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We Were Promised (Legislation on) Jetpacks

Hazel Motes
Creative Commons
A bill would establish no-use zones for the jet pack devices and keep them at least 200 feet from shore.

State environmental officials are setting out their legislative priorities for 2015, and there's at least one unexpected issue that's being addressed: jet packs.

The legislative proposals are wide-ranging, covering everything from stricter labeling requirements on farm products made in Connecticut to a program requiring that tire companies assume more responsibility for disposing of their products after consumer use.

Then there are water jet packs. "It's basically a James Bond-style jet pack that uses the thrust of a personal watercraft to send the rider 20 or 30 feet in the air," said Rob Klee, head of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Klee is looking to get a bill passed that would restrict the use of these devices to people age 16 and up. It would also require operators get safety training. "These are interesting devices. They are very different than what folks have seen on the water. I've not personally seen one in action," Klee said. "But, from those who have -- it draws a crowd. That's some of the challenge, when it draws a crowd -- where the person flying in the air lands."

The bill would establish no-use zones for the devices and keep the jet packs at least 200 feet from shore.

Other proposals discussed so far this session include stricter fines for moving firewood illegally, which DEEP said facilitates the spread of invasive species like the emerald ash borer and the asianlonghorned beetle.

It's still early in the session, which means there's a lot of time for debate.

There's also the question of enforcing these ideas, which takes money. To that end, Klee and other environmental officials say they're in a bit of a holding pattern until Governor Dannel Malloy gives his budget address on Wednesday.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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