Capital briefs

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Bills pass Senate

HARTFORD — The state Senate April 14 unanimously passed two bills designed to help college students.

Senate Bill 966, An Act Concerning Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners at Institutions of Higher Education, would extend a sexual assault forensic examination program from six acute care hospitals in the state to the University of Connecticut infirmary.

The second bill that passed was Senate Bill 694, An Act Concerning Services Available to Veterans on State College and University Campuses. Each public college in Connecticut has a veterans’ OASIS (Operation Academic Support for Incoming Service Members) center to serve veterans. The bill requires the Board of Regents for Higher Education and UConn to evaluate and assess the different programs offered at the OASIS centers and to identify successful programming there.

“College students in Connecticut have acute needs and it is essential that we listen and respond to them,” said state Sen. Joseph Crisco (D-17) in a press release. “That means ensuring that victims of sexual assault have immediate access to the best care available, and making veterans’ on-campus support centers the best they can be for our students.”

Zupkus criticizes bill

HARTFORD — Legislation that would lessen certain drug laws drew strong criticism from state Rep. Lezlye Zupkus (R-89).

The legislation, S.B. No. 952, An Act Concerning a Second Chance Society, passed out of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, 22-20, April 10, according to a press release issued by Zupkus’ office.

The bill, which was sent to the legislature for debate, would make possession of any narcotic or controlled substance a misdemeanor offense. It also shrinks the current drug-free school zone distance from 1,500 feet to include just the school property, the release said.

“As a mother of young children who attend school, I find this proposal outrageous,” said Zupkus in a news release. “There is absolutely no justification for allowing drug users within mere feet of school property and our children.”

Also included in the bill is the removal of a graduated penalty scale for repeat offenders, according to the release.

“It is misleading to state that this will give first-time offenders a second chance, when this bill also provides for third, fourth and fifth chances,” said Zupkus in the release. “Many people incarcerated for minor drug crimes in fact have accepted plea deals to avoid more significant charges. We are sending a signal that we are accepting and pardoning of this behavior when instead we should be working to deter the illegal actions of repeat offenders. Rather than focusing on reducing penalties, perhaps our time would be better spent discussing prevention and rehabilitation programs.”