Capitol briefs

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Bill changes requirements for primary service area responders

State Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-70), left, and Naugatuck Mayor Robert Mezzo testify in favor of HB 5542 earlier this year in Hartford. –CONTRIBUTED
State Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-70), left, and Naugatuck Mayor Robert Mezzo testify in favor of HB 5542 earlier this year in Hartford. –CONTRIBUTED

HARTFORD — Legislation that would change requirements dealing the primary service area responder of emergency medial services in a municipality was approved this week by the House of Representatives.

The bill (HB 5542) requires municipalities to coordinate with primary service area responders when they update their local emergency medical services plan and provides for the removal of providers who fail to provide quality patient care, according to a press release issued by state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-70).

The bill would also require the Department of Public Health to review emergency medical service plans at least once every five years and to rate the PSAR’s performance, the release stated. The review shall also include an evaluation of such responder’s compliance with applicable laws and regulations and the department will assign a rating to the primary service area responder.  A “failing” rating has various consequences, including possible removal as PSAR if the responder fails to improve, the release stated.

“Regular evaluation of local EMS performance is a benefit to everyone, including Naugatuck residents, who depend on emergency medical services and this legislation will hold all parties accountable for the services they provide for the town,” Rebimbas said in the release. “Residents can feel confident they’ll receive the best care available.”

Earlier this year, officials from Naugatuck testified in favor of the bill. The borough and Naugatuck Ambulance have been at odds for the past couple of years.

The bill was sent to the Senate to be acted upon.

Zupkus opposes budget adjustments

HARTFORD — State Rep. Lezlye Zupkus (R-89) criticized a budget compromise from Gov. Dannel Malloy and legislative Democrats.

The legislature voted over the weekend mostly along party lines to approve a revised $19 billion budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Zupkus, in a press release, said the budget relies on gimmicks to keep the state’s two-year roughly $40 billion budget in balance, including an 11th hour plan to collect $75 million tax revenue from people who haven’t paid their taxes.

The plan relies on roughly $200 million in sweeps from dedicated funds to the general fund, including another $2.1 million beyond the $18.5 million taken last year from the Special Transportation Fund used for projects such as road and bridge repair, the release stated.

“Rather than improving our state’s financial position these types of accounting gimmicks simply push our problems into the future, and this latest plan all but ensures that the Governor and legislature after Election Day will have a whopper of a headache to deal with,” Zupkus said in the release.

Zupkus called the budget adjustments of $20 million in savings from unspecified “hiring reductions” and a last-minute projection of $75 million in “miscellaneous tax revenue,” which would come from a fresh pursuit of tax delinquents, the biggest gimmicks.

“Most people I know, people in the communities that I represent, will probably agree that relying on folks who have proven to be unreliable taxpayers to pony up $75 million is a desperate tactic,” Zupkus said in the release. “This is a heck of a gamble.”

Republicans offered an alternative budget as an amendment, and they were defeated on a party-line vote of 92-52.

Law would toughen drunk diving penalties

HARTFORD — As the legislative session came to an end this week, lawmakers passed a bill that requires the installation of an ignition interlock device in the cars of convicted drunk drivers.

The bill requires any driver convicted of a DUI violation to install the device after the license-suspension period is over. The device prevents a vehicle from starting if a driver’s breath alcohol count is over the preset level and notes a failed test.

“These devices can’t be tampered with or outsmarted. IID’s will keep convicted drunk drivers from drinking and getting behind the wheel,” state Rep. Theresa Conroy (D-105) said in a press release.

Under current law drivers convicted of a DUI-related offense that resulted in a license suspension, could apply for the IID program. The updated legislation would make an IID mandatory for any DUI offender returning to the road post-suspension. The device would be installed, at the violator’s expense, for six months for first time offenders. Habitual offenders would require an IID for up to two years.

The legislation was sent to the governor for consideration.

Bill protects horse owners

HARTFORD — The state Senate gave unanimous approval Tuesday morning to legislation clarifying in law that domesticated horses are not inherently dangerous.

“There was great concern among my constituents in Bethany and neighboring towns that recent court decisions would make horses nearly impossible to insure,” said state Sen. Joseph Crisco Jr. (D-17), who spoke in favor of the bill during a hearing earlier this year, in a press release. “I’m pleased that this legislation offers a positive remedy for their concerns. I particularly want to thank Senator Meyer and the members of the Environment Committee for their leadership on this issue.”

The legislation comes in response to recent court decisions deeming all horses to be wild and inherently dangerous. The rulings had the potential to cause an extreme increase in insurance premiums, putting into question the insurability of Connecticut’s farm horses, privately owned horses for riding and therapeutic horses, the release stated.

The bill ensures that civil disputes involving horses are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, without the presumption that the horse is inherently vicious, according to the release.

Gov. Dannel Malloy applauded the legislation and said he would sign in the bill, according to the release.