Matt Lesser

State Senator

Matt Lesser

Deputy Majority Leader

Your Independent Voice

May 20, 2021

Senator Lesser Votes in Favor of Hayln’s Law, Comprehensive Bill Improving Public Health

Today, State Senator Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) voted in favor of a comprehensive bill to improve several fundamental and consequential aspects of public health. The legislation, Senate Bill 1083 “An Act Concerning Various Revisions to the Public Health Statutes,” revises how partners are labeled in marriage licenses, allows residents 16 years of age to donate blood and requires training for the identification of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). The bill heads to the state House of Representatives after passing the state Senate.

Part of this legislation was inspired by a young girl who lost her life at 9 years old. The first section of the bill, also known as Halyn’s Law, emphasizes education amongst the medical examiner’s community and will lead to more accurate and uniform reporting of potential SUDEP cases amongst the epilepsy community.

“I’m so pleased we were able to pass Halyn’s Law in the Senate,” said Sen. Lesser. “A family in grief, the Murtha’s of Wethersfield, are turning their tragedy into hope for kids across our state. I am so grateful for the incredible advocacy of Chris Murtha, Halyn’s Dad, and his advocacy with the Epilepsy Foundation to help get the data we need to cure this condition.”

Halyn Murtha died from SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy) on May 25, 2019 just 2 months shy of her 10th birthday. Halyn was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was just 1 year old. Her parents, Chris Murtha and Dr. Victoria Murtha, who reside in Wethersfield, say she endured thousands of seizures in her short life, multiple combinations of medications and many hospital visits where she was hooked up to EEG monitoring equipment for days trying to find a cure for her epilepsy. Along her journey, she was additionally challenged with learning delays and autism. Her parents say her life was challenging, but she was happy and had a way of spreading her unique spirit with the world.

The bill previously passed out of the Public Health Committee by a 29-4 tally and makes the following changes to statues regarding public health, according to the Office of Legislative Research:

Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP)

  • Requires the Chief Medical Examiner, starting January 1, 2022, to complete at least one contact hour of training or education in sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) as part of his required continuing medical education. This portion of this legislation is also referred to as Halyn’s Law in memory of Hayln Murtha of Wethersfield who was nine years of age when she died lof SUDEP in May of 2019.
    • Under the bill, “sudden unexpected death in epilepsy” is the death of someone with epilepsy that is not caused by injury, drowning, or other known causes unrelated to epilepsy. By law, physicians must generally complete at least 50 hours of CME during every two years.
      • According to the Epilepsy Foundation, annually more than one in 1,000 people with epilepsy die from SUDEP making it the leading cause of death in people with uncontrolled seizures.
      • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SUDEP occurs more often in people ages 21 to 40 compared to other age groups and counting SUDEP cases is hard because SUDEP is not always included on death certificates.
      • Per the executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut, Linda Wallace, this bill “will lead to more accurate and uniform reporting of potential SUDEP cases amongst the epilepsy community. This will result in the collection of critical data to help identify the causes and potential risk factors associated with SUDEP.”
      • The Murtha family provided public testimony saying, “Like all parents, we want to see our children grow up to be healthy and happy, to protect them from harm, and to be a positive contributor to society. Halyn doesn’t have that chance to grow up and we couldn’t protect her from epilepsy. But she was happy, and this bill is one of the ways she can make a lasting contribution to society.”

Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) in Health Clubs

  • Requires licensed health clubs to provide and maintain at least one automatic external defibrillator (AED) and, among other things, ensure that at least one employee trained in its use is on the premises during business hours.
    • Under existing law, unchanged by the bill, the Department of Consumer Protection can revoke, suspend, or refuse to renew a health club’s license if it fails to comply with these requirements.
      • AEDs save lives as the chances of a return to spontaneous circulation in people who suffer from out of hospital cardiac arrest is only 5% without the assistance of a defibrillator. Those odds increase to 25% with an defibrillator, according to Avive. Additionally, according to the American Heart Association median average for survival from a cardiac arrest with near-immediate bystander CPR and use of a public access defibrillator was around 40%

Hospital Patients and Notification to Family and Caregivers

  • Requires hospital personnel to ask patients, upon admission, whether they want the hospital to notify a family member, caregiver, or support person about the admission.
    • If the patient chooses the notification, hospital personnel must make reasonable efforts to contact the family member, caregiver, or support person as soon as practicable, but within 24 hours after the request.
    • Existing law already requires hospitals to do this for the patient’s physician, upon the patient’s request.

Blood Donations by Minors

  • Allows a 16-year-old, with parental or guardian written consent, to donate blood, or any of its components, and consent to blood withdrawal at a voluntary blood donation program.
    • Existing law, unchanged by the bill, allows a person age 17 or older to do so without parental or guardian consent.
      • Currently, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, New Mexico and Wyoming are the only states that do not allow 16-year-olds to donate blood.

Marriage Licenses

  • Requires the public health commissioner, by January 1, 2022, to revise marriage license applications and certificates to replace references to “bride” and “groom” with “spouse one” and “spouse two.” The bill also removes the race ethnicity designation on marriage licenses.

Temporary Permits for Art Therapists

  • By law, the Department of Public Health (DPH) may issue nonrenewable temporary permits to art therapist licensure applicants with a graduate degree in art therapy or a related field. The permit allows the holder to practice under the general supervision of a licensee.
    • Existing law, unchanged by the bill, prohibits DPH from issuing a temporary permit to someone with a pending professional disciplinary action or who is the subject of an unresolved complaint in any state. The commissioner may revoke a temporary permit for good cause, as she determines