Senator Frantz Speaks About His Proposals to Support Disabled Veterans and Study the Effects of Violent Video Games [Business New Haven]

March 20, 2013

Article as it appeared in Business New Haven on March 14, 2013

There Oughta Be a Law…

What state lawmakers have in store for businesses this legislative session

By Felicia Hunter

HARTFORD — Workers who bicycle to the office are likely to take a little longer reaching their destination if a proposed bill limiting cyclists to single-lane travel is passed.

That’s one of several bills being introduced during the current legislative session that could directly impact employers, the workplace and the shape of the state’s workforce. Other potential laws under consideration include tightening firearm purchase and storage requirements, creating a workforce-development regional council, and establishing a set-aside contractor program for disabled veterans.

State Sen. Kevin Witkos (R-Canton) introduced the bicycling measure, S.B. 103, which enforces the law requiring drivers to pass riders safely and yield three feet to them.

State Sen. L. Scott Frantz (R-Greenwich) introduced the set-aside bill for disabled veterans. The proposed legislation would require state and quasi-public state agencies extending contracts of more than $10,000 for goods and services annually to reserve three percent of those contracts for competitive bidding by qualified disabled veteran proprietors.

“I introduced this bill to recognize the sacrifices hat disabled veterans have made on our behalf,” said Frantz. “After returning home from the battlefield, veterans readjust to civilian life and deserve to have an opportunity to operate successful business ventures. In my judgment, we have a responsibility to recognize this sacrifice and give back to those disabled veterans who return home and seek to apply their skills to the business world.”

Frantz elaborated on that point during a BNH interview.

“I always assumed we did have a set-aside for veterans, and especially disabled veterans,” said Frantz, noting existing programs for women and minority business-owners. He learned about the exclusion from Stamford businessman Dean Chamberlain, a U.S. Army veteran who was wounded in the line of duty.

Frantz also notes that the bill has been introduced during previous sessions.

“It’s hard to say why bills fail in the General Assembly,” says Frantz, who testified before the legislature’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee on February 19 in support of the current bill. He says he’s received bipartisan support for the measure.

“So far the feedback has been excellent,” he says. “The hearing went very, very well.”

Among other measures Frantz supports is legislation introduced supporting studying the effects of violent video games on youngsters.

“The original bill is part of maybe ten or 12 different bills addressing the [December 14] Newtown incident,” Frantz notes. “One of the bills was, let’s take a look at [the effect of] violent video games on violent behavior.”

The goal is to use information from existing studies and apply that knowledge in a public service capacity,” says Frantz.

“It’s more of a data-collection exercise,” he explains, adding that scores of studies have information that could be valuable to the community.

The particular bill that attracted Frantz support is SB 260: “An Act Concerning the Effects of Violent Video Games on Youth Behavior.” It is one of about a dozen bills introduced this session in reaction to the multiple homicides at Newtown’s Sandy Hook School on December 14. Local resident Adam Lanza, age 20, shot and killed 20 elementary-school children and six adults at the school before committing suicide. He also killed his mother.

In addition to studying and attempting to understand the effects of video games, proposed legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings focuses on gun restrictions, as well as helping parents identify and seek treatment for children with mental-health issues. Among those bills:

• “An Act Creating a Mental Health First Aid Program for Parents” (Proposed Bill No. 654) would amend the General Statutes to create a first-aid mental health program for parents to help them better understand, identify and address mental-illness warning signs.

• “An Act Concerning the Establishment of an Anonymous School Violence Hotline” (Proposed Bill No. 719) would require the state’s Department of Education to create such a hotline.

• “An Act Requiring More Intruder-Resistant School Buildings and Improved Security Methods” (Proposed Bill No. 5319) would establish new security standards for schools, with the intention of making them more intruder-resistant.

• “An Act Concerning Suitability for a Pistol or Revolver Permit” (Proposed Bill No. 780) would establish legal requirements for assessing “suitability” to obtain a permit and would give municipal authorities additional time to consider applications.

• “An Act Requiring Presentation of a State Pistol or Revolver Permit to Purchase Ammunition” (Proposed Bill No 781) would restrict ammunition sales to those with a firearm permit.

• “An Act Concerning Large Capacity Firearm Magazines and Similar Devices” (Proposed Bill No. 676) would forbid owning, selling or making any kind of exchange in or into Connecticut devices that could accommodate in excess of ten rounds of ammunition.

• “An Act Increasing the Penalty for Threatening with Respect to a School” (Proposed Bill No. 791) targets anyone who threatens to commit a violent crime on school premises and/or against the occupants of a school.