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Out and About
In the weeks leading up to this year’s legislative session—and for another several weeks this spring—I spent time out of the Legislative Office Building to get a first-hand look at issues I am working on in Hartford. I toured four local manufacturers and seven state universities and colleges.
As the Senate Chairman of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee, I made these visits as preparation for submitting legislation that helps our manufacturers, and to find ways to consolidate university functions in order to save administrative costs.
The Legislative Office Building (LOB) in Hartford is always a hive of activity, and public hearings are always held on important matters, but it’s important that we not make our decisions in a vacuum. That’s why I like to get away from the lobbyists and the structured environment of the LOB, talk to the decision-makers and the craftsmen and the students out in the field, and make their experience and input a part of my policy making. That’s democracy at work!
Keeping the MDC Property for All to Enjoy
I’m proud to say that I recently voted for a bill that limits the liability for recreational accidents that occur on Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) property, such as the bike and walking trails at the MDC reservoirs located off Farmington Avenue and Route 44.
Our action comes after a court awarded a woman $2.9 million for riding her mountain bike into a gate at the MDC, sustaining serious injuries. The court determined that, unlike cities and towns and the state, the MDC was not immune from lawsuits occurring on its property. As a result, the MDC considered options to restrict recreational use of its facilities.
The quality of life in the Hartford region is significantly enhanced by access to the MDC reservoir and other public recreational areas. This bill—which passed the Judiciary Committee on a unanimous and bipartisan vote—assures that these public resources remain open to outdoor activities like hiking, riding and cross-country skiing.
Keeping Our Roads Safe
As someone who regularly bikes to work, I can say from firsthand experience that the safety of our public roadways leaves a lot to be desired if you are travelling on less than four wheels.
After hearing from a Farmington group concerned about the safety of people in wheelchairs using public roads and public sidewalks, I introduced Senate Bill 720, which requires a person to attend a motor vehicle operator’s retraining program and perform community service if—while operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner—they cause the serious physical injury or death of a ‘vulnerable user’ of a public roadway.
I’m happy to say the bill was approved by a bipartisan vote of the Judiciary Committee (on which I sit) and is now headed to the Senate for a vote.