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Connecticut Democrats introduce bills aiming to bolster electric vehicles and curb domestic violence

Electric vehicle charging stations
Eli Christman

Connecticut state Senate Democrats announced new initiatives concerning domestic violence, the environment and gun violence prevention on Wednesday.

Two bills were introduced: Senate Bill 4, An Act Concerning The Connecticut Clean Air Act, and Senate Bill 5, An Act Concerning Child Victims Of Domestic Violence and Online Harassment.

Bill 4 includes creating more electric vehicle charging stations, expanding the electric vehicle rebate program and the purchase of electric school buses.

Bill 5 includes strengthening gun violence protection acts, providing more funding for child and family advocates to assist children impacted by domestic violence and increasing funding and effort to prevent online harassment.

More electric vehicles

Transportation accounts for nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in Connecticut, a percentage that would need to decline by a third before 2030 for the state to reach its carbon emissions goals set by lawmakers in 2018.

“If you breathe air in the state of Connecticut, this bill is for you,” said Senator Will Haskell of Westport.

Senate Bill 4 was drafted by Democrats who lead the state’s transportation and environmental committees. The legislation focuses heavily on increasing the number of electric vehicles in Connecticut.

The bill also includes new guidelines for heavy-duty trucks, requiring stronger admissions tests for the vehicles. It creates business incentives to help private companies electrify heavy-duty truck fleets.

There is also a measure that modernizes municipal traffic signs to prevent vehicles from idling at long red lights.

Protecting families and children

Senate Bill 5 includes measures to protect children from gun violence.

"This legislative session I am committed and focused on putting an end to gun violence in our state especially with our youth," said state Senator Marilyn Moore of Bridgeport. “We have an extraordinary, experienced group of people that are working on creating and implementing a statewide plan to put an end to gun violence.”

The bill includes $1.44 million to hire child and family advocates to assist victims of domestic violence. State Senator Gary Winfield of New Haven said the legislation would help break the cycle of domestic violence.

“We know that when you talk about the issue of young people and what they experience, particularly certain types of trauma including family and domestic traumas, the vestiges of that can last a lifetime,” Winfield said. “They manifest themselves in very particular ways, both mental and physical. Without intervention, what you see often, much more than we would like to see, is a cycle that is repeated that we would like to cut short.”

The legislation also aims to combat online harassment, an issue that state Senator Mae Flexer of Windham said she has been following for over a decade.

“We need to do everything we can to make sure that online harassment is taken seriously, that people know what they're getting into when they interact with people online, and that when you're interacting with a minor, that there are actual consequences,” Flexer said.

Senate President Martin Looney, of New Haven, said there will be a long road ahead to make these measures law, but remained hopeful.

“The work of combating domestic violence, online harassment, gun violence and climate change can not be solved in one year or with one piece of legislation,” Looney said. “It is the duty of all of us in the General Assembly to attack these societal problems every year by focusing on what works and trying new tactics.”

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.