SENATORS: Boucher, Cassano, Frantz, Kennedy, Leone, Martin, Osten, Suzio
REPRESENTATIVES: Albis, Altobello, Arce, Carney, Devlin, Ferguson, Green, Hennessy, Labriola, Lavielle, Lopes, MacLachlan, McCarthy, McGorty, Morin, O'Dea, Scanlon, Serra, Steinberg, Storms, Wilms, Zawistowski
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Good morning everyone. Welcome to the public hearing today. Just a few notes, in case of a fire drill please exit through the doors and wait for the Capitol Police to escort us all back in. We have a lengthy agenda here, so we ask that we try to keep to the time limits, which is three minutes for public officials and for everyone else that should participate in our public hearing here. I will ask any of the co-chairs if they have remarks? Senator Leone?
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Good to go.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Okay. Senator Boucher?
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): Thank you, Mr. Chair. Just for a point of note that Representative Tom O'Dea will not be able to be here today, because he has business in his district and Senator Suzio will be late and on other committee matters that he has, but he will be joining us shortly. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Okay, with that let me start off with the first speaker and that would be, Senator McLachlan is here. Good afternoon.
SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH): Good afternoon, Senator Guerrera, Senator Boucher --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): I guess you made me a Senator, that's pretty good.
SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH): A lot of Senators, there's a lot of Senators up there now.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): I should have called you a long time ago.
SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH): Senator Leone, Representative Carney, Representative Arce. I'm Senator Mike McLachlan from Danbury and thank you for your service on transportation. Representative Guerrera is -- knows that I love the Transportation Committee and I just want to say that I miss it terribly. I've always enjoyed working with you on transportation. I'm not here to talk about tolls today, but I am here to ask for your support for something very important to Danbury and that is we'd like to name Route 53, which is Main Street in Danbury, the Danbury Veterans Memorial Highway. This is co-sponsored by your fellow committee member and super freshman legislator Michael Ferguson from Danbury and Fairfield and Ridgefield and we have a very dynamic veteran's community in Danbury and we're very grateful for that. The president of the Danbury Veterans Council, Brendan Sniffin, was unable to be here due to family obligations, but has submitted written testimony as well. We have a number of veteran organizations in Danbury, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Marine Corps League, Hatch City Detachment, the Catholic War Veterans, the Korean War Veterans and the Disabled American Veterans all in our small city of Danbury. And they are united in support of this naming and we respectfully request your support of this. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Senator. It's always good to see you and you really did -- I do miss you and not having you on this committee. We worked well together even though we may have our oppositions on certain issues, but we always were thoughtful in regards to the process and you were a key proponent to all those legislations that we happen to pass together. So, thank you for your commitment. Questions of Senator McLachlan? Senator Leone?
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Senator, good to see you. I do just want to take a moment to give you a few accolades and congratulate you for all the work that you do, not just for your town, but on behalf of the Veterans. As a Veteran and being a past chair I know personally some of the Veteran Organizations in your town and your area is one of the more active ones around the State, so, your voice as well as their voice on all things veteran oriented goes a long way and I appreciate those efforts, because it's not a -- it's not a bipart--, it's not a partisan issue, it's something that we can always agree on. So I always find that that's the best of common grounds and I think Veterans are the best reason to do it. So, I just wanted to make that known, so, you know, we're always supportive when we're working for the Veterans, so thank you very much.
SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH): Thank you, Senator.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Senator. Any other comments? Representative?
REP. FERGUSON (138TH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Senator McLachlan for being here and as he indicated I am a brand new freshman, so this is the first time I'm actually speaking in this committee, but I'm very happy to speak in support of this legislation and happy as a colleague of Senator McLachlan's from Danbury to be co-introducing this Bill with him. I urge the committee to support, because I think it's a great piece of legislation and thank the Senator for introducing it, and I'm happy to do so with him. So with that, thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Representative. Any other comments? Thank you, Senator, good to see you.
SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH): Thank you again.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Moving along. Senator Formica.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Good afternoon.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Good afternoon.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Thank you very much for being here today, Senator Leone, Senator Boucher, is it Senator Guerrera now? Yeah? Representative Guerrera, Representative Carney and members of the Transportation Committee --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Might as well make me a Representative, someone has got to do the work around here, so what the, you know, --
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Yeah. Well as soon as we finish brunch upstairs, we can come down and finish. I am here to testify on a few Bills, you have my prepared comments in front of you. I'll just go through them generally, because I know you have a busy day. I'd like to start by sharing my strong support on House Resolution Number 54, which is concerning the Federal Railroad Administrations proposal to cut -- construct an alternative Amtrak Route through Southeastern Connecticut.
In essence what this proposal does through a northeast corridor plan is to create a massive disturbance from Saybrook all the way up to Kenyon, Rhode Island including digging a tunnel under the Connecticut River, surfacing it through the Historic District and the center of Old Lyme and meandering its way through Southeastern Connecticut finding its way through the center of Mystic and up into Rhode Island. We're hoping that the entire -- the entire assembly can get behind this resolution and just voice their opposition of this. This is not the days of the wild west when we had clear open territory to lay track. There is a huge amount of implications both to quality of life, to the environmental needs, to the Historic Districts and just to really clear common sense and reason that there should be no reason that this particular resolution should not be supported by everybody and this Bypass killed. And we understand the NEC has to provide planning for our transportation future and I don't think any of the communities are against an upgrade in rail services, but we should be fixing the rail lines that we have and upgrading those and then providing an increased commuter.
As a result of that resolution there are two Bills before you Senate Number 253 and Senate Number 263, which are almost identical in scope, which would provide for a change in rail service to be approved by referendum of communities impacted by such a change, 263 adds that there would be no financial assistance for the State of Connecticut unless there is such a resolution. Now, as I noted in my testimony this particular Bill, which I apologize for is a little bit broad in its scope and it shouldn't say commuter rail, because we certainly wouldn't want the DOT to have to have a referendum if they're changing service times by a minute and a half at one station, but this is really designed to go after the large impact that this Federal Railroad Administration would have. And so I would look to the committee for guidance and certainly we can help provide language that would, you know, narrow that down to a better scope. So, that's basically why we're here, I hope that they're behind me, there will be a lot of people testifying against this proposal, and we think that there should be more and serious thought about alternatives and certainly upgrades to our particular track, and I thank you very much for the opportunity to address you today.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Senator, for those comments. I was just a little taken back there, I saw someone walk by you and I just was like, like a ghost or something of that nature, but it'S Mr. Reilly, so, you know, nice to see here, Michael. Now, obviously, this has received a lot of attention, Senator, I know that Representative Carney has been instrumental in trying to help with all this too, and we commend him for all his hard work on this. Yeah, I have some serious concerns about this. Have they met with the group of Legislators and Senators from that area, Representatives and the people in regards to an alternative plan here?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): I know that we've had conversations through the Federal level, our Congressman Courtney, Senators Blumenthal and Murphy have been very strong in their opposition on this and there's that -- those high level things, behind me. First Selectman Reemsnyder from Old Lyme and I and Representative Carney had -- I think we first talked about this last January and a series of public meetings have occurred. One included an employee from the FRA speaking to a group of the public in Old Lyme, which drew in excess of five hundred people all in opposition from up and down the shoreline, so whatever those conversations, the Congressman and the Senators have had hopefully will take effect. There was some talk about handling it at the Transportation Committee level up there and the Appropriations level up there, so, but you never know, if this thing gets in a plan it's already affected real estate values and people's -- people's thinking down there.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Absolutely, and just from what I've read, just the impact alone on some of these communities would be devastating in my opinion, and I don't even live down in your area, but I can just imagine like, you know, these curved tracks and just all that just would be horrible. So what would it, what do you need from us to make sure that this doesn't happen?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Well, one, I think if we can get behind the Resolution that, you know, all of us stand bipartisan together in opposition of this plan, this portion of the plan, I think that would be a great first step. I know that these types of projects tend to need Federal 80 percent, State 20 percent, whatever those numbers are, I'm just guessing. But if we could provide a mechanism that doesn't allow that opportunity for that contribution unless and until every community impacted by this approves it by referendum, you know that's fine, but, you know, this Bypass is expected to save twenty minutes from, you know, New York to Bo--, Washington to Boston, you know, my suggestion is we invest in plane tickets for those people who need to save that kind of time.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): So, according from what I read, yeah, the twenty minutes is all their saving?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Yes, that's my understanding.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): And how much is the cost of this?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Just to go under the Connecticut River from the Saybrook Train Station a little bit, I guess that would be east of the Saybrook Train Station and then come up somewhere in the center of Old Lyme's Historic District, they're estimating at 10 billion. And if we look at the history of tunnels in cities, for example, Boston, those things tend to not stay under budget.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): All right. I know that we're going to have a lot of participating here, so I'm going to go to the co-chairs to see if they'd like to say a few comments and then we'll go to the members here. So, Senator Leone --
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Co-chair Senator Boucher.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): And good afternoon, Senator, good to see you and thank you for bringing this topic up, because we as transportation, I think just about anyone who follows transportation in this state, we've been following this issue and when they did come out with the public notification of this plan for those that weren't following it, it just seemed to come out and say this is what we're doing and then we'll accept public input. I think my Chair asked the question of sort of where it was going to go was how far in advance did we know that they were looking at that particular line and it seems to me like they are moving ahead whether we like it or not and we -- I just want to make sure that we do hold them accountable and we come up with alternatives if an alternative is necessary or if we, as you say need to just invest in our existing infrastructure. If we can improve our time, especially if it's only twenty minutes, that doesn't seem to me to justify, you know, a ten-billion-dollar investment. So, the question is, when were the communities, yourself or not really brought up to speed on this proposal or was it just they pitched this idea and then they're doing it sort of backwards?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): My recollection is our first press conference as a team of uniting in opposition against this occurred approximately a year ago, maybe thirteen months ago, and it came out I believe sometime in December over the Christmas Holidays. And it was this is what we're doing, this is how we're going to go about it. At first the thinking is well, this is ridiculous, I've been using the word absurd, that we'd even consider something like this, but it seemed to gather some type of momentum in that they weren't going to change their -- their viewpoint. So it was very quick, and the level of opposition rose so that during the comment period I believe there were twelve hundred comments just from the Town of Old Lyme itself and as this idea has generated, so has the opposition moving, moving north. I'm sure you'll hear from a number of people in the Mystic/Westerly Group today that are opposed as well. So, they've not been very forthcoming.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you and I think we have a little bit of a road to travel so to speak on this topic considering that this is supposed to be interconnected between multi-states, right? It's connecting New York to Massachusetts, so we're in-between and we have a new administration down in D.C., so we have a few moving parts that are sort of new members, so we're going to have to work with them and hopefully they will be as supportive on -- on finding something other than what's being proposed to help us out, because it is being driven by the Federal Government at this point in time. So we need to make sure we come up with a good plan that's bipartisan. I appreciate your efforts and I think a lot of the members here would -- would tend to be supportive as well. Thank you.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Senator Leone. Senator Boucher?
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you Senator for bringing actually three very important issues to the committee and your point of view. Have you as a group been in contact along with your Federal Representatives to the new potential head of the transportation office up at the Federal level about this particular issue?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): I understand that Senator Blumenthal in his position on the transportation committee has talked to the people in charge of the FRA and those high-level people up there, I'm sure Congressman Courtney has as well. They sent a representative down Madam Co-Chair to Old Lyme to just kind of present the plan and not, you know, really take a lot of -- a lot of input, so really this has been a grassroots growing opportunity that, you know, for people to be against this and we hope we're getting the ear of the people you suggest.
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): Well, there may be an opportunity, because I understand a very seasonal individual that has been at the federal, there's --
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): I can't hear you.
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): There may be an opportunity given that there is a new administration and with someone that has had quite a bit of -- of experience at the national level, has had that position before that may give a different point of view, could potentially open the door. I know that they came. I followed it closely that they came to present their case for what they wanted and that's too often the case sometimes with bureaucracy, they already predetermine the solution to something without really taking into consideration local input which is exceedingly important in this case. So that would be some of the suggestions, but I think you'll get a pretty friendly hearing on this particular Bill that we have before us.
On the other one that you talked about, which was Senate Bill 253, regarding requiring municipal approval of rail service before moving forward, have you all discussed when proposing this Bill how this might impact say a regional change or approach? Often times when you're talking about rail lines it's not a one municipality line, it's -- it spans an entire state, many -- many communities, so how would you balance the needs of the overall commuting public versus what the local issues are?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Thank you for your that question, and I -- and I appreciate that viewpoint, but, and as I said in my testimony, this particular Bill may be worded overly broad, so that if we were to narrow it down to focus against some of these more outrageous opportunities that are being presented from the Federal level down to us, I think we would be united and that very few people would be opposed and that's really the point of it. We certainly don't want to tie our hands of regionalization or opportunities to improve the mode of transportation from your neck of the woods to our neck of the woods, because we think that's important to move people, especially if it gets them off of I-95.
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): Thank you for that and your final Bill concerning driving under the influence with a child, you talked a great deal about someone that may be intoxicated, that were drinking alcohol, does this Bill also though, consider that some could be impaired because they're drugged driving as well rather than just drunk driving?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Thank you. This came from a local police chief in the 20th District that thought that the opportunity for penalties could be a lot stronger with -- in relation to alcohol. In relation to drugs, I don't know that there is a specific test that can be relied on and if there is, I certainly would be in favor of including that in this legislation, because the idea is to protect kids and -- and kind of get drunk drivers off the road. We made some le--, some headwinds into doing that over the last decade or so, but certainly not enough.
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): So, would you be in favor if the language was written so that it's a little broader than just drunk driving?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Yes.
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): Thank you.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Thank you, Madam Co-Chair.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Senator Boucher. Representative Carney, followed by Representative Altobello.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you Senator for coming here today to testify. I know we've been working very hard on this with several other Federal and, and State and Local Officials including First Selectman Reemsnyder and Mayor Passero who just walked in. So I just have a few questions for you. First of all, on -- and we've had discussions on this, on Senate Bill 253 and 263, to me -- and I agree with you, you know, we want to try to make it a little bit more specific, but I was thinking something along the lines of the laying down of new tracks where there weren't tracks previously might be something where these Bills could come into play, would you agree with that or anything additional to that?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Again, you know one of the things that we need to be concerned ourselves is we pass Legislation both on the Local and State and Federal levels. The law when intended consequences and it's very hard to try to figure that out, so does that mean, you know, two tracks and a little Bypass, fixing old track, you know, we'd have to kind of make sure that we were mindful of that. But I agree, I think the purpose of it is to try to get this, you know, this -- this new barreling through of new track through, you know, certainly environmentally sensitive and historic districts and people's homes and businesses, I think that's what we're trying to -- we're trying to oppose. So, we need probably someone smarter than me to develop that language.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): There's nobody smarter than you, Senator. Yeah, because one of the things that I've -- that I've heard in the community is folks are really concerned, not necessarily about tomorrow, but potentially 20, 25, 30 years from now could I -- you know, when we're long gone from the legislature could, you know, somebody else come in and say they want it and try to ram that through. How do you feel the process has gone with the Federal Railroad Administration and -- and their process with -- with the community with -- in southeastern Connecticut? Have they -- do you think it's been a good process, they've really let people know or it's sort have been a flawed one?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): This seems to have been, you know, certainly something done in the dark of night, and -- and without real good public participation. As I said both of the -- a lot of the initiatives have come over the holiday seasons on Friday afternoons and it's just not the way that it was done. We heard whisperings about what was going on and had it not been the effort through the efforts of volunteers like Greg Surratt from Seacoast.org who has provided -- it's a great website for you to go on and get some detailed information on that, to really raise the awareness and then getting people like, you know, the mayors and First Selectman involved using their influence and, and certainly you and me and Senator Somers as well to come up against this along with our federal delegation. We -- we probably -- this probably would have already passed if there had not been, because it would have just gone without much notice.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Right. And I agree, and I was very frustrated as were you when they -- then they released their -- their preferred alternative. I believe it was a week prior to Christmas, so I thought that was -- that was pretty concerning. Do you know about how much has been spent on the study thus far by the Federal Government?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Whatever they spent on this Bypass portion was too much, but I've heard in the millions of dollars and again, this is an all-encompassing northeast corridor plan, so some of which, you know, makes some sense, but it's planning for these types of documents as we know in small communities with plans of conservation and development and on the State level it's an extensive and expensive proposition, so it's been a lot of money.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Yeah, a lot of money. And I know there's -- there's in southeastern Connecticut there's pretty -- as far as I've heard universal support or rath--, yeah support in opposition to this -- this Bypass proposal, but have you heard any support for the Bypass in the State of Connecticut at all?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): I did get an email this morning from woman who said that I shouldn't be concerned about what happens in the wealthy towns and it should just go right through them, but short of that, no, I've had no one say that they're -- they're in favor of this particular Bypass. Although everyone when you ask what the alternative is, because you just can't say we're against, we have to say here's the solution, let's fix what we have, let's upgrade the commuter rail all the way up from say, you know, New Haven up through Westerly and into Providence and, and kind of work off that and then look to other high speed opportunities that may be able to be presented through the State, but no, I've not heard anybody really.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): So that's about one out of ten thousand we should say, or maybe more, maybe more.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Probably more than ten thousand.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Probably more than the thousand. All right. Well, thank you very much for your testimony, Senator, and -- and, you know, I co-introduced the Bills with you, so I'm in full support, and this is something that I know has affected my community a great deal, you know, home values, they just did an article in the New London Day where they highlighted home sales in the town of Old Lyme have reduced. There's no -- there's -- there's no way to say for sure whether it's because of this Bypass proposal, but -- but there is probably at least some of those have been affected due to the threat of this proposal, which I've referred to as a dark cloud hanging over the community. So, I look forward to working with you and First Selectman Reemsnyder and everybody else in a bipartisan fashion to really get this Bypass proposal removed from the final document that will come -- that may come out next month, maybe a little later than that, we're not sure to really get that taken out to -- for the better of our -- of our communities and really the State of Connecticut, so thank you very much, Senator.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Thank you, sir.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you Representative. Representative Altobello.
REP. ALTOBELLO (82ND): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Senator.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Good afternoon.
REP. ALTOBELLO (82ND): Senator, I know you said that the proposed Bill was somewhat broadened, it needs to be sharpened up somewhat, who has jurisdiction over that line? Who is the owner?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Jurisdiction over?
REP. ALTOBELLO (82ND): The line.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): My expectation, it would be the State DOT in conjunction with Amtrak I would expect in certain areas, but --
REP. ALTOBELLO (82ND): Well, it's usually one or the other.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Yeah, I don't --
REP. ALTOBELLO (82ND): You don't know who owns the line?
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Who owns the current line or the proposed line?
REP. ALTOBELLO (82ND): The current line.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): The current line I believe is a combination of both and I don't know, if somebody knows maybe they can help me with that, but.
REP. ALTOBELLO (82ND): I'm being whispered from the back by someone from DOT that it is Amtrak, so I guess my -- my -- the next question I have is that if that were indeed the case, it would be nice to have municipalities do a referendum, but I don't know that it would have any effect if it's an Amtrak project. I mean if it's a DOT project I would, you know, it would be a different story, so, I was just wondering about that.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Well, now that you bring that up that makes me wonder about how we can still stop opportunities that are absurd whether they're owned by Amtrak or the State DOT, we should be able to do something.
REP. ALTOBELLO (82ND): I hear you. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Representative Altobello. And Representative Altobello, that is a good question in regards to with a referendum, that's something maybe the legal minds here can find out for you, Senator. Representative Steinberg.
REP. STEINBERG (136TH): Thank you, Mr. Chair. And thank you Senator for raising this very important issue. A lot of the focus has been on the southeastern part of the State, but people should also realize including my Fairfield County colleagues, that there's another section proposed of new track in our neck of the woods in southwestern Connecticut. For example, it would require a whole new set of tracks running right through the Saugatuck section of Westport, which is very concerting. We're right in the middle of a transit oriented development process that this would totally upend, so I think we all are sympathetic to the Federal Government's goal of creating high speed rail to really reinvigorate New England by making it easier to get from here to there, particularly from New York to Boston, but they seem to be very short on details as precisely why some of these things are necessary. I happen to think that your Senate Bill 253 in concept should return some degree of home rule or control particularly over land use issues in our communities and I would hope that all my colleagues are as concerned as I am at -- even if this is twenty years out, this is still something we all need to be on top of right now. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): And Representative, you bring up a very good point, because it could happen to any of us here, any community and we have to be cognizant about that, so, thank you for those comments. Representative Storm?
REP. STORMS (60TH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Senator, good morning.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Good morning.
REP. STORMS (60TH): I just have a question on your proposal on Bill 577, relating to the drunk driving or drug driving. At what point or what level of penalty would you like to see this crime put? In other words, you want to strengthen the penalties and I understand that, but why not just say presumptively that driving under the influence with a child represents risk of injury to a minor, which is already a criminal penalty, has already criminal penalties, which is a felony. So I don't know how much higher you want to raise that level.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): You're saying that's already the case?
REP. STORMS (60TH): Yeah, risk of injury to minor is a felony in the State of Connecticut, so if you presumptively say that if you are arrested for driving under the influence with a minor in the car you would, you might be able to tack that on as an additional charge.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Yeah, tie the two together.
REP. STORMS (60TH): Correct.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Yeah. I think that -- I think that makes perfect sense or even, you know, loss of license for significant amount of time if not forever.
REP. STORMS (60TH): Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Any other comments? Thank you, Senator, for those comments.
SENATOR FORMICA (20TH): Thank you as always Mr. Chairman for your generosity, and thank you to the Committee.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Representative Susan Johnson.
REP. JOHNSON (49TH): Good afternoon, Chairman Guerrera, Chairman Leone and Chairwoman Boucher, Vice-Chairs, Ranking Members and distinguished members of the Transportation Committee. Thank you so much for hearing House Bill 6277, AN ACT REQUIRING THE REGISTRATION OF MOTOR SCOOTERS.
This is a problem that I've heard about since I became the Representative in my district and it's come to me in varying ways over the last several years. As I look into it, research it, get information back to my district, have had meetings in the past with the police chiefs and have found that I think that probably the reason that there's so much difficulty with the motor scooters versus the motorcycles that is the 50 cc versus the 49 cc type motor scooter bike is the fact that we don't have any registration for them and we have registration for the 50cc's, but not for the 49cc motor scooters. At the same time people who actually -- actually get to drive them have to have a license, a driver's license, but because we don't require registration, what happens is children think that they can drive on them because there's no registration required and a lot of the -- so I think there's confusion around how we -- how we regulate this.
So, it has caused trouble in my district for a number of years, but most recently there's been two very bad accidents. A little bit of time ago somebody was actually paralyzed driving one of these things, and so I contacted our police chief to just get a little bit more information just to see what their perception is as to why we should do this at this point in time. They say that their biggest issues have to do with traffic stops and stolen motor scooters and they have a hard time identifying with -- at traffic stops what the VIN number is, the Vehicle Identification Number, and they have a hard time following up for bad -- bad driving whether it's on the road or on a sidewalk or bad parking. There's any number of difficulties that -- that people run into. They're also trying to follow up on a stolen motor scooter is very very difficult without having this registered some place, so there's real difficulty in trying to recover people's property. So that -- those are essentially the -- the reasons that I think that it would be a good thing to try and register these 49 cc scooters and maybe not as formally as the regular 50 cc and up motorcycles and scooters, but certainly have some sort of system that's centralized so that we can make it easier for the police to do their job and also protect our young people who may think that this is like a bicycle, and that sort of thing.
So I really really appreciate you giving me the time to present this to you and I'm available for any questions or any follow up information and also this is something that is a concern of Representative Orange as well, so --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Representative. Yeah, I know that we're going to have other public hearings and I know that the Department of Motor Vehicle will probably be speaking on the issues that you just brought up. I know that this has been a huge issue for some of our Representatives in their cities and towns and so forth and as you've mentioned. So, I would ask that during those hearings that maybe if you could come in and hear what the Department of Motor Vehicle has to say in regards to the registrations and so forth, it might be a little beneficial for you.
REP. JOHNSON (49TH): I'll do my best to get here, Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): I know you're busy as we all are, right? Senator Leone?
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good afternoon, Representative, good to see you.
REP. JOHNSON (49TH): Good to see you too.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): So on the motor scooters, what's the -- do you know what the top speed of these 49 cc's and unders go roughly?
REP. JOHNSON (49TH): Thirty miles an hour is the top speed.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thirty miles an hour, and I know some communities have more issues with these than others, but if an accident has taken place, does the insurance get involved in terms of -- how is it covered if someone is hurt because of a motor scooter, whether it's the driver or somebody else? I'm thinking since it's not registered, it's not insured it would just go under either a homeowners insurance or you're just left to the two party system to work it out, is that how it currently works?
REP. JOHNSON (49TH): Well, there is insurance that covers this, but it may be because of the perception not having to have it registered that people don't necessarily always follow through. I think that's part of the problem with getting insurance is that they just don't think of it because it's not registered, so there is coverage and people can get insurance for them.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): So as long as we get it permitted then the insurance would also be part of the caveat, correct?
REP. JOHNSON (49TH): Absolutely.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Yeah.
REP. JOHNSON (49TH): It would certainly be a way to trigger the fact that people now know that they have to have this vehicle registered and they have to have a license, which they should know, but because of the -- or the way we've set this up, probably it's been historic over time these things were developed. Now because of the population density and more use, especially because of the price of gas, when it was really really high there were more scooters on the road. So in those circumstances people were buying them as a convenience and a cost saver and -- and so we've had more accidents too because of them. I think you see a lot more of this in urban areas as well, because you have more traffic and you have more people that have short distances to ride and can get back and forth more easily with that. And the problem with the sidewalks, of course driving on the sidewalks and parking on the sidewalks --
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Correct. That should not be allowed.
REP. JOHNSON (49TH): No, and it isn't. It's just that with the fact that they're not registered it makes it very difficult to follow up and do something about the vehicle and trying to find the person who's been violating the rules.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): And the -- when you have contacted the police department, what have they been able to do or not do as the law stands now?
REP. JOHNSON (49TH): As the law stands now they have a very hard time following up, because there's no centralized registration. Most people don't decide to take down their vehicle identification number and so when they buy the vehicle they just use it and they don't write down all the information. This is creating a real problem particularly with following up with violations of the traffic laws and also with stolen vehicles.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Great. Thank you, gives a little bit to work on.
REP. JOHNSON (49TH): Thank you so much, I really appreciate the chance to be here.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Anybody else? Representative Arce, I knew you would, I knew you would want to ask a couple of questions on this.
REP. ARCE (4TH): Yeah. Good afternoon, Representative.
REP. JOHNSON (49TH): Good afternoon.
REP. ARCE (4TH): Thank you, I want to thank you for bringing this up. This is a big issue and a big problem within our cities, I know last year we passed legislation that any -- any scooter or dirt bike or those four-wheelers that are stopped and are not registered we gave the authority at least to the police departments to confiscate them. The problem is not solved yet, one of the problems that we have is that if you go to one of our city streets on any given day and that usually happens during the summer you will see them all over the place, two/three hundred at a time sometimes on a Sunday, but the police department cannot chase them, they cannot, they're not allowed to chase these motor scooters or anything like that, so what they're doing is that they wait for the scooters to go into a driveway or whatever and that's how they chase and try to get ahold of them as well as I believe in -- in -- in the statute we also added that when a person calls -- calls the police and says, you know, you got some illegal dirt bikes and mopeds and whatever they call they, the police department will show up and if they are illegal, they will confiscate them on the spot, even though they are on the, you know, they can go on the private property now. One of the biggest problems we have, because of these things not being registered is a lot of underage kids driving these things throughout the public streets, sidewalks, stopping traffic, I mean it's, it's a real real mess within our city, so I want to thank you for bringing this us and I would love to work with you on that or to fight that, we need -- what we passed last year is just not enough and we need to give the tools necessary to our police force to be able to do their job, this is a big problem within our city and I'd be more than happy to work with you on that to try to get this problem solved. Thank you very much for bringing this up.
REP. JOHNSON (49TH): Thank you so much for your good remarks and I just want to follow up on something you said about chasing, the police in my district don't chase the kids on these motor scooters either, and I know our former police chief did have -- when she first started her work as an officer back in the '70's, she had a chase that ended up in a death and so they do not chase them for those reasons.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you very much, Representative.
REP. JOHNSON (49TH): Thank you. I appreciate your support. Thank you so much.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Representative Bolinsky, and do you have someone that you wanted to bring up with you?
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, yes, I actually do.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Okay.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): So, may I?
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Yes, you can, but, you know, Representative, make sure that -- we still have to fall within that three minutes.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Yep. Understood.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Come on up and then just have them introduce themselves.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Good afternoon Co-Chairs Guerrera, Boucher, Leone, Ranking Member Carney, distinguished members of the Transportation Committee. I'm here to speak today on two Bills and my testimony is on public file, so I'm not going to read, I'm going to paraphrase and keep it short. The first Bill --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Representative, could you just move your mike up a little bit so we can all hear you.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Yes, thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): There you go.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): You know when we replaced the sound system we should have made these a foot longer.
So, the first Bill I'm going testify about has nothing to do with my guest who, by the way, is Doctor Neil Chaudhary, who is a nationally recognized researcher on traffic safety. He's going to come into discussion of my next Bill that I'm going to discuss, but there are also experts in this room that are going to appear before you today that is -- are going to discuss House Bill 6502, which is AN ACT ESTABLISHING A MOVE OVER LAW FOR OIL AND GAS DELIVERY VEHICLES, GARBAGE TRUCKS AND RECYCLERS AS WELL.
I offer my full support on this Bill, because we did see a difference in the safety for public workers and public contractors in 2009 when Connecticut passed the current move over law. We did protect state workers, law enforcement, emergency responders. In 2017 though I think we also have to recognize that there's a lot more activity happening on our streets whether it be people trimming trees or picking up our recycling, which is become actually the fifth most dangerous occupation in the United States of America, because of a certain lack of decorum that occurs on the road.
So, just to basically conclude a very very short push for 6502, it's a piece of lifesaving legislation that will make a difference and it is supported by OSHA, by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, by the Department of Health and Human Services, safety officials, risk managers here in Connecticut and around the Country, so I would appreciate the full consideration of House Bill 6502, AN ACT ESTABLISHING A MOVE OVER LAW FOR OIL AND GAS DELIVERY VEHICLES AND GARBAGE TRUCKS and look forward to a very provocative conversation with the Committee.
So, the next Bill that I would like to talk to you about today is House Bill 6054, which is AN ACT REQUIRING BACKSEAT PASSENGERS IN MOTOR VEHICLES TO WEAR SAFETY BELTS.
What I'd like to do is introduce Doctor Neil Chaudhary. He is the President and Owner of the Preusser Group, which is a National Researcher on traffic safety, but my introduction on the subject itself is to just very simply say that right now the State of Connecticut we're one of just twenty-two States that do not have rear seat passenger restraint laws. As a result we are losing lives in the State of Connecticut, at a rate that's three times greater than a restrained backseat passenger, that's how the death statistics change for serious crashes.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Representative, we -- that three-minute rule came up that's why I said that.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): And I'm going to -- right now --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): And, and by all means if you have testimony, please submit it to all the members here, because we will review this, all the information.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Yes, I will do that, Chairman. So, without further ado, Doctor Chaudhary is a traffic safety researcher, he's a Ph.D., serves as a member of the Connecticut DOT Seatbelt Task Force, DOT/DMV Commissioner's Safe Driving Task Force, Impaired Driving Task Force. He's currently a member of the National Academy of Sciences Occupation, Occupant Protection Committee and Traffic Research Board, and he's written over fifty articles about traffic safety, and without further ado, Doctor Neil Chaudhary.
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: Thank you. So, as Mitch mentioned Connecticut is in the minority in that it does not require all -- all occupants to wear seatbelts in the rear seat. Connecticut was a national leader in seatbelt use until recently. Starting in 2013, we lost some ground and became below the national average. The most recent data suggests that we've actually improved our seatbelt use quite a bit, but we're still shy of the national average. One factor likely influencing our seatbelt use is that not all seat positions are covered for all occupants. States that have all seat position laws have higher seatbelt use in all seating positions than State's that do not. The single most effective way to reduce death and serious injury caused by a motor vehicle crash is the use of a seatbelt.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, estimates that seatbelts are roughly 45 to 65 percent effective at reducing chances of dying in a crash and 50 percent effective in reducing chances of serious injury in a crash. The most recent two years of crash data from Connecticut indicate that for those who were killed or seriously injured in a crash, 78 percent were restrained when they were seated in the front seat, but only 37 percent were restrained when seated in the backseat. This analysis includes only occupants who were 16 and older who are those individuals currently not covered by a seatbelt law in the rear seat.
The passage of an all seat position/all occupant law would have a positive impact on the State. My analysis indicates that if we can bring rear seatbelt use rates up to the same level as the front seatbelt use rate, which is a real goal with this sort of law, we should expect to eliminate about 25 percent of rear seat serious injuries and fatalities. The injury reductions are likely only part of the injuries prevented and lives saved, there are data suggesting that rear seatbelt laws will increase front seatbelt use also, I've limited my analysis as I said to those covered by the law, but younger occupants are likely also to increase their seatbelt use with the passage of a law. Currently ten percent of those seriously injured or killed in the backseat who are unrestrained are under 16, noting that our youngest drivers represent a huge portion of those 46 percent are under 21. Unrestrained rear seat occupants become a threat --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Excuse me, Doctor, I apologize, but I have to try to keep the Committee in order here, again, I allowed three minutes for the both of you to speak and unfortunately Representative Bolinsky took a little bit more time, can we just wrap that up and just please submit that testimony to all of us --
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: I will.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): -- because we do have some questions for you.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): And we'll answer the questions, yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): All right. So, do you -- we did not receive that testimony.
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: It should come to you soon.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): It should? Thank you. Okay. So, with that we have some members here, Senator Leone followed by Senator Boucher.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you, Mr. Chair. Quick question on the seatbelt issue and I -- and I know we're coming from the point of view of safety, it makes, it makes all the sense in the world. But I also suspect that there will be some people that may not be in full support just from the simple fact of personal freedom and their own personal choice if they're full grown adult and so forth.
I do know that as the automobiles are becoming more and more safe. Almost every seat including rear seats have safety bags and so forth, that that even could be another argument why it might not be the only option. So, I know we have it for sixteen years and under, so I'm not sure I'm there, but I'm open to the idea, it all depends on where the public stands on this, because every time we try and safeguard everyone, there are people that still like their own personal choice on whether to do this or not. And so, the statistics that you're talking about are something that I would be curious to dive into to make sure that they do justify the proposal, so I just wanted to make that as a note that this is a public hearing to hear all sides and sometimes when you don't think there's an opposing view, there is in fact one. So, I just throw that out there. Thank you.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Thank you, Senator. Senator, if I might just make a very short response to that. What we have found is technologically and Doctor Chaudhary has this information and we'd be happy to share it with you, but technologically the amount of safety that has been brought to the front seat passengers has not been matched by what's been put into the backseat passengers. The concept of having an unrestrained rear seat passenger actually increases the chance of death for front seat passengers by 20 percent in a fatal fatality or a bad injury collision. So, and they become projectiles in a manner of speaking, so it's not quite as simple as the personal choice, because there are impacts that happen within the moto vehicle to people that are seat belted because of the lack of a seat belt for a rear seat passenger. And also, leave you with a like a very quick thought about the way we have legislated this in the State of Connecticut. Air in mind that when in 2003 we enacted our restricted driver's license for 16 and 17-year old's, one of the requirements we made -- a necessity for drivers under the age of 18 was that every single person in every single position seated in a vehicle was to be seat belted otherwise they and the passenger were both compliant with those laws. I find it just a little bit, a little bit counterintuitive to think that at the time that a young driver turns 18, they no longer have to have the people in the backseat seat belted any longer. Why would we have done that in the first place if it wasn't to save lives. So, if Doctor Chaudhary would like to add anything?
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: I mean I agree with Mitch, the front seat has become much safer than the back, relatively speaking, comparing front to back, the rear seat is becoming more dangerous, so and yeah, another study suggests that if you're a driver restrained, you're twice as likely to die in a serious crash when you have an unrestrained individual in the rear seat.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you. But in the stats, you're right, maybe the front seat is more protective, but the fatalities, are the fatalities as high or the accidents, the injuries as high in the backseat as they are in the front seat? It's usually the front seat is where all the injuries were historically speaking and those in the backseat were shielded a little bit more, so again, it's about the counter argument that we're making sure that we do this in the right way. Also, if we -- if this law were to pass and then a car gets pulled over and an adult in the back doesn't have their seatbelt on, but everyone else does in the front, who gets the ticket? Is it the adult that doesn't have his seatbelt connected or is it the driver or is everybody? I mean who's at fault here?
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: It would work the same way the current seatbelt law works, which requires passengers in the front to be restrained, I believe they receive the ticket. So, we already require passengers to buckle up in some positions.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): So it would be the individual person not buckled that would get the ticket, not the driver?
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: I believe so.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): I think we would have some discretion in how we write that law, because with the graduated licensing laws that we currently have for 16 and 17-year old's, it's written to give a full seatbelt $100-dollar ticket to both the driver and the unbuckled passenger or passengers. So, that, Senator, would be something that discretionally we can affect.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you. I think we got, you know, a little bit of work to do, but, let me close out my comments and open it up to anyone else. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Senator. Senator Boucher, do you have a comment? I'm sorry. Let me go to Sen--, Representative Steinberg followed by Representative Albis, anyone on this side? I'm sorry.
REP. STEINBERG (136TH): Thank you, Mr. Chair. You raise a very important issue. I can't resist taking the opportunity to have a traffic safety expert here to ask a question about another Bill that we have before us today, which is Bill Number 6046 REQUIRING KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS ON TWO-LANE HIGHWAYS. Doctor, I don't know if you know of any statistics that indicate the dangers involved with passing on the right, which is a prevalent problem on some of our highways here. It's something that DOT no longer seems to feel is important to post these signs and particularly out-of-state drivers are hanging out in the left lane requiring everybody to pass on the right, would you care to comment on that?
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: Actually I'm not familiar with the impact of allowing it or not allowing it. I know that many states have laws that say you cannot pass on the right, but I do not know the injury impact of such a law.
REP. STEINBERG (136TH): Thank you, Doctor. I thought I'd ask. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Senator Steinberg. Representative Steinberg. Let me go ahead to my -- I'm sorry, to my Vice Chair before I go to Representative Albis and that's Representative Carney.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Vice Chair?
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Ranking Member, I'm sorry.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Wow.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Ever since I became a Senator I was like now I'm throwing all these accolades out, so what can I tell you. All right? And then we'll go back to our real jobs, won't we?
REP. CARNEY (23RD): All right. Well, thank you very much for your testimony. I do just have a couple of questions on 6054. I noticed you had mentioned -- I want to just be clear, you said, Doctor, you said 46 percent of the cases where there's a fatality or a serious injury have come from those 21 and under who don't have their seatbelts on in the back?
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: Of those unrestrained in the rear seat who were seriously injured or killed in the last two years of data, so that would be years '15 and '16, 46 percent it's, I'm trying to find it in here, but yeah, roughly 46 percent if that's what I said were under 21.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Okay. Wow, that's surprising. Okay. And the other question real quick, you know, some of these -- there are some motor vehicles, you know, like larger vans or caravans or even larger vans where if you're going in a large group somebody drives, you know, one of those big you can rent one of those big vans, would that apply here too and in the same situation would say someone in the way back of that van who doesn't have their seatbelt on, again, they would be penalized for not having their seatbelt on as well just like a regular sedan or anything like that?
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: Are you asking me?
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Yeah, or Mitch, it doesn't matter.
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: I think that would be how you constructed the law. As far as my data go, I limit it to passenger vehicles only and I did go back to the fourth row, however, for the data, so, you know --
REP. CARNEY (23RD): And would you include, I don't know if there's a separate law on this or not, but would you include taxis or Ubers, things like that?
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: My recommendation would be yes.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Okay. Okay. All right.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Representative, there are distinctions between commercial and private vehicles, but one of the things that I learned in one of the research papers that was presented to me, very very interesting fact, because the front seat passengers, typically the larger the mass of the vehicle that you're driving, the safer it's going to be, particularly if you're in a seatbelt and you have your airbags to take care of you. But when it comes to rear seats, particularly in larger vehicles the fatality rates are considerably higher in SUV's for rear seat unbuckled than they are in automobiles, because there's a larger piece of open space and therefore the rear seat passenger is much more likely to become a projectile. And either just be ejected or cause injury or death in the process of being made a projectile. So, some of the things that we hold dear in our SUV's work against us when you have unrestrained people in the backseat.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Okay. And finally, just the last question. I know you mentioned 22 other States, does that include our surrounding States like Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, do you know? All of them or some of them?
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: I don't have the list with me, I know Rhode Island does require rear seat use, but I don't know about the others, obviously, New Hampshire does not.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): I believe that Massachusetts does have a rear seat law. New York has been raising and tabling it in the legislature for about three years. So, New York is trying to have it passed, but they're doing what we're doing right now, where they're grappling over the personal freedoms versus the greater good and, you know, when it comes down to loss of life, you know, I can tug at everybody's heartstrings and says, you know, how do you value a life? And the fact that we do have seatbelt laws that govern the front seats and then you have 38 other States in the Nation or 28 other States in the Nation that do have rear seat seatbelt regulation, what that does is it creates, you know, in a population about 800, I believe it's almost 880 people that die in the backseats of vehicles today in the United States of America that would not -- or that 450 or so would not have died if they had been properly restrained. So, from the socioeconomic standpoint take the emotion out of it, every injury, debilitation that we save in Connecticut is also a Medicaid savings, so there is public benefit and there is cost savings that come with this if you set aside the emotional part of it as well. And that's been documented in States that have enacted those rear seat laws, so again, part of further discussions. I don't want to, you know, over stay our welcome up here, but I will just sort of end on saying this measure is very widely supported, you're going to hear from many people from AAA today, it's supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Our very own DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker is a supporter of this measure. This is not happening in a vacuum. This is something that, you know, does require a serious conversation and reservations about how it's implied and how it's enforced is, you know, open for future discussion, but I'll also say that there won't be a fiscal note, because this is already a behavior that from a front seat perspective is being enforced by the Connecticut State Police. So, there will be no fiscal note with this, just save lives and save money.
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: And in answer to your question of the New England States who have a front seat law, Connecticut is the only one that does not require rear seat use.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): So, even New Hampshire?
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: No. No, they don't have a front seat law, so that's --
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Oh, I'm sorry. Okay. So, just New Hampshire?
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: Yeah.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Okay, I see. Okay. All right. Well, thank you, Representative and thank you, Doctor for coming here today.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Thank you.
DOCTOR NEIL CHAUDHARY: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Representative Albis?
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Thank you. Thank you, Chairs, thank you Ranking Members.
REP. ALBIS (99TH): Representative, I had a couple of questions.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Representative Hennessey.
REP. HENNESSEY (127TH): No.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Oh, Representative Albis.
REP. ALBIS (99TH): Good afternoon, Representative.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Good afternoon to you.
REP. ALBIS (99TH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Senator, good to see you up there. So, I did have a few questions for you on your move over law proposal. So, curious to know how you chose to focus on the gas and oil delivery trucks and garbage trucks. Was there any thought about including construction vehicles, oversized load vehicles or public transit vehicles like busses?
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Very, very good question. The primary reason I'm focusing where I'm focusing is because I have constituents that brought that to my attention and associations, professional associations in the waste management system, in the waste management business and in the fuel business that have brought this to my attention that have had employees injured on State Roads and the move over law is not being proposed to create any new restriction, only apply the current restriction in its current form to a different class of vehicle. Now, I totally, totally agree with you. There are other classes of vehicles that do require it. I mentioned one myself that's not in this law. I mean how many times do you drive on a rural road near your home and you come across somebody that's working for United Illuminating or Eversource that's trimming trees so that you can have power in the next wind storm. Right? Those guys don't necessarily get that type of respect either. Although, typically, they do have a police cruiser assigned to them, particularly on State Roads. In the recycling and trash hauling business and the delivery of oil and gas, there's nothing assigned to those people when that worker steps out of the truck and down onto a roadway. If they're not given a three-foot swing, they could not make it home that day.
REP. ALBIS (99TH): And so the intent is to apply this to private entities as well as potentially State or Municipal vehicles?
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Yes, sir.
REP. ALBIS (99TH): Okay. And you mentioned that there -- you know of some incidents where there were accidents and folks injured. Do we have any data that would support those claims that you could provide to the Committee?
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): I do have a report that I could share with you, but more importantly there are a half of dozen guests sitting behind me that will be called on the Agenda later, and they'll be able to do a much better job in answering your question than I.
REP. ALBIS (99TH): All right. Well, thank you, Representative. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Representative. Any other comments? Seeing none, thank you both for coming today.
REP. BOLINSKY (106TH): Thank you, sir.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Okay. We're going to the last, well not the last speaker, but we are moving into the first hour here, so we'll go with Representative Kupchick and then we'll have to go to the public. And we'll go back and forth to public officials the public here. And again, I ask please, everyone to adhere to the three-minute rule total.
REP. KUPCHICK (132ND): Good afternoon.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Good afternoon.
REP. KUPCHICK (132ND): And believe me, we will be quick. I'm here to testify on a Bill that I submitted as H.B. 6956, it's a car seat Act concerning car seats. I submitted testimony, so I would just like to introduce two people who are here, who have expansive knowledge. I just want to mention that this language has been supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Yale New Haven Children's Hospital emergency medical services, AAA, police and fire departments across the State and the Injury Free Coalition for Kids. To my left is Pina Violano, manager and injury prevention and outreach research from Yale, New Haven's Children Hospital and to my left is Fairfield resident Nick Ayssehi from Yale, New Haven's comm--, Children's Hospital Community Outreach and Education. He also teaches certification classes to police and fire departments across the State. And I will hand it over to Pina.
PINA VIOLANA: Thank you. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to be here. We're fortunate to work for an organization that values the safety of children and dedicates an entire department to this value. I'm a registered nurse with over 36 years' experience in pediatric critical and emergency care, I'm a nationally certified child passenger safety technician and I have extensive training in transporting children with special healthcare needs. I know all too well firsthand the devastation that injuries cause to children of all ages, their families and the community as a whole. I have the responsibility to develop and implement evidence based programs that have a lasting impact on the lives of children and their families. Child passenger safety is one of the Nation's most significant injury prevention initiatives considering that the leading cause of death and serious injury for young children are motor vehicle crashes. Additionally, I'm a researcher who in 2015 completed my Ph.D. in public health and actually started Connecticut's current law in child passenger safety. Like other States nationwide, Connecticut has roughly 73 percent of car seats that are either installed improperly or misused. This alarming statistic fully supports the necessary changes to further enhance Connecticut's child passenger safety law and comply with the recommendations of the expert panel from the American Academy of Pediatrics. My study was conducted using the Connecticut crash data repository to evaluate the effectiveness of our law. The results suggest that the impact of Public Act 05-58 is effective in being children being placed in child safety restraints. Increase of the use of the restraints had a protective effect on the safety of children transported in motor vehicles. As a result, there were many children that avoided injury and even death because of our law especially in the four, five and six-year-old age groups who usage rates increase to up to over 35 percent. Strengthening the law would further -- increase the number of kids that are prevented from injury and death. Thank you.
NICK AYSSEHI: And as Brenda mentioned, I am Child Passenger Safety Technician and Instructor.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Please state your name.
NICK AYSSEHI: Nick Ayssehi. And I'm also a Child Passenger Safety Technician and Instructor. And have nearly 15 years' experience in the field. And just to reiterate and not waste your time, basically the language in this law comes from statistics and evidence based approach, and I would entertain any questions for you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. And you're not wasting our time, believe me. We just try to and I mean that sincerely, we just try to keep everything in order here and that's why it's important to get these, all these documentations for all the members to read. And this is a, this is a serious issue. I do have some questions for you. So, what is -- what do we now then in regards to why do we need this? Are we setting this up the wrong way? Are parents putting them in the wrong way or is it the statistics have changed, so we need to change?
NICK AYSSEHI: Yes, and one of the things is quite honestly, most parents don't know not as a fault to them, they just don't know how to properly install their seat, how to properly restrain their child in that seat and so over my years of experience, I've never been able to really find a direct correlation between wealth or education or anything. It's confusing. The manuals are confusing. And right now, our law is pretty old school. It doesn't comply with today's data and statistics and what we're doing now is we're putting kids at risk by letting them graduate out of certain systems of a child restraint too early. So, that's where our big problem is now.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): And I'm curious, because it's been a long time since I had a car seat in my car. But there is one now, because I did become a grandfather and I know Representative Morin and I talk about this at times. So, you know, I sent my daughter obviously went to the police department, which helped, you know, put it in place and all that. And so, what is it? Up to two years they're supposed to be put in looking in the back, correct?
NICK AYSSEHI: That is the recommendation, not the law. Currently the law requires that at one year old and 20 pounds when they reach both criteria, they reach their first birthday and they're 20 pounds they can legally be foot forward. What -- yes, they can be forward, but what Pina mentioned, the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011 had an expert panel and then -- and that's what we go by as a best practice. That a child should remain rear facing until a minimum of two years old, which is what we proposed in this legislation, but the best practice recommendation is go to the height and weight limit of the seat. And every seat has it printed on there, how much they can weigh and how tall they can be for both rear and forward.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): That's very interesting. So, what happens if a two-year-old, I mean, because you know, obviously when you see the baby in the backseat of this car seat, the legs obviously are hanging over, is it then are they too big maybe into that car seat where their legs are like, you know, that's why maybe they moved it to the front so they can overhang?
NICK AYSSEHI: And I'll tell you, that's an excellent question and it's one that I hear on a daily basis. I will tell you my --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): I am in a construction business, so I use, you know, my technology there to.
NICK AYSSEHI: Yeah, there you go.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): I thought Mike Raleigh might get a kick out of that, you know what I'm saying?
NICK AYSSEHI: I will tell you my son is actually over three years old, he was three last October and he still sits rear facing pretty comfortably because kids' joints aren't fully formed until they're older, so if I slept like my kid did with knees to his chest, I'd be in the emergency department, you know? Kids can dangle their legs, sit crisscrossed, it's a misconception, it's a great question, but what we do to educate parents is we tell them that statistically they're actually safer in a rear facing position because they're cradled and they go into a cannonball position in a frontal collision, whereas, if they're forward facing, not only do their heads and necks fling forward, which they don't in a rear facing, but their lower extremities, their legs actually kick up and fly and hit the seat in front of them, they hit the door in a side impact, so they're actually more at risk forward facing for lower extremity injuries than rear.
PINA VIOLANA: And just to add to that. Other Nations have actually jumped on the bandwagon and have looked at statistics and have kept the kids rear facing until four years of age, like Australia and the U.K., so they've actually gotten smart and know that it makes a big impact in injuries and death in kids.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): I'll tell you this is very interesting. I appreciate, you know, all of you coming here to testify and letting us know this. I know there's members here that are going to ask questions. So, just one quick before I hand it over to Senator Leone. Is there a stat in regards to if we kept them that long -- well, other States are doing it, other countries as you said that we've seen a drastic --
PINA VIOLANA: Yeah, there's actually a few states now that have the Bill out, Connecticut, Washington State, Oregon, Nebraska and Texas have Bills currently for proposed to require kids to remain two years of age and four other states already have this requirement. And Connecticut has been a model State and so it's only natural that --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): And the Pediatric Doctors are all in favor of this too?
PINA VIOLANA: Yes, and we actually have someone here.
NICK AYSSEHI: Absolutely. And I'm not sure if they're going to get the chance to speak, but some of them have submitted testimony for the hearing.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Excellent. Excellent. Thank you for coming here, I'm going to hand it over to Senator Leone.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you everyone for coming to testify on something that protects our kids, because I don't think anyone wants to not do everything possible to do just that. In terms of the seatbelts, I know sometimes the seatbelts are not put in properly, right? And, but I know our -- when I had our child, when he was a small one we went to the local police force and they helped us install it properly and how to do it and how to not do it. So, I think an education awareness is very critical as this moves forward, but then I'm also thinking on all the folks that have front facing seatbelts, are some of the seatbelts out there or are all the seatbelts out there and this is where I'm not an expert. Can they be transitioned to a rear facing seatbelt mechanism or would a parent that has a current model then have to go and buy new models if this law were to be enacted?
NICK AYSSEHI: It's actually a very good question. And I would guess that the majority of people with children under two that have already gone forward facing are in what's called a convertible seat, which starts out rear facing and goes forward facing. The seatbelt or lower anchors are actually what attaches the seat to the vehicle, but the five-point harness built into the car seat is what secures them into the car seat. So, yes, there would be potentially some that have gone depending on the weight or whatever, but I would say the majority of children that have been prematurely turned forward could easily be turned rear facing until they reach that minimum of two and hopefully beyond.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you. I just wanted to make sure we take into some concern, sometimes the economics can force you into a situation that you don't want to be in, but nonetheless, they're there and so I think that's helpful.
PINA VIOLANA: And one of the things that we do too down at the New Haven Yale Children's Hospital, we have the ability to give over 750 car seats a year out to the public throughout the State, not just in the New Haven area, and we do give more than 750 car seats out.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): And with that point I think that's why the education and the awareness factor is probably as important if not even more important to educate the public at large. So, I appreciate that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Senator Boucher, did you have any questions?
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): No, I'm good.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Good. Yes? Senator Suzio.
SENATOR SUZIO (13TH): Thank you, Mr. Chair. Just a quick question. Can you kind of explain physically what happens in a car crash with -- is there a recoil reaction to -- I mean is the child being kind of thrown forward and then back again and how do you protect it if I'm accurate about that? Thank you.
NICK AYSSEHI: Also a very good question. And yes, as we know, children's heads are disproportionately bigger than their body than let's say us as adults. So, what happens in a frontal collision is they're already going to have forward excursion naturally from that impact, but the weight of their head will force their neck forward in such a violent way that it could literally cause paralysis, death, internal decapitation, so that's one of the things that we're creating this cradling effect by keeping them rear facing, so in a rear facing position in a properly installed seat, the body, the shell absorbs it, it dips, there is no head excursion, there is no forward body excursion. They're cradled. When they're forward it is absolutely, so while we'd love to keep, like my son, you know, rear facing even longer, we determine based on, you know, evidence that a two was a reasonable baseline, but yes, there are severe injuries for frontal head collisions and we see those a lot at the hospital.
SENATOR SUZIO (13TH): Thank you very much.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. I was just listening to the Senator Leone who made a comment, because he's a Veteran and he said that when he used to fly on some of these planes they would all be facing backwards for those same reasons that you testified too. So, yes, Representative Devlin, nice to see you.
REP. DEVLIN (134TH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, nice to see you too. Thank you for your testimony Representative Kupchick always a pleasure to see you at the Transportation Committee and your guests here as well. You've certainly outlined I think the statistics that reinforce at least for me why this would be important legislation to support, but I do want to go back to some of the points that Senator Leone was making regarding education. So, you -- actually in Rep. Kupchick's testimony you reference a child seat safety course through the DMV that if you are an offender you take this course. What I'm curious about is prior to an offense, how parents would have access to this and then also with the 150 or seat -- child seats that are given away each year, what kind of education do you offer around that and then how we would support this new legislation?
NICK AYSSEHI: Okay. Thank you. Yes, awareness and education is the key to this and it is the reason why currently at the current law or not, 73 percent of seats are misused or mis-installed. So, one of the things we do at the hospital and places do throughout the State, police stations, fire stations, if they're what's called a Department of Transportation approved fitting station, a parent can go there on an appointment or to a clinic and in Fairfield the Fairfield Police Department actually sent five officers through our training class and run a wonderful program now, and I think whenever legislation is an act, if it's a great time for us to get an awareness campaign out there and I know at Yale New Haven Children's Hospital we offer a fitting station where every week people can make an appointment and come and we spend about a half an hour with each family and we educate them on everything about the seat, how to install it and moving forward and the best practices. So, I would envision some sort of PR or marketing campaign to go along with this legislation to state the simple facts of why and where you can go to seek, because there are a lot of places you can go. People just don't know to even look for it. So, by us just telling them go to this website or go to this, we can tell them okay, now they've got 80 something places in the State that they can go to. So, it's up to them. We can't force them and what we do as technicians is we educate the parents and caregivers, it's up to them to make the decision. We can't force it upon them. But in my 13/14 years of experience I rarely have someone that doesn't listen if you explain it to them well.
REP. DEVLIN (134TH): Great. Thank you.
NICK AYSSEHI: And just to point out, your mention of the statute, section D, 5d, about the violators class, I feel that's very important because we are one of the only if not the only State that does this, and I know personally the instructors that teach that class, so if you are written a summons by a police officer, if falls under this law, you are required to go to this class and if you don't you face license suspension automatically. And as you can imagine 99 percent of the people that show up are angry at the police officer, they didn't do it, it's not their fault, they're mad. When they leave, they're thanking the instructors because they didn't know, they didn't know any better and they leave with this knowledge of oh my God, now I can -- I'm so lucky to this point that my child has been safe, but now moving forward they can really be safe.
REP. DEVLIN (134TH): I would just think there might be some value to that education in advance as opposed to waiting until you have a violation.
NICK AYSSEHI: Absolutely.
PINA VIOLANA: And to add to that point, it's an excellent point, what we're trying to do is get the word out to pediatricians and all the predelivery and anyone that is scheduled to come I know at the Yale Children's Hospital, they actually get a letter in their fourth month of pregnancy to get car seat, to get, to come to one of the fitting stations, they actually get a list of where they can go and then if by some chance they miss it and then get at the hospital they can't leave our hospital without having a car seat for their child and we have the ability to install it while they're there before they leave.
REP. DEVLIN (134TH): Excellent. Okay.
REP. KUPCHICK (132ND): And just to note that that violation piece is in our current statute and the police departments do like that, because they feel they have that opportunity now to train and that you make an awesome point, I think they should handing this out or even teaching it at the hospitals when new parents are leaving with their car seats in the car.
REP. DEVLIN (134TH): It's been a long time since I hiked a baby home from a hospital, but that was a very frightening day, let me tell you.
PINA VIOLANA: It is complicated, and babies, you have the whole special healthcare needs on top of it.
REP. DEVLIN (134TH): Thank you very much.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Representative Devlin. Representative Vahey.
REP. VAHEY (133RD): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you Representative and welcome, it's wonderful to see Fair-fielders here talking and others. My questions actually are around the age eight piece, because I think the rear facing piece is something that you hear more and more about though it is still newer and it's easier to understand although, I would love to know maybe before I get to the eight year old question, are there any video demonstrations available, I know that as a graduate student when I studied booster seats safety and helped promote the Washington State Law then that when we looked at those crash tests it was really hard to not understand what it meant. Are there video resources available in terms of that awareness and training?
PINA VIOLANA: Yes, the NHTSA website has them, many of our own homegrown ones, I mean they're out for the publicly for folks. And to add onto your point of, you know, what's the eight year old piece of it, just looking at our own law and what I studied ourselves is that the law makes a difference and the amount of kids that get transitioned early, I mean I could tell you -- I can give you more details if you want it outside of here, but we know who the folks are that are actually transitioning their children sooner whether there's alcohol involved, whether they're in the backseat, front seat, all those kind of things, and we know that the four, five and six year old's are the most vulnerable ones that we have right now. People know that the little kids need to be in a car seat, but the four and five year old, you know, it seems like there is a reward to go into a seat belt, or and to go into the front seat, it's -- you know, everybody wants to have that opportunity to be in the front seat and we know that those are the kids by our crash repository and I looked over 90,000 crash records that we had in our State and we analyzed about 32,000 of those just because had to finish to school and graduate, and we know that it makes a different in the injuries that those kids get can be made better by being put in car seats longer. So, we know that we made a difference up to 35 percent in those four to five and six-year old's and we know if we continue that and other states that have done that there is a difference in the injuries that happen and --
REP. VAHEY (133RD): And I really appreciate you raising that. As Senator Leone said when he talked about riding in a plane as a Veteran, and I say to my ten year old who remains in a booster seat, because the seat is able to hold him in the height and weight restrictions that are there is that astronauts and race car drivers all drive, ride and have the five point harness for them, so I think that's another issue I think the perception is well they're big enough, they're old enough, and how we deal with that on an educational level as well is going to be really important. And I think is a challenge, because people understand protecting a baby in that way, but as they get older what you named I think is a big challenge for us. We could argue that some of the adults need seats as well.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you very much, Representative. Any other comments? Senator Boucher?
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I'm just going to make a comment as to -- commend you for taking the time from your medical profession to be an advocate here in Hartford on such an important issue. You obviously had personal experience with this and seen the results and its certainly an issue to take very seriously though as a challenging one for all of us to think about. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Representative Kupchick, thank you for coming here and with your guests too, because you really have enlightened the committee here. It's something that we -- I think we'll seriously look at in regards to reviewing this legislature. Thank you.
REP. KUPCHICK (132ND): Thank you and I just want to apologize for not dressing to committee formally. When I started, I was trying to be really quick, so you could, we could get into the time slot.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): You don't need to, we all know who you are, believe me. And that's a good thing. Thank you.
REP. KUPCHICK (132ND): Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Next we're going to go to the public here. We'll start with Lisa Konicki, Chamber of Commerce followed by Representative Delnicki.
LISA KONICKI: Good afternoon. I'm here to speak on three Bills for this Committee, so do I speak on one at a time and come back or do I have three minutes for each one, how does it work?
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Three minutes' total.
LISA KONICKI: Three minutes' total to address all of them. Okay then, away we go. Good afternoon, my name is Lisa Konicki and I'm here today on behalf of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce and I'm also a lifelong resident of Stonington Connecticut. We have about 800 members with our Chamber and we respectfully seek your support of Bills HJ54, S.B. 253 and S.B. 263. As a two state, regional business organization we are keenly aware of the need for increased commuter rail. We support transportation alternatives and encourage State leaders to pursue rail expansion along the I-95 corridor and/or within the existing rail rights of way. However, the potential negative effects of the Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass are wide spanning and potentially devastating in nature literally and figuratively. At present the proposed Bypass design runs directly over the White Rock Aquafer. The primary source of water for the Pawcatuck, Connecticut and Westerly, Rhode Island Community. The White Rock wells, which are rated to produce 6.5 million gallons of water daily supply 70 percent of the water to the distribution system for residents and businesses in the region we serve. Consider that a 2004 search for possible alternative wells in our community studied 30 sites and revealed only a single viable source, which was developed and now yields a half of a million gallons daily. If the Bypass plan comes to fruition and we are left with no option, but to create desalinization plans to replace the yield of the White Rock Aquafer, the total cost for plant construction, land acquisition, water booster stations and connecting estimate line to sanitary sewer is estimated at more than 70 million dollars. The ill-conceived Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass could put critical resources and the public health in serious jeopardy. Additionally, the proposal poses unacceptable negative impact to Mystic's cultural and historic character. The plan threatens the institution such as the Mystic Aquarium and Old Mystic Village to anchor attractions in the State and an intrical part of the regions tourism economy. Given the severe environmental and economic impacts and the lack of clear offsetting benefits for the affected communities we implore you to take all actions available to remove the proposed Bypass from the FRA plan. Equally as troubling as the route itself is the fact that the FRA made the deliberate decision to essentially withhold communication early in the stages to our communities and denied public input locally by the Town of Stonington about the plan. In closing, the Bypass proposal cuts over our wells and puts public health in jeopardy. The process this far has been lacking and inclusiveness and transparency and any shred of concern for the environment, culture, history and economies of Southeastern Connecticut and Washington County Rhode Island. We respectfully request that you pass those three Bills, thank you very much.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Good job. Thank you for being here. You say you're from Stonington, is that correct?
LISA KONICKI: Stonington Resident.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Great town.
LISA KONICKI: Southeastern Connecticut my whole life, but I live in Stonington in Pawcatuck section, which would be affected by the water quality.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): It's a great community up there, I visit there a many of times and our, my former co-chair Andrew Maynard who is from Stonington.
LISA KONICKI: Love him dearly.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Yes, we all do. I mean I think as you heard before from other testimony, I think we're all understandable about what the situation is here and how we go about to stop doing this. And I think you have, I would say pretty much the support of the committee here, you know, hopefully I think you do and I don't want to speak for everyone, but we all know how this can impact those residents in your area and I know Representative Carney has been working hard to make sure, you know, how we go about doing this and obviously we're going to need help from our Federal delegation in regards to making sure that how we stop and so forth and so, I understand the concerns and I think you, you got the ear of this committee to make sure that whatever we can do we will do.
LISA KONICKI: Thank you very much.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Any comments? Senator Austin?
SENATOR OSTEN (19TH): Thank you very much. And thank you so much for all the work that you've done to bring this to the attention of residents, business owners, municipalities, I think you're doing great work on this issue and I look forward to your continued advocacy to bring everything to our attention, it's a real pleasure to work with someone as dedicated as you are in the region and it's pleasure to support you on your endeavor, so I just wanted to say thank you for coming up here. I know that this is above and beyond your usual duties, but I really appreciate you coming up. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
LISA KONICKI: And I want to thank you for being at our meeting where we were the first group to bring this forward to the business community late last summer. But even then, technically the train had already left the station and we've been trying to play catch up ever since.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Senator. Representative Carney?
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Lisa, for coming here today. I love Pawcatuck, my girlfriend is from Pawcatuck, so it's a special place to me, she lives in Old Lyme now, but Pawcatuck is a great place. I'm just curious, you know, some of the questions I asked Senator Formica, do you know of anyone in your area that is actually in support of the Bypass? Anyone?
LISA KONICKI: I have not heard of any individual or organization that has expressed a whisper of support for this plan.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Gotcha. Okay. That's what I was expecting to hear. But I'm just curious to know and, so one of the issues we've had in Old Lyme with the Federal Railroad Administration and in Old Saybrook to a degree, is sort of the lack of details in their reports about this area in particular. It seems that other areas they're a little bit more detailed than ours, was anything, do you know if anything was mentioned about that Aquafer in their preferred alternative at all?
LISA KONICKI: I don't think the impact on our Aquafer was mentioned in that. The aquafer itself is located in Westerly Rhode Island even though it is the source of water for both Westerly and Pawcatuck Connecticut and I think your point is that the overall northeast corridor rail line had initially three routes that were being discussed and were being vetted out in those communities that were affected over a period of several months. However, this portion, this Bypass portion from Kenyon to Old Saybrook as not subjected to the same public vetting process and when you look at the FRA's government document which is this thick about the various historic organizations, environmental groups, municipalities that were all brought in and invited to the table and were provided with information in advance and you look under S, the Town of Stonington is conspicuously absent. And when you look under W for Westerly Rhode Island same thing. And Charlestown Rhode Island where there are Indian Burial Grounds and other sensitive areas, so was it by design? Perhaps. Because Seacoast has information that shows that this preferred route was probably preferred behind the scenes many months before the municipalities themselves were ever given the first heads up that this was even a potential idea coming down the pike, and that's why I'll quote Rob Simmons today, our Selectman in Stonington, who always says we have to kill it in the cradle or our president of our town council in the Town of Westerly who says we are ready to empty the clip on this issue. It's that important for our communities.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Right, and I absolutely agree with you and it's, but you have to know Rob. But I agree, you know, and that's why, you know, I know I and many other elected officials are really -- and many residents, I mean I've had thousands of residents in my district come out in opposition and work really hard against this proposal. So, but I agree, we really need to do all we can to quote Rob, kill it in the cradle.
LISA KONICKI: That was probably distasteful given all the conversation about seatbelts today, but, you get the concept.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Right, right. Rob is not one to mince words, so, but thank you very much for your testimony and for coming here today.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Hold on, let me just make sure there's no other questions. I think we got the gist of your comments from your First Selectman there. Any other comments? I just, I do have one question, Lisa.
LISA KONICKI: Yes.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): So, was there ever a public hearing on this?
LISA KONICKI: Not in -- there was no public hearing with FRA representatives anywhere down in Stonington or Westerly or Charlestown. There was one meeting to my knowledge in the Old Lyme area where one representative attended the meeting, but it wasn't an open dialogue back and forth.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Right.
LISA KONICKI: It was this is what's in the proposal. It was already essentially a done deal. So, it was not a free flow of information, did not allow the kind of dialogue that these Bills would grant those protections to the municipalities and the people living in their communities. We have to protect ourselves at this point, because the process has failed us thus far.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Yeah, it's sad to hear that. It really is, you know what I mean, because, you know, people think that they think they know these communities better than you know these communities and just to come in there and say this is what we plan on doing and that's it, rather than having a hearing to talk with municipalities, with other people in the towns or the cities, wherever it may be, and that goes for anything, whether its rails or anything, I think the public input is so important.
LISA KONICKI: And the business community, because obviously, we want jobs.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Sure.
LISA KONICKI: But if we work with what we have now and fix the existing system, we can create jobs a lot faster than talking about a plan thirty or forty years down the pike, do it for less money and impact negatively far less than by working within the corridor that we have.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Absolutely. All right. Well, thank you for -- Senator Boucher?
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and thank you for your testimony. By the way Rob was my seat mate in the House years ago when he was ranking member of this Committee in fact, and was very well worse on transportation issues and yes, he's blunt talking for sure, and with good reason in this case, because you're up against it. Can I ask you the question I asked previously. The actual information that was disseminated, I believe it was last December, so when it became much more public, much has changed in Washington D.C. or is changing more so every day I guess. But would that allow you to feel that there might be opportunities to get a better hearing?
LISA KONICKI: I think Washington is so unpredictable right now that I wouldn't dare venture a guess on that, but you are correct. The full plan came out the week before Christmas and allowed 30 days for comment, again, I believe that was by design, so that it's over the holiday period and less opportunity for communities to mobilize and do what they need to do to provide the adequate defense against something that's so invasive. But yeah, if you -- any of you have a direct line to President Trump and think that he could somehow overturn this, feel free to make that call.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): All right. Thank you, Senator Boucher. And thank you, Lisa, for coming here and testifying. Yeah, that's it. Thank you.
LISA KONICKI: Okay.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Representative Delnicki.
REP. DELNICKI (14TH): Before I begin my testimony, I'd like to request the, without objection, another gentleman joining me here if the Committee does not object to that.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Again, we still -- three minutes in total.
REP. DELNICKI (14TH): You got it.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): And you can see as Lisa did, she did it perfectly.
REP. DELNICKI (14TH): I know you've got a busy agenda before you, that's Richard Hart, uniformed Professional Firefighter's Association of Connecticut.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Oh, yes. I know him well.
REP. DELNICKI (14TH): And first I'd like to thank you, Chairman Guerrera, Senator Boucher, Co-Chair, Senator Leone, Vice Chair Arce, Vice Chair Suzio, Ranking Members Carney and the distinguished members of the Transportation Committee. I'm here today to speak to H.B. 6049. And I believe each and everyone one of you have my written testimony as you do have Richard Hart, his written testimony also. So, I'm going to speak from my heart about this as a former Mayor in the past life we hold our fire apparatus to the same standard that we hold our trucks, our large vehicles, every piece of equipment and that standard being the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Now there's something that doesn't make sense about a piece of fire apparatus weighing anywhere from 50 to 75,000 pounds, not living by the same standard as a tanker truck hauling water to fill a swimming pool. You know these are lifesaving vehicles. Vehicles that have to be counted upon day in and day out to start up, run, go to the scene and come back safely without endangering the firefighters, without endangering the public and getting to the scene on time. Now, I know there's going to be a concern over who would do the inspections, because let's face it the Department of Motor Vehicles, they're, they're plate is full at this point in time, they've got a lot going on there and they have the same staffing issues that many agencies have. I checked with how we do it in South Windsor, because we do it voluntarily in South Windsor and we utilize Five Star Fire in Hartford, Connecticut, licensed, they've got professionals, they have the appropriate licensing and training and certification to actually check these vehicles out and make sure that they're meeting the standard. And I know the next question I would probably get is, well, how big of a problem is this? CCM, Capital Connecticut Conference Municipalities actually surveyed communities and they found out that approximately 20 percent of the communities in the State of Connecticut are not holding their fire apparatus to that standard. 80 percent are, but 20 percent are not and that is a real problematic issue when you take a look at it and you look at what their charged with having to do, those pieces of equipment. Now, last session my understanding is that the Senate voted out a Bill in favor of doing this, it never made the calendar at the House. The intent here is to resurrect that, get it moving and get it passed this year. And I heard the egg timer. As a former mayor, I know what that means, Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Thank you both for being here. Why do you, let me ask you this, why do you think 20 percent don't do it? Is it a cost issue, do you think? Or is it, I mean --
REP. DELNICKI (14TH): If I was a one of those communities I could probably answer that question. But being a community that's done it right for years, it's almost like you've got a ticking time bomb there if you don't address it, because heaven help you should you have an accident going to the scene of a fire or coming back. Maybe, Rich, can you --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Yeah, Rich, do you know why?
REP. DELNICKI (14TH): -- shed some light on that, on why they wouldn't be doing it?
RICHARD HART: Yes, Representative, in 2014 I was part of a working group that Representative Giegler and Senator Hartley empaneled to study this. By the end of the working group we came to the consensus that all fire apparatus shall conform to the National Fire Protection Association 1911 standard, which governs apparatus repair, maintenance and inspection and within that is the section that was cited in the working group decision and that was aerial testing and pump testing on annual basis. An aerial apparatus costs in the neighborhood of $800,000.00 to 1.2 million dollars, Representative Guerrera, I know you know all too well, the costs of repair and the penalties that are levied by DMV if a commercial vehicle is out of DOT compliance. Right now, the Federal DOT exempts fire apparatus, so as Representative Delnicki said, you go to any Public Works garage, you have a dump truck, garbage truck and a fire truck, the dump and the fire truck and the garbage truck have to be DOT compliant whereas the fire apparatus that does weigh in excess of 55 to 80,000 pounds does not. I know all too well serving in the City of Waterbury the effects of not being DOT compliant, but what and Senator Osten was so kind last year and she did it again this year to put forth the Bill to as well Representative Delnicki to get this to the forefront, because it's not, it's not the cost of doing the inspections, it's the price that the municipalities are willing to pay if god forbid an aerial apparatus failed where civilians and firefighters were severely injured or killed, or if god forbid we have a repeat with a piece of fire apparatus on Avon Mountain. So, that is the bigger issue, the cost to do a DOT inspection is approximately $300.00 dollars per apparatus. A pump inspection, which has to be done on a yearly basis is approximately $400.00 dollars, but some municipalities are able to do that in house. Now an aerial apparatus has to be done by a third-party testing agency just to remove the liability from the municipalities. In order to repair an aerial apparatus each fly section which is most of them are constructed of four sections of ladder is approximately $80,000.00 dollars. If you don't inspect it, it fails, you're looking at $320,000.00 just to repair the -- replace the aerial. So, that's, we're looking out for the municipalities as well as firefighter and public safety.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Rich. Yeah, I mean I was talking to Senator Boucher, I just, I'm just still, you know, having a hard time putting my hands around why they wouldn't do it and maybe it's a cost issue in regards to municipalities, but why couldn't, you know, maybe like come out for a certain fee and not just for one vehicle, but a lump sum for that fee to inspect all of them or is it an expert, you have to be an expert obviously to be looking at these types of vehicles and know what you're looking for, but if other municipalities are doing it, I would think those experts are out there.
RICHARD HART: Yes. The NFPA does have a standard, it's 1071, which recommends, because it's a consensus standard and it doesn't have the authority of statute or regulation, it recommends an emergency vehicle technician, which are trained specifically. The 20 percent that do not do it, it's a combination of ignorance and whatever else, we don't -- we -- that was not specified by CCM as to why they didn't do it.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): So, Rich, let me ask you, so I mean what happ--, I wonder happened to this Bill last year, it didn't make it out of the --
REP. DELNICKI (14TH): It passed the Senate 19-7 and it was never taken up in the House.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Never, okay. I see the good Senator has her hand up, so she probably knew already, but so I was just wondering do the municipalities feel as though it's a mandate on them?
REP. DELNICKI (14TH): Well, this is, I can -- I can speak as a former Mayor, this is something that we considered a requirement to make sure that our firefighters have a safe piece of equipment just as they would inspect the tower, just as they would inspect the pumps, the trucks themselves. Just as a plow truck, a dump truck, a piece of heavy equipment that is road worthy that travels the roads, we have an obligation to the public to make sure that that piece of equipment is safe to be on the road and safe for the people operating it. And that's my perspective as a former mayor.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): And I don't disagree with you, I'm just, like I said, I'm just trying to get my hands around why, you know, --
REP. DELNICKI (14TH): And if you think about it one step further. These municipalities are doing the same thing though -- they are doing the proper thing with their dump trucks, having them inspected.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Sure.
REP. DELNICKI (14TH): Because they have to. Maybe it's a case where the law doesn't mandate it, so they figure they don't have to do it, even though it's a best practice, even though it ensures the safety of the folks that receive the service of firefighting and the folks that are delivering it.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Let me go to Senator Osten here. She might shed some light on what happened with this legislation?
SENATOR OSTEN (19TH): I believe that last year it was towards the end of the session and it just ended up being in the middle of that mix that sometimes happens, it was not an opposition from the House that it did not get taken up, it was just the fact that as many other things when it gets to the end of the session it's hard to get it through and so, felt it was worth wild to have an additional discussion this year about it and I've been happy to put it forth. I do think it's a cost issue with some municipalities when they start cutting their budget down, you know, I don't think that it's necessarily what we would like to see done, but I think that's the issue and I think that if we start looking at things more regionally we'll be able to afford those things that protect our firefighters both paid and volunteer and also protect our residents from trucks that may not be in the best condition that they should be. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Senator. Senator Boucher?
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): Thank you very much. Thank you for your testimony. Obviously, cost issues are going to worse this year than probably ever before, that's the reality in which good ideas and good proposals have to be decided and it's the environment we're living in. In the interim, if this weren't to go or it may be, but if it were not, still some of that equipment wouldn't be -- would it be covered by warranty? And also, any maintenance associated with it when it's purchased and secondarily is there any internal review and upgrade and maintenance that could be done just by internal staff?
REP. DELNICKI (14TH): Some of the garages for the major cities probably have the staff that is certified to do that kind of inspection work. South Windsor is a fairly large town, 26,000 people, we've got a tremendous public works department, we've got a great town garage, but again, we don't have the folks holding the special certification and the special licensing that would be appropriate to that inspection when it came to a fire apparatus versus a 14-wheeled dump truck. And to the dollar figure, I placed a call to Five Star Fire and I asked ballpark what something like that could cost and depending on the scope of the inspection and the piece of equipment, it could be as little as an hours' worth of time at a $105.00 an hour or as much as three hours as we heard around $300.00 dollars an hour, so a newer piece of equipment of course would have a much easier time going through the inspection process, but it's interesting to put this in perspective, when I did some investigation about this and I talked to a couple of the local firefighters, one of them immediately told me about a piece of fire apparatus in neighboring town that had the wheel fall off, you know, you always hear the joke about the wheels falling off of something, actually had a wheel fall off on the way back from a call. Thank goodness it wasn't on the way to the call and no one was injured, but, you know, you could think about what the worst case would have been in a situation like that.
RICHARD HART: Senator, to your point, the guts of an apparatus are the same as a dump truck, the chassis, the bod--, the chassis portion of it, the only specialized inspection would have to be pump and the aerial. And as I said that you have to farm out to a third party the aerial ladder and some towns can do their own pump testing, so it would be a zero cost, but the chassis is basically the same thing, the brakes, the motor, everything, the transmission is the same as that's on a heavy-duty dump truck, so public works could service those and inspect those.
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): Thank you very much for your answer.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Senator Boucher. Anyone else? Thank you very much.
REP. DELNICKI (14TH): Thank you.
RICHARD HART: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): All right. Chris Reagan.
CHRIS REAGAN: Good afternoon, Chairman. And good afternoon, Committee Members. I'm Chris Reagan, I'm from Stonington, Connecticut and owner of Olde Mistick Village. And I'm talking about S.B. 253 and 263 and the House Resolution 54 in support of it. I'm not going to read off my statement, so I want you guys to visualize something, okay? Of somebody coming to you and basically not talking to you about a proposal. Where they go to a historical town of Old Lyme, go through East Lyme through a new development of a brand-new apartment complex that's going to have a commercial development with it and then bypasses the New London train stop that's existing and then bypassing, which they are saying they're going to give you a train stop in Groton, it's not going to happen. I've already had meetings with the FRA and James Redeker for the State DOT and it bypasses Mystic and bypasses Westerly, but that train goes through Olde Mistick Village, which my grandfather started in 1973, and we brought the aquarium to Connecticut, which is the number one aquarium in New England for destination and that is by far the number one tourist spot in Connecticut. And for us as a State I think we need to make sure that you guys are fully aware of what the impact of this FRA is going to do to our State. Economic development in that two mile stretch where the existing line is could go two miles from that line, so those properties and values will be decreased if this passes. The FRA told me that they've done a study before of taking out a bypass in Maryland. So, why can't Connecticut make that happen? We should make that bypass not part of the record of decision in Tier 1, because once it's Tier 1, it's in the Record and we have to deal with that for the next thirty, forty years. And that's not what we should be dealing with in our area. And, you know, in regards to the impact of it, you're talking about taxes the towns are going to lose, we're going to top the taxpayer in Stonington for 45 years. And they want to come in and take it from us? Off that exit we have 5.2 million cars that come off that exit and they want to put the high-speed train right down through that exit. It's insane. And I don't understand how they could come in and we've found out about this in end of July by Joe Votiose from the London Day, called us up and said the train is going through the Village, do you have a comment? And I said are you kidding me? That's the first time we heard about it. They had a public hearing in 2015 in December in New Haven, and not -- only one town showed up, Groton, because they were getting a train stop. Other than that, nobody else knew about it.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Chris.
CHRIS REAGAN: Also, I'd like to invite you guys to a rally, February 11th 10:00 to 12:00 at Olde Mistick Village and we have the Senators, Congressman all coming.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you for those comments. And I do have to agree with almost everything you had to say today. I do find it very hard to believe that there was no public hearings, I spoke to Representative Carney about this, in those communities that are going to be affected the most and it just it's crazy to be quite honest with you. Any comments?
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Chris, I just wanted to say thank you for coming up here today representing Mystic, Olde Mistick Village really all of southeastern Connecticut. I know you've been very active in your opposition to the Bypass, so I really want to thank you for that and I look forward to the Rally on Saturday, I know I will be there and I'm pretty sure several other elected officials will be there as well, so I'm looking forward to it. But thank you, thank you very much for your testimony.
CHRIS REAGAN: If I could say one thing to you. I only know one person that said they were in favor of it that was interviewed, it was an employee of one of the stores until she found out, then she says I'm coming to the rally in opposition. So.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Seeing no other comments. Thank you very much.
CHRIS REAGAN: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): And thank you for waiting. Senator Somers? Senator Somers here? She was here before, right?
REP. CARNEY (23RD): She was here.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): All right. Moving along then. Is the mayor from New London here? I apologize, but I cannot read your name here, because it was all crossed out. Is it Michael?
MICHAEL PASSERO: Good afternoon. Thank you. My name is Michael Passero, I am the Mayor of the City of New London. I'm here to speak on proposed Joint House Resolution 54. The City of New London clearly understands and appreciates the purpose and need for the New England corridor future project and while the City fully supports improved rail service and performance throughout the northeast corridor and affirms the northeast corridor is critical to future economic growth of this part of the country. We are concerned with the Kenyon Bypass alternative and its adverse impacts on the City of New London and how that will be much worse than any predicted economic growth opportunities for us. The Federal Rail Administration election to include the so-called Kenyon Bypass will disrupt existing land uses, have an adverse impact on environmental resources and potentially reduce the number of intercity regional trains having stops in New London and along the existing shoreline route. The proposed section of new rail bed that cuts through New London would be especially devastating to my City. The City of New London has approximately 5.67 square miles of area and of that small area nearly 50 percent of the land is nontaxable. New London's commercially developed land area comprises only 270 acres. Approximately 7.3 percent of its total land. The City is one of the most densely populated cities in the State of Connecticut and provides all the municipal services of much larger cities. As such the city struggles to maintain vital municipal services while keeping the tax burden to its property owners from uncompetitively high. The proposed Kenyon Bypass would create a new rail corridor through New London that would wipe out a significant portion of the existing tax generating property. New London simply cannot afford to lose any more taxable land. Additionally, the Kenyon Bypass proposal circumvents the current Union Station in downtown New London. This train station stop is vital not only to our existing transportation needs, the needs of the region in the present and our transit oriented development initiatives, but it's going to be hugely important to the success and development and sustainability of the future 100-million-dollar National Coast Guard Museum that's being built in New London. Any significant reduction in the number of passengers and train stops at this station will assuredly impact the cities growth. New London has begun to rebound economically with the government's renewed investment in submarine construction and the State's commitment to developing the city's deep water commercial port. Investors and developers are finally beginning to grow the city's limited tax base. Having an ill-conceived federal proposal like the Kenyon Bypass looming over the city will negatively impact future development. New London is hopeful that the Federal Rail Administration will work closely with our city and the other cities in southeastern Connecticut to develop a different alternative that would protect New London and our neighbors. The impact of the Kenyon Bypass is just too much for me to even continue to explain, but if this Legislature would pass this Resolution and send a message to Washington, we need that help. So, I'm hoping you will do that for us, otherwise a lot of the other work you're doing as we fight over the budget to sustain municipalities like mine, it's all rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic if you will. We need this, we need your support to help us get this monkey off our back. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. We fully understand your concerns and by all means we'll be working extremely hard to see what we can do to help out. Representative Carney?
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Thank you Mayor Passero for coming up here today and for all the work you've done in opposition of the Bypass, you've been a very strong voice and I really appreciate that representing a few towns over from what is an important center of culture and economy for our region. I'm just curious to know if you have maybe a rough estimate of how many people commute in and out of New London each day via the current New London Train Station?
MICHAEL PASSERO: I don't have that number for you, but as you know we've been working for years to get more commuter trains down to New London, that would also really increase the economic growth and viability of the City if we could get more trains, but I didn't bring those numbers with me, but certainly the expansion of shoreline east over the last couple of years has really helped, but what we need is we need commuter trains throughout the day so that people aren't trapped once they get to work and they could get back and forth more easily throughout the day. But I don't have the numbers of those. An interesting point about the Amtrak service to New London is the high-speed service, which this Bypass is meant to facilitate, it's my understanding that 22 of those high-speed trains go through New London every day, only 1 or 2 of them stop. That train service does not benefit our City for the most part. And really it seems like the logical alternative that the FRA should have looked at was the corridor going to Hartford and up through Worcester and to Boston. What they seem to be doing in my opinion is sacrificing southeastern Connecticut to serve the needs of Providence Rhode Island and that's just patently unfair. I mean we understand the hardship of the high-speed rail Bypass in Providence, but the market really is to the north and Providence is a rather small market, it doesn't seem like they should sacrifice southeastern Connecticut to try to include Providence on the new high speed corridor.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): All right. Well, I thank you for that and I agree with you fully. You know it's I just keep saying that it's really unfortunate this Bypass proposal and it really negligibly affects so many towns, so many people, so many businesses, so much history and culture throughout southeastern Connecticut while providing little to no benefit to the people there, so I appreciate your comments and I look forward to working with you further on this issue.
MICHAEL PASSERO: Thank you. Thank you for your support.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Thank you, sir, for your testimony.
MICHAEL PASSERO: Okay. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Now we're going to go to real quick I do see Diana Diaz, if she can come up and then we'll go right to Senator Somers.
DIANA DIAZ: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Members of the Transportation Committee. Thank you so much for this opportunity to speak in support of House Bill 6956 proposed by Representative Brenda Kupchick. My name is Diana Diaz, and I'm the Traffic Safety Programs Manager for AAA Northeast. My comments today also for the position of our sister club AAA Allied, which is based in West Hartford. In surveys conducted late last year by AAA the two clubs found that more than 7 of 10 respondents are in favor of strengthening Connecticut's current child passenger safety law. I am also like my colleagues from Yale New Haven a certified technician and instructor, I represent all AAA Nationwide as a member of the National Child Passenger Safety Board and that board operates under the direction of NHTSA. I have the curriculum book that we use to respond to earlier comments. This curriculum is guidance to the standardization of one national curriculum and certification program. So, they're about 39,000 technicians nationwide and 450 here in Connecticut. And really the objective of having those people on the ground is to be very proactive in educating parents on the proper use of car seats, booster seats. The problem that exists right now is that our recommendations as technicians are in conflict with the current law. So, this Bill we know will strengthen the state's existing CPS law, CPS, Child Passenger Safety requiring children under two to be restrained rear facing and they explained about the physics and crash dynamics and why that is important. But I will say that any crash major or minor causes significant trauma to the neck and spine in a young child, we know that the head is proportionately much bigger and heavier and that rear facing seats are engineered to distribute the force over the entire neck head and spinal column of a young child. So, it makes a huge difference in a crash and which way the child is facing. Children in their second year of life are actually five times less likely to die in a crash if they're restrained rear facing and as Pina Violano described earlier back in 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics revised their policy to advise parents that children should remain rear facing until a minimum of age two or until they really outgrow the rear facing height and weight limits for their car seat. So, four states have already passed similar legislation. We talked about the education and how important that is for parents. The State of California when they passed the law last year allowed a full twelve months to help educate parents so police officers weren't issuing citations, so we could really try to be proactive in education in that State and currently four other states in addition to Connecticut have proposed legislation on this. So finally, children under 8 would be required to use a safety seat as well. An appropriate restraint so that's either a five-point harness or a booster seat and currently the law will go up to 6 years and 60 pounds. The problem with that and auto manufacturers will explain that in car -- you know, occupant engineering -- auto manufacturers create systems that will fit an adult female, about 57 inches tall and 95 pounds and that's nowhere near the size of an average six or seven year old child, so this will help considerably and congratulations to Representatives McCarthy for keeping your child in a booster longer, mine was in a booster until age 11 after we were rear-ended in a very serious crash, so I'm very passionate about this topic. Thank you for your time.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. And thank you for your testimony. Senator Leone?
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Yes, thank you for the testimony, I'm hoping that AAA will be a participant in the education aspect as this concept passes forward, you have a large membership and not just a AAA Northeast, but Allied as well for the members of the State.
DIANA DIAZ: Absolutely. A little over 1 million members in Connecticut, so and we have been in the past, absolutely, we intend to be very proactive in education.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Great. One final question. And you may have explained it, but I only heard the word conflict in terms of what was before and after --
DIANA DIAZ: Right.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): -- could you explain what you meant by that conflict, I guess with what you're doing versus what the standards are?
DIANA DIAZ: Right. Right. So, with American academy of pediatrics policy and NHTSA's recommendations we are educating parents to keep their children rear facing as long as possible, really until they outgrow a convertible car seat. And current law states 1 year and 20 pounds and after that point parents feel comfortable that they can safely turn their children around forward facing. So, we know that, you know, the data does not lie and we know better, so now we need to do better. The other thing about booster seat use is if you put a child with the proportions of an average say 50 percentile 7, 6 or 7-year-old in a seatbelt is the shoulder belt is going to cut them right across the throat and instead of the lap belt portion sitting across their pelvis and hips it's going to across thei9r belly, which is very vulnerable to injury.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you, appreciate that.
DIANA DIAZ: Thank you.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Senator. Yes, Representative Vahey.
REP. VAHEY (133RD): Thank you for your testimony and just a question for you. In terms of technology, obviously, there's been an evolution and you hear a lot of people say well when I was young we didn't have, but I'm, as I'm listening to you and thinking about the changes in car seat safety. What about seat belt technology? I mean it seems to me that seat belts themselves have changed in terms of design and that this is really a match to that as well, I mean have you studied data in terms of the technology design of seat belts, you mentioned adults and how they design for adults.
DIANA DIAZ: Right. There are adjustment pieces in many vehicles where you can actually lower the seat belt, but really not as low as a seat belt would need to go to fit a child of 6 or 7 years old, but there is new technology coming out all the time for example, Ford introduced inflatable seatbelts, Chrysler has some in some of their motor vehicles as well, but it's not as common and so we need to deal with the technology that we see today. There is a misconception that an airbag can do the job and restrain a passenger in a crash, but believe me airbags are meant to be used in conjunction with seatbelts.
REP. VAHEY (133RD): I will just follow up that one of the reasons that my child is in the booster is having seen those crash tests and you're right, the physics don't just apply to the infants, it's to the older children as well.
DIANA DIAZ: And I believe you said originally you studied in Washington State, Randal Children's Hospital out in Washington State was the first to have hospital discharge policy, so families were not allowed to be discharged from a hospital with their infant until a car seat technician installed and educated parents, so it's great model for the rest of the Country.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Thank you, Representative, thank you, Diana for your information it was very helpful. Thank you for waiting. Senator Somers?
SENATOR SOMERS (18TH): Good afternoon. Chairman Boucher, Chairman Guerrera, Chairman Leone, Chairman Suzio, and Representatives on the Transportation Committee. Thank you for holding this hearing today on two important Bills which demonstrate the bipartisanship at best. Proposed HJ Number 54 and proposed S.B. 253. Both essential to halting a destructive plan which will destroy historic sites, cripple businesses, damage the environment and imperil public safety. Much work has already been done to organize the opposition to get 120-billion-dollar Federal Railroad Administration's plan to provide an alternative route for high speed Amtrak service from Boston to New York. Although Amtrak may own the rails from New Haven north, Amtrak relies on funding from the Federal Government. I want to commend the work of Governor Malloy and Senators Blumenthal and Murphy along with Congressman Courtney and our entire southeastern Connecticut Legislative Delegation. And our locally elected leaders including First Selectman Rob Simmons who couldn't be here today. And local organizations such as Southeast Coast, which have been and built a strong grassroots effort to educate the public on this destructive plan. In fact, we have such bipartisanship that both Senator Murphy and former Congressman Simmons have stated publicly that they will lay down on the lines, on the rails against this proposal, so that's not something I want to see. Both the Governor of Rhode Island and the Federal Delegation in Rhode Island are also in opposition of this plan. Like any other key transportation mode improvements and repairs are in constant need. There's plenty of capital improvements that are needed on the existing 425-mile line between Boston and New York. But that needs immediate attention. However, the FRA plan is not only irresponsible, but dangerous given the impact it would have on multiple towns throughout southeastern Connecticut. It's actually uncomfortable to ponder the thought process that Federal Officials used as they laid out this new high speed rail route even with their best intentions in mind. There are other technologies available such as the TIL Technologies which is widely used in Europe. This allows trains to travel at high speeds, which is one of the major concerns here with this plan, they can't travel high speeds because of the curves along the shoreline. There is technology that makes that available, it's widely used in Europe. That's something that we think they should look at. In the Mystic section of Stonington alone the new rail would fundamentally ruin critical historic sites in its path, create new forms of traffic congestion and disruption and impact critical aquafers that serve the water source for Pawcatuck and Westerly Rhode Island. In addition to the historic and environmental impacts the negative economic impact is unimaginable. For perspective, the rail line designed is literally going to travel right through the Olde Mistick Village and the Mystic Aquarium and Institute for underwater exploration. A destination that brings over 1 million visitors to Connecticut and is the largest tourism driver in the State. Southeastern Connecticut is finally making a comeback with regard to freight hauling on its lines, plans are now going forwar4d to improve the capacity at the New London Harbor to accommodate shipping and transportation via rail. It would seem more appropriate to focus on these projects improving the existing rail lines for both freight and local rail travel, rather than establishing another line through irreplaceable natural beauty and historic assets through costs that will only multiple in lying. HJ54 will let the legislative branch on Record to compliment Governor Malloy and other Federal Lawmakers opposition to the FRA plan. Senate Bill 253 will require municipal approval through referendum to allow any expansion to occur within their borders. Each of these pieces of legislation will demonstrate that the Federal Government must come back with a different plan or must scrap this one entirely. I urge you all to support these two Bills. And in addition, I would like to also talk to something that we just found out --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Senator, I'm sorry, but that three minutes was up three minutes ago.
SENATOR SOMERS (18TH): Times up? Oh. Wow, okay, well I'll leave it, you have it.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): We have it in front of us.
SENATOR SOMERS (18TH): Okay. They're also planning to put 40-foot cell towers every 100 feet along the line. You can imagine that's not --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Okay.
SENATOR SOMERS (18TH): Do you have information? I also will leave this, if after you can come look exactly where the line is going to go for yourself. I'll leave it in the back.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Let me just, and thank you for those comments. And as you can see that I think, well, we may have to have a question. Let me head it over to Representative Carney.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much Senator Somers for coming here to testify in favor of those Bills. I'm just curious, I know we've heard from a few folks from Stonington, but have you heard about any opposition from the other towns? You represent specifically Groton perhaps?
SENATOR SOMERS (18TH): Yes, to put it in perspective I had a neighborhood meeting that we were going to be discussing the rail line and we had almost 150 people show up. So, there is wide opposition for this. One of the biggest issues is people have not really been maybe necessarily paying attention, it's hard, but now that they know that this is here and it's imminent, there's a huge opposition, there's actually as you know a rally planned this coming weekend at Olde Mistick Village Where X Marks the Spot where the train is going to be going right through the village and aquarium. So yes, and by the way Stonington was left out of the initial impact, it was one of the towns that was left off of the list to provide input and it's one of the towns must affected.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Right, right. And I'm just curious, I went to a meeting in Rhode Island and somebody had asked me about if the sub base had said anything about this, I'm just curious if you're aware of any comments about the sub base or potentially electric boat or anything like that in relation to the Bypass or no?
SENATOR SOMERS (18TH): The only comments that I -- I have not heard anything from the submarine base. I have heard from electric boat one of the things they would like to see is more light rail service between Groton and Quonset Rhode Island, but that's it.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): That's it. Okay. All right. Well, thank you very much for your testimony, I look forward to working with you.
SENATOR SOMERS (18TH): Okay. Take care, thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Any other comments? Senator?
SENATOR SOMERS (18TH): I'm ready to go here, sorry.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Boy you're in a rush to leave our committee.
SENATOR SOMERS (18TH): I'm sorry.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): I may have to put a seatbelt on that chair on you. All right. Representative Lavielle.
REP. LAVIELLE (143RD): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Senator Somers. Just a question, one question for you. I know that Representative Steinberg brought up earlier today that there was some grave misgivings in southwestern Connecticut as well over this plan. And I just wondered if you knew if there had been any collaborative effort so far between our regions to make sure that we're all working on the same page to make sure our oppositions reflect it?
SENATOR SOMERS (18TH): I do not know of any collaborative efforts, but I would be happy to collaborate and I'm sure Southeast Coast who is the nonprofit organization that's helping us would be glad to sit down with your folks and talk about the issues that you might be having. From what I understand it definitely does some significant damage in some of your towns also, and there are alternatives that we need to look at. So, we would love to collaborate.
REP. LAVIELLE (143RD): Great. I think it would be very much worth it and we should help each other on this because it's a very significant impact. Thank you so much.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Representative. Senator Boucher?
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): Hello Senator Somers. Thank you for being the chorus of so many others that have come forward today, really clarify just how difficult this project is for your area and certainly in our part of the State too there are issues as well that will affect a lot of constituents concerned. I asked several others if there was any kind of organized attempt to reengage with maybe a new administration around this issue to where maybe they might reconsider and possibly even propose an alternative going forward since there may be some new significant players in this area.
SENATOR SOMERS (18TH): Well, I can tell you and thank you for that question. I can tell you that one of the things that I've done is I have submitted a letter to at the time was Secretary-elect Elaine Chao in Transportation with a package that showed exactly what we are going through at that neighborhood meeting I mentioned I had information on where to send her letters, where to send all the delegation letters, I'm sure she's going to be getting a few letters on this particular issue, but it's something that I think that as a collaborative effort we need to pursue through both our Federal Delegations and as a State Body to make sure that our voices are heard at the Federal level, obviously there's a lot of changes we don't know what's going to happen, but we have to be heard this is a devastating plan and I know they've already put 40 million dollars into this plan. And this is the environmental impact study for the first tier, and it's something that we need to do now before it's too far down the line and she has been contacted, I can tell you that.
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): Excellent. We all know plans can be changed. Right? So, thank you very much.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Senator Boucher. Seeing no other comments, you're unbuckled.
SENATOR SOMERS (18TH): Okay. Thank you. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you for that information. Moving on, but before I move on I just do want to make a quick comment that last Friday our Co-Chair Carl Leone celebrated a happy birthday, number 45. Happy birthday. And with that let me move on to Shannon Martinello.
SHANNON MARTINELLO: Hi, good afternoon, Chairpersons and Members of the Committee. My name is Shannon Martinello, I'm a pediatrician here in Connecticut, I've been practicing here for about 17 years. I am also a child passenger safety technician and have completed the certification for safe travel for all children including children with special healthcare needs. I'm here today to talk with you in support of the proposed Bill 6956, that you've been hearing a lot about today. And I'm here on two sides of this, I'm here as an advocate, this is an area that I've been passionate about for many many years even before I had children, also here as a victim, and I'll talk about that in a few moments. I think this is a very important Bill, it's a cost-effective Bill, it's a nonpartisan Bill and it saves children's lives and can prevent serious injury and death. What we're talking about today are best practice recommendations which was covered a few moments ago does not, our current laws do not reflect best practice information that we are trying to get out to our families. It is difficult for parents who come into our office to make decisions when they're getting conflicting information about recommendations between what's the law and what the medical community recommends. We advocate daily, but it's really hard to compete when parents can come back and say well, the law says we can X Y and Z. There is no State Law anywhere in the Country that trumps the laws of physics. Incorrectly restrained children will be injured regardless of legality. Best practice recommendations reflect the most up to date research and data. We talked about the rear facing until age 2. Five times safer in the rear facing position for children between the ages of 1 and 2, the evidence speaks for itself. We've spoken about that a lot today, so I'm going to move on to booster seats. And the reason we have been talking a lot today about these children between the ages of 4 and 8, they're really the least protected age group of our kids, older kids tend to ride in seatbelts, younger kids tend to stay in their car seats, but between 4 and 8 its really difficult to engage families and without stricter laws this is going to be an ongoing issue. Parents perceive moving up from rear facing to front facing, front facing to a car seat, car seat to a booster seat as these great accomplishments. These are not rites of passage we should be encouraging. Every step up in car seats is a step down in safety and with seatbelts being the least safe options for these kids. Seatbelts are designed for adults. We talk to families about the five step tests when there's a child ready to move out of a booster seat and into a seatbelt. The child is ready when he or she can sit in the seat in the backseat of a car with their knees bent and their feet down. Kids will slouch forward if their knees -- if they can't bend their knees, it's just not comfortable for them. They need to have their backs and their bottoms all the way back against the seat back, seat belts do not work properly when you're 6 to 8 inches away from the back of the seat. And they need to be able to keep their bottom and back against the back of the seat with their legs bent over the front. The lap belt needs to be low and flat against their hips and not riding up on their lower abdomen. I'm going to make this real quick. Kids are short, their hips don't work the way adults do, hips are rounder, the seatbelt rides up, internal organs are damaged, the first hard thing that stops a child in an accident from flying forward is the spinal cord. That's why the lap belt needs to be on the lap, it's not a belly belt. The shoulder belt was mentioned earlier, kids who are too short, the shoulder belt hits them in the neck, their natural inclination is to flip it behind them or if they're sitting in their, you can imagine the damage that can happen to their necks in the event of an accident. I will speak for two seconds about my incident with my children. We were hit by a tractor trailer that veered across the lane and totaled our car with my three kids in the backseat. I know best practice, I practice best practice with my kids. All of your kids and grandkids deserve the same education and the same benefit that my kids had. Our car was totaled, my kids walked out of it without a scratch on them, scared to death, didn't want to drive on the highway for a long time after that, but they walked away from that accident okay, because they were properly restrained in their seats and the kids in our State have the option not to be. Thank you.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Were those -- and I'm glad to hear that you and your children were safe. Were all three requiring child rear facing seats?
SHANNON MARTINELLO: They were not required, I required it, because I know better. I --
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Okay. So, they were all of age where they needed to be in that type of seat?
SHANNON MARTINELLO: No, they were not according to State law I could have had my kids out of the booster seats, my oldest could have been out of a booster, my second one could have been in a booster and my youngest one could have been forward facing.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Okay.
SHANNON MARTINELLO: My youngest one was rear facing safer.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): What was the age of your oldest?
SHANNON MARTINELLO: My oldest was 6.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Six, got it. Okay. I just wanted a reference for what we're talking about.
SHANNON MARTINELLO: My youngest right now is 10 and he is still in a booster seat and will be for a while.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Good. I think, well, that's good news, you know, I would think as we're hearing a lot of the testimony and it's all in the positive probably one of the hurdles -- hardest battles would be between a child and their parent asking them to be out of the rear facing seat --
SHANNON MARTINELLO: And that's where I think --
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): -- and there's a lot of pressure on a parent that sometimes is just overly stressed trying to do everything that they have to do to make ends meet.
SHANNON MARTINELLO: Right. And I'll also -- and that happens all the time even with my -- within my own family, you know, my kids we bring kids on playdates, if they're coming in my car and they're not tall enough and they don't fit the seat belt properly and we have a minivan, minivans are supposed to be for families and kids, backseats of minivans, the seatbelts don't fit young kids, so if they don't fit in the seatbelt using that five step process, they do not ride in my car without a booster seat and I keep three or four in the trunk of my car at all times. This is not adding extra financial burden to families, we're just asking families to use the car seats in a more educated way, keep them rear facing longer, use the extended rear facing until they outgrow the seat, using their car seat to a little bit of a higher age and using their booster seats until they're older and bigger and strong enough to be in a seatbelt.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you. I think personal experience always carries extra weight too, so thanks for sharing.
SHANNON MARTINELLO: Sure.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Let me open up to the Committee, any members, any questions? Yes, Representative Vahey.
REP. VAHEY (133RD): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And just a quick comment, thank you very much for your explanations in terms of the steps of when a child should be out of a booster seat and I think our good Chairman, the Senator, his point about how difficult it is for parents is an excellent argument as to why the law would be helpful, because as a parent to be able to say that's the law, it makes it a lot easier to get them in that seat.
SHANNON MARTINELLO: It does.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you. Any questions? All right. Thank you very much. Okay. Next up is Bonnie Reemsnyder, our First Selectwoman from Old Lyme and then that will be followed by Brett Hallden.
BONNIE REEMSNYDER: Thank you very much, Senator Leone, Representative Guerrera and Senator Boucher who are not here. Representative Carney and the rest of the Transportation Committee for hearing my testimony. I'm sure you will not be surprised to hear that I'm here to speak to the House Resolution Number 54 in regards to the Bypass. This really, I have been immersed in this issue for the past 15 months or so, the draft environmental impact statement for the NAC future project was released in November of 2015, right before the Holiday's and with a short window for public comment. Local communities for the most part were unaware of a new Bypass that was added as one of the alternatives. This Bypass from Old Saybrook Connecticut to Kenyon Rhode Island cuts across the Connecticut River and originally was deemed an aerial structure. A structure that would cut through historic properties in Old Lyme, our limited commercial area that houses our only grocery store, post office and banks and risk damage to the fragile Connecticut River estuary. On January 13th, 2016, I attended one of two public hearings held here in Hartford, Connecticut, the other being in New Haven, Connecticut and testified about the destruction of this Bypass and what it would cause to our small but valued community. Remarkably there were no hearings in Fairfield, Middlesex or New London Counties of which all would be subject to a major impact. To their credit the NAC future team traveled to Old Lyme to meet with town leaders but frankly this should have been done before the map had been drawn. They adjusted the plan to reflect a tunnel rather than an aerial structure, but there are still many concerns about the proposed track not only for the town of Old Lyme, but for all the communities along the proposed route. Many of these communities just heard about the proposal when the final EIS was released on December 16th, 2016, again, just before the Holiday's. I have been in contact with the NAC Future Team as well as former FRA Administrator Sara Feinberg. And they have assured me that the concerns expressed by our community will be addressed, whether or not that is true, the Town of Old Lyme has already suffered irreparable harm, which I articulated in my letter to Sara Feinberg in December of 2016. There is documentation to show that homebuyers are not signing contracts within the area of the line on the map. And just last week the Warren Group published a report indicating that home sales in Old Lyme dropped 31 percent in 2016 and median prices dropped 13 percent while throughout New London County sales were up 9 percent and median prices were up 2 percent. While we cannot determine the cause of these decreases for sure, we have been reporting for months that sales have slumped and buyers are reporting that they do not want to buy due to the line on the map. And I am almost finished. Our Connecticut delegation has been supported of Old Lyme and all the shoreline communities in our struggle to protect our towns as well as the Governor, the DOT Commissioner and our State Legislators Senator Formica and Representative Carney. The 17 towns of the lower Connecticut River Estuary Council of Government also approve the resolution opposing Bypass plan while still expressing support for improved rail service. And I will supply a copy of that Resolution. Please protect the towns in lower Connecticut and support this resolution and I will say that I have traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with our Connecticut Delegation staff members and I have requested an audience with the new DOT Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you for your comments and your passionate support. I think your facts articulate the impact even before they even start digging or putting in the shovel in the ground, the impact of their decision. And sometimes the Federal Government just tries to do the easiest path on a map not realizing the consequence to our communities and I think this proposal is harmful not just to the community, but to the State, because you're in a beautiful part of the State and that's economic activity that is shared throughout the State, especially in terms of tourism dollars. So, if you do have that meeting with the new Federal Chairman, Chairwoman, I think we as a Committee and as a State would be very interested as to the outcome of that meeting and how the discussions go in terms of the tenor and if they're open to some of our suggestions or if they're not. So, I think that would help us moving forward.
BONNIE REEMSNYDER: Thank you. And I will report back to you. I will also say that the Town of Old Lyme is just about to ready to submit our comments regarding this, I have a strategy team of experts that's working on this. And the comments are going to exceed 60 pages, I will send a copy, it is incredible the damage it could do to the Connecticut Estuary, which is a very fragile ecosystem that communities around the River have striven to protect.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Yes. Thank you. Let me open it up. Representative Carney.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): I just want to say thank you, Bonnie, for coming here today and your work on this has been phenomenal. I know it's been a long haul this last maybe year and two months about, but you know, you've just done such a good job on this and really letting the townspeople know and just the thousands of people who've submitted comment or signed petitions and things like that. So, I truly appreciate it and all the work you've done, not just for the town of Old Lyme, but really the regions, the whole working with Rob Simmons and some of the other Mayors and First Selectman from the regions, so, again, thank you for your continuous efforts and I am looking forward to hearing about the Secretary of Transportation what she feels on it and reading the 60 pages that you'll be submitting. So, thank you.
BONNIE REEMSNYDER: And thank you for your support too, Representative Carney.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Okay. Seeing no other questions. Thank you very much. Next up is Brett Hallden then followed by Mr. Mike Paine and Steve Chankris.
BRETT HALLDEN: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, to you and the rest of the distinguished members of this committee, I do thank you for your time. I'm reading briefly on both House Resolution House Bill 6956 and 6049. As far as 6956 goes, thank you to Representative Kupchick for bringing this forward to your attention. And I'm not going to give numbers and statistics because you've gotten those already, and the numbers are going to be the same. The part of this that I want you to look at it is that our children and I imagine most of you have children and if you don't at one point you were somebody's child, don't have the ability to fend for themselves and make their own decisions. They rely upon us to keep them safe and secure and make decisions that are in their best interest. In this case, here following the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for their placement and position in age in car seats is definitely in their beset interest. You all have a copy of my written testimony, it does speak for itself, I believe and it's based more upon the financial impact and the emotional impact of what traumatic injuries can do to people. On Bill 6049, thank you for -- to Representative Delnicki for bringing this up. Something that I do feel passionate about mostly for due to my job, I've been a fireman now for 24 years. When -- as it goes to fire apparatus inspections, for many years the DMV has done these inspections on a voluntary basis, the Department would call the DMV, they would send out an inspector and they would inspect everything you have. If you got or if they found an out of service violation, their inspection had no teeth, it was entirely voluntary, you were then free about to drive around and if you were as another speaker used, if your wheel fell off, your wheel fell off and that was okay. I do support as in the previous Bill, I do support this Bill, but it does need a couple corrections or additions. I don't believe that the State DMV should be doing these inspections, I don't believe that given the current fiscal situation we should be adding duties and employees to face State Office. Many towns and I know Mr. Hart had used the number 80 percent being compliant or at least partially compliant, many towns do farm this out to outside agencies. I do believe that within the regulations we should verify that inspectors be complaint with NFPA 1071, which sets the bar for what their experience and certifications and qualifications need to be. I believe that they also need to be certified by ASE to the rank of T4, T5 and T8, and an emergency vehicle technician, but that's encompassed in 1071. The easiest way to do this is to incorporate by reference all of NPA 1911, it is a standard, not a rule, not a law, but if we incorporate it by reference it takes care of our ladder testing and our pump testing that was mentioned earlier as well as our maintenance. Back in 2007, and I hear the buzzer, I'll go quick. Back in 2007, a legislative research report done by this building indicated that Connecticut had no mandate for this and amongst all that, in 1989 the U.S. Fire Administration, which is part of FEMA issued a directive and I quote, to the Governors and legislative bodies of the states without fire apparatus inspection programs, develop and implement a fire apparatus inspection program that requires periodic inspections performed by a commercial vehicle inspector in accordance with the Federal Highway Motor carrier Systems program vehicle mechanical and inspection criteria. Currently NIASH, CDC, USFA, IAFC, which is the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the NTSB have issued recommendations that all States put in place a mandatory inspection standard. My only question for you the Legislative Body given this directive from the Feds so many years ago, what are you waiting for? And I thank you for your time.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you. Appreciate the testimony. I know this is an issue for some of the Towns, and I've heard earlier someone else had testified that some towns do it and some towns don't.
BRETT HALLDEN: That is correct. The --
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): So there seems to be a question mark as to what this, I would ask that you and as a representative from the Fire Department reach out to your brothers throughout the State to weigh in on this issue so that we understand why some towns do it and why some don't. And obviously, the municipalities are going to have to participate willingly 'cause otherwise they'll declare some kind of an unfunded directive.
BRETT HALLDEN: Yes.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Or mandate that they don't want to be participating, so this at first blush for me anyway, I don't want to speak for others, sounds good, but I want to make sure that everyone is on the same page and I think we need a little bit more information from your community and all the other municipalities, so that's just my comment, you don't have to respond, I got your message. Let me open it up, Mr. Chairman?
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Senator Leone. Yeah, I think also just to kind of reflect on the good Senator's words here. Also, that this Bill did pass from my understanding from Senator Osten in the floor of the Senate basically overwhelmingly so and we didn't have enough time to pass it in the House.
BRETT HALLDEN: If I may, sir. That particular Bill only related to the testing of fire pumps and aerial devices, it did not actually address the mechanics of the actual truck.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Okay.
BRETT HALLDEN: And that's really, I'm fortunate enough that I work for a community that we do comply with everything that's been mentioned there, we do comply with the Federal Law as if it was a commercial vehicle as do your communities, which you represent. But there are a lot who don't, it's not that expensive -- fully just adopting the entire code of 1911 would solve all the problems.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): I understand. I understand. I think, you know, right now as I stated, well, Senator Leone stated, I think we have to look at the entire big picture, but it makes sense, it does without a doubt, and I think if we do it for every other vehicle in a municipality fleet, why not these obviously, so. I'll leave it at that. Is that Representative Morin?
REP. MORIN (28TH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thanks for your testimony. Yeah, I've been, I wasn't going to ask anything, but there's been so much discussion on this and is there -- if something comes up, is there liability? I mean to the municipality that --
BRETT HALLDEN: Absolutely. Absolutely. Regardless of everything that's already out there that provides some level of blanket coverage to a municipality, you're still held to the NFPA code, even if it's not a law. This is something that you can get right out of CONOSHA absent of a State regulation in the, in a civil court when it comes down to a liability they're going to come back, okay, if NFPA code in this case, 1911 is the consensus standard written by manufacturers and users and developers and engineers and with representation of municipalities and the Government, if they came up and decided this is the standard that we should follow that's the best practice for keeping our devices and in this case a motorized fire apparatus safe and on the road and most effective for you, the pubic, then in the case of an incident or accident why, they're going to come back and say why didn't you follow this. You have, I don't care what, nobody is going to be able to come up with a rational reason as to why you did not follow a consensus standard.
REP. MORIN (28TH): So the only problem that I have is a town like mine in Wethersfield where our public works folks that work at the town garage, they maintain and probably do everything, we do a lot of work to the town trucks, I don't know what they do for firetrucks if anything or if they farm it out, but take away the pumper and the ladder, so do you need to have a special certified person to do the rest of the firetruck as well or can that be done by town staff as long as it's to those certifications?
BRETT HALLDEN: Yes. It is currently my guess and I'm only two towns away from you, but my guess would be that all of your federally mandated federal motor carrier safety standard inspections which are required every year are probably done in house. I would find it hard to believe that you were paying somebody else to do them. That being said, yes, the aerial device you cannot do yourself, it's, you know, not allowed. The pump, many up until a couple of years ago many fire departments the firemen themselves tested the pump. So now we're just talking about the nuts and bolts and mechanics, that inspection is exactly the same as the inspection they're doing on your dump truck and plow truck and everything else. What's written in NFPA 1071 would require the certification called an emergency vehicle technician and it's basically a test and some experience, it is very easy to acquire. The ASE certifications of T4, T5, T8, which specifically are for brakes, steering, suspension and preventative maintenance, I would be willing to bet you lunch, sir, that all your guys in the town garage already have those. So, it really comes down to not being a cost, it's a mandate and just like, you know, if you're a kid who, you know, you want to be told to take out the trash, you don't get an allowance, you're not going to get, you're not going to take out the trash. If we don't tell them they have to, a lot of places just won't.
REP. MORIN (28TH): Thank you very much. I read your testimony, it's well done, I appreciate it.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Representative. Yes, representative, go right ahead.
REP. MCGORTY (122ND): Thank you, Mr. Chairman and thank you for your service. Just a brief question about the, I'm a Fire Commissioner in my town, I've been in the Fire Service for 36 years, I appreciate what you do, I know what you do and as a Fire commissioner we go out to bid every couple of years for our apparatus, for the testing of the hose, testing of the air packs, testing of the ladder and the fire pump we do ourselves. And we bring to Rocky Hill our trucks to get serviced there. I've never heard of the DMV doing inspections, is that, do you know how many towns we've did that for? And when they stopped that practice?
BRETT HALLDEN: I do not specifically know how many towns they do it for. They actually used to come to our town and I don't know where you're from, I'm from Cromwell.
REP. MCGORTY (122ND): I'm from Shelton.
BRETT HALLDEN: Okay. They used to come Cromwell and do this every year, I believe the last year they were there, I believe was 2011, and it was not a program that they advertised, but if you called the commercial vehicle safety office, said hey, you know, this is town blah, I'd like you to come down and inspect our fire apparatus, they would come down. On the inspection sticker that is still currently used for ambulances per say, I'm not sure if you guys have ambulances or not, on that checkbox there's a little punch tag on the sticker there was actually a line specifically that said emergency vehicle and that was separate from an ambulance and those were the inspection stickers that they actually used. It was a courtesy inspection, again, it had not teeth, it meant nothing in terms of, you know, what you can and can't do, but on the same side it actually protects the town, because now you're get into an accident you can say hey, you know, this vehicle was inspected and it did say it was okay. It was only a couple of short years ago that up in Boston and I'm sure you remember this incident here, one of the ladder trucks had left, was leaving a call, had head down a hill, lost its brakes. The lieutenant in the front seat died and four other guys were terribly injured. That really brought into question their entire -- not only their maintenance program but their record keeping program, so if you could, if they could have gone back and said -- it's always a tragedy when something like that happens, but if you can go back and say hey, look, we were following consensus standards, we were doing inspections, we were making repairs and here's the proof, it's going to save the town or the city money. Maybe not them, but their insurance company, it's going to save somebody a lot of money. There's no reason not to do any of this stuff that's in here, most places are doing at least some if not most of it. How do you prove it? So, you need the proof, and you need to make sure you're doing everything and again, in my opinion the only way to make sure you're doing everything is if you have to do it all.
REP. MCGORTY (122ND): Yeah. So, do they -- they don't do that practice anymore of going around voluntarily?
BRETT HALLDEN: I'm honestly not sure, I'm going back probably 6 or 7 years ago, we ended up hiring our own in-house mechanic. We still, we do not do the VFMVS annual inspection, we bring it to Firematic in Rocky Hill, just out of the idea that it's best to have a third party do it. You can do it yourself, you know, if you meet the qualifications set forth in the -- in what it needs, but it's, you know, it's just third party verification on your own good practices, saves you time and money in the case of litigation.
REP. MCGORTY (122ND): Okay. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Any other comments? Thank you, sir.
BRETT HALLDEN: Thank you very much.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you for serving in the good town of Cromwell there.
BRETT HALLDEN: Well, thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Next we have Mike Paine together with Steve Chankris. Good afternoon, Gentlemen.
MIKE PAINE: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman. I asked Pat Caruso to come up with instead of Steve Chankris to shorten your afternoon with your diligence. We handed in --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): You all know three minutes is the total here, right?
MIKE PAINE: -- written testimony already. My name is Mike Paine, I'm the Connecticut Chapter Chairman for the National Waste and Recycler Association. I also own Paine's Incorporated, a rubbish and recycling company. We have approximately 50 odd vehicles that are on the roads every day. I'm here asking for your support for House Bill, proposed Bill 6502, we have a significant industry problem of our vehicles frankly people not paying attention and hitting our vehicles and potentially injuring our people. And every single year we have the distinct unpleasant burden that 33 people die for each of the last several years and we're going to do everything we can as an industry to lower that number and stop it. Our company probably gets hit almost every other month by someone who is, I will be polite, distracted and driving and drives into the back of our vehicle or the side of our vehicle and we've been very fortunate, knock on wood, that no one has been severely injured or died as a result of that, but I frankly live and have a significant concern that some of my folks will not go home at night or go home injured and I don't want that. So, this Bill will help us accomplish that and with that, and Pat, would you like to add something?
PAT CARUSO: Sure. I'd like to thank the committee for allowing us to speak in front of you. My name is Pat Caruso, Associated Refuse, Newtown. We send about 12 trucks in the field every day and I'm here on behalf of the folks that work for us and throughout the industry, that's public and private. These folks are husbands, wives, they're children, grandparents, it's a whole good group of people that are out there. And there all types of conditions, we start out early in the morning, they're in the dark conditions. I had the unfortunate task of calling a wife that one of our employees got hurt and it was because an individual was distracted. As a result, this fellow is permanently disabled and of course doesn't work for us anymore. So that being said I think this Bill is very necessary, I think it sheds light, we do have our association, which is the National Waste Recycling Association that has a program in possibly about 13 States right now and it's called slow down to get around, these folks are in danger, we see it all the time, as a matter fact myself I could speak for that, the Labor Day Parade we place out the receptacles for the parade along the parade route. Labor Day I said to my folks, listen, I'll go out there and I'll pick up the stuff myself, because I wanted them to be home with their families. I had the four-way flashes on, I had the strobe lights and everything else on and I had a car almost hit me. And what did I get? I got scolded for being out in the road, a little bit of a curve, but I was doing my job. So be it. So, that being said, we really would like this group here to take a hard look at this and see what it's all about, look at the testimony that Steve Chankris had submitted and case in point, tomorrow we may be expecting some weather, a fellow may have the misfortune of slipping trying to get back in his truck. And then maybe unfortunately there may be a car in his pathway, we don't want to see that. And we want everything you can do to help us protect the folks that work for us, both public and private. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Pat and thank you Mike for coming here to testify. I get it. I do. You know, and my field too, I get it the way these drivers are with distracted and all that. But you know I was just talking to the good Senator about this and I want to have this candid conversation here. All right. Because I tend to tell it like it is. How, tell me how it's going to help though if there's not a police officer there or someone there?
PAT CARUSO: Well --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): In regards to, you know, most common and this is what bothers me, because you're right, common sense would see you got a truck with your hazards on, right? You slow down, you move over when you go around, so the good people always do that, but the other ones, right, are going to do it no matter what. They don't see an officer or someone, just like when I'm on a construction site, you know what I mean? If the officer is with me they slow down, sometimes, even then they call in to get them. Right? But if I don't have an officer there they can give a rats you know what, all right? They don't, they're just in a rush, they're distracted, they're using their phones and they don't care. That's what I'm looking at here, how would we do this?
PAT CARUSO: What I think, the support that we get that this is now law and the education that will come forth through the Association, that's critical here. If you take the time and look what has been done in the other states with these billboards on the back of the trucks, we make it aware, we have to have a public education campaign that takes place, it gives us a legitimate platform that we can go ahead and say listen folks, we're your neighbors and I'm willing to bet everybody in this room knows a garbage man, one way or the other, take the time and ask the guy, woman, whoever it may be, tell you a horror story. What has happened? And I think this is more about them than it us. I think it's more about these folks that are out there every day putting their selves in harm's way. And I think this will be a vehicle that we could address and make it -- give us a platform that we can turn around and say yes, look the State of Connecticut is behind us on this program. We want everybody to be aware, just be respectful to these folks.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Absolutely. I couldn't agree with you more, Pat. So, do you think it would be beneficial for us to maybe try to see to work with driving schools, you know, educational pieces for these young drivers that are starting out to understanding this?
PAT CARUSO: I think so. I think so with the school systems as well when they have their --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): AAA and all them?
PAT CARUSO: The driver education, the police departments, you know, in our town I belong to the Rotary Club, Police Chief Adera comes and talks to us and I'll bend his ear a little bit, say hey, you know, we're having a little problem on Jeremiah Road, can you take a look at it for us please, stuff like that. But I think this gives us that platform that we need.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Do you know what other States have this in regards for the haulers?
PAT CARUSO: Yes. The first one I believe is Michigan, Mike could probably --
MIKE PAINE: In Detroit, it's actually in our literature, in our statements.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): It is. Okay.
MIKE PAINE: And this will as Pat said, this will give us a platform to expand and frankly, I'm more than willing to do any PSA's, somebody looking at my face will scare them into not doing this, I'm happy to take that step, but seriously, this is, thank you Steve, yes, actually the States are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Quite a few.
MIKE PAINE: So it's quite a few. And there, I believe there are 5 to 8 States that are, additional States that are considering it now.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Okay.
PAT CARUSO: But it's got to be a multilayer education process, it's not --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): No, I agree.
MIKE PAINE: -- just the law and thou shall not do it. We need more than that.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): It takes more than education. Right. Thank you, gentlemen. I'll now turn it over to Senator Leone?
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you. Thank you, gentlemen. I'm trying to just -- and I agree with we got to protect your, our friends, families, your workers. How exactly are the problems arising, because and I'm just trying to think of it in my head when I see our folks in my town, you know, a large vehicle, a garbage truck, a recycling truck, that truck will come down the road picking up all the refuse, and basically because it's such a large vehicle, roads are narrow, at least on my home street anyway, you have to wait for it to pass, there is no place to move over. So, it is on small roads, is this on all types of roads? And is it the person getting on and off the truck picking up a container putting it in there? So, I'm just trying to figure out, I'm trying to envision all the different scenarios that this is becoming a statewide problem where we need this Bill.
PAT CARUSO: This is happening on any kind of vehicle and actually this also addresses oil delivery and gas/propane delivery vehicles, any vehicle that stops on the side of the road. I have a number of municipal contracts we're picking up every house going down the road.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Usually on a set day or set time, correct?
PAT CARUSO: Set day, set time. And people get impatient waiting behind us, if you think you're impatient for a school bus, imagine that that school bus was stopping at every single home, and I even had an instance when I was driving here that I had a fuel truck making a delivery in front of me and I slowed down and stopped so that the oncoming car never even slowed down a bit, because they had the right away and I'm fine with that and the last thing I want to do is literally have a confrontation or an intervention.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): So, you just mentioned something that I was thinking about, so in terms say a school bus, right, we even had this type of conversation years ago and to the point where we ended up where the busses now have to have that stop sign when you open the door, it's an automatic, both oncoming and behind traffic know that they have to stop, but if we were to do something like that on your vehicles where it has to stop at every road, obviously that would become a problem. So, the question is as we try to move to help you, we also have to keep traffic moving, right? Because if you get stuck behind one of your vehicles during rush hour, now the backup is 10, 12 longer in terms of cars deep and maybe the road is not completely straight. Now we're causing more of a problem, so we'd have to figure out a mechanism of how to protect you if this Bill moves forward, but at the same time we also have to figure out a way to keep traffic moving so that if other cars have to move around you, you also would have to figure out how to move over so you can X amount of cars to continue moving and free up that congestion, otherwise, that could lead to other accidents as well. So, that's sort of how I'm thinking of this, I want to try and help make it work, but I also want to figure out the practical aspects, because I don't want to cause different types of accidents, so, as we move forward in trying to figure that out, I think if we do it together we can hopefully get to where we need to be. So.
PAT CARUSO: Thank you, Senator. I envision talking with the Chiefs of Police to get their feedback, I mean I know from my perspective what I think works, but I'm not in a cruiser, never have been. But I want to make sure from their perspective it works also.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you so much.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Any other comments? Yes, Representative.
REP. ZAWISTOWSKI (61ST): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have more of a comment than a question. I'd like to welcome you both here today and specifically would like to thank Mike Paine being here today. Paine's is located in my district in East Grandby, so I'm frequently seeing the trucks on the road. These are our friends and neighbors, whether it's in East Grandby or, you know, anywhere in the State that has garbage collection, or any of the other categories you mentioned in the Bill. You know, we do need to take a look at their protection and I just wanted to say thank you for bringing this up today. I really appreciate you being here.
PAT CARUSO: Thank you.
MIKE PAINE: Thank you.
REP. ZAWISTOWSKI (61ST): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you very much. Any other comments? Thank you, gentlemen. We will be looking at this very seriously. Fran Mayko. Good afternoon, Fran.
FRAN MAYKO: I'll be brief, because it is a long afternoon. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Transportation Committee, my name is Fran Mayko. I'm a public affairs specialist with AAA Northeast, I'm also speaking on behalf of our sister club, the AAA Allied Group in West Hartford and together we represent over 1 million members in Connecticut. I'm speaking in support of H.B. 6269 an Act concerning the use of seatbelts as proposed Representative McCarthy-Vahey, thank you very much for that, and a similar Bill H.B. 6054 proposed by Senator Bolinsky. Before I begin I'd like you to imagine a snow globe. We all know how it works. You pick it up, you shake it, the particles of snow inside the globe, they swirl around the stationary objects in the globe. The harder you shake it, the faster those particles swirl. Now imagine your vehicle, your vehicle is that snow globe. And in a crash, anything not secure will fly around the inside of the vehicle with tremendous force. Now, I know you're aware of the overwhelming evidence on the merits of seatbelts. I won't even go into that detail because you have all the statistics and other testimony. You might be aware that now Connecticut averages about 89.4 percent use of front seat seatbelts, that's incredibly high, that is one of the highest use rates in the Nation. But the existing law harbors a deadly loophole, because it only covers drivers, front seat passengers and children under 16 years of age no matter where they ride in a vehicle. Back seat adult passengers are exempt. Now there was some mention about this -- whether or not how the public feels about this. We have done our own study, our own survey and we do one every year. In late December, we just conducted it and 72 percent of statewide motorists have supported a strengthened law in terms of rear seat seatbelts. Now, right now 28 States require backseat passengers to buckle up and unfortunately Connecticut is not one of them. When Connecticut passed its original law back in '86, everyone believed that the backseat was safe for unrestrained passengers, but little did we know how wrong we are, because research and real life situations have proven us wrong, there's been so many changes, roads have changed, traffic has changed, cars have changed. One thing -- people have referred to the law of physics several times in different -- in regard to different Bills. One thing is certain, law of physics doesn't lie. They don't lie. So, in a crash that force can be another car, a windshield, a wall or another person. So, if you pass this Bill, you're going to clearly demonstrate your leadership in traffic safety, and I ask you when you consider it and you vote, just remember the snow globe. Okay?
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Fran.
FRAN MAYKO: Thank you so much.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Any comments for Fran? Well, thank you, Fran, for waiting and this has been a topic of great discussion amongst the committee here and I'm sure that when we go through a number of these Bills we're going to have to look at this very hard. Again, we'll have to see what, you know, where we go in regards to how this would work, in regards to the legalities of it and regards to who gets fined, the passenger, the driver, all that, you know, it's never as cut and dry as we all may think.
FRAN MAYKO: Just as remainder this rear seat seatbelt law is also part of the existing car seat law, so it's all rolled into one. Makes your job easier. Thank you so much everyone.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Robert Sternschein by Peggy Roberts.
ROBERT STERNSCHEIN: Representative Guerrera, Senator Leone, Senator Boucher and distinguished members. My name is Robert Sternschein and I live in Simsbury. And I'm here to testify with regard to House Bill 6722 concerning pedestrians in a public road. I'm very respectful of the Connecticut Law that says a motorist must provide bicyclist three feet of space when they pass them on the roadway. This is not only a safety necessity obviously, but it's a courtesy of the motorist and bicyclist alike. I also believe that the safety responsibilities should be shared by everyone on the road, especially during night, at dusk and at dawn. During these times is very difficult to see persons who are using the roadway for their enjoyment by the drivers. Because of this I do support Bill, House Bill 6722, but do recommend the following changes in the Bill as it's been presented. I would like the title to read that it's concerning pedestrians on the public road not only at night but at dusk and at dawn. The title should be -- I'm sorry. It should be amended to represent pedestrians using public roads as I said at night, at dusk and at dawn, and to where reflective clothing or some type of reflection visible from both the front and rear of the person, and I've brought along an example of a very inexpensive vest that could be purchased that's reflective that can be seen by a driver. In summary, to enhance the safety of pedestrians and the motor vehicles on public roads, again, at dark, at dusk and at dawn. By entering this Bill, it will be safer for the pedestrians and for everybody concerned. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Robert. Just a few comments. I do agree in regards to what you are trying to say here. And in regards that the safety issues for these pedestrians. You know, I tend to run or walk, or whatever during the day and obviously, we have our meetings now that I would go at night. And one thing that I've learned that there are no sidewalks, not only do I have reflective vest on now, but I ended up buying one of these lights that you put on your head and it blinks in the back, you know, and maybe for some individuals that don't understand that, you know, it might look a little weird, obviously, that you're out there with this light, but I'm telling you as a driver of a vehicle you can see that person, not right when you get right on top of -- almost 500 feet down you see some type of light. And you know, I'll tell you, I won't go out without it if I'm running or walking.
ROBERT STERNSCHEIN: Absolutely. And I'm glad to hear that you do use it, because, and again, I don't have any statistics, I don't know if there any statistics available, but quite often in my neighborhood which is I said I live in Simsbury, the speeds, the back roads are narrow, a lot of people do walk, run, ride and there's been a number of incidences that I've driven down my own street, which has a speed limit of 25 miles an hour and I will admit I do keep to that especially on those roads where you don't see a person because typically they wear dark clothing. And that's really difficult for the driver to see that.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): No, I agree. I, you know, I was talking to Senator Leone about that. Senator, do you have any comments?
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Thank you, I appreciate that. And I think my good chairman brought it up too in terms of where the roads are say with no sidewalks for a pedestrian to utilize. And I think this is the balance we always have to find out on how to keep traffic moving when the roads are made for traffic and not so much our pedestrian unless there's a walkway. Where I found the problem is when there is a pedestrian going in the wrong direction, you should be going with traffic, some walkers and hikers think it should be the opposite, so you have a little problem there and then the question in terms of how much roadway you have to give up if this were to proc--, move forward. So, I always found it difficult that regardless of what we do or don't do, personally I would never put myself in the way of an oncoming vehicle that's traveling at even 15 miles an hour, a two plus ton vehicle, if it hits you, you're going down and most likely you're not getting up and way too many times I've seen pedestrians just think that they own the road and that you're going to be able to stop on a dime, that is not the case. So, as we try and protect pedestrians and I think yes, having the reflective vests and the lighting and so forth and going in the right direction depending on what we agree is the right direction, I think there has to be a little bit responsibility on pedestrians as well. But I'm helpful and supportive of trying to get a Bill that will protect pedestrians.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Very good, I appreciate that. As I said a reflective vest is relatively inexpensive, $2.00 to $3.00 dollars I've seen them and I just think it would help the pedestrian along with the driver, because obviously, I don't know if any driver that would want to hit anybody, that's unheard of.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): No, I agree. Any other comments? Thank you very much for those comments.
ROBERT STERNSCHEIN: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you for waiting today. Peggy Roberts followed by Russ Gomes.
PEGGY ROBERTS: Good afternoon.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Good afternoon, Peggy.
PEGGY ROBERTS: Thank you very much for the opportunity, now everybody stretch. My name is Peggy Roberts and I'm the new president for the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce in Mystic. I've only just started about a month ago, so I don't have the background that some of my colleagues do when it comes to this high-speed rail route issue, but I am no less passionate about it. I represent 720 members and we do support passage of Senate Bill 253, 263 and House Resolution 54. Now you already have my testimony there, you've heard all of the points, I'm sure the pertinent points on this issue, so I won't go too far into them, but let me just say this about what's important to us in the Mystic area. There are two things, it boils down to two things. One is what we know. We know that the Bypass is going to cut right through two of our biggest economic drivers, the aquarium and Old Mistick Village, that's horrible. We know that it will displace other small businesses in our area, that's unacceptable. We know that it will adversely affect home prices and property values in the area, that's also unacceptable. And as Lisa said earlier it quite possibly could damage our water supply. But almost as bad is what we don't know. We don't know because the process has been so poor, they've obfuscated and it seems to me that it looks like it's deliberate, we haven't seen any detailed maps, and we've gotten very very few specifics. So, I really urge you to do whatever it is you can to see that this plan is not adopted as it's written. There may be some better alternatives such as to bolster and fix the infrastructure we already have, but there may be even more possibilities that we haven't seen yet. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Peggy. And you get the gold star today, because you did it within three minutes. All right?
PEGGY ROBERTS: Only because the points were already made.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): But no, I mean Peggy, you hit the nail on the head, there's a lot of unknowns out there, you're right. And that's what gets, you know, as elected officials, believe me when I tell you this, there's nothing worse when we hear this. And there's no public hearing and you sit there and you say to yourself how does this happen? You know, when you don't, when you trust us, you trust your elected officials, you trust the people out there to do the right thing and then we hear this happening to towns like Mystic or Old Lyme or whatever, any town, I mean I've had it happen in Rocky Hill, where I had a nursing home turn into a so called prison where there was no public hearing and we had no input, nothing, and it's very frustrating, it really is, because you sit there and you say there should be a process. At least your voice should be heard to say okay, point A should be taken up, point B should be taken up and maybe then there might be something that you might have missed, that you might even agree with or vice versa. But when it doesn't happen, it makes my blood boil. It does. So, I understand your concerns, I'm with you on this, whatever I can do to help you know, Representative Carney or all the other members here, we'll try to do whatever we can, but again, I understand your frustration, the towns that are being affected by all this.
PEGGY ROBERTS: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Senator Boucher?
SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH): Thank you so much. I have been sitting here watching you in the audience this entire afternoon, you have been so patient and so positive with a big smile on your face the whole time. It's rare to see that. But there's no question that the community and that section of our State, I can identify with that, I've big issues like that where, you know, 95 like highways were trying to be rammed through four or five our beautiful towns that are historical and so forth and it really does decimate the character of our State. And it's an economic development issue, it's certainly a tourism issue, it's a local community issue and it's big, and it's not something that should be taken lightly. And so, when they say you can't fight City Hall, you can fight City Hall and that's what you're all doing. So, kudos to you.
PEGGY ROBERTS: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Representative Carney?
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Thank you very much. Thank you, Peggy, for coming up here today to testify and congratulations on your new role. I appreciated your comments. I was just curious has the eastern Connecticut Chamber, have you worked with them at all on this, have they put out a statement or anything like that?
PEGGY ROBERTS: Well, as I said I've been there a month, so I'm not, I can't say for certain that they haven't reached out to my Chamber, but not since I've been there, no.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Because I haven't heard anything from them at this point, so it might be good to just a little bit more regionally effort against it, but thank you and maybe I'll see you on Saturday. So, thanks.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Representative Carney. Hold on, one more, we got Senator Leone who would like to say a comment.
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): I just wanted to say congratulations to you, you just took this job only a month ago and now you're going to have to be the face of this project, so if you keep that smiling face I'll think you'll be successful. So, congrats.
PEGGY ROBERTS: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you for waiting. Daniel McKay followed by Neil Chaudhary. He did, okay.
DANIEL MCKAY: Good afternoon, Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Good afternoon.
DANIEL MCKAY: Good afternoon to the Committee. Thank you for your time and attention. I am Daniel McKay, Executive Director of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Connecticut's statewide not for profit advocacy organization. We have been heavily engaged in the northeast NEC future high speed rail planning process for the last year. And are as disappointed as you all are yourselves and from the testimony you're hearing today with the process. The Federal Railroad Administration process has been tone-deaf to local and regional concerns about high speed rail planning in Connecticut. Two years ago the beginning of 2012 there were 98 alternative routes between New York and Boston, that list was windowed to 15 and ultimately to 3 and since fall of 2015 Connecticut has been wrestling with 3 potential routes for high speed rail service between Boston and New York and it was only this past December, December 16th where there Federal Railroad Administration settled on a final recommended route and that is a seacoast route, that includes 29 miles of new high speed rail bypass infrastructure in Fairfield County, it includes 50 miles of high speed rail Bypass in New London County and into Rhode Island. The seacoast bypass in southeastern Connecticut was a late breaking entry into a multi-year 40-million-dollar federal planning process. Again, that process has proven tone-deaf, there were no public hearings on this process and the route selection or route alternatives in Fairfield County, Middlesex County or New London County. The study acknowledges that New London County is the most impacted county on the route between Washington D.C. and Boston, Massachusetts. We have been working diligently as a statewide preservation advocacy group to point out the fundamental impacts to historic and cultural and environmental resources along the 80 miles of proposed new route in Connecticut. Old Lyme woke up first, but what happened in Old Lyme quickly spread to other communities in the southeast, southeastern Connecticut, what happened in southeastern Connecticut began to spread to western Rhode Island and now has finally spreading to Fairfield County. The legislation that is before you today and which we support wholeheartedly and appreciate the leadership of Devlin and others bringing forth signals a basic opposition to the proposed route, that's important at this stage, because the route, the final decision making around this process is not yet complete, we are still hoping to knock the seacoast bypass out of this process and a joint resolution from the General Assembly in Connecticut would be helpful in that regard. Should the process go forward and should the bypass, the 80 miles of new bypass routes in Connecticut stay as part of the process, we fundamentally urge you as the State Legislature to give both local municipalities and retain for yourselves direct control over funding for publicly unsupported projects. And that's what we're looking at here. I'll say briefly as I conclude, the plan that this study replaces dates to 1978, the shelf life for this plan, anything that it's in this plan as of the Record of decision will be fundable from the Federal Railroad Administration's perspective and from the U.S. Congress's perspective for at least 25 years and then probably has a shelf life of funding eligibility out to 45 years. The way to control this process is for the State to take control through these legislative measures. We would greatly appreciate your support in doing so and we stand ready to support all your initiatives in this regard. So, thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Now, Daniel, I was going to ask you a question, Senator Leone even looked at us, looked at me and asked the same question. We know that you're from the Historic Preservation?
DANIEL MCKAY: Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): So, are there any impacts to the Historic Society around there where this is going?
DANIEL MCKAY: Again, the community that woke up first in this regard was Old Lyme and you heard from First Selectman Bonnie Reemsnyder earlier, there is a such dense concentration of highly significant historic and cultural resources where they drew their map, you know, where they drew their line through Old Lyme than any other part of the State. And that is the western gateway into the proposed new bypass. You have, you know, it's a route that crosses the Connecticut River on a new alignment, it's a route that immediately impacts properties adjacent to the Lieutenant River, it impacts the Foreign Squiswald Museum, it's within the view shed of the museum and will have sound and other impacts to the museum property, which includes the National Historic Landmark Griswold House, it cuts through Lyme Fine Arts Academy which has historic structures as well as new investment from the University of New Haven on that property and bisects the Old Lyme Nationally Register District. And then the impacts in New London and Groton and Stonington continue, there are archaeological resources along that route, there are national register eligible resources, there are national register listed resources on that route. And the same is true for Fairfield County as well. We are concerned about impact to the Bush-Holley House down in Fairfield County among numerous other parks and historic sites. So, you could not draw in southeastern Connecticut, you could not draw the line in the map in a more careless and unthoughtful way regarding the basic components of southeastern Connecticut's community and regional identity, its tourism economy, it's sense of place. This fundamentally introduces industrial scale transportation infrastructure into a region that does not deserve to be wrecked and ruined in that regard.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you. Yeah, it's very said to hear that. It is. Comments? Representative Carney.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Thank you, Daniel, for coming up. I just wanted to thank you for all of your efforts thus far on this issue, you've done a phenomenal job really leading the charge with seacoast and Greg Stroud, and advising people on this issue and giving them facts and really just informing them about this bypass proposal all the way now into Rhode Island and we've seen what's gone on there over the past few weeks, so I really appreciate that and southeastern Connecticut appreciates that and I look forward to continuing to working with you to fight this proposal until it's once and for all taken off the map, so thank you very much.
DANIEL MCKAY: Thank you. It is our mission and we will be there. So, thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, Representative Carney. Any other comments? Thank you for your comments, sir. And thank you for waiting. Next Francis Grace. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the Transportation Committee. I will be brief because I believe that all of my talking points have been made already to all of you. I am speaking on behalf the Resolution H.J. 54, also S.B. 256, 253 and also S.B. 263. Ironically, I've been a business person, a chef restaurateur along the shoreline for about 25 years, self-employed. I've had restaurants in Old Lyme, I've had restaurants in East Lyme, Niantic, New London and I am currently in Mystic. I'm happy to say that all of my businesses have been very successful. Part of the reason why --
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Which Restaurant do you own, sir?
FRANCIS GRACE: Frank's Gourmet Grill. Please Google it. One of the biggest reasons I chose this area, I'm from New York originally, I came via submarine to the submarine base and this is where I decided to raise my family. I like the southeastern corner of our State of Connecticut and the reason why I chose to do business along that corridor, that I-95 corridor is because of the gracefulness of the area, the historic value, the properties and in general just a real nice area to be, the tourism is fabulous. What I'm most concerned about is the fact that there has not been good communication between the FRA and our local municipalities. So, here I am to strongly urge all of you and I'm getting the general consensus that most of you are on board with supporting these issues that I do bring to the table. So, thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): So, Frank, your restaurant, I'm sorry, was in Stonington you said?
FRANCIS GRACE: It's in Mystic.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Mystic, okay. So, if I was to travel out there then what would you recommend I have on your menu?
FRANCIS GRACE: Ask for me, I'll make sure that I make you whatever you want.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): And I say that because seriously --
FRANCIS GRACE: I'm closed on Monday's.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): There you go. You know, Senator Leone and I were just talking and it is such a beautiful area out there, it really is and I can understand why you moved out there. And why you have your business there and again, I think you've heard from everyone on the Committee here, I think you heard from one opposition --
FRANCIS GRACE: I have not.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): -- throughout this whole hearing, from any of us here. It's just said to hear that this is going on, and just, you know, whatever we can do within our powers, let's leave it at that in regards to what might be a resolution or whatever may be, we're behind it. I think I could say that.
FRANCIS GRACE: Yeah, I think that it's very very important that we abolish this whole thing before it becomes Tier 1, because as Chris had mentioned, Tier 1, then it's off and running, you know, and my gosh, we have a rail system that we've spend, the State has spent a lot of money in improving, I'm all about infrastructure for transportation, however, I think that the Feds look at things at face value and they don't look at them in depth and the impacts that they'll have on the communities.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): You hit the nail right on the head. That's why I think it's important to have public hearings within those communities, to hear from those people before anything should even start on paper. That's my own take, so I'll, I'm sure Representative Carney would like to say a few words.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Just thank you very much for coming up here and testifying as a business owner about the effects this bypass proposal would have on your business and your community, so I truly thank you for joining in those efforts and what's the name of the restaurant?
FRANCIS GRACE: Frank's Gourmet Grill.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Frank's Gourmet Grill, and where is it?
FRANCIS GRACE: In Mystic.
REP. CARNEY (23RD): Mystic, all right. I'll come by next time my girlfriend and I are in the area, all right?
FRANCIS GRACE: I look forward to it. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Any other comments? Thank you for waiting and thank you for testifying.
FRANCIS GRACE: Thank you everyone.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Did anyone else like to speak that did not sign up that would like to say a few words before we end the meeting? Seeing none, therefore we will end the public -- Senator Leone?
SENATOR LEONE (27TH): Just one comment for the Record, Senator Boucher had to leave and I'm going to be following her, but I think she had asked that just for notation I think Senator Art Linares was unavailable due to other business and just for the Record is the reason why he was unavailable this evening. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA (29TH): Thank you, members and we'll see you at the next public hearing.