, 1650, but never ratified by the British, the western boundary of Connecticut ran north from Greenwich Bay for a distance of 20 miles "provided the said line come not within 10 miles (16 km) [16 km] of Hudson River. This agreement was observed by both sides until war erupted between England and The Netherlands in 1652. No other limits were found. Conflict over uncertain colonial limits continued until the Duke of York captured New Netherland in 1664." On the other hand, Connecticut's original Charter in 1662 granted it all the land to the "South Sea", i.e. the Pacific Ocean. Most colonial royal grants were for long east-west strips. Connecticut took its grant seriously, and established a ninth county between the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers, named Westmoreland County. This resulted in the brief Pennamite Wars with Pennsylvania.
Connecticut's lands also extended across northern Ohio, called the Western Reserve lands. The Western Reserve section was settled largely by people from Connecticut, and they brought Connecticut place names to Ohio. Agreements with Pennsylvania and New York extinguished the land claims by Connecticut within its neighbors, and the Western Reserve lands were relinquished to the federal government, which brought the state to its present boundaries.
The name "Connecticut" originates from the Mohegan word quonehtacut, meaning "place of long tidal river". Connecticut's official nickname, adopted in 1959, is "The Constitution State," based on its colonial constitution of 1638–1639 which was the first in America and, arguably, the world. Unofficially (but popularly) Connecticut is also known as "The Nutmeg State". The origins of the nutmeg connection to Connecticut are unknown. It may have come from its sailors returning from voyages with nutmeg (which in the 18th and 19th centuries was a very valuable spice). It may have originated in the early machined sheet tin nutmeg grinders sold by early Connecticut peddlers. It is also facetiously said to come from Yankee peddlers from Connecticut who would sell small carved nobs of wood shaped to look like nutmeg to unsuspecting customers. George Washington gave Connecticut the title of "The Provisions State" because of the material aid the state rendered to the Revolutionary War effort. Connecticut is also known as "The Land of Steady Habits".
According to Webster's New International Dictionary, 1993, a person who is a native or resident of Connecticut is a "Connecticuter". There are numerous other terms coined in print, but not in use, such as: "Connecticotian" - Cotton Mather in 1702. "Connecticutensian" - Samuel Peters in 1781. "Nutmegger" is sometimes used, as is "Yankee" (the official State Song is "Yankee Doodle"), though this usually refers someone from the wider New England region (and in the Southern United States, to anyone who lives north of the Mason-Dixon Line). Linguist Allen Walker Read reports a more playful term, 'connecticutie.' The traditional abbreviation of the state's name is "Conn."; the official postal abbreviation is CT.
Commemorative stamps issued by the United States Postal Service with Connecticut themes include Nathan Hale, Eugene O'Neill, Josiah Willard Gibbs, Noah Webster, Eli Whitney, the whaling ship the Charles W. Morgan which is docked in Mystic Seaport, and a decoy of a broadbill duck.
As of 2005, Connecticut has an estimated population of 3,510,297, which is an increase of 11,331, or 0.3%, from the prior year and an increase of 104,695, or 3.1%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 67,427 people (that is 222,222 births minus 154,795 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 41,718 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 75,991 people, and migration within the country produced a net loss of 34,273 people. Based on the 2005 estimates, Connecticut moves from the 29th most populous state to 30th.
6.6% of its population was reported as being under 5 years old, 24.7% under 18 years old, and 13.8% were 65 years of age or older. Females made up approximately 51.6% of the population, with 48.4% male.
In 1790, 97% of the population in Connecticut was classified as "rural". The first census in which less than half the population was classified as rural was 1890. In the 2000 census, it was only 12.3%. Most of western and southern Connecticut is strongly associated with New York City; this area is the most affluent and populous region of the state. Eastern Connecticut is more culturally influenced by the greater New England area, including the cities of Boston and Providence. Some cite this cultural split when noting the state's lack of professional sports teams, i.e., NHL (hockey) since the mid 1990s, NFL (football), MLS (soccer), and men's basketball.
The center of population of Connecticut is located in the town of Cheshire.
As of 2004, 11.4% of the population (400,000) was foreign-born, and 10% of the foreign-born in the state were illegal aliens (about 1.1% of the population). In 1870, native-born Americans had accounted for 75% of the state's population, but that had dropped to 35% by 1918.
As of 2000, 81.69% of Connecticut residents age 5 and older spoke English at home and 8.42% spoke Spanish, followed by Italian at 1.59%, French at 1.31% and Polish at 1.20%.
The largest ancestry groups are:
The five largest reported ancestries in the state are: Italian (19.3%), Irish (17.9%), English (10.7%), German (10.4%), and French/French Canadian (9.6%).
Connecticut has large Italian American, Irish American and English American populations, as well as German American and Portuguese American populations, second highest percentage of any state behind Rhode Island (19.3%). Italian is the largest ancestry group in five of the state's counties, while the Irish are the largest group in Tolland county, French Canadians the largest group in Windham county, and old stock New England Yankees are present throughout. African Americans and Hispanics (mostly Puerto Ricans) are numerous in the urban areas of the state. Like Ohio and New York, Connecticut is also known for its relatively large Hungarian American population, the majority of which live in and around Fairfield, Stamford, Naugatuck and Bridgeport. Connecticut also has a sizable Polish American population, with New Britain containing the largest Polish American population in the state.
More recent immigrant populations include those from Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, Panama, Jamaica, Haiti, Cape Verde and former Soviet countries.
A 2001 survey of Connecticut residents' religious self-identification showed the following distribution of affiliations:
Jewish congregations had 108,280 (3.2%) members in 2000; The Jewish population is concentrated in the towns near Long Island Sound between Greenwich and New Haven, in Greater New Haven and in Greater Hartford, especially the suburb of West Hartford. According to the Association of Religion Data Archives, the largest Christian denominations, by number of adherents, in 2000 were: the Catholic Church, with 1,372,562; the United Church of Christ, with 124,770; and the Episcopal Church, with 73,550.
Recent immigration has brought other non-Christian religions to the state, but the numbers of adherents of other religions are still low.
Connecticut is also home to New England's largest Protestant Church: The First Cathedral in Bloomfield, Connecticut located in Hartford County.
The total gross state product for 2006 was $204 billion. The per capita income for 2007 was $54,117, ranking first among the states. There is, however, a great disparity in incomes throughout the state; although New Canaan has one of the highest per capita incomes in America, Hartford is one of the ten cities with the lowest per capita incomes in America. As with Bridgeport, New Haven and other cities in the state, Hartford is surrounded by wealthier suburbs.
New Canaan is the wealthiest town in Connecticut, with a per capita income of $85,459. Darien, Greenwich, Weston, Westport and Wilton also have per capita incomes over $65,000. Hartford is the poorest municipality in Connecticut, with a per capita income of $13,428 in 2000. There are other lower-income and blue-collar towns, mostly parts of towns, in the eastern part of the State.
Prior to 1991, Connecticut had a highly populist income tax system. Income from employment was untaxed, but income from investments was taxed at the highest rate in the U.S. at 13%. And this burden was further increased by the method of calculation: no deductions were allowed for the cost (for example, interest on borrowing) of producing the investment income. Under Governor Lowell P. Weicker, Jr., an Independent, this was reformed to the present system. The system made it an attractive haven for high-salaried earners fleeing the heavy taxes of New York State, but highly unattractive for members of Wall Street partnerships. It put an enormous burden on Connecticut property tax payers, particularly in the cities with their more extensive municipal services.
With Weicker's 1991 tax reform, the tax on employment and investment income were equalized at a maximum rate of 4%. Since then, Greenwich, Connecticut, has become the headquarters of choice for a large number of America's largest hedge funds. Today the income tax rate on Connecticut individuals is divided into two tax brackets of 3% and 5%. All wages of a Connecticut resident are subject to the state's income tax, even when the resident works outside of the state. However, in those cases, Connecticut income tax must be withheld only to the extent the Connecticut tax exceeds the amount withheld by the other jurisdiction. Since New York state and Massachusetts have higher tax rates than Connecticut, this effectively means that Connecticut residents that work in those states pay no income tax to Connecticut.
Connecticut levies a 6% state sales tax on the retail sale, lease, or rental of most goods. Some items and services in general are not subject to sales and use taxes unless specifically enumerated as taxable by statute. There are no additional sales taxes imposed by local jurisdictions. During the summer there is one week during which sales tax on certain items and quantities of clothing is not imposed in order to assist those with children returning to school.
All real and personal property located within the state of Connecticut is taxable unless specifically exempted by statute. All assessments are at 70% of fair market value. Another 20% of the value may be taxed by the local government though. The maximum property tax credit is $500 per return and any excess may not be refunded or carried forward. Connecticut does not levy an intangible personal property tax.
Homes in Connecticut vary widely with a median price of approximately $226,000. By contrast, the median value for a home in Fairfield County, for example, is about $370,000. Connecticut has the most multi-million dollar homes in the Northeast, and the second most in the nation after California, with 3.3% of homes in Connecticut priced over $1 million in 2003.
The agricultural produce of the state includes nursery stock; eggs; clams and lobster (shellfish); dairy products; cattle; and tobacco. Its industrial output includes transportation equipment, especially helicopters, aircraft parts, and nuclear submarines; heavy industrial machinery and electrical equipment; military weaponry; fabricated metal products; chemical and pharmaceutical products; and scientific instruments.
Due to the prominence of the aircraft industry in the state, Connecticut has an official state aircraft, the F4U Corsair, and an official Connecticut Aviation Pioneer, Igor Sikorsky. The state officially recognizes aircraft designer Gustav Whitehead as "Father of Connecticut Aviation" for his research into powered flight in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1901, two years before the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Governor John Dempsey also declared August 15 to be "Gustave Whitehead Day".
A report issued by the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism on December 7, 2006, demonstrated that the economic impact of the arts, film, history and tourism generated more than $14 billion in economic activity and 170,000 jobs annually. This provides $9 billion in personal income for Connecticut residents and $1.7 billion in state and local revenue.
As of January 2010, the states unemployment rate is 9%.
The Interstate highways in the state are I-95 (the Connecticut Turnpike) running southwest to northeast along the coast, I-84 running southwest to northeast in the center of the state, I-91 running north to south in the center of the state, and I-395 running north to south near the eastern border of the state. The other major highways in Connecticut are the Merritt Parkway and Wilbur Cross Parkway, which together form State Route 15, running from the Hutchinson River Parkway in New York State parallel to I-95 before turning north of New Haven and running parallel to I-91, finally becoming a surface road in Berlin, Connecticut. Route 15 and I-95 were originally toll roads; they relied on a system of toll plazas at which all traffic stopped and paid fixed tolls. A series of terrible crashes at these plazas eventually contributed to the decision to remove the tolls in 1988. Other major arteries in the state include U.S. Route 7 in the west running parallel to the NY border, State Route 8 farther east near the industrial city of Waterbury and running north-south along the Naugatuck River Valley nearly parallel with U.S. 7, and State Route 9 in the east. See List of State Routes in Connecticut for an overview of the state's highway system.
Between New Haven and the New York City, I-95 is one of the most congested highways in the United States. Many people now drive longer distances to work in the New York City area. This strains the three lanes of traffic capacity, resulting in lengthy rush hour delays. Frequently, the congestion spills over to clog the parallel Merritt Parkway. The state has encouraged traffic reduction schemes, including rail use and ride-sharing.
Connecticut also has a very active bicycling community, with one of the highest rates of bicycling ownership and use in the United States. New Haven's cycling community, organized in a local advocacy group called ElmCityCycling, is particularly active. According to the U.S. Census 2006 American Community Survey, New Haven has the highest percentage of commuters who bicycle to work of any major metropolitan center on the East Coast.
Southwestern Connecticut is served by MTA's Metro-North Railroad New Haven Line, providing commuter service to New York City and New Haven, with branches servicing New Canaan, Danbury, and Waterbury. Connecticut lies along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor which features frequent Northeast Regional and Acela Express service. Towns between New Haven and New London are also served by the Shore Line East commuter line. Operation of commuter trains from New Haven to Springfield on Amtrak's New Haven-Springfield Line is under consideration. Amtrak also operates a shuttle service between New Haven and Springfield, Massachusetts, servicing Hartford and other towns on the corridor.
Statewide bus service is supplied by Connecticut Transit, owned by the Connecticut Department of Transportation, with smaller municipal authorities providing local service. Bus networks are an important part of the transportation system in Connecticut, especially in urban areas like Hartford, Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport and New Haven. A three-year construction project to build a busway from New Britain to Hartford began in August 2009.
Bradley International Airport is located in Windsor Locks, 15 miles (24 km) north of Hartford. Regional air service is provided at Tweed New Haven Regional Airport. Larger civil airports include Danbury Municipal Airport and Waterbury-Oxford Airport in western Connecticut. Sikorsky Memorial Airport is located in Stratford and mostly services cargo, helicopter and private aviation. The Westchester County Airport in Harrison, New York serves much of southwestern Connecticut.
Hartford has been the sole capital of Connecticut since 1875. Before then, New Haven and Hartford alternated as capitals.
Connecticut is known as the "Constitution State". While the origin on this title is uncertain, the nickname is assumed to refer to the Fundamental Orders of 1638–39. These Fundamental Orders represent the framework for the first formal government written by a representative body in Connecticut. The government has operated under the direction of four separate documents in the course of Connecticut Constitutional History. After the Fundamental Orders, Connecticut was granted governmental authority by King Charles II of England through the Connecticut Charter of 1662. While these two documents acted to lay the ground work for the state’s government, either document could be altered simply by a majority vote of the General Assembly. Separate branches of government did not exist during this period, and the General Assembly acted as the supreme authority. A constitution similar to the modern U.S. Constitution was not adopted in Connecticut until 1818. Finally, the current state constitution was implemented in 1965. The 1965 constitution absorbed a majority of its 1818 predecessor, but incorporated a handful of important modifications. Another possible source of the nickname "constitution state" comes from Connecticut's pivotal role in the federal constitutional convention of 1787, during which Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth helped to orchestrate what became known as the Connecticut Compromise, or the Great Compromise. This plan combined the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan to form a bicameral legislature, a form copied by almost every state constitution since the adoption of the federal constitution.
The governor heads the executive branch. The current Governor of Connecticut is M. Jodi Rell (Republican). The current Lieutenant Governor is Michael Fedele. From 1639 until the adoption of the 1818 constitution, the governor presided over the General Assembly. Connecticut was the first state in the United States to elect a woman as governor without electing her husband first, Ella Grasso in 1974.
There are several executive departments: Administrative Services, Agriculture, Banking, Children and Families, Consumer Protection, Correction, Economic and Community Development, Developmental Services, Education, Environmental Protection, Higher Education, Information Technology, Insurance, Labor, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Military, Motor Vehicles, Public Health, Public Safety, Public Utility Control, Public Works, Revenue Services, Social Services, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs. In addition to these departments, there are other independent bureaus, offices and commissions.
In addition to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, there are four other executive officers named in the state constitution that are elected directly by voters: Secretary of the State, Treasurer, Comptroller and Attorney General. All executive officers are elected to four year terms.
The legislature is the General Assembly. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of an upper body, the State Senate (36 senators); and a lower body, the House of Representatives (151 representatives). Bills must pass each house in order to become law. The governor can veto the bill, but this veto can be overridden by a two-thirds majority in each house. Senators and representatives, all of whom must be at least eighteen years of age, are elected to two-year terms in November on even-numbered years. The Lieutenant Governor presides over the Senate, except when absent from the chamber, when the President pro tempore presides. The Speaker of the House presides over the House; Chris Donovan is the current Speaker of the House of Connecticut. The Democrats currently hold a two-thirds super-majority in both houses of the General Assembly.
Connecticut's U.S. senators are Christopher J. Dodd (Democrat) and Joseph I. Lieberman (Connecticut for Lieberman, Independent Democrat) who is part of the Democratic Caucus. Connecticut currently has five representatives in the U.S. House, all of whom are Democrats. Connecticut and Vermont remain the only two states with Independent Senators.
The highest court of Connecticut's judicial branch is the Connecticut Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of Connecticut. The Supreme Court is responsible for deciding on the constitutionality of the law or cases as they relate to the law. Its proceedings are similar to those of the United States Supreme Court, with no testimony given by witnesses, and the lawyers of the two sides each present oral arguments no longer than thirty minutes. Following a court proceeding, the court may take several months to arrive at a judgment. The current Chief Justice is Chase T. Rogers.
In 1818, the court became a separate entity, independent of the legislative and executive branches. The Appellate Court is a lesser state-wide court and the Superior Courts are lower courts that resemble county courts of other states.
Connecticut has 169 towns, which serve as the fundamental local political subdivision of the state; the entire state is divided into towns. Connecticut shares a local form of government with the rest of New England called the New England town. There are also 21 cities, most of which are coterminous with their namesake towns and have a merged city-town government. There are two exceptions: City of Groton, which is a subsection of the Town of Groton and the City of Winsted in the Town of Winchester. There are also nine incorporated boroughs which may provide additional services to a section of town. One, Naugatuck, is a consolidated town and borough.
Unlike most other states, Connecticut does not have county government. Connecticut county governments were mostly eliminated in 1960, with the exception of sheriffs elected in each county. In 2000, the county sheriff was abolished and replaced with the state marshal system, which has districts that follow the old county territories. The judicial system is divided, at the trial court level, into judicial districts which largely follow the old county lines. The eight counties are still widely used for purely geographical and statistical purposes, such as weather reports, and census reporting.
The state is divided into 15 planning regions defined by the state Office of Planning and Management. The Intragovernmental Policy Division of this Office coordinates regional planning with the administrative bodies of these regions. Each region has an administrative body known as either a regional council of governments, a regional council of elected officials, or a regional planning agency. The regions are established for the purpose of planning "coordination of regional and state planning activities; redesignation of logical planning regions and promotion of the continuation of regional planning organizations within the state; and provision for technical aid and the administration of financial assistance to regional planning organizations."
Connecticut recently leans strongly towards the Democratic Party. However, Connecticut has a high number of voters who are not registered with a major party. As of 2004, 33.7% of registered voters were registered Democratic, 22.0% were registered Republican, and 44.0% were unaffiliated with any party, with 0.2% registered with a minor party.
Many Connecticut towns show a marked preference for moderate candidates of either party. Democrats hold a registration edge especially in the cities of Hartford; New Haven; and Bridgeport, where Democratic machines have held power since the great immigration waves of the 1800s. The state's Republican-leaning areas are the rural Litchfield County and adjoining towns in the west of Hartford County, the industrial towns of the Naugatuck River Valley, and some of the affluent Fairfield County towns near the New York border. The suburban towns of New Canaan and Darien in Fairfield County are considered the most Republican areas in the state. Westport, a wealthy town a few miles to the east, is often considered one of the most loyally-Democratic, liberal towns in Fairfield County. The historically Republican-leaning wealthy town of Wilton voted in the majority for Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential Election. Norwalk and Stamford, two larger, affluent communities in Fairfield County, have in many elections favored moderate Republicans including former Governor John G. Rowland and former Congressman Chris Shays, however they have favored Democrats in recent US presidential candidates, the latter being defeated by Democrat Jim Himes in the 2008 election year. Waterbury has a Democratic registration edge, but usually favors conservative candidates in both parties. In Danbury unaffiliated voters outnumber voters registered with either major party. Other smaller cities including Meriden, New Britain, Norwich and Middletown favor Democratic candidates.
Democrats hold veto-proof majorities in both houses of the Connecticut General Assembly. In July, 2009 the Connecticut legislature overrode a veto by Governor M. Jodi Rell to pass SustiNet, the first significant public-option health care reform legislation in the nation.
In 2008, Democrats controlled all five federal congressional seats. The remaining Republican, Chris Shays, lost his seat to Democrat Jim Himes in the Congressional Election of that year. Christopher Dodd and Joseph Lieberman are Connecticut's U.S. senators. The senior Dodd is a Democrat while the junior Lieberman serves as an Independent Democrat caucusing with Senate Democrats after his victory on the Connecticut for Lieberman ballot line in the 2006 general election. Lieberman's predecessor, Lowell P. Weicker, Jr., was the last Connecticut Republican to serve as Senator. Weicker was known as a liberal Republican. He broke with President Richard Nixon during Watergate and successfully ran for governor in 1990 as an independent, creating A Connecticut Party as his election vehicle. Before Weicker, the last Republican to represent Connecticut in the Senate was Prescott Bush, the father of former President George H.W. Bush and the grandfather of former President George W. Bush. He served from 1953–1963.
Connecticut is well known as the home of Yale University (1701), which maintains a consistent ranking as one of the world's most renowned universities and has one of the most selective undergraduate programs of any university in the United States (a 7.5% acceptance rate in 2009). Yale is one of the largest employers in the state, and its research activity has recently spun off dozens of growing biotechnology companies.
Connecticut is also the host of many other academic institutions, including Trinity College (1823), Wesleyan University (1832), University of Hartford (1877), Post University (1890), Connecticut College (1911), the United States Coast Guard Academy (1915), University of Bridgeport (1927), Quinnipiac University (1929), Fairfield University (1942), Sacred Heart University (1964), and the Connecticut State University System. The University of Connecticut (1881) has been the highest ranked public university in New England for eight years running, according to U.S. News and World Report.
The state has many noted boarding schools, including Avon Old Farms (1927), Canterbury School (1915), Cheshire Academy (1794), Choate Rosemary Hall (1890), Ethel Walker School (1911), The Gunnery (1850), Hotchkiss School (1891), Kent School (1906), Loomis Chaffee (1874), Miss Porter's School (1843), Pomfret School (1894), Salisbury School (1901), Suffield Academy (1833), The Taft School (1890), and the Westminster School (1888), which draw students from all over the world.
Connecticut has many noted private day schools such as Brunswick School (1902) in Greenwich, Fairfield College Preparatory School (1942) in Fairfield, Academy of Our Lady of Mercy Lauralton Hall (1905) in Milford, Greens Farms Academy (1925) in Greens Farms, Hamden Hall Country Day School (1912) in Hamden, Holy Cross High School (1968) in Waterbury, Hopkins School (1660) in New Haven, Kingswood-Oxford School (1909) in West Hartford, Notre Dame Catholic High School (1955) in Fairfield, King Low Heywood Thomas (1865) in Stamford, the Norwich Free Academy (1854) in Norwich, St. Lukes School (1928) in New Canaan, St. Joseph High School (1962) in Trumbull, and the Williams School (1891) in New London.
Connecticut was also home to the nation's first law school, Litchfield Law School, which operated from 1773 to 1833 in Litchfield. Hartford Public High School (1638) is the third-oldest secondary school in the nation after the Collegiate School (1628) in Manhattan and the Boston Latin School (1635). The Hopkins School (1660) is the fifth-oldest after these three and the Roxbury Latin School (1645) in Boston.
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Since 1952, a PGA Tour golf tournament has been played in the Hartford area. Originally called the "Insurance City Open" and later the "Greater Hartford Open," the event is now known as the Travelers Championship.
Lime Rock Park is a motorsport track home of American Le Mans Series, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and NASCAR Camping World East Series races.
The Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament is held annually at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) is the state's sanctioning body for high school sports.
New Haven had minor league hockey teams from 1936 through 1993, and also from 1997 to 2001, but does not have a suitable arena following the demise of the New Haven Coliseum in 2001.