New year, new Connecticut laws to know as the semester starts

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New year, new Connecticut laws to know as the semester starts

Skylar Haines

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New taxes for consumers, license changes that result in fewer trips to the Department of Motor Vehicles and a tax break for Connecticut businesses are some of the new laws implemented in the state of Connecticut as 2020 begins. While students are making their way back to Quinnipiac, they may notice some changes in the state as actions from the past legislative session have begun to take effect.  

Here are a few broken down: 

Sales tax expanded 

The original 6.35% sales tax has expanded to more items and services including parking, dry cleaning and laundry, interior design products and safety apparel. These new taxes have mixed reviews, but they are largely welcomed by state legislators, as they are estimated to bring $25 million in revenue the first full year they are collected. Gov. Ned Lamont previously sought to expand the sales tax even more, but this was rebuffed by law makers. This law is one of the biggest items of revenue in the two-year budget adopted in June. The budget seeks to better Connecticut’s $36.9 billion in bonded debt, according to a recent state study. 

Fewer trips to Connecticut DMV 

Drivers will be able to go longer without a trip to the DMV as there has been an extension of the time between renewals for driver’s licenses and motor vehicle registrations. The six years between license renewals has expanded to eight, and the two years between vehicle registration renewals has moved to three. The accompanying fee will be increased proportionately.  

Business entity tax gone 

Every two years, each company that does business in Connecticut was required to pay a $250 business entity tax. However, it has now been eliminated. This measure was included in the two-year budget and is proposed to account for a $44 million loss in revenue in the upcoming fiscal year. 

Licensing of community health workers 

For students studying health sciences and thinking about working in Connecticut, a new certification program for all community health workers is now being administered by the state Department of Public Health. Requirements of the program include at least 1,000 hours of experience and a one-time $100 fee. This new certification must be renewed every three years. Community health workers are defined as public health professionals who “serve as liaisons between community members and health care and social service providers.” 

Comprehensive training for police to manage autism  

The state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection has added techniques for handling youths and adults on the autism spectrum to their free training for state and local police. This was a bipartisan proposed and supported bill. Supporters of the expansion on the training said in a legislative hearing that it is needed to avoid circumstances where law enforcement and those with autism escalate needlessly based on miscommunication or lack of understanding.  

Abandoned properties 

Courts are now authorized to appoint “receivers” to take over abandoned properties in cities and towns, as long as there is a population of at least 35,000. An interested party can petition the court to rehabilitate the property if it meets the requirements: it has not been occupied for at least 12 months, it has not been recently acquired or listed for sale, there are three or more problematic building conditions such as violations of a local blight ordinance, and there is no pending foreclosure. The state hopes this will not only remove abandoned properties from their hands but also that it will promote small businesses.  

Annual boating fee 

Boaters in Connecticut will now pay an annual fee that will go directly towards efforts eradicating aquatic invasive species in state bodies of water. The fee is $5 for in-state vessels and $20 for out-of-state vessels. These have to be paid whenever the boat’s registration is renewed. This is expected to raise about $500,000 a year for the state budget.