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Legislators set hearings on gun violence, school safety, mental health

By Johanna Somers

Publication: The Day

Published January 19. 2013 4:00AM

Connecticut legislators are not moving as quickly as those in New York, but they are still trying to fast-track proposals pertaining to gun violence, mental health and school safety.

Each of the three subcommittees within the state's Gun Violence and Children's Safety Task Force will hold a public hearing in January. There will also be one combined public hearing for all three subcommittees on Jan. 30 at Newtown High School.

"There will be a lot of temptation for public testimony from many special interests, and if I might ask that we can somehow focus our situation on Connecticut residents and in particular Newtown and Sandy Hook residents and their contributions so that we make sure that the voices there ... are heard, understood and respected above all," said state Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, R-Newtown.

The school safety public hearing will be held on Jan. 25, the gun safety hearing on Jan. 28 and the mental health hearing on Jan. 29.

Several legislators expressed concern about the process and asked whether residents would have time to digest the task force's proposals, to be posted on the task force's website on Tuesday, in time for the hearings. But the expectation for these hearings is that they will serve as a way to gather both reaction to those proposals and ideas for new proposals, said John McKinney, R-Fairfield.

"We don't want to limit the public testimony in anticipation to just that list of bills because we are hopeful that we will learn things from experts or people in the public that may send us in a direction that we aren't thinking about as of right now," McKinney said.

State Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, co-chairman of the school safety subcommittee, said she and state Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, also a co-chairman, plan to invite specific stakeholders to their public hearing, such as teachers' association leaders and school superintendents.

"Everything is feasible," said state Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, who is on the school safety subcommittee.

"... This is probably the most important thing other than the budget."

Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said he expects the public hearings to help determine which issues will garner bipartisan consensus and be passed quickly.

Proposals that cannot be passed quickly will continue through the normal legislative process, he said.

j.somers@theday.com

MORE

Task force hearings, members

Public hearings
• School safety: 9:30 a.m., Jan. 25, Room 2C, Legislative Office Building in Hartford
• Gun safety: 10 a.m., Jan. 28, Room 2C, Legislative Office Building in Hartford
• Mental health: 10 a.m., Jan. 29, Room 2C, Legislative Office Building in Hartford
• Public hearing for all three subcommittees: 6 p.m. on Jan. 30, Newtown High School

Members of the school safety subcommittee are: Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton (co-chair); Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford (co-chair); Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, D-Meriden; Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford; Sen. Art Linares, Westbrook; Sen. Andrew Maynard, D-Stonington; Sen. Mike McLachlan; R-Danbury, Sen. Andrea Stillman; D-Waterford; Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton; Rep. Tim Ackert, R-Coventry; Rep. Whit Betts, R-Bristol; Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, R-Newtown; Rep. Tim LeGeyt, R-Canton; Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington; Rep. Patricia Widlitz, D-Guilford; Rep. Roberta Willis, D-Lakeville.

Members of the gun violence subcommittee are: Sen. Martin Looney, D-New Haven (co-chair); Rep. Craig Minor, R-Litchfield (co-chair); Sen. Eric Coleman, D-Bloomfield; Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford; Sen. Scott Frantz, R-Riverside; Sen. Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford Springs; Sen. Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury; Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield; Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton; Rep. Dan Carter, R-Bethel; Rep. Stephen Dargan, D-West Haven; Rep. Gerald Fox, D-Stamford; Rep. Janice Giegler, R-Danbury; Rep. Bob Godfrey, D-Danbury; Rep. Rosa Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck; Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven.

Members of the mental health subcommittee are: Sen. Toni Harp, D-New Haven (co-chair); Rep. Terrie Wood, R-Darien (co-chair); Sen. Joe Crisco, D-Woodbridge; Sen. Terry Gerratana, D-New Britain; Sen. Rob Kane, R-Watertown; Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford; Sen. Joe Markley, R-Plantsville; Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford; Sen. Jason Welch, R-Bristol; Rep. Cathy Abercrombie, D-Meriden; Rep. DebraLee Hovey, R-Monroe; Rep. Susan Johnson, D-Willimantic; Rep. Robert Megna, D-New Haven; Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford; Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, R-Glastonbury.

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