Sen. John Kissel: Proposals to honor Vietnam vets, ease traffic jams, and grow jobs locally [Foothills Media Group]

February 28, 2013

Article as it appeared on

Public hearings were held this week at the Connecticut State Capitol on several legislative proposals that I am co-sponsoring and I hope to see become law.

The first hearing was held on my proposal to honor Vietnam-era veterans who left school early to join the armed forces. My proposal would allow the state’s Commissioner of Education to issue an honorary high school diploma to any veteran who did not complete high school due to service in the armed forces during the Vietnam era. This proposal is similar to a measure I co-sponsored in 2011, which allowed boards of education to award high school diplomas to veterans of the Korean War who left school early to enlist in the armed forces in service to their country. That bill is now law, and I am hopeful that my new bill can get to the governor’s desk for his signature.

The second hearing was held on my proposal to ease traffic jams by opening High Occupancy Vehicle lanes to single-passenger vehicles during rush hour and accidents. The state’s first HOV lane opened in 1989 east of Hartford, along I-84 and I-384. In 1993, lanes opened north of Hartford along I-91. I feel it makes sense to use the lanes to lighten the rush hour gridlock.

The third hearing was held on my proposal to establish goals for mixed population public housing developments. This bill would require approximately 86 percent of such units to be reserved for persons over age 60, and approximately 14 percent for persons with disabilities. The policy is modeled after Massachusetts’ law, and I continue to work to make our local public housing a model for the rest of Connecticut. The focus will always be on improving the quality of life for our seniors and our most vulnerable populations in Granby, East Granby and surrounding towns.

The fourth hearing was held on a transportation bill which calls for a rail station in the Thompsonville section of Enfield. We want Enfield to be a stop on the proposed high-speed railway between New Haven and Springfield. Putting a station in Thompsonville would improve our local and regional economy, benefit Asnuntuck Community College, and bring people and business from surrounding communities to our area. A key factor in that success must be the double-tracking of the rail line from Hartford to Springfield. Double tracking will help us to allow Bradley International Airport to realize its full potential as an economic engine. It will also enhance the newly-created Bradley Development Zone. The zone was created by a policy I was proud to sponsor, which offers tax credits and property tax exemptions to manufacturers which expand in or move to East Granby, Suffield, Windsor Locks and Windsor. Double tracking will mean jobs for our region.