Photo of Senator Kennedy.

State Senator

Ted Kennedy, Jr.

Representing Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison & North Branford

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Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr.:
2018 Legislative Accomplishments

Dear Friends:

Connecticut’s environment will be much cleaner and better protected, people with disabilities will be able to live more independently, and individuals affected by opioid addiction will have improved access to care, thanks to legislation passed during the 2018 session of the Connecticut General Assembly.

I am pleased to provide you with my 2018 progress report of the most recent legislative session.

Together with your help, and as Co-Chair of the Environment Committee, health care lawyer and disability rights activist, I worked hard this past year to introduce and lead legislative passage of groundbreaking reforms that will have a lasting impact on Connecticut’s environment and health care policy. Despite the 18-18 party tie in the state senate, we were able to work together as a team, and in a collaborative, bipartisan way, to make the 2018 session the most productive and significant year of my legislative service.

In addition to the adoption of an overwhelmingly bipartisan budget that will guide our state through the next fiscal year, we successfully passed the following bills:

Stopping Clothing Fiber Pollution

I led passage of a first-in-the-nation state law to address the growing problem of microplastic pollution in our rivers, lakes and coastal waterways. Most consumers are not aware of how clothing fibers and microscopic pieces of plastic lint from synthetic fabrics released by washing machines may be poisoning our oceans and food supply. This new law calls for the creation of a Working Group made up of apparel industry representatives and environmental scientists to create a consumer awareness campaign and strategic action plan to reduce microfibers and better protect Long Island Sound.

Teaching Climate Change in Connecticut Schools

This past session, I called upon my fellow legislators to formally adopt a policy regarding the teaching of climate change science in Connecticut’s public schools. The warming of our atmosphere, rising sea levels of Long Island Sound, and increased frequency of severe weather events represent some of the greatest environmental threats to our coastal state, and I believe that children need a basic framework of knowledge to make smart decisions for our future. This new law requires the State Board of Education to develop a model curriculum of instruction, in collaboration with the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and consistent with the recently-adopted Next Generation Science Standards.

Safety of Chemical and Hazardous Waste Facilities at Most Risk for Climate Change

I introduced a new law to address the potential impact of severe weather events and climate change on the state’s hazardous chemical facilities most at risk for climate change. There are approximately 35 chemical and hazardous waste facilities that are located in our state’s coastal zone or adjacent to rivers that are at risk for frequent flooding and severe weather. Many of these industrial facilities were built many decades ago when dangerous storms were not as prevalent and when safety risks were not as great. This bill will require these hazardous chemical facilities to update their emergency action plans based on new climate change data and flooding risks. During Houston’s Hurricane Harvey, chemical companies were unprepared for the flooding hazards and government officials did not have adequate evacuation plans. I thank the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities for supporting this safety initiative.

Sewage Spill Right-to-Know

This law calls on wastewater treatment facility operators to quickly notify and explain sewage spills to local leaders, news organizations and downstream municipal officials, or face stiff new fines and penalties. This reform will ensure greater polluter transparency and accountability. The Environment Committee, which I Co-Chair, took quick action following issues raised by members of the Waterbury delegation, who experienced a five-million gallon raw sewage spill in the Naugatuck River that no one knew about for over a week.

S.B. 7: An Act Concerning Climate Change and Resiliency

Perhaps the most ambitious and comprehensive state law of its kind, S.B. 7 tackles the twin issues of climate change and sea level rise. First, S.B. 7 establishes a new statutory benchmark for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent below 2001 levels by 2030, strengthening Connecticut’s decarbonization efforts, promoting new sources of alternative energy and creating local green energy jobs. Second, S.B. 7 requires that Connecticut begin to anticipate and plan for eventual sea level rise in all future coastal zone planning efforts. For example, all future state-funded coastal development projects will now be built an additional two feet above the flood mark, a cost that will be easily offset by lower insurance premiums, according to the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

Passport to the Parks

This new law codifies legislative intent that the new $10 motor vehicle registration fee, allowing for unlimited state park access, should be properly placed in a dedicated, separate, non-lapsing account to protect and preserve our state parks. This change will prevent future legislatures and the governor from diverting these funds for other purposes.

Promoting Farmland Preservation and Land Trusts

As part of H.B. 5360, the legislature made two technical, but important, changes to current law that will significantly enhance Connecticut’s ability to preserve valuable farmland from development and sprawl. First, working in concert with the Connecticut Farm Bureau, I advocated for a change to the way that the Department of Agriculture acquires development rights to prime farmland. Using a new “buy, protect, sell” provision, DoAg will now be able to better leverage scarce dollars and accelerate farmland preservation by partnering with local land trusts, community non-profits and municipalities. Second, we altered an antiquated state statute relating to farmland preservation to make it more consistent with federal law and in a manner that will now generate $14.5M to the state’s farmland preservation efforts, according to DoAg and projections by the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

Helping Local Farmers by Strengthening “CT Grown” Verification

This new law will strengthen our state’s CT Grown and Farm-to-School programs by requiring better farm-of-origin documentation to ensure that agricultural products marketed as “CT Grown” are, in fact, produced in Connecticut.

Collecting Abandoned Fishing Gear in Long Island Sound

The bottom of Long Island Sound is filled with thousands of abandoned lobster pots, nets and other derelict fishing gear, posing a significant threat to our marine environment. Made of synthetic materials and metal, lost and abandoned gear continues to trap and kill fish, lobsters, crabs, sea turtles and marine mammals. Existing law made it unclear whether this equipment could be discarded without trying to identify and notify the owner, an expensive and cumbersome process. The new law will enable marine debris to be collected and disposed more quickly and easily.

Correcting the “90-Day Turnaround Time” for DEEP Permits

Under current law, promoted by business interests and regulated industries, and adopted in haste as a part of last year’s bipartisan budget deal, applications for DEEP permits need to be approved or denied within 90 days, a policy that threatens public health and environmental protection. I fought to reverse this ill-conceived effort and eliminate this automatic permit approval provision.

Enhancing Liability Insurance for Underground Storage Tanks

Faulty underground storage tanks pose an enormous potential fuel leak threat to our environment and public water supply. H.B. 5453 prohibits insurance companies from unfairly cancelling underground storage tank liability policies and shifting the costs of potential contamination and cleanup to the taxpayers of Connecticut.

Fair Health Insurance Coverage for Artificial Limbs

With the successful passage of S.B. 376, Connecticut became the latest state to ensure that our state’s 20,000 amputees have adequate coverage and reimbursement for their needed artificial limbs. Connecticut residents who have had an arm or leg amputated, or were born without a limb, will now have fair insurance coverage.

Advancing Telehealth for Medication-Assisted Opioid Treatment

I introduced and led successful passage of a bill that will eliminate a barrier to drug addiction treatment by permitting the telehealth prescription of certain controlled substances commonly used in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). Connecticut is experiencing a growing opioid addiction epidemic, and I am trying to figure out every possible way to help addicts get the help that they need. Under current Connecticut law, medical providers are prohibited from prescribing certain schedule I, II and III controlled substances using telehealth, a seemingly prudent abuse prevention policy. However, this law is now inadvertently creating a barrier to care for individuals affected by substance use disorders who need easier access to addiction medications, such as suboxone and buprenorphine. Telepsychiatry has been shown to be effective in managing mental health and other conditions for individuals and communities that might otherwise lack access to traditional medical care. Many patients have trouble visiting a doctor in person each month and would benefit from a quick telehealth encounter in order to obtain a prescription, which is why this reform was supported by many of our state’s leading addiction experts.

Expanding Independent Living Options for People with Disabilities

With the help of the ARC, and as Co-Chair of the General Assembly’s bipartisan I/DD Caucus, I championed a new initiative to require Connecticut to develop more cost-effective community living options for people with disabilities, models that have been adopted by neighboring states. Connecticut currently pays up to $140,000 for one person to live in a group home, straining the state budget and preventing others from obtaining housing funds who are on the state’s waiting list. This bill creates multiple pilot programs to create shared apartments and companion homes, creating more choices, greater independence and lower costs for families and the state. Any savings achieved by local non-profit agencies can be retained by the non-profit and used to serve more people in their community, a significant change to current law.


Thank You

Finally, I would like to thank you, our state’s many environment and healthcare advocacy organizations, my Democratic and Republican colleagues, and the staff of the General Assembly, for your help in achieving such a successful outcome during this past legislative session.

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