State Senate Majority Leader Marty Looney (D-New Haven) has always been a favorite of The Shad. Brilliant, measured, thoughtful and not a “bomb-thrower” as we used to say, Looney is pretty much the conscience of the state Senate. I had the pleasure of working with Sen. Looney for a number of years, personally handling his communications and press operation (as an English professor as well as a success lawyer, he always politely changed a word, phrase or sentence or two that I had written for him).

This session, Looney—a reasonable progressive—has championed some very important legislation. With education committee co-chair Sen. Andrea Stillman (D-Waterford), Sen. Looney spearheaded the committee passage of the new anti-bullying bill. 

The bill includes:
• Expanding the definition of school bullying to include “cyber-bullying”—bullying through the use of electronic devices, or on the Internet as well as certain other bullying behavior that occurs off school grounds

• Requiring annual training for all school employees, not just teachers and administrators, in preventing, identifying and responding to bullying
• Requiring school employees to report bullying within one school day after they are told about it or witness it, to the school’s principal or safe school specialist who then must investigate the incident within ten days
• Requiring new teachers and administrators to undergo specific training before receiving certification.

“The world has changed significantly since we last updated our bullying laws in 2008,” Looney said. “Today we have a better understanding of its devastating effects on children and how social media can be used to intimidate students. This bill, and its support in the General Assembly, should give students and their parents some peace of mind.” The stories of the results of the bullying of children in school are heartbreaking and Sen. Looney is doing something about it.

Looney has sponsored other key legislation that The Shad will feature in future entries.

I remember driving Sen. Looney back to the Capitol from a Senate Dem. caucus at which he was voted majority leader some years ago. On the way, he called his family to give them the good news. That was probably as excited as I’d seen him. That speaks volumes.