State Rep. Ben McGorty's proposed legislation to require operators of kayaks, canoes and paddleboards to wear a life vest received a public hearing last week in the Environment Committee.
McGorty (R-122nd), represents part of Trumbull in the state House. He said the intent of this legislation is to improve safety.
"Sudden changes in weather, medical emergencies such as heart attacks, boat collisions, and mechanical injuries can all hinder your ability to survive,” he said. Wearing life vests will not only considerably assist in rescue efforts by law enforcement, but will minimize any risk in such rescue. As a water sports enthusiast your life vest is the single most important piece of equipment you will own.”
A Boat US Foundation study found more than two-thirds of all boating fatalities are drowning incidents and 90% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket
The bill, H.B. 5315, received the support of the Connecticut Alliance of YMCAs, the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, and the Connecticut Recreation and Park Association. A group of crew racers and power boaters expressed their concern with the bill but McGorty said the bill would not impact them because Federal law allows them to race without a lifejacket.
For the bill to advance, the Environment Committee will need to vote the bill out of the committee.