More than two dozen new state laws went into effect on Jan. 1, ranging from expanded health insurance coverage and paid leave to changes in court, property and DMV rules.
The state’s sales tax is expanding. The rate remains the same at 6.35 percent, but it will apply to more goods and services as of Jan 1. You’ll pay sales tax on parking fees, on laundry and dry cleaning, and on interior design and the purchase of safety clothing. State officials expect to net around $25 million from this expanded sales tax in the coming year.
Connecticut driver’s license holders will be able to renew their licenses every eight years rather than six through PA 19-165, after an initial period of seven rather than six years. Updated fees for two-year and three-year vehicle registrations are also detailed within the act.
Through PA 19-147, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection will expand its free training for state and local police to include how to appropriately engage with juveniles and adults who have autism, nonverbal learning or cognitive disabilities.
Under the act, the UConn Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities will create a communication aid for use by emergency medical services personnel, firefighters, police officers, active members of licensed or certified ambulance services, emergency mobile psychiatric services personnel, and mental health crisis intervention services personnel.
Several changes to how the probate court operates are underway through PA 19-47, mostly centered on family affairs. The bill removes the probate court’s independent ability to, on its own motion, appoint a guardian for a minor who has no parent or guardian and instead allows only an adult relative, person with physical custody of the minor, or the minor’s attorney to petition for a guardian appointment. The bill also addresses several issues regarding child abuse and neglect, Department of Children and Families investigations, court-ordered evaluations, and parental rights.
Business taxes & property
Connecticut is eliminating its business entity tax, long seen as a nuisance tax in the business community. It’s a $250 fee collected every two years from every business registered with the Secretary of the State’s office. The elimination will cost the state about $44 million dollars, but business groups say the goodwill created among companies will pay dividends.
Through PA 19-92, superior courts in municipalities with populations over 35,000 can appoint “receivers” to rehabilitate abandoned and blighted properties if an owner of a residential, commercial or industrial building fails to maintain it according to municipal codes.
Health & insurance
Through PA 19-201, eye doctors can no longer charge patients more than their customary rates for services, procedures or products not covered by an insurance policy or benefit plan. Notice of nondiscounted or uncovered services and procedures must be posted in plain sight. It also requires insurance carriers to include a statement regarding uncovered services, procedures and products on each evidence of coverage document issued for individual or group vision plans.
Through PA 19-159, health insurers can no longer deny coverage for substance abuse services solely because the services were provided under a court order. It also prevents insurers from placing limits on the length of treatment for mental health and substance use disorders.
These provisions apply to individual and group health insurance policies delivered, issued, renewed, amended or continued in Connecticut on or after Jan. 1, 2020, that cover: basic hospital expenses; basic medical-surgical expenses; major medical expenses; or hospital or medical services, including those provided under an HMO plan.
Through PA 19-33, health insurers can no longer use age restrictions to avoid mandated coverage for hearing aids. Under prior law, policies could limit hearing aid coverage to $1,000 within a 24-month period. The act instead allows policies to limit coverage to one hearing aid per ear within a 24-month period without cost limitations.
Through PA 19-72, a one-year clinical residency is now a standard requirement for dentist licensure. The act includes additional changes in laws related to dental professionals.
This story was originally published Dec. 31, 2019, by Connecticut Public Radio.