Vote forbids smoking in state college dorms
Smoking would be banned in public college dormitories under a bill that received final approval Wednesday.
The somewhat controversial measure passed 137 to 9 in the House and 28 to 8 in the Senate. It now goes to the governor for his signature. It would take effect July 1, 2003.
Proponents of the bill, like Sen. Judith Freedman, R-Westport, said the measure is a long time in coming.
"It will protect students from both smoke and fire, said Freedman, noting that many college dorms still do not have sprinklers.
Sen. Thomas Gaffey, D-Meriden, co-chairman of the education committee, said the measure will still allow students to smoke outside.
But those against the bill said it was another way to victimize smokers and invade privacy.
"This is taking the first step toward going into people's homes, said Sen. Brian McDermott, D-Wallingford.
"A dorm is where students live.
Earlier, Rep. Terry Backer, D-Stratford, said he voted against the measure because he said the anti-smoking movement is out of control.
"Restaurants, markets, everywhere you go now this, said Backer.
Smoking, however, was already on its way out at the University of Connecticut, where a self-imposed smoking ban was being rolled in gradually in the dormitories.
Campus dorms there were set to be completely smoke-free by the fall of 2003.
Late Wednesday final action was expected on both an indoor air quality bill designed to offer relief to students and teachers subjected to moldy classrooms and a new testing law that would require all students enrolled in grades three through eight to take the Connecticut Mastery Test beginning in 2005-06. Currently, the CMT is required in grades four, six, and eight.
The air quality bill passed unanimously in the House while the testing bill was passed by the Senate. Both bills were being held up in the opposite chambers over an amendment Gaffey put on the air quality bill concerning historical commissions.
The air quality legislation would allow schools to get state reimbursement for indoor air quality improvements. Towns would be reimbursed at the same rate as school construction reimbursements. Districts would have to build schools with flat roofs and proper drainage and make sure their staff is trained to handle air quality issues.
The measure would require biennial testing of schools to determine if there are airborne particles such as mold, bacteria and fungi present.
The inspections would also test for radon, check heating and air ventilation systems, pest infestation and for pesticides.
Leaders of the Connecticut Education Association, who fought hard for an air quality bill for two years, said the bill sets a framework for a state environmental plan where none existed before.
Officials say the bill won't cost anything above current testing cost because it would rely on expected federal funding.