Sixteen new state laws went into effect yesterday, some original for the state and others that expanded on previously existing penalties for crimes of violence or cruelty. For your convenience, Cross Campus has compiled some of the major ones below so you know what to expect in the upcoming year.
Medical marijuana (HB 5389): One of the most controversial bills, HB 5389 was signed into law by Conn. Gov Dan Malloy last May and legalizes the prescription of medical marijuana. The move made Connecticut the 17th state to enact such legislation allowing the palliative use of marijuana. There are, of course, still restrictions on how and when patients can smoke or ingest the drug — an individual can possess up to a one-month supply and patients cannot use marijuana at work, school, public or while moving vehicles or in the presence of children.
Caylee’s Law, named after the missing daughter from the famous Casey Anthony trial of 2011. The law makes it a class A felony to knowingly fail to report the disappearance of a child under the age of 12, and requires adults to report a missing child if they haven’t had contact with the child for 24 hours. Similar bills have been approved in seven other states.
Two laws against human violence have been revised to include harsher penalties and more support for victims. It is now a class C misdemeanor to purchase space advertising a commercial sex act depicting a minor, which has the greater goal of preventing sexual exploitation of children. Secondly, courts and law enforcement agencies will provide greater protection against domestic violence.
Punishments for animal cruelty are also stricter. The maximum penalty for subsequent convictions has risen from $1,000 to $5,000 and from one year of imprisonment to five years.
Connecticut prisons are now required to comply with federal standards for rape prevention and response.
Two changes to road safety measures: First, licensed ham radio operators are now exempt from the ban on using hand-held mobile devices while driving. Second, drivers must move over one lane when approaching a stationary moving vehicle on any highway with at least two lanes.
Emergency vehicle services: People who receive medical treatment or transportation will be held accountable for the cost of an emergency vehicle regardless of whether or not they asked for emergency help.
Real estate: Landlords are now forbidden by a new law from evicting an elderly or physically disabled tenant simply because his or her lease has expired. The owners of nursing homes must tell prospective and current residents if the buildings are in receivership or have filed for bankruptcy.
Data breaches: A new measure now requires companies to notify the Attorney General’s Office of any data breach.
New standards for the appointment of legal guardians to incapacitated adults or children.
Two new environmental bills also went into effect yesterday: Both bills are revisions of previous policies. To improve record-keeping of open space within the state, a report has been commissioned for December 15. The report should include an estimate of how much land has been preserved as well as potential methods and costs of accurately tracking open space land. The state expects a new report every five years after. The second environmental law considers a rise in sea level when planning coastal development.
Health care: A new measure passed yesterday that requires all institutions caring for newborns to test them for critical congenital heart disease, which studies show accounts for 30 percent of infant deaths. Parents of identified newborns will be quickly directed to counseling and treatment to reduce mortality. The law will go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.