Sen. Harding Pleased with New Environmental and Public Safety Laws

June 3, 2024

Sen. Harding pleased with new environmental and public safety laws

Legislation restricts railroad herbicide use

LAKEVILLE — Both State Senator Stephen Harding (R-30) and State Representative Maria Horn (D-64) expressed satisfaction that a bill addressing the use of herbicides passed in the recently concluded session of the Connecticut General Assembly.

Interviewed by phone on May 19, Harding said the bill, which requires railroads, including the Housatonic Railroad in the Northwest Corner, to comply with existing Massachusetts regulations on the use of herbicides to control vegetation along railroad tracks.

“I hope the folks who live along the railroad will start to see the results,” said Harding.

The change that means the most to trackside communities is that railroads must submit more detailed yearly management plans than in the past, and those plans are subject to a 45-day public comment period.

Both legislators were asked about significant bills that passed in the “short session.”

Harding said he was pleased that funding for school construction in Sherman made it through the session.

He also cited the action taken against the use of PFAs ( per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), or “forever chemicals.”

Harding noted that several states have taken similar action to ban or severely restrict the use of PFAs, which have multiple industrial and manufacturing uses.

“PFAs are showing up in wells,” Harding said. “This is the first step in doing something about it.”

Harding was also happy to report that the legislature now requires that when a police dog is injured or killed in the line of duty, the funds for replacing the dog now go to individual police department, not to the state.

And legislation passed that allows police more leeway in shutting down illegal street racing events.

Asked about his new role as Senate minority leader, Harding said at first the job was “overwhelming.”

“But once I got into a routine, with a good team, it worked.”

By the end of the session, “it was fun and rewarding.”