In my column two weeks ago, I recapped our state budget for Fiscal Year ’20 and ’21. While our challenging fiscal situation remains foremost in my mind, there were many good pieces of legislation that passed with strong bipartisan support and deserve recognition for the benefits they will provide to many people in our communities and state.
The political process has a notorious reputation for being highly partisan and strident in both tone and dialogue. While there is certainly truth to that, particularly in Washington, much of what we do in Hartford is actually both collegial and bi-partisan. In all, we passed close to 400 bills this session. The bills I will highlight below are just a small sample of the many that were in fact passed with broad and unanimous support in both legislative chambers. The few bills that come down along party lines are generally related to our fiscal policies.
Connecticut again leads the way on common sense gun safety. I’m proud to report that Republicans and Democrats worked together again this year to support the following three new laws:
Public Act (P.A.) 19-5, Requirements for Safe Storage of Firearms in the Home: In response to the accidental gunshot fatality of a teenager in Guilford last year, this bill tightens requirements for safely storing of a firearm. It also requires the state Board of Education to compile gun safety curriculum guides for use in public schools, grades K-12.
P.A. 19-6, Concerning Ghost Guns: “Ghost Guns” are those without serial numbers, whether they are purchased, built, or 3-D printed. This law attempts to register these firearms by prospectively requiring serial numbers on all firearms. It also prohibits the sale or transfer of unfinished frames or lower receivers that are intended to be used in the construction of a firearm that is not serialized. Further, 3-D printed guns made from polymer plastic are banned outright unless they contain enough metal to be detectible by a metal detector calibrated to federal security guidelines.
P.A. 19-7, Requirements forStorage of a Handgun in a Motor Vehicle: This bill was proposed in an attempt to address “smash and grab” handgun thefts from cars. After multiple revisions and a long debate both in the Judiciary Committee and House Chamber, this new law requires a handgun in an unattended vehicle to be locked in a safe, an exterior luggage compartment, the glovebox, or the trunk.
Another important piece of legislation is one that increases protection for our students and educators.
P.A. 19-52, Concerning School Security: Following the Florida Parkland School shooting, a school security working group was organized in Connecticut to review the school security policies at the state and local levels. The bipartisan working group gathered testimony on school security policies from state agencies, local law enforcement agencies, and local school boards and convened throughout last year to come up with recommendations on how to improve school safety for this session, including:
1. The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) shall reevaluate and update the school security and safety plan standards every three years.
2. The State Department of Education shall make these standards available to all public schools within the state.
3. DESPP must simplify the documentation requirements from local and regional boards of education to increase reporting compliance and make it easier to apply for school security infrastructure grants.
Finally, legislation was passed to help Connecticut residents perform their civic duty and vote.
HJ 161, A Resolution Proposing an Amendment to the State Constitution to Allow for Early Voting: This proposed constitutional amendment passed the House and Senate this session. If it passes again in both legislative chambers in the 2021 Legislative Session, this question will appear on the ballot in November 2022: “Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to permit the General Assembly to provide for early voting?” If enough voters answer “yes,” the General Assembly will then be able to pass specific legislation providing for in-person early voting.
I hope this has been helpful and that you have gotten a sense of the variety of work we do on your behalf. You may research more details about these bills by visiting the Connecticut General Assembly website atwww.cga.ct.gov and entering the bill number into the “Quick Bill Search” bar at the bottom of the page.
Please let me know your thoughts or questions on these or other state government related issues. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-240-8737, and follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TerrieWoodCT.
This article originally appeared in The Darien Times on June 27, 2019.