May 20, 2021

Senator Haskell Leads Senate Approval of Innovative Infrastructure Financing; Supports Parentage Act, Public Health Improvements

Today, State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport), Senate Chair of the Transportation Committee, led the Senate debate on legislation that would allow the Department of Transportation to take advantage of innovative financing opportunities. This key step will pave the way for public private partnerships, allowing the state to finance major infrastructure improvements and compete for our fair share of federal dollars.

Additionally, Sen. Haskell voted to adopt the Connecticut Parentage Act, a bill that expands parentage rights for children born to same-sex couples and includes a recognition of non-biological parents. Finally, Senator Haskell spoke on the Senate floor about changes to public health statutes, including the important shift to require health clubs to provide and maintain automatic external defibrillators, an issue raised and championed by his constituent.

“As Congress is currently debating a historic and transformative investment in our transportation infrastructure, I’m focused on making sure Connecticut stands ready to apply for and receive federal grants” said Sen. Haskell. “From our aging rail line to our many decaying bridges, we can certainly demonstrate a need for assistance. But we fall short when it comes to utilizing innovative financing tools, including public private partnerships. Without partnership from the private sector, we’ll never be able to tackle the most important (and most expensive) improvements. This bill will pave the way for more innovation inside our Department of Transportation, leading to shorter commutes, less traffic and more modern trains.”

Senate Bill 920, “An Act Concerning Public-Private Partnerships,” authorizes the governor to approve up to five public-private partnership transportation projects through 2027. A public-private partnership is generally an agreement between a state executive branch or quasi-public agency and a private entity for the financing, design, construction, development, operation or maintenance of certain facilities. These agreements must be approved by the governor, who must find a project will create jobs and economic growth. Crucially, this bill will put more Connecticut residents to work and launch more transportive projects. The bill earned bipartisan support.

“As the proud uncle of two kids being raised by two wonderful father, this bill is a no-brainer,” said Sen. Haskell. “It’s time for our laws to recognize the equality and dignity of same-sex couples who have children. Gender-specific references with regard to parentage have no place in our states — especially not in the year 2021.”

House Bill 6321, “An Act Concerning Adoption And Implementation Of The Connecticut Parentage Act,” makes significant and wide-ranging changes to state statutes in its adoption of the Uniform Parentage Act, also known as the Connecticut Parentage Act. This bill makes changes including:

  • Providing equal treatment under the law for children born to same-sex couples by taking actions including removing gender-specific references, such as changing “maternity” and “paternity” to “parentage”
  • Expands recognition of non-biological parents by making marital, or “hold-out,” presumptions gender-neutral and establishing de-facto parentage, where a person is adjudicated to be a parent under certain circumstances
  • Provides guidance on making formal judgments or decisions on parentage and competing claims of parentage, in other words creating best-interest-of-the-child factors for courts to consider
  • Provides a process to establish acknowledged parentage through agreement
  • Provides for making formal judgments on genetic parentage and updating rules governing children born under surrogacy
  • Establishes a procedure to enable children conceived through assisted reproduction to access medical and identifying information about donors

“I’ll never forget the first time I heard from Suzanne Brennan, a constituent of mine in Ridgefield,” said Sen. Haskell. “She shared her family’s story, recounting the tragic loss of her husband due to a cardiac incident. He was working out at a gym, a place where people are statistically more likely to experience heart issues. Although an AED would have likely saved his life, there was no such device on site. Oddly, we require AEDs in schools and golf courses, but not gyms. This bill is about saving lives and preventing future tragedies, and I’m so grateful that Suzanne has advocated to help other families avoid losing their loves ones.”

Senate Bill 1083, “An Act Concerning Various Revisions To The Public Health Statutes,” makes several notable adjustments to public health statutes currently standing in Connecticut. Perhaps most importantly, the legislation requires health clubs to provide and maintain at least one automatic external defibrillator, also known as an AED, with employees trained in its use.

This issue was co-introduced by Sen. Haskell and Rep. Aimee Berger-Girvalo, then championed by Sen. Mary Daugherty Abrams. Studies show that the odds of survival in the event of a cardiac event more than double if an AED is on hand; conversely, chance of survival from cardiac events decreases up to 10 percent every minute defibrillation is not performed. Connecticut joins several other states, including Massachusetts, in requiring health clubs have AEDs.