Legislative wrap-up: School safety, dementia training, SIS construction debt

State Sen. Kevin Kelly
State Sen. Kevin Kelly

The 2014 legislative session came to a close in May with more than 250 bills passed by the Connecticut General Assembly. It was a long process, but in the end I was pleased to see many of the bills I advocated for move forward.

Here is a closer look at some of the new laws I supported that most impact our families and our local community.

Children, schools and safety

To increase safety in all schools, a new law expands the Connecticut School Security Infrastructure Grant Program, which reimburses towns for school safety upgrades.

Under the new legislation, non-public schools will now be eligible for the program. By opening the program to private schools, more children will benefit from needed safety upgrades.

School safety for student athletes was also an important issue discussed at the Capitol. As a result, the General Assembly passed significant legislation that aims to protect the health of students who participate in school sports.

This includes laws concerning concussion prevention and sudden cardiac arrest awareness. Both laws require written parental consent before schools can allow a student to participate in athletic activities.

They also call for the development of education plans to help increase awareness about concussions and cardiac episodes.

Healthcare and aging

Thanks to recommendations made by the Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Task Force, a new law requires additional training for a wide range of personnel to help them recognize the symptoms and provide care for those with cognitive disorders and diseases.

Increased training will be required for EMTs, probate judges, paid conservators, protective services employees and others.

The legislature also took steps to prepare Connecticut for our growing senior population. Over the next two decades, as the youngest baby boomers become seniors, there will be more demand for senior services.

To help address these growing needs, our state will now study and strengthen senior nutrition and food services as well as ways to improve support for home and community-based care.

Local achievements

In addition to statewide laws and legislation, we also passed many bills supporting and recognizing our local communities.

We passed legislation to waive the city of Shelton’s $422,000 debt stemming from the 1996 Shelton Intermediate School construction project. By eliminating this lingering burden, Shelton can move forward and focus on other community needs.

In addition, the Point Stratford infrastructure improvement district was approved, moving us one step closer to transforming the 78-acre Stratford Army Engine Plant and opening the area to new shops, restaurants, businesses and residential construction — and hopefully bringing many jobs to our community.

Finally, under the strong leadership of the late state Rep. Larry Miller, legislation that recognizes Connecticut as “First in Flight” also moved forward. This declaration sets the record straight and confirms that Gustave Whitehead was responsible for the first powered flight, flying his plane over nearby Bridgeport well before the Wright brothers made their famous flight.

This legislation finally recognizes our home as the birthplace of flight.

For more information about all the bills passed this year visit the Connecticut General Assembly website at cga.ct.gov or contact my office at 800-842-1421.

Kevin Kelly represents the 21st Senatorial District, which includes all of Shelton as well as parts of Monroe, Seymour and Stratford. He can be reached at 800-842-1421 or Kevin.Kelly@cga.ct.gov. You can follow Senator Kelly on Twitter @21KevinKelly and on Facebook at facebook.com/senatorkevinkelly.