McGorty bill to increase water safety earns support

Legislation requiring operators of a kayak, canoe and a paddleboard to wear a life vest, proposed by state Rep. Ben McGorty (R-122), garnered positive reviews during a public hearing last week in the legislature’s Environment Committee.

McGorty, a member of the Environment Committee, said the intent of this bill is to improve the safety of kayakers, canoeists and paddle-boarders.

"Sudden changes in weather, medical emergencies such as heart attacks, boat collisions and mechanical injuries can all hinder your ability to survive,” said McGorty. “Wearing life vests will not only considerably assist in rescue efforts by law enforcement but will minimize any risk in such rescue.

“As a water sports enthusiast your life vest is the single most important piece of equipment you will own," added McGorty.

A Boat US Foundation study found more than two-thirds of all boating fatalities are drowning incidents and 90% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket

The bill, H.B. 5315, received the support of the Connecticut Alliance of YMCAs, the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, and the Connecticut Recreation and Park Association.

A group of crew racers and power boaters expressed their concern with the bill, but McGorty said the legislation will not impact them because federal law allows them to race without a lifejacket.

For the bill to advance, the Environment Committee will need to vote the bill out of the committee.