Weapons Laws, Rail Fare Hikes Among New State Laws
HARTFORD — A requirement for state public safety officials to create a registry of people convicted of offenses involving a deadly weapon is one of a host of new laws that took effect in Connecticut as of January 1.
The registry, which will also track those found not guilty of deadly weapon offenses by reason of mental disease or defect, was part of the package of laws that passed earlier in 2013 in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Offenders must register with the state within 14 calendar days after being released from prison, providing such information as current home and e-mail addresses and identifying information, including a physical description. The registration must be maintained for five years.
That same legislative package also requires assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines to be registered with state authorities as of January 1. Hundreds of people lined up at the headquarters of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection in Middletown in recent days, seeking the documents that enable them to keep the now-banned items.
“They better be in line; otherwise [they’ll] lose [their] chance to register and make legal in this state those weapons,” Governor Dannel P. Malloy warned earlier this week.
Under the new law, the registered large-capacity magazines can be kept fully loaded at the owner’s home. They can also be taken to a licensed shooting range or gun club and filled to capacity there.
Minimum Wage Up
The new year will also see a bump in the state minimum wage when it goes up to $8.70. It is th first of a two-year increase, with another raise to $9 taking effect on January 1, 2015.
“We’re going to raise it again next January,” Gov Malloy said Monday, December 30. “We’ll get to $9 long before the federal government takes up the issue.”
Connecticut is one of 14 states that is raising its minimum wage this year.
The state Department of Labor says between 65,000 and 70,000 workers in Connecticut were paid the minimum wage last year, or about 4 percent of the state's labor force.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, but Connecticut businesses must pay the state minimum wage.
As many as 11 states and Washington, D.C., are expected to consider increases in 2014, according to the National Employment Law Project. Approval is likely in more than half of the 11, says NELP policy analyst Jack Temple.
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island legislatures voted to raise the minimum hourly wage by as much as $1, by Wednesday. In California, a $1 increase to $9 is scheduled for July 1. Smaller automatic increases tied to inflation will take effect in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
Transportation Rate Hikes
Also on January 1, some transportation-related changes took effect, including the third of three commuter rail fare increases. The average rate increase of about 5 percent was applied across all rail fares, including weekly and monthly combined bus/rail tickets.
Most CT Transit bus and ADA Paratransit fares will increase January 19.
Snow & Ice Off Vehicles
Truckers who fail to clear their moving vehicles of snow and ice will be liable for fines ranging from $75 to $1,250. Drivers are exempt from the fines when the snow, sleet or freezing rain begins or continues while the truck is moving.
Three years after the General Assembly and then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell enacted the so-called “ice missile” legislation, the measure makes truck drivers liable for fines ranging from $75 to $1,250, depending on whether flying ice and snow from their trucks causes damage or injuries.
A compromise delayed the effective date of the law for commercial vehicles in exchange for its final passage in the 2010 General Assembly. The state’s trucking industry fought for 20 years to block the bill, but it is now selling a product that allows drivers to reach up and scrape the tops of their big rigs.
“This is a law meant to protect citizens and motorists from these elements that can be very dangerous when coming off traveling trucks on our highways and streets,” Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Melody A. Currey said earlier in December.
The law has been in place for motorists since 2011, a Department of Motor Vehicles spokesman said. Motorists at that time began facing fines, ranging from $75 to $1,000.
Other new laws that took effect Wednesday include:
*State and local law enforcement officers will have to follow new procedures when carrying out a civil immigration detainer for someone in their custody, according to An Act Concerning Civil Immigation Detainers (4662). The law prohibits police from detaining the person unless the officer determines that specific public safety risk factors exist.
If the person is to be detained, officers are required to notify federal immigration officials that the person will be held. The person must be released if federal officials fail to take the person into custody within 48 hours.
*With some exceptions, a new law (Public Act 13-272, House Bill 6160) requires sellers transferring titles to one- or two-family dwellings built before October 1, 2005, to provide the buyer with an affidavit.
Among other things, it must certify that the building is equipped with carbon monoxide detection and warning equipment, or that the building does not pose a risk of CO poisoning because it doesn’t have a fuel-burning appliance, fireplace or attached garage.
*A new law increases the income limit for participants in the state’s breast and cervical cancer early detection and treatment referral program from 200 percent of the federal poverty level to 250 percent. Participants still must be 21 to 64 years old and lack health insurance coverage for breast cancer or cervical cancer screenings.
*“An Act Concerning Amended Election Returns,” states that following state elections, the head moderator, registrars of voters nad town clerk for each town must meet within seven days to identify any error in the returns; and must correct any errors and file an amended return within 14 days of the election. This section of Public Act No 13-296 replaces the previous timeline for amended returns.
*A requirement of nursing homes, home healthcare agencies and homemaker-home health aide agencies to maintain professional liability insurance at certain prescribed levels (SB 1060).
*A requirement for the posting of diesel fuel cetane numbers on certain fuel pumps (HB 5907).
*A new section of An Act Concerning The Prevention of Urban Youth Delinquency and Violence (Public Act 13-268) calls for the creation, by The Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, of a Connecticut Young Adult Conservation Corps program, similar to the former federal Young Adult Conservation Corps program. Section 3 of the Act also calls for the ECD commissioner to conduct an audit of the organization to determine compliance, to bring action on behalf of the state against any organization that fails to set aside employment positions in accordance with the new section, and to report on the proceeds of such an organization “after the fiscal year in which proceeds are first received” by a participating organization.
*An update to “An Act Concerning Implementation of Connecticut’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy and Various Revisions to the Energy Statutes” (HB 6360, PA 13-298) says, among other things, that a Public Utilities Regulatory Authority utility commissioner appointed after January 1, 2014 will serve a term of four years; that compact audio players, digital versatile disc (DVD) players and DVD recorders will now meet requirements of California Code Regulations from November 2009; and that as of January 1, televisions manufactured on or after July 1, 2011 shall also meet the California Code Regulations of November 2009; such televisions will also meet new efficiency requirements, also outlined in California Regulations, November 2009.
*An update to “An Act Concerning Revisions to the Education Reform Act of 2012” (Senate Bill 1097, PA 13-245) says that by January 1 the Department of Education was required to develop or approve reading assignments for use by local and regional boards of education to identify students in grades K-3 who are below proficiency in reading, that the department will provide reading assessments, and continue frequent screenings and progress monitoring of such students. In addition, another update days that by January 1 the Department of Education was to have coordinated a statewide reading program for the same age group that contains “strategies and frameworks that are research-driven” to produce student performance.
*An update to “An Act Concerning Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault” (HB 6702, PA 13-214) now states in part that rental agreements entered into or renewed on or after January 1, for anyone who is a victim of sexual assault or is the parent or guardian with custody of a dependent who is the victim of sexual assault, who feels it is necessary to vacate their dwelling for personal safety, may do so without penalty or liability for the remainder of the rental agreement by giving written notice to the landlord at least 30 days prior to the date the tenant intends to terminate the rental agreement.
*An update to “An Act Concerning Distracted Driving And Revisions To The Motor Vehicle Statutes” (HB 6033, PA 13-271) also went into effect this week, regarding the use of phones by those who hold commercial driver’s licenses.
(Associated Press contest was used in the creation of this story.)