DOAG: 2010 Legislative Session Summary

2010 Legislative Session Summary

 
 
(as of June 30, 2010)
 
The 2010 Legislative Session adjourned, as scheduled, on May 5, 2010.
 
The Public  Acts below, passed this legislative session, are relevant to the agricultural community or to the subject matter under the purview of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAG). For the specific language for each Act you may use the Connecticut General Assembly website as a resource at http://www.cga.ct.gov or call the CT Department of Agriculture at (860) 713-2500 for assistance.
 
Public Act 10-100
An Act Prohibiting the Unreasonable Confinement of Dogs
 
This Act attempts to make Connecticut’s dog confinement law enforceable. Prior to this change Connecticut law prohibited confining or tethering a dog for an “unreasonable” period of time. This has proven to be very difficult to define in legal proceedings and consequently impossible to enforce. The new law prohibits the tethering of dogs to stationary objects or mobile devices by certain means rather than prohibiting tethering or confining a dog in an unreasonable manner; modifies the prohibiting tethering situations and exemptions; changes the fines and penalties for such actions and exempts certain individuals, facilities, organizations, and events and does not affect other protections for dogs in state or local law, ordinance or regulations. The Act also requires (1) Certificates of Origin to be in a form prescribed by the agriculture commissioner; (2) the licensee (pet shop) must file the certificate with the department no later than seven, rather than two days after the sale; and (3) posting the information in the certificate on the sign the pet shops must already post on the cage of each dog offered for sale that is visible to the customers. The Governor signed Public Act 10-100 into law on June 2, 2010.
 
Public Act 10-85
An Act Concerning Conservation and Preservation Restrictions Held by the State
 
Anyone seeking a permit from state or local land use agencies, local building officials, or health directors generally must notify holders of conservation or preservation restrictions on the affected property before filing an application, other than for permits for interior or exterior work not expanding or altering the building’s footprint. This Act specifies that it does not prohibit filing a permit application or requiring written notice when the activity that is the subject of the application will take place on a portion of the property not restricted under the terms of the conservation or preservation restriction. Where a state agency holds the restriction, the Act increases, from 15 to 30 days, the amount of time the state agency has to appeal the granted permit. It requires the state agency that holds the restriction to comply with the permitting authority’s rules regarding appeals. Under the previous law, the permitting authority must reverse its permit approval if it finds that the requested land use violates the restriction. The Act (10-85) requires the permitting authority to immediately reverse its approval if the state agency commissioner, holding a restriction certifies that the land use activity authorized by the permit violates the restriction. The Act requires a municipality to record certain information in the land records whenever it (1) acquires real property with the intent to place a conservation, preservation, or other restriction on its use or (2) intends to permanently protect municipal property by dedicating it as a park or open space land. It authorizes the attorney general to bring an action in superior court to enforce these provisions. The Governor signed Public Act 10-85 into law on May 26, 2010
 
Public Act 10-78
An Act Concerning Vocational Agriculture Science and Technology Aquaculture Center Shellfish Beds
 
This Act allows the Connecticut Department of Agriculture commissioner to designate shellfish areas that are necessary for conducting educational activities to regional agriculture science and technology centers. The shellfish areas are those (1) owned by the state, (2) placed under state jurisdiction by the Town of West Haven or (3) within the state’s exclusive jurisdiction but undesignated. The designated areas must (1) be no greater than 50 acres each of restricted relay grow-out beds and approved harvest beds and (2) not be in production at the time of designation. The educational activities that may be conducted include grow-out activities related to commercial scale aquaculture in the state’s waters. Under the previous law the commissioner of agriculture leased shellfish beds for planting and cultivating to the highest responsible bidder, at a minimum of $4.00 per acre, for 10 year terms. The Act exempts regional agriculture science and technology centers from the minimum acreage fee and 10 year term. The Governor signed Public Act 10-78 into law on May 26, 2010.
 
Public Act 10-20
An Act Concerning the Enforcement of Prohibited Actions Concerning Certain Invasive Plants
 
The previous law bars individuals from importing, moving, selling, buying, transplanting, cultivating or distributing any of 80 listed invasive plants, with exceptions for (1) moving plants for research, eradication, or educational purposes and (2) cultivation only for research. The ban also applies to any of the reproductive portions of a listed invasive plant, including seeds, flowers, roots, and tubers. By law, violators are subject to a fine up to $100 per plant and are treated as infractions. By law, the Department of Agriculture commissioner and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station director may prohibit or regulate the transport of plants and plant material liable to carry dangerous pests and enforce other provisions of the law concerning plant and insect disease and infestation. The director mat inspect nurseries, nursery stock, and pet stores for violations of the invasive plant laws at a reasonable time. People who interfere with the director or the director’s designee or violate any quarantine or regulation are subject to a fine of $5.00 to $100.00. By law, the commissioner may issue orders to correct unsatisfactory conditions. This Act authorizes conservation officers, special conservation officers, and patrolmen appointed by the Department of Environmental Protection commissioner to enforce the law against growing, distributing, or buying invasive plants. The penalty for violating the law is a fine of up to $100.00 per plant. Full time conservation officers have the same powers (1) to enforce the laws and (2) with respect to criminal matter arising in connection with a lawful arrest, as policemen or constables in their jurisdictions. The Governor signed Public Act 10-20 into law on May 5, 2010.
 
Public Act 10-103
An Act Concerning Farms, Food and Jobs
 
This Act: (1) allows the preparation and sale of acidified foods on residential farms. Previously, the law allowed the sale of jams, jellies, or preserves on a residential farm that were prepared (a) with fruit grown on the farm and (b) in a room on the farm that is used as living quarters. It exempts their preparation from any state or local agency inspection. The law requires each jam, jelly, or preserves container offered for sale on the farm to have on its label, in ten-point type: “Not prepared in a government inspected kitchen.” The Act adds “acidified foods” to this exemption and labeling requirement. It establishes specific preparation criteria acidified food must meet for the exemption. The Act restricts those who can be in the kitchen where acidified food is prepared and recognizes successful completion by a food preparer of a DCP-approved safe food processing course. The Act defines “acidified food product” as a food item with a pH value of 4.6 or less upon completion of the recipe making the product, including pickles, salsa, and hot sauce, produced on the premises of a residential farm. The food product must not include food consisting in whole or in part of milk or milk products, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, edible crustacean ingredients or other ingredients, including synthetic ingredients, in a form capable of supporting rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms. The Act redefines jam, jelly, and preserves to include products made with vegetables; (2) Makes the agriculture commissioner responsible for inspection of certain poultry producers and processors and designates processors meeting certain criteria as approved food sources for certain consumers and entities. The Act makes the agriculture commissioner the state official in charge of inspecting any poultry producer and any producer that also operates as a poultry processing facility. Any inspection must be consistent with the requirements of the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act and any applicable federal regulations, including health, sanitary, and safety provisions. Under the Act, processing facilities (a) meeting the applicable criteria for federal Food and Safety Inspection Service exemptions and (b) passing CT Department of Agriculture facility inspections must be designated as approved sources for household consumers, restaurants, hotels, and boarding houses in the state. “Poultry” means any species of domestic fowl, including chickens, turkeys, ostriches, emus, rheas, cassowaries, waterfowl, and game birds raised for food production, breeding, exhibition, or sale. “Producer” means any person, firm, or corporation engaged in breeding, raising, or keeping poultry of not more than 5,000 turkeys or 20,000 poultry of all species in a calendar year for purposes of food production; (3) Specifies that money collected by the Connecticut Milk Promotion Board is not considered state funds and specifies that the board is within the agriculture department for administrative purposes. The nine-member Connecticut Milk Promotion Board develops, coordinates, and implements promotional, research and other programs designed to promote Connecticut dairy farms and milk consumption. It also prepares an annual report for the legislature. The board may use funding available from federal, state, or other sources and enter into contracts to carry out its purposes. The Act specifies that any money collected by the board must not be deemed state funds and must be deposited with the approval of the state treasurer and comptroller in a qualified public depository in Connecticut. Under the Act, the funds can be spent by the board foe expenses incurred in administering the board’s recommended budget and; (4) Expands the definition of a farmers’ market to include a cooperative or nonprofit enterprise or association that occupies a given site for any given day or event and that operates principally as a common marketplace for a group of farmers, with at least two of them selling Connecticut-grown fresh produce, to sell such products in conformance with applicable regulations. Under the previous law, a farmers’ market had to consistently occupy a given site throughout the season. The Governor signed Public Act 10-103 into law June 2, 2010.
 
Public Act 10-92
An Act Concerning Mass Gatherings
 
This Act amends the state’s mass gathering law and provides an exemption from that law for agricultural fairs meeting certain conditions. The previous law required an event organizer to obtain a mass assembly license from the local police chief or first selectman when the event has or is reasonably expected to have at least 2,000 attendees and last for 12 or more consecutive hours. The Act instead requires a license if the (1) average number of people assembled during all hours of the event can reasonably be expected to equal or exceed 2,000 persons and (2) 12 or more consecutive hour standard is met. In addition, the Act instead makes the municipality’s chief elected official or his or her designee the license issuer. He or she must issue a license for the assembly within 15 days of receiving the application if the applicant had complied with all licensure requirements. Under the previous law, the license processing time was 20 days or less. The Act allows a municipality to waive the license process, but no assembly can take place without a license unless the organizer has provided the town’s chief elected official, or designee, at least 20 days before the event notice and a letter documenting that the applicant has provided the required information. The chief elected official or the designee can revoke a license any time if the license holder fails to comply with any of the conditions of issuance. Under the previous law the governing body of the municipality had this responsibility. The Act deletes provisions prohibiting (1) a licensee from selling tickets to or permitting more than the maximum permissible number of people at the licensed location and (2) sound from the assembly carrying unreasonably beyond its location. The Act exempts agricultural fairs from the mass gathering law if (1) the fair has been held annually for at least 10 years since 1990 on the same grounds, (2) the fair is held on grounds owned or leased by the person holding the fair that are specially improved and adapted for holding fairs, (3) the person holding the fair is a nonprofit organization under Connecticut law, and (4) a detailed description of the fair is hand- delivered to the chief elected official of the municipality or the designee where the fair is to be held at least 90 days before it starts. The Governor signed Public Act 10-92 into law on May 26, 2010.