More Progress on the Environment!

May 3, 2022
After four years of debate, three public hearings, hundreds of pieces of testimony, and days of negotiating, the bill to require the teaching of climate change in all Connecticut public schools will, at long last, become law. 
HB 5285 AN ACT CONCERNING THE PUBLIC SCHOOL CURRICULUM, will provide science-based climate teaching to all students in our school systems in accordance with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). It will codify into law what some  -- but not all -- Connecticut public schools currently teach.  
This bill also incorporated another bill of mine, the aim of which was to require the teaching of civics, by establishing the Connecticut Civics Education Task Force. Too few young people are learning about the balance of powers, how legislation is made, and the roles of the three branches of government. In the aftermath of the insurrection of Jan. 6, the need for an understanding of how good government works cannot be overstated. Finally, the bill establishes a pilot program for the teaching of financial literacy, so our young people will be able to manage assets, make financial decisions and invest more wisely. 

Given the calamity of climate change -- the daily extinction of species, the catastrophic floods and searing wildfires, the forced migration of impoverished people, the rising costs of interrupted supply chains, and the despair our young people feel -- this bill should have been a "no-brainer." But it wasn't, and so I am indebted to all the people who helped me get it passed.
Thanking individual people is always a dicey proposition; invariably someone gets mistakenly left out. But I'm going to risk it by thanking some of my main allies in this fight to make sure all students, regardless of zip code, will have the opportunity to be part of the solution to a problem they had no part in creating. So, Sena Wazer of Sunrise Movement Coalition, Alex Rodriguez of Save the Sound, Lori Brown of the CT League of Conservation Voters, Patty Sisson of Middletown High School, Hugh Birdsall and all the folks at Reforest the Tropics, State Rep. Bobby Sanchez and State Rep. Geraldo Reyes, and all the members of The Valley Stands Up -- here's looking at you. 
Read the bill language here: It takes effect July 1, 2023.

One page of many showing young students asking for climate education. 

And while it only took one year to accomplish, I also celebrate the passage of HB 5143 AN ACT ESTABLISHING AN OFFICE OF AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES. Plants like hydrilla, water chestnut and milfoil are devastating our rivers and waterways, and this bill has great significance to the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam. Invasive aquatic plants affect the boating and touring industries, prevent recreational kayaking, and take a toll on other plant and animal species dependent upon a healthy water ecosystem. 
Many people helped me think through and craft this bill, but special thanks are due to Margot Burns of the RiverCOG, Kelsey Wentling of the CT River Conservancy, Christopher Calabrese, and the folks at the CT Agriculture Experiment Station, where the new Office of Invasives will be housed. 
Read the bill language here: It goes into effect July 1 of this year.

As if often the case in short session, many bills which were raised in their respective committees and received public hearings (such as these two) end up being among the bills that get considered as part of the budget.