Attention CAS Environmental Advocates:
Please help support H.B. 6557 which you can find if you click here.
This bill has been in the works since the May 2010 jury verdict awarded $2.9 million for a mountain biker who was injured at the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) Reservoir in West Hartford, effectively closing MDC properties for public use and setting a precedent that could close all municipal lands to public recreation, including birding.
Fortunately, Connecticut Forest and Park Association has taken up this issue and has done much of the heavy lifting. They need our support now, as the deadline for the Judiciary Committee to vote is this Friday (April 15).
More than 10 state legislators have become new co-sponsors of H.B. 6557 -- An Act Concerning Liability for the Recreational Use of Lands (click here).
Unofficial polling of Judiciary Committee members suggests that, at this point in time, 16 members of the Committee would likely vote in favor of restoring liability protection to municipalities on recreational lands, 2 would likely vote against, and 27 members of Judiciaries are still undecided. No vote is scheduled yet. We need more support from the conservation community!
If you have not yet made contact with your State Representative and Senator ( http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/CGAFindLeg.asp), please ask them to do the following:
1. Make contact with the Co-Chairs of the Judiciary Committee -Senator Eric Coleman (D-Bloomfield, Windsor) and Representative Gerald Fox (D-Stamford); and
2. Ask the Co-Chairs to hold a vote on H.B. 6557 -- An Act Concerning Liability for the Recreational Use of Lands -- before the upcoming Committee "JF deadline" of April 15th.
If you have already contacted your state legislators, please make one more contact to the leadership of your town (mayor, selectperson, or town council). Let them know that NOW is the time for town leaders to ask the state legislators who represent them and let them know that their support is critical to restore liability protection for municipalities on recreational lands. Even if they believe that H.B. 6557 needs to provide liability protection that is even stronger, their support is needed in the next couple of days.
Remember, the deadline for the Judiciary Committee to vote on H.B. 6557 is THIS FRIDAY, APRIL 15TH. Without a vote, this bill will die.
For talking points on this issue, read on:
* Municipalities (including municipal agencies such as the MDC, municipal water companies, etc.) need to be protected from frivolous lawsuits or they will close recreational lands or start charging fees to cover their potential liability and legal expenses;
* Healthy outdoor recreation is good for everyone, good for our communities and good for our state. It reduces healthcare costs and promotes all around well-being; and
* The current law is inconsistent: if one hikes, runs or bicycles on a trail that passes through various private, municipal, and state landowners, it makes no sense for only private and state landowners to be protected from liability. All landowners, including municipalities, should have the same protections and encouragement under the law.
PLEASE contact your State Representative and Senator (http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/CGAFindLeg.asp) and ask them to contact the Co-Chairs of the Judiciary Committee -
Senator Eric Coleman (D-Bloomfield, Windsor) and Representative Gerald Fox (D-Stamford); and ask them to hold a vote on H.B. 6557.