HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Dozens of new state laws went into effect on Sunday, affecting individuals, businesses and cities across Connecticut.
Several laws address animals, including legalizing shooting a bear in self defense, increasing penalties for some animal abuse cases and requiring animal shelters to have heating and cooling.
Bills also usher in measures like creating a task force to study police officers’ mental health needs, studying how many 911 calls would better be served by the United Way of Connecticut’s 211 information line and declaring homelessness a public health crisis.
Another law effectively bans the state’s use of the word “Latinx” in official communications, instead restricting similar terms to “Latino,” “Latina” and “Latine.” Other legislation addresses social justice issues, including increasing how many trees are in areas identified as an “environmental justice community.”
While some of these laws have an “effect date” of Oct. 1, some do give more leeway to when it will be enacted. For example, some laws are effective starting Sunday but have future deadlines set for measures to be implemented.
More information on the full list is available online.
Here are some laws that went into effect on Oct. 1:
While House Bill 6484 does not ban all harvesting of horseshoe crabs, it does prohibit most of it that’s done by hand. Violating the law comes with a penalty of $25 per crab.
The crabs are valuable because of their blue blood, which is used to make medical products. However, overharvesting was making it difficult for the crabs to replenish their populations.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection can still allow permits for harvesting the crabs for educational and scientific purposes.
Senate Bill 1196 not only requires the state department of correction to tell victims of crimes when the incarcerated person connected to their case is transferred, but also tell the inmate’s family members, as well.
Another aspect of the bill is to potentially buy body scanning machines that will allow x-ray screenings for contraband. The technology could replace strip searches.
Colleges and universities in Connecticut can no longer use a transcript as a bargaining item to collect debts. Senate Bill 922 bans the practice, requiring the institutions of higher education to hand over the transcripts to an employer, prospective employer or U.S. military branch if they ask for it.
Senate Bill 1117 introduces a new approach to help fight human trafficking — changing how hotels can charge for a room. Under the new law, hotels, motels or other lodging operators cannot rent a room with sleeping accommodations for a discount based on an hourly rate or an occupancy period that’s under 12 hours.
Under House Bill 6892, the maximum fee that can be imposed on a blighted property will increase from $100 to $1,000 for repeat offenders. The maximum littering fee will also increase from $199 to $500.
A defendant’s confession will be considered involuntary and inadmissible in court if it was obtained by using deception or coercive tactics. However, it can still be used if the state “proves by clear and convincing evidence” that the confession was voluntary and that interrogation tactics didn’t pressure the suspect to falsely incriminate themself.
More of a technicality, House Bill 5510 expands the definition of “armed forces” and “members of armed forces” to include people serving in the U.S. Space Force. That means they are now considered veterans, and therefore can access tuition benefits, property tax exemptions and can be buried in a state veterans’ cemetery.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation must install wrong-way driving detection and notification systems on at least 120 highway exit ramps that are considered high-risk. It will also create a pilot program to broadcast alerts on electronic signs if a wrong-way driver has entered the highway.
The bill, which also makes it illegal to feed bears, allows people to shoot black bears in self defense. The law sets out guidelines requiring a bear to come after an individual, their family and their property before the animal can be shot.
The law does not legalize a bear hunt.
A pilot program regarding electronic monitoring for family violence offenders, previously only operating in the Bridgeport, Danielson and Hartford judicial districts will be required to be statewide by Oct. 1, 2025.
Any person who is at least 25 years old and uses a computer or text message to coerce a minor into sending photos or videos meant for sexual gratification — and then shares them — will be guilty of a class A misdemeanor of harmful communication with a minor. The law also applies to communication used to create or maintain an inappropriate relationship between the adult and juvenile.
Under the new legislation, banks can temporarily suspend or hold transactions if they think a customer who is over the age of 60 is being financially exploited. The banks are recommended to disclose the suspected abuse to the state.
Transactions can be held for up to 45 days. The law also makes banks immune from liability, as long as they acted in good faith.
While the full law doesn’t go into effect until next July, the part that determines join account ownership and applies to bank statements is effective Oct. 1.
House Bill 6813 creates a seabird and shorebird protection plan under the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Under the law, DEEP can name state-owned areas as protected areas for the birds, which makes it illegal for people to disturb them.
The protections would last from March 1 to Sept. 15 each year.
Sexually assaulting an animal will become a class A misdemeanor under House Bill 6714. Distributing images of an animal being sexually abused will also be classified as sexual assault of an animal.
The charge was previously considered fourth-degree sexual assault, which is also a class A misdemeanor. The change means that officers can take an animal that was potentially sexually assaulted and requires veterinarians to report suspected abuse. Those convicted of sexually assaulting an animal will be banned for being in close contact with an animal for five years.
A flurry of changes under Senate Bill 986 would impact infant and maternal health in a variety of ways.
Among the new items is a new license category for freestanding birth centers, an infant mortality relief program that would review information on newborn deaths, the creation of a doula advisory committee and the introduction of a voluntary doula certification program.
House Bill 6590 prevents zoning regulations from banning family or group child care homes in residential areas. Instead, the homes can’t be treated differently from other single or multi-family dwellings.
Previously, boards could require a special permit or exception to operate the homes in residential zones.
Municipal and regional animal shelters must have heating and cooling systems that keep temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees inside. An exemption can be made for medical reasons if a veterinarian signs off on it.
The “services cliff” for people with disabilities who are entering adulthood may be a little less steep due to House Bill 5001. The new law requires the state to make a plan for a transitional life skills college program to help people with a intellectual or developmental disability who are transitioning out of high school.
The law also requires the state to look at existing employee assistance programs for people with disabilities and recommend financial incentives for companies to hire them.
Among multiple other items included in the bill include expanding the Medicaid waiver program for people with autism to reduce the existing waitlist, expanding the missing persons database to include information about missing people with disabilities and requires some agencies to develop guidelines for how emergency service workers interact with adults and children with certain disorders.
Municipalities must allow residents to pay their tax bills with electronic payments. These include charge cards, debit cards and payment services like PayPal. However, municipalities can impose service fees for using them.
People who carry a gun at street takeovers and street racing events may now face additional charges. Guns that are brought with the “intent to display it” will be banned at the events, and other penalties for illegal street racing have been added to state code.
See a cow on the loose? That’s potentially illegal.
A new bill bans owners and livestock keepers from letting their livestock to roam onto another person’s land or on a public highway.
Several changes to hospice services and coverage are included in Senate Bill 1075. These include piloting telehealth hospice services, allowing advanced practice registered nurses to administer some IV medications and requires some insurance policies to cover in-home hospice services to the same level they cover in-patient services.