The 2015 Connecticut Legislative Session has officially come to a close, and CCE members in Connecticut are celebrating two important, last-minute victories for clean water and a healthy environment. The first is a bill that phases out and ultimately prohibits the sale of personal care products that contain plastic microbeads. These are tiny plastic particles that are used as an additive in more than 100 different products on the market today. These products include facial scrubs, soaps, cosmetics, and even toothpastes.
The bill would require manufacturers to discontinue the use of these microbeads in favor of safe, biodegradable alternatives that are already on the market. Certain manufacturers of personal care products have already agreed to phase out the use of microbeads over time. Unfortunately, many more remain unresponsive to the problem. While other states have passed bans on plastic microbeads, those laws include loopholes that allow the microbead problem to persist. The new law passed in Connecticut is the strongest in the nation and will help "raise the bar" on this issue nationally, and stands as a model for other states to follow.
CCE generated more than 4,500 letters to key elected officials and collected over 10,500 signatures in support of eliminating plastic microbeads in products that are available for sale in our state. Ultimately, the bill passed with unanimous bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, and it was included in the budget implementer bill that was passed during the special session held in late June and early July.
Another significant win came in the form of a law that prohibits the non-emergency application of toxic pesticides on town playgrounds. It also improves the existing parents' notification system to alert families whenever pesticides are scheduled to be applied on school grounds. The law is the product of ongoing negotiations in the legislature, and it expands upon laws passed in 2005 and 2009 aimed at protecting children's health by eliminating pesticides on K-8 school athletic fields and daycare facilities.
These victories come as a pleasant surprise to environmentalists and public health activists who had all but given up hope on these important issues after the clock ran out on the regular legislative session on June 3. More importantly, they are a testament to the power of grassroots advocacy and a shining example of what is possible when members of the public are educated and vocal about their concerns.
CCE would like to applaud Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr., Rep. James Albis, Rep. John Shaban, Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, Rep. Diana Urban, Rep. Andy Fleischmann, and Rep. Terry Backer for their leadership and continued commitment to these important issues, and extend a special thanks to Senate President Martin Looney, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz for agreeing to address them during the special legislative session.