Connecticut'sGeneral Assembly debated and adopted several public acts in its 2021 regular session and June special session. Gov. Ned Lamont later signed some of the bills into law.
While several laws went into effect in 2021, here's a look at some of the laws taking effect in 2022.
Paid Family and
Starting on Jan. 1, Connecticut employees will be able to earn family and medical leave benefits through the Paid Family Leave Insurance Authority. According to the CT Paid Leave Authority, employees and self-employed individuals have been making a contribution of "one half of one percent of wages" to the CT Paid Leave Authority Trust Fund since the start of 2021. At the beginning of December 2021, employees could begin submitting applications for paid leave benefits that begin on or after Jan. 1, 2022. Benefit payments would begin in January 2022.
The act provides up to 12 weeks of benefits over a 12-month period and provides two additional weeks of benefits for a serious health condition that "results in incapacitation during pregnancy." This is an increase from the current 16 weeks of leave offered in a 24-month time frame.
Connecticut law currently allows for residents ages 21 and older to carry up to 1.5 ounces and have 5 ounces of cannabis in a locked container in their home or locked portion of their car. It also currently allows only those with medical marijuana cards who are at least 18 years old to grow up to six plants indoors. In 2023, adult-use cannabis laws allow all adults ages 21 and older will be permitted to grow no more than six marijuana plants indoors.
By July 2022, people who were charged with possession of 4 oz. or less of marijuana before Jan. 1, 2000, or between Oct. 1, 2015 and June 30, 2021 can petition the court to have the charges erased. Those with the same charges incurred between Jan. 1, 2000 and Sept. 30, 2015 can have them automatically erased starting in Jan. 2023. Buying legal marijuana in retail stores is set to come later in 2022.
Erasure of criminal records
Signed in the 2021 legislative session, the biggest component of the act allows for the erasure of some criminal records starting in 2023. According to the law, people who have been charged with low-level felonies can petition for a court to clear their public records after seven years if the offense occurred on or after Jan. 1, 2000.
The law does not apply to Class A, B or C felonies (which can include murder, aggravated sexual assault of a minor or first-degree manslaughter with a firearm) - or family violence crimes and certain sex offender crimes. Certain low-level felonies (Class D or E felonies) can be erased after seven years if the offense occurred on or after Jan. 1, 2000.
Starting in July, the act will allow for a police officer part of a disciplinary investigation involving body camera or dashboard camera footage to review the footage in the presence of an attorney and view other camera footage capturing the officer in question during the incident. Within 48 hours of the officer's review (or 96 hours after the incident if the officer doesn't review the footage), the recording can be disclosed to the public upon request.
Other provisions that take effect on Jan. 1, include allowing a judge or jury in a case involving a police officer's use of force to use an officer's deliberate failure to use a body camera to draw conclusions in the trial based on body camera usage law.
Starting Jan. 1, people will not be able to claim religious exception from state-mandated immunizations for students attending public and private schools (including higher education institutions), kids going to child care centers people in family day care or group homes. The elimination of the exemption mainly applies to vaccines often required to attend schools, such as diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, rubella and [hemophilus] haemophilus influenzae type B.
Exemptions submitted before April 28, 2021 for those enrolled in kindergarten or higher will still apply. Students are allowed 14 days after transferring schools to comply with the requirement.
The law also required the Department of Public Health to develop by October 2021 a certificate for health care providers to explain potential health reasons for patients that could exempt them from receiving vaccinations. The potential health reasons include autoimmune disorders or documented reactions to other vaccines, among others.
The Connecticut Parentage Act will take effect on Jan. 1, and will ensure equal treatment under the law for children born to same-sex couples. It will also provide equal access to legal parentage rights for children with unmarried or nonbiological parents.
The new law will also clarify the rights of a non-biological parent in a couple that uses surrogacy or other means of assisted reproduction to have a child whether straight or gay. It also clarifies the rights of a surrogate who carries a child to birth under contract.
Use of force by police officer
Starting Jan. 1, new rules will limit the instances in which a police officer's use of deadly physical force is considered 'justified' when making an arrest or preventing escape. In order for the use of physical force to be considered 'justified,' officers must determine that there are no available reasonable alternatives to using deadly force, and that using force will not create unreasonable risk to a third party. It also allows officers to use deadly force if they deem an escaping person to be a significant threat to others.
The new law also establishes criteria to evaluate whether or not the officer's use of force was "objectively reasonable," and examines whether the officer's "unreasonable conduct" led to an increased risk preceding the use of force. The law's implementation was delayed from April 1, 2021 to Jan. 2022.
Starting Jan. 1 accessory apartments - such as garage apartments, in-law suites or "granny pods" - will be legal to build and rent to family or other tenants in residential and single-family areas. The new law also offers an "opt-out" provision, which allows towns to not utilize the law after a two-thirds vote from the zoning commission and legislative body.
The law also stops municipal zoning regulations from establishing minimum floor area requirements that exceed proper safety code and helps prevent overcrowding. It also requires regulations to provide for varied housing opportunities and further the federal Fair Housing Act, while also protecting "historic, tribal, cultural and environmental resources."
Living organ donors
Public Act No. 21-156 (Sec. 1-3) protects living organ donors from discrimination when obtaining insurance from life, disability and long-term care insurance providers. Any discrimination that falls in this category is considered a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act, which prohibits unfair business practices from insurance companies.
The new law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, also established upon signing the Chronic Kidney Disease Advisory Committee to study kidney disease and the racial disparities present among those affected.
Health equity and coronavirus
By Jan. 1, the Connecticut Department of Public Health is required to develop educational materials on pulse oximeters, the device that detects the amount of oxygen in a patient's blood. Specifically, the educational materials must contain information on the device's tendency to produce an inaccurate blood oxygen level reading for patients of color than for white patients.
These materials are required to be posted on the DPH website by July 1, as well as distributed to health care providers, pharmacies, in-state medical schools, health carriers and pharmacy benefit managers.
Starting Jan. 1, certain health insurance policies covering outpatient prescription drugs will be prohibited from requiring a health care provider to prescribe a supply of outpatient psychotropic drugs greater than what is deemed clinically appropriate, among other cost-sharing provisions.
The new law also prohibits mental health care benefits provided under state law, with state funds or to state employees, from requiring a health care provider to prescribe an outpatient psychotropic drug in a quantity greater than deemed clinically appropriate.
According to the National Cancer Institute, psychotropic drugs are any substance that can affect brain function and change moods, awareness, thoughts, behaviors or feelings.