Hartford – The Working Lands Alliance (WLA) honored State Senator Kevin Witkos (R-8) with its 2016 Legislative Leadership Award for his dedication to protecting state-owned lands. Senator Witkos received the award at WLA’s Annual Meeting at the Capitol on November 16th.
“Senator Witkos deserves enormous credit as a champion who has worked diligently in a bi-partisan way to better protect public lands in Connecticut,” said Eric Hammerling, member of the WLA Steering Committee and Executive Director of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA). Hammerling presented the award to Sen. Witkos along with Terry Jones, Chairman of the WLA Steering Committee.
“I am truly honored to receive this award,” said Sen. Witkos. “I believe the state of Connecticut has an obligation to protect state-owned forest land, parks, wildlife areas and other open space. I was honored to help lead the way to pass legislation this year that starts the process of better protecting the environment with a constitutional amendment. I’m grateful to be recognized for this work today.”
This year Sen. Witkos was a major supporter of Senate Joint Resolution 36, one of WLA’s priorities for the 2016 legislative session. SJR 36 is the first step towards a constitutional amendment to better protect state lands, including both conservation and agricultural lands, from being sold, traded, or given away without a more transparent public process.
“A constitutional amendment will ensure that environmental protection always remains a top priority. It will also strengthen protections so that any preserved land sale is sufficiently weighed and considered by lawmakers and the public, and is balanced with the acquisition of new protected land,” said Witkos.
The process requires passage of the same resolution a second time before the question to amend the state’s constitution is put before the voters across the state. WLA, and other advocates, will be pushing for its passage again in the 2017 legislative session which begins in January.
Sen. Witkos was recently elected to his fifth term in the State Senate. He became the Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore in January 2015 and he proudly represents the 8th Senate District, which includes the communities of Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury and Torrington.