Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5129

Title:

AN ACT ESTABLISHING A "SAVE OUR LAKES" NUMBER PLATE TO COMBAT AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES AND CYANOBACTERIA BLOOMS.

Vote Date:

2/28/2018

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

2/23/2018

File No.:

2

Disclaimer: The following Joint Favorable Report is prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and does not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose.

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Environment Committee

Rep. James M. Albis, 99th Dist.

Rep. David Arconti, 109th Dist.

Rep. Dorinda Borer, 115th Dist.

Rep. Bill Buckbee, 67th Dist.

Rep. Vincent J. Candelora, 86th Dist.

Rep. Craig C. Fishbein, 90th Dist.

Rep. Peter A. Tercyak, 26th Dist.

Rep. Melissa H. Ziobron, 34th Dist.

REASONS FOR BILL:

Many lake authorities and associations are experiencing increases with pervasive and invasive aquatic invasive species and toxic cyanobacteria blooms. Invasive plants are expensive to manage. Recently, funding sources from the state to assist municipalities in combating aquatic invasive species are diminishing. This bill will create “Save Our Lakes” commemorative license plates and establishes a Connecticut lakes and ponds preservation account. “Save Our Lakes” commemorative license plate fees and most donations will be required to be deposited into the Connecticut lakes and ponds preservation account.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Michael Bzdyra, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Opposes the bill. Special interest plates are funded by DMV with initial production costs of approximately $3,800. DMV attempts to recoup production costs thru the registration process; however, in cases where there are not enough registrants, it costs the state money to produce a new plate design. Another option for advocates would be to issue “Save Our Lakes” plates thru a qualifying organization pursuant to section 14-19a of the Connecticut General Statute. This method allows for the creation of a specialized plate if at least 400 registration applicants raise funds for that organization. This process ensures that production costs will be covered.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Amy Blaymore Paterson, Executive Director, Connecticut Land Conservation Council: This bill seeks to address the very serious problem of invasive species proliferation in the state's environment.

Bill Buckbee, State Representative, 67th Dist.: This bill is vital for the upkeep of Connecticut lakes, ponds, rivers and streams; such as, Candlewood lake located in the 67th district. Without this bill, residents of New Milford would likely see their beloved bodies of water overrun by invasive species.

Elizabeth Gara, Connecticut Water Works Association (CWWA): CWWA supports the intent of this bill to raise awareness and provide funding to fight invasive species that threaten the state's lakes and ponds, but recommends that the bill be broadened to support efforts to address invasive species that threaten the state's public water supplies and systems.

Len Greene, Director of Government & Regulatory Affairs, FirstLight Power Resources: Many state lakes, which were originally created to generate electricity, are also hugely important assets to the state of Connecticut as a whole. The growing threats to these lakes include invasive species such as Eurasian Milfoil and zebra mussels, to public health concerns from toxic cyanobacteria blooms. FirstLight Power Resources has worked with stakeholder groups around each impoundment to improve the health of the lakes. The role on the impoundments FirstLight Power Resources operate, mandated through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is to manage the shoreline according to specific guidelines designed to protect the health of the lake. The serious nature of threats to such lakes requires additional support from the state.

Hillary Kenyon, Environmental Scientist & Certified Lake Manager, Northeast Aquatic Research, LLC.: Many lakes in Connecticut are plagued by aquatic invasive species, harmful cyanobacteria blooms, and nonpoint source pollutions from surrounding watersheds. Lakes across the state are publically accessible, provide outdoor recreational opportunities for all residents, and serve as economic engines for municipalities.

Ingrid Manning, Vice President, Lake Quasssapaug Association: The Lake Quassapaug Association has worked diligently to control variable milfoil and eliminate Eurasian milfoil through suction harvesting; however, the association will need ongoing support for this effort.

Randall Miller, Vice President, Connecticut Federation of Lakes: Connecticut lakes are under attack by uncontrolled invasive plant species and toxic cyanobacteria blooms. This bill will be beneficial for state lanes during Connecticut's challenging budgetary period. The special interest license plat will both create an opportunity to efforts made by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and highlight the plight of state lakes.

Margaret Miner, Executive Director, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut: Rivers Alliance supports this bill. State lakes are in perilous condition and there are no easy solutions.

Dustyn Nelson, Secretary, Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association: Education and eradication of invasive plants through funds raised by donations in conjunction with commemorative license plates is important to invasive plant management in the state.

Chris Sanders, President, Friends of West Side Pond, Inc.: West Side Pond has been notified by experts that invasive species will crowd out native species and make the lake unsuitable for certain forms of wildlife if nothing is done. Although Friends of West Side Pond is prepared to spend $45,000 this year in an attempt to control the invasive milfoil, invasive plant species and cyanobacteria blooms are very expensive environmental problems to address.

Deborah Shurberg, Recording Secretary and Board Member, Bantam Lake Protection Association: Bantam is Connecticut's largest natural lake with several boat launches, beaches and many recreational facilities. Yearly funding from the town of Morris, the White Memorial Foundation, and private funding have aided the efforts to stop the threats of invasive species. However, this bill provides a long-term effort and a more secure and sustainable funding source to combat invasive species.

Constance Trolle, President, Connecticut Federation of Lakes, Inc.: Connecticut inland waterbodies are a source of economic value to many municipalities. These waterbodies are under attack by uncontrolled invasive plant species and growing incidents of toxic cyanobacteria blooms. A special interest license plate will create an opportunity for groups like the Connecticut Federation of Lakes to highlight the plight of Connecticut lakes.

The Environment Committee received approximately 20 additional similar testimonies supporting the bill and sharing concerns of the negative impact invasive species and cyanobacteria blooms have on Connecticut lakes.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None Expressed.

Reported by: Pamela Bianca / Ussawin R. Bumpen

03/30/2018