Governor Dannel P. Malloy held a bill signing ceremony at the State Capitol on Tuesday to commemorate the passage of legislation that creates a special fund to assist individuals who suffered psychological trauma as a result of their work related to the Sandy Hook tragedy. He was joined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra, Newtown Police Captain Joe Rios, and others to mark the occasion.
The Sandy Hook Workers Assistance Fund will be funded through private donations and provide support to volunteer and professional workers, including first responders, school employees, and others, who are suffering from mental health issues as a result of the tragedy. Traditional workers compensation does not currently cover most workers for exclusively mental injuries.
"While almost three months have passed, the anguish of that day is still raw for many. The creation of this fund will allow first responders, school employees, and other professionals and volunteers who so bravely responded to this horrific event to receive the support they deserve," Governor Malloy said. "I want to commend the members of the General Assembly for coming together in a bipartisan manner to provide relief to those who have been affected by this tragedy."
Lt. Governor Wyman said, "This bill is another example of how Connecticut has responded to this tragedy with unity and compassion and a real desire to do whatever we can to help those directly affected on that horrible day. I congratulate the leaders of both parties and their partners in this effort and hope that this spirit of cooperation continues to guide us as we address the numerous and complex issues that Sandy Hook has presented."
The legislation (H.B. 6599) was approved unanimously last week in both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly.
"Unfortunately, the mental and emotional trauma that our first responders, teachers and other workers and volunteers experienced at Sandy Hook is not adequately covered by existing help," Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) said. "With this fund, Connecticut comes together as a community to show our generosity, compassion and appreciation for those who bravely had to face this horrible tragedy."
"We heard from those who were on site in Sandy Hook December 14 firsthand about what they needed to help them get their lives back," House Minority Leader Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk) said. "Working collaboratively, we were able to fashion a unique and comprehensive response that speaks to their needs."
"What our first responders, teachers, and administrators witnessed that terrible day has left an indelible mark on their lives," Senate President Donald E. Williams (D-Brooklyn) said. "I am proud to stand with the Governor and the leaders of both parties to help those affected receive the care they need to heal and resume their careers."
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield), whose district includes Newtown, said, "One of the most important things we can do as a community and a legislature in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy is provide our neighbors -- many of whom have witnessed unimaginable horror and violence -- the resources they need to heal. This fund is an important step in that direction. I'm grateful for the generous support of the many civic-minded Connecticut-based organizations and private citizens who have helped make it possible."
"I thank Governor Malloy for signing this bill so quickly. Now those suffering from mental health issues because of the tragedy at Sandy Hook can receive the help they need without causing an undue financial burden on themselves or their families," House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin, Southington) said.
"This fund will provide necessary and vital financial support to the first responders, teachers and volunteers suffering with the mental health aftereffects of this terrible tragedy," Senate Majority Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) said. "No one should have to struggle alone with the aftermath of this tragedy and I am happy that Democrats, Republicans and corporate leaders have worked together to establish this fund."