Friday, May 24, 2024

New Laws Now On The Books Beginning July 1, 2023

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Marijuana

The 44,500 patients, along with their caregivers, in the state’s medical marijuana program, will no longer have to pay annual registration fees.

“This change should create easier access and affordability for patients,” said Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Bryan T. Cafferelli. “If patients were waiting to renew their registration until this change took effect, we would like to remind them to renew their registration after July 1st to continue receiving the benefits of the medical marijuana program. The average price for medical marijuana products remains lower than adult-use products, and there is no tax on medical products, which also helps keep costs lower for people who rely on this medicine.”

In addition, as part of the 2021 full legalization of adult-use cannabis, residents over 21 will be able to grow cannabis in their homes, with up to three seedlings and three mature plants, when the calendar page turns to July 1st.

Grants for needy neighborhoods 

As part of the new biennial budget is a long-term borrowing package that includes $50 million a year for the state Department of Economic and Community Development to create a grant program for so-called high-poverty and low-opportunity neighborhoods based on census tract data. According to an analysis of the law from the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Research, investments will be available for infrastructure support, as well as building, renovating, and rehabilitating mixed-income housing; and creating workforce development programs.

Data privacy

Starting July 1st and until December 31st of 2024, the attorney general will have to contact health insurers with notices of violation of data privacy laws, to allow companies to respond within 60 days.

Voting

A voting rights act named for the late Georgia Congressman John R. Lewis that sparked a protracted debate before passing in the state Senate, but did not reach the House floor for debate, was rolled into the state budget. Included are protections for certain voters based on race, ethnicity and other measures. It also requires municipalities to provide translators for those with limited proficiency; and bans obstruction, intimidation or deception. Complainants could seek remedies in state court.

Fair Share’ housing plan

If signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont, would begin the controversial process for the governor’s budget office, along with other state agencies, to assess affordable housing needs in the state and to develop a “fair share” housing plan by December 1st, 2024, as part of legislation that was solidly opposed by Republicans in the House and Senate.

Accountability for electric companies

In a wide-ranging bill focusing on transparency, accountability and results for state utility customers, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority will be required to conduct management audits of United Illuminating and Eversource. The law adds performance-based accountability standards, based on reliability, customer service and affordability.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will also evaluate the feasibility of developing low-carbon sources, including nuclear and fusion technologies, with a focus on winter time reliability.

Gun safety

Takes effect in October, but on July 1st, the current law on prohibiting loaded shotguns, muzzle-loaders or rifles in motor vehicles and snowmobiles will expand to include any firearm that is not a pistol, for anyone other than a member of a military service, security guards and law enforcement officers. Penalties include 30 days in jail, a $250 fine, or both.

Financial literacy

July 1st also marks the start of financial literacy programming in high schools, starting with the graduating class of 2027, offering half credits for students who take classes in personal financial management.

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