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Connecticut Passes Depleted Uranium Law for Veterans
By Patricia Taylor
I have written in the past regarding pending legislation which would benefit Connecticut veterans and its process through the state legislature. This diary is for those voters in Connecticut who supported this legislation, and for those voters in other states who are considering similar laws:
Last night, the Connecticut Legislature, in Special Session, voted to pass Bill No. 7502, AN ACT CONCERNING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF VARIOUS BUDGETARY PROVISIONS. Within this bill, Representative Roger Michele made sure that two sections covering legislation forwarded from the CT House and Senate to provide testing for depleted uranium and a medical registry for returning CT National Guard were included for passage.
Direct credit and thanks for the passage of this legislation that will benefit Connecticut Veterans goes to Representative Roger Michele (D-77, Chair, Select Committee on Veterans Affairs). Without his stewardship through the process, these laws would never have made it to the floor of the Senate or seen inclusion in this bill.
The legislation originated with a bill sponsored by Representative Pat Dillon (D-92). Senator Gayle Slossberg (D-S14) added her efforts and language to a bill concerning a medical registry for returning veterans in the Senate.
Here is the text of the sections passed that will provide needed medical process, including testing for exposure to depleted uranium, a health study and a medical registry for returning veterans of the CT National Guard:
(4) "Depleted uranium" means uranium containing less uranium-235 than the naturally occurring distribution of uranium isotopes.
(b) On and after October 1, 2005, the Adjutant General and the Commissioner of Veterans' Affairs shall assist any eligible member or veteran who (1) has been assigned a risk level I, II or III for depleted uranium exposure by his or her branch of service, (2) is referred by a military physician, or (3) has reason to believe that he or she was exposed to depleted uranium during such service, in obtaining federal treatment services, including a best practice health screening test for exposure to depleted uranium using a bioassay procedure involving sensitive methods capable of detecting depleted uranium at low levels and the use of equipment with the capacity to discriminate between different radioisotopes in naturally occurring levels of uranium and the characteristic ratio and marker for depleted uranium. No state funds shall be used to pay for such tests or such other federal treatment services.
(c) On or before October 1, 2005, the Adjutant General shall submit a report to the select committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to military and veterans' affairs, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, on the scope and adequacy of training received by members of the Connecticut National Guard on detecting whether their service as eligible members is likely to entail, or to have entailed, exposure to depleted uranium. The report shall include an assessment of the feasibility and cost of adding predeployment training concerning potential exposure to depleted uranium and other toxic chemical substances and the precautions recommended under combat and noncombat conditions while in a combat zone.
Sec. 34. (Effective from passage) (a) There is established a task force to study the health effects of the exposure to hazardous materials, including, but not limited to, depleted uranium, as they relate to military service. The task force shall, within available appropriations: (1) With the approval of the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives, and subject to the provisions of subsection (c) of this section, commission a study to consider the health of service members who may have been exposed to hazardous materials since August 2, 1990, and conduct a scientific conference on such health effects; (2) initiate a health registry for veterans, as defined in subsection (a) of section 27-103 of the general statutes, and military personnel returning from Afghanistan, Iraq or other countries in which depleted uranium or other hazardous materials may be found; (3) develop a plan for outreach to and follow-up of military personnel; (4) prepare a report for service members concerning potential exposure to depleted uranium and other toxic chemical substances and the precautions recommended under combat and noncombat conditions while in a combat zone; and (5) make any other recommendations the task force considers appropriate.
(b) The task force shall consist of the following members:
(1) The Commissioner of Veterans' Affairs or a designee;
(2) The Commissioner of Public Health or a designee;
(3) Six members who are members of the General Assembly, appointed, one each, by the president pro tempore of the Senate, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the majority and minority leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives;
(4) Two members who are veterans with knowledge of or experience with exposure to hazardous materials, appointed, one each, by the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives; and
(5) Four members who are physicians or scientists with knowledge of or experience in the detection or health effects of exposure to depleted uranium or other hazardous materials, appointed, one each, by the majority and minority leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
(c) The person retained to conduct the study under subdivision (1) of subsection (a) of this section shall, prior to being retained, disclose to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives any research done by such person (1) on any matters related to depleted uranium, or (2) that was funded by an entity that is engaged in manufacturing processes that use depleted uranium.
(d) All appointments to the task force shall be made no later than thirty days after the effective date of this section. Any vacancy shall be filled by the appointing authority.
(e) The president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives shall appoint as chairpersons of the task force one senator and one representative, respectively, from among the members appointed under subdivision (3) of subsection (b) of this section. The chairpersons shall schedule the first meeting of the task force, which shall be held no later than sixty days after the effective date of this section.
(f) The administrative staff of the select committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to military and veterans' affairs shall serve as administrative staff of the task force.
(g) Not later than January 31, 2006, the task force shall submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the select committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to military and veterans' affairs, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes. The task force shall terminate on the date that it submits such report or January 31, 2006, whichever is earlier.