OPA: 2011 Annual Legislative Rport

Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities

2011 Annual Legislative Report

September 15, 2011

Prepared by

Beth A. Leslie, Legislative and Regulations Specialist, 860-297-4300

 

This report is available in alternative format upon request.  Please contact us at:

Toll-free 1-800-842-7303 (for both voice and TTY)

Or

60-B Weston Street

Hartford, CT 06120

www.ct.gov/opapd

 

INTRODUCTION

 

September 2011

 

Budget concerns cast a long shadow over the 2011 session of the Connecticut General Assembly.  Actually, the term “concerns” is woefully inadequate to describe the scope and depth of the fiscal problems confronting the State: the size of the deficit was unprecedented, reserve funds had been fully committed, program costs and revenues were both headed in the wrong direction, and the deferrals, borrowing, federal stimulus funding and other one-time expedients that the State had relied on in the past were simply used up.  And, the economy was not getting better.  The budget proposed by the Governor, and ultimately passed by the Legislature in modified form, adopted a multi-pronged approach involving reductions in labor costs, enhancing revenues and effecting structural changes, including consolidation of certain agencies and programs.  As indicated in this report, several such consolidations – such as the creation of the new Bureau of Rehabilitative Services from four previously distinct programs – are of particular importance to people with disabilities.

 

Beyond dealing with Connecticut’s monumental budget problems, however, the General Assembly took action on a number of bills that significantly impact the rights of people with disabilities.  Subtle changes in the terminology, definitions and reach of statutes governing health insurance and health care practices, education, criminal justice, developmental services and mental health services are outlined in this report.  Some of these changes, like the adoption of the term “Intellectual Disability” in the enabling statutes for the Department of Developmental Services, and for our own Office’s Abuse Investigation Division, have more to do with addressing cultural perceptions and unconscious prejudice than changing program content.  Others, such as the requirement that custodial interrogations of individuals suspected of committing major crimes, will, when it is ultimately implemented, be recorded, help safeguard people with intellectual, cognitive and psychiatric disabilities against the types of pressures that can lead to false confessions and wrongful convictions.  And some items – such as the requirement that the Department of Education conduct an inquiry into special education costs, and specifically report on State mandates that exceed the minimum required by federal special education law – will bear careful scrutiny as they are implemented.

 

All in all, the legislature covered a lot of ground this session.  I hope this report will be helpful in understanding what it accomplished, and that it will encourage readers with an interest in disability rights issues to become more involved in discussions with their own State Representatives and Senators.     

 


James D. McGaughey

Executive Director

STAY INFORMED / FOLLOWING THE LEGISLATURE

Copies of bills, public acts and special acts are available on the legislative website at: www.cga.ct.gov .  The top right corner of the first page of the legislative website allows you to enter the bill number. You are then brought to a screen that shows the bill number and title as well as the status of the bill and links to various documents including the Public Act. The Public Act is the official wording of the law.  Be sure to look at the bill history—if there is not a Public Act number or Special Act number, then the bill did not pass and therefore is not a law.

The legislature also has an Office of Legislative Research (OLR) that maintains summaries of Public Acts as well as reports and information on a wide variety of topics. You can conduct searches on specific topics or browse the list of reports that are available.  The OLR website address is www.cga.ct.gov/olr . On the OLR home page, click on "NEW" in the top left corner to see research reports created this month.  Clicking on "Archives" will bring you to reports from past months and other items of interest.

HOW THIS REPORT IS ORGANIZED / SUMMARIES BY OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH

Bills are listed under general subject headings.

The Connecticut General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Research produces summaries of all bills and public acts. The summaries in this report are taken from the Office of Legislative Research.  Only the portions of legislation affecting people with disabilities are summarized in this report.  For detailed information please consult the full language of the legislation—which can be accessed on the Internet at the legislative website: www.cga.ct.gov

ACCESSIBILITY / BUILDING CODE

 

 See Public Act 11-51 (HB 6650) An Act Implementing The Provisions Of The Budget Concerning The Judicial Branch, Child Protection, Criminal Justice, Weigh Stations And Certain State Agency Consolidations under GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION AND REORGANIZATION

 

BUDGET

With the state employee unions and the Governor coming to agreement on wages, pensions, and healthcare, the State Budget picture is getting clearer.  But many budget implementation details remain unclear.  Below are listed three budget bills that passed in May, 2011 and during the June Special Session. 

Public Act No. 11-6 (SB 1239) An Act Concerning The Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2013, And Other Provisions Relating To Revenue

Public Act No. 11-44 (SB 1240) An Act Concerning The Bureau Of Rehabilitative Services And Implementation Of Provisions Of The Budget Concerning Human Services And Public Health

June Special Session, Public Act No. 11-1 (HB 6701) An Act Concerning The Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2013

The legislative Office of Fiscal Analysis is continuing to report on the state budget picture.  The latest report, dated July 14, 2011, is 494 pages long.  It is available on the legislative website at: www.cga.ct.gov/ofa  More budget reports and summaries will become available in the next few months.

 

The State Budget calls for many agency consolidations.  These consolidations are being implemented to save money and achieve “efficiencies” and the State will continue to look for ways to save even more money.  This means the State will look for less expensive ways to serve the residents of Connecticut, including residents with disabilities.  Advocacy efforts on behalf of people with disabilities have been most successful when there is evidence that programs or services, such as community based services instead of institution based services, saves the State money.  Unfortunately, the State tends to use the money saved to plug holes in unrelated areas of the budget.  Advocates certainly would like savings applied to programs and services for people with disabilities and their families.

 

EDUCATION

 

Special Act 11-9 (HB 6103) An Act Concerning A Review Of The Cost To Municipalities Of State-Mandated Special Education Requirements

This act requires the State Department of Education to “conduct a comprehensive review of state-mandated special education requirements, including, but not limited to, examining who is best suited to bear the burden of proof in determining whether a student is eligible for special education services.”  In addition, the review must identify “each state-mandated special education requirement that exceeds the minimum required under federal law and the cost to municipalities of complying with each such mandate.” The report must be submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly by February 1, 2012.   

Public Act No. 11-232 (SB 1138) An Act Concerning The Strengthening Of School Bullying Laws

This act expands the types of conduct that constitute school bullying and the situations where it can occur. It expressly identifies as bullying (1) any targeting of a student based on the student's actual or perceived “differentiating” characteristics, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or physical appearance and (2) actions taken through electronic communications or devices that otherwise qualify as bullying and are known collectively as “cyberbullying. ”

The bill (1) makes the school principal responsible for investigating or designating someone to investigate and address bullying whether it occurs in or out-of-school, if it affects the school or students in the school or school district and (2) requires all school employees, not just teachers and administrators, to report bullying incidents they see or that are reported to them to the principal or his or her designee.

It requires schools and school districts to adopt safe school climate plans, rather than policies, to address bullying. It adds to the requirements for such plans that they, among other things, (1) establish deadlines for reporting, investigating, and notifying parents and guardians about bullying incidents; (2) prohibit retaliation against those who report bullying; and (3) require school officials to notify police when they believe bullying conduct constitutes a crime.

The act requires certified and noncertified employees working in public schools to receive annual training in how to identify, intervene, and prevent bullying and youth suicide among students. It also requires beginning teachers and teacher candidates to complete training on these topics. It grants immunity to school boards, school employees, students, parents, and others against damage claims arising from good faith reports of bullying and responses to bullying in accordance with a district's safe school climate plan. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2011

Public Act 11-235 (HB 6501) An Act Concerning Delays In The Evaluation And Determination Process For Students Suspected Of Requiring Special Education Services

This act requires school districts to evaluate children without delay and according to state and federal special education laws and regulations to determine if they are eligible for special education and related services. Federal special education regulations require school districts to promptly request parental consent to evaluate a child and, once the consent is granted, complete the evaluation within 60 days.

The act also expands the membership of the Advisory Council for Special Education by adding one representative each from the: (1) Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities; (2) Commission on Children's Parent Leadership Training Institute; and (3) Department of Social Services' Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (this agency recently has been renamed the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services). It does not specify when the new appointments must be made, but the existing law, unchanged by the bill, requires all appointments to be made by July 1, 2010. This appears to be unworkable. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2011, except the provision regarding the special education advisory council expansion is upon passage.

Public Act 11-136 (HB 6499) An Act Concerning Minor Revisions To The Education Statutes

Current law specifies the subjects public schools must offer. They include language arts and, at least on the secondary level, one or more foreign languages. The act changes the designation of “foreign language” to “world language. ” It classifies American Sign Language as a world language instead of as an optional subject within language arts. It also eliminates a school district's option to offer signed English under the category of language arts. American Sign Language is a complete, complex language that employs signs made with the hands and other movements, including facial expressions and body postures. Signed English is a form of sign language based on English and uses English syntax rather than the syntax of American Sign Language. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2011, except for the technical corrections, which are effective on passage.

EMPLOYMENT—see LABOR

GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION AND REORGANIZATION

 

Public Act 11-51 (HB 6650) An Act Implementing The Provisions Of The Budget Concerning The Judicial Branch, Child Protection, Criminal Justice, Weigh Stations And Certain State Agency Consolidations

This act transfers to the Department of Construction Services (DCS) the Office of the State Building Inspector and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.   The transfer makes DCS responsible for enforcing the Fire Safety Code and the State Building Code.  The heads of the two transferring offices report to the DCS commissioner. If any of the departments' orders or regulations conflict, the bill allows the DCS commissioner to implement policies or procedures to resolve the conflict while in the process of adopting the policies and procedures in regulation. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2011

Public Act 11-48 (HB 6651) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The Budget Concerning General Government

 

The act establishes an Office of Government Accountability (OGA), with an executive administrator as its head, to provide consolidated personnel, payroll, affirmative action, administrative and business office functions, including information technology associated with these functions, for nine state agencies. It places the agencies in OGA, but retains their current independent decision-making authority, including decisions on budgetary issues and employing necessary staff. The agencies are:

 

   1. Office of State Ethics (OSE),

   2. State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC),

   3. Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC),

   4. Judicial Review Council (JRC),

   5. Judicial Selection Commission (JSC),

   6. Board of Firearms Permit Examiners (BFPE),

   7. Office of the Child Advocate (OCA),

   8. Office of the Victim Advocate (OVA), and

   9. State Contracting Standards Board (SCSB).

 

The act establishes a Government Accountability Commission (GAC) within OGA and makes it responsible for (1) recommending OGA executive administrator candidates to the governor and (2) terminating the executive administrator's employment, if necessary.   In addition, the Act (1) adds four legislative appointments to FOIC and (2) eliminates the current OCA and OVA advisory committees and establishes new ones. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2011

 

HEALTH, HEALTHCARE (INSURANCE LEGISLATION LISTED UNDER “INSURANCE”)

Public Act 11-40 (HB 6373) An Act Concerning The Administration Of Peripherally-Inserted Central Catheters In Long-Term Care Settings

This act allows an intravenous (IV) therapy nurse employed or contracted by a nursing home that operates an IV therapy program to administer a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) as part of the home's IV therapy program. Department of Public Health (DPH) regulations allow only a physician to administer a PICC. A PICC is a tube that is inserted into a peripheral vein, typically in the upper arm, and advanced until the catheter tip ends in a large vein in the chest near the heart to obtain intravenous access. DPH must adopt new regulations to implement the act. EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2011

Public Act 11-23 (HB 6481) An Act Concerning The Establishment Of A Lupus Education And Awareness Plan

This act establishes, within the Department of Public Health (DPH), an Interagency and Partnership Advisory Panel on Lupus. Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems, including the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart, and lungs. The governor, DPH commissioner, legislative leaders, and certain legislative commissions appoint advisory panel members. The panel must develop and implement a comprehensive lupus education and awareness plan after evaluating and analyzing existing educational materials and resources. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2011

Public Act 11-76 (SB 1201) An Act Concerning Patient Access And Control Over Medical Test Results

This act (1) requires clinical laboratories to provide patient test results to additional health care providers in certain situations and (2) allows a patient to directly receive test results when the patient is undergoing repeated testing. The Department of Public Health (DPH) must adopt regulations to implement the act.   EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2011

Public Act 11-48 (HB 6651) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The Budget Concerning General Government

The act requires all health care institutions caring for newborn infants to test them for severe combined immunodeficiency disease (SCID), unless, as allowed by law, their parents object on religious grounds. It requires the testing to be done as soon as is medically appropriate. Like the current law that requires these institutions to test newborn infants for cystic fibrosis, the test for SCID is not part of the state's newborn screening program for genetic and metabolic disorders. That program, in addition to screening, directs parents of identified infants to counseling and treatment.

 

SCID is a group of rare, sometimes fatal, congenital disorders characterized by little or no immune response. A person with this disease has a defect in the specialized white blood cells that defend the body from infection by viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Because the immune system does not function properly, a person with SCID is susceptible to recurrent infections such as pneumonia, meningitis, and chicken pox, and can die within the first year of life. EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2011

HOUSING

PA 11-168 (SB 1047) An Act Concerning Changes To Certain Housing Statutes

This act modifies several Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) housing programs. Among the changes, the act requires DECD's database of handicapped accessible and adaptable housing to contain certain information specified in existing law and the act only when it is practicable.  EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

Public Act 11-64—(SB 852) An Act Concerning Permanent Supportive Housing Initiatives

This act amends the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) supportive housing initiative by eliminating references to its “Pilot” and “Next Steps” phases, and instead uses the term “permanent.” It also (1) adds two state entities to those already collaborating with DMHAS on the supportive housing initiative and (2) establishes a process for development of scattered site housing. Finally, the act makes technical and conforming changes. EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

Public Act No. 11-242 (HB 6618) An Act Concerning Various Revisions To Public Health Related Statutes

Under this act, a residential care home that is collocated with a chronic and convalescent nursing home or a rest home with nursing supervision may request DPH's permission to meet Public Health Code requirements concerning attendants in residence from 10: 00 p. m. to 7: 00 a. m. through the use of shared personnel. The act also requires a residential care home to maintain temperatures in resident rooms and all other areas used by residents at a minimum temperature of 71 degrees Fahrenheit. A residential care home must ensure that the maximum time between a resident's evening meal and breakfast does not exceed 14 hours unless a substantial bedtime nourishment is offered by the home.

Beginning July 1, 2011, DPH can no longer (1) require that a person seeking a license to operate a residential care home supply to the department a certificate of physical and mental health, signed by a physician, at the time of an initial or subsequent application for licensure; and (2) approve the time scheduling of regular meals and snacks in residential care homes. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2011

INSURANCE, INCLUDING MEDICAID AND MEDICARE

 

Public Act 11-88 (HB 5032) An Act Requiring Health Insurance Coverage For Bone Marrow Testing

 

This act requires certain health insurance policies to cover compatibility testing for bone marrow transplants. Under the act, a policy (1) may limit coverage to one test in a person's lifetime and (2) cannot impose a coinsurance, copayment, deductible, or other out-of-pocket expense for testing that exceeds 20% of the cost for testing per year, unless it is a high-deductible policy designed to be compatible with federally qualified health savings accounts. The act applies to individual and group health insurance policies delivered, issued, renewed, amended, or continued in Connecticut that cover (1) basic hospital expenses; (2) basic medical-surgical expenses; (3) major medical expenses; and (4) hospital or medical services, including coverage under an HMO plan. Due to the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), state insurance benefit mandates do not apply to self-insured benefit plans. EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2012

Public Act 11-169 (SB 1083) An Act Concerning Health Insurance Coverage Of Prescription Drugs For Pain Treatment

This act prohibits certain health insurance policies that provide prescription drug coverage from requiring an insured to use an alternative brand name prescription drug or over-the-counter drug before using a brand name prescription drug prescribed by a licensed physician for pain treatment. But, it allows these policies to require an insured to first use a therapeutically equivalent generic drug. The act applies to individual and group health insurance policies delivered, issued, renewed, amended, or continued in Connecticut that cover (1) basic hospital expenses; (2) basic medical-surgical expenses; (3) major medical expenses; (4) hospital or medical services, including coverage under an HMO plan; and (5) limited benefits. Due to the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), state insurance benefit mandates do not apply to self-insured benefit plans. EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2012

Public Act No. 11-176 (SB 973) An Act Concerning The Determination Of Undue Hardship For Purposes Of Medicaid Eligibility And Disability Determinations For Beneficiaries Of A Special Needs Trust

This act establishes new and codifies existing circumstances under which the Department of Social Services (DSS) may not impose a penalty period for certain Medicaid eligibility related asset transfers when such a penalty will create an undue hardship for the person transferring the asset.   The act also specifies the circumstances under which DSS must impose the penalty. The penalty period is a period during which a person is ineligible for Medicaid based on the uncompensated value of the transferred asset.

The act also establishes and generally codifies a process that Medicaid applicants (defined as an applicant or recipient) and DSS must follow when an applicant disagrees with DSS' decision to impose a penalty period. DSS' provisions concerning undue hardship are currently covered in its policy manual. Enactment of the bill's provisions supersedes any conflicting department policies. Additionally, the act requires the DSS commissioner to independently perform a disability determination when someone who claims to have a disability and is a beneficiary of a special needs trust has not received a disability determination from the Social Security Administration. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2011

Public Act 11-204 (HB 6472) An Act Concerning Health Insurance Coverage For Ostomy Supplies 

By law, certain health insurance policies that cover ostomy surgery must also cover medically necessary ostomy appliances and supplies, including collection devices, irrigation equipment and supplies, and skin barriers and protectors. This act increases the maximum annual coverage amount for ostomy appliances and supplies from $1,000 to $2,500. The law prohibits insurers from applying any payments for ostomy appliances and supplies toward any durable medical equipment benefit maximum. And such payments cannot be used to decrease policy benefits that exceed the required coverage amount.

The act applies to individual and group health insurance policies delivered, issued, renewed, amended, or continued in Connecticut that cover (1) basic hospital expenses; (2) basic medical-surgical expenses; (3) major medical expenses; or (4) hospital or medical services, including coverage under an HMO plan. Due to the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), state insurance benefit mandates do not apply to self-insured benefit plans. EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2012

Public Act 11-19 (SB 849) An Act Concerning The Legislative Commissioners' Recommendations For Technical Revisions And Minor Changes To The Insurance And Related Statutes

 

This act broadens the applicability of various health insurance benefit requirements. It also makes numerous technical changes in the insurance statutes. Among the coverage areas affected: continuation of coverage of children with disabilities, coverage of newborns, hypodermic needles, off-label prescription drugs, home health care services, occupational therapy, services of physician assistants and certain nurses, chiropractic services and cancer clinical trials.  Due to the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), state insurance benefit mandates do not apply to self-insured benefit plans. EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2012, except for some technical changes, which are effective July 1, 2011 or October 1, 2011.

PA 11-163 (SB 314) An Act Concerning Mental Or Nervous Conditions Under The Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act

This act adds to the list of unfair or deceptive insurance acts or practices, the (1) refusal to insure or continue to insure; (2) limitation of the amount, extent, or kind of coverage available to; or (3) charging of a different rate for the same coverage to, an individual diagnosed with a mental or nervous condition.

The law allows such a refusal, limitation, or rate differential if it is (1) based on sound actuarial principles or (2) related to actual or reasonably anticipated experience.

The act defines “mental or nervous conditions” as mental disorders as it is used in the American Psychiatric Association's most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR fourth edition, text revision). It specifically excludes (1) mental retardation; (2) learning, motor skills, communication, and caffeine-related disorders; (3) relational problems; and (4) additional conditions not otherwise defined as mental disorders in the DSM-IV-TR. EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2011

PA 11-172 (SB 21) An Act Concerning Health Insurance Coverage For Routine Patient Care Costs For Certain Clinical Trial Patients

By law, individual and group health insurance policies and HMO contracts must cover (1) medically necessary hospitalization services and other routine patient care costs associated with cancer clinical trials and (2) off-label cancer prescription drugs. This act expands the coverage requirements to include all disabling or life-threatening chronic diseases rather than cancer only. (The act does not define these terms. )

The act applies to individual and group health insurance policies delivered, issued, renewed, amended, or continued in Connecticut that cover (1) basic hospital expenses; (2) basic medical-surgical expenses; (3) major medical expenses; and (4) hospital or medical services, including coverage under an HMO plan. Due to the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), state insurance benefit mandates do not apply to self-insured benefit plans. EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2012

INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY

See Public Act 11-113 (HB 6314) An Act Concerning The Sexual Assault Of Persons Placed Or Receiving Services Under The Direction Of The Commissioner Of Developmental Services under “JUDICIAL, INCLUDING CRIMINAL JUSTICE, LEGAL REPRESENTATION & DISCRIMINATION

 

Public Act 11-4 (HB 6278) An Act Concerning The Department Of Developmental Services Division Of Autism Spectrum Disorder Services

This act updates terminology used by the Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDS) in its provision of autism services. It uses the term “autism spectrum disorder” instead of just “autism” to encompass all autism diagnoses on the autism spectrum. It also substitutes the term “intellectual disability” for “mental retardation” to reflect changes in federal law and within the developmental disabilities community. The act allows, rather than requires, DDS to annually make recommendations to the governor and Public Health Committee about legislation and funding needed to provide necessary services to persons diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. It also repeals a statute concerning an autism pilot program that ended in 2009. EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

Public Act 11-16 (HB 6279) An Act Concerning Revisions To Statutes Relating To The Department Of Developmental Services Including The Utilization Of Respectful Language When Referring To Persons With Intellectual Disability

This act updates terminology used by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons With Disabilities (OP&A) in their provision of services. It substitutes the term “intellectual disability” for “mental retardation” to reflect changes in federal law and within the developmental disabilities community. It also uses the term “autism spectrum disorder” instead of just “autism” to encompass all autism diagnoses on the autism spectrum. It also:

1. specifies that DDS regulations include requirements regarding quality service reviews in addition to licensing inspections and that at least half of all quality service reviews, licensing inspections, or facility visits DDS conducts after initial licensure must be unannounced;

2. removes the licensure requirement for residential facilities, instead requiring only community living arrangements or community companion homes to obtain DDS licensure (these are the only facilities DDS currently licenses in practice);

3. eliminates the requirement that each DDS contract to construct, renovate, or rehabilitate a community-based residential facility be awarded to the lowest responsible and qualified bidder through the competitive bid process established by department regulations (DDS must still comply with state contracting laws);

4. repeals the requirement that the Camp Harkness Advisory Committee annually report to the DDS commissioner and the Public Health Committee on the camp's status;

5. replaces statutory references to “community training homes” with “community companion homes and community living arrangements” to reflect updated terminology;

6. removes the statutory definition of “employment opportunities and day services; ”

7. specifies that anyone aggrieved by a DDS regulatory requirement or licensure denial or revocation may request an administrative hearing under the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act; and

8. repeals certain statutory provisions.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

Public Act 11-129 (HB 6440) An Act Concerning Applications For Guardianship Of An Adult With Intellectual Disability And Certain Statutory Changes Related To Intellectual Disability

This act substitutes the term “intellectual disability” for “mental retardation,” and makes similar related substitutions in numerous sections of the General Statutes. The act also specifies that for purposes of numerous sections of the statutes, “intellectual disability” and “mental retardation” mean a significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period. This definition is already used in many sections of the law.

The act also makes a change regarding applications for guardianship. It allows a minor's parent or guardian who anticipates that the minor will need a guardian after turning age 18 to file an application for guardianship up to 180 days before the minor's eighteenth birthday. Under the act, a probate court may grant such an application according to existing law for guardianship applications, but the probate court's order can take effect no earlier than the minor's eighteenth birthday. EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2011

Public Act 11-26 (SB 885) An Act Permitting Inquiry Access To The Department Of Developmental Services' Abuse And Neglect Registry For Charitable Organizations Which Recruit Volunteers To Work With Persons With Intellectual Disabilities

This act permits charitable organizations to conduct background checks on volunteers they recruit to support programs for people with intellectual disabilities by accessing the Department of Developmental Services' (DDS) abuse and neglect registry. It requires these organizations to apply to and get approval from the DDS commissioner before accessing the registry.

By law, DDS maintains a registry of individuals who have been terminated or separated from employment due to substantiated abuse or neglect of people with intellectual disabilities. Prior law limited access to (1) authorized agencies, for the purpose of protective service determinations; (2) employers whose employees provide services to DDS clients; and (3) the departments of Children and Families and Mental Health and Addiction Services to check whether a job applicant is listed there. EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon Passage

JUDICIAL, INCLUDING CRIMINAL JUSTICE, LEGAL REPRESENTATION & DISCRIMINATION

 

Public Act 11-15 (HB 6276) An Act Concerning Competency To Stand Trial. 

 

This act requires the person in charge of a mental health treatment facility providing inpatient treatment to a defendant who is incompetent to stand trial (usually Connecticut Valley Hospital), or a designee, to submit a clinical progress report to the court whenever she or the designee believes the defendant remains incompetent but has improved sufficiently that continued inpatient commitment is not the least restrictive placement appropriate and available to restore competency.

The court must schedule a hearing within 10 days of receiving the report. If the court agrees with its findings, the law permits it to continue or modify the placement order. The act requires it to consider whether the availability of a less restrictive placement is a sufficient basis on which to release the defendant on (1) a promise to appear, (2) conditions of release, or (3) cash bail or bond. It may order the defendant to continue treatment on an outpatient basis. EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2011

Public Act 11-113 (HB 6314) An Act Concerning The Sexual Assault Of Persons Placed Or Receiving Services Under The Direction Of The Commissioner Of Developmental Services

This act makes it 2nd degree sexual assault to have sexual intercourse, and 4th degree sexual assault to have intentional sexual contact, with someone who is placed or receiving services under the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) commissioner's direction in a facility or program, whether public or private, and over whom the perpetrator has disciplinary or supervisory authority. DDS provides services to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

By law, it is already 2nd degree sexual assault to have sexual intercourse, and 4th degree sexual assault to have intentional sexual contact, with someone (1) whose mental condition makes them unable to consent or (2) who is in custody or detained in a hospital or other institution and over whom the perpetrator has supervisory or disciplinary authority. EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2011

Public Act 11-134 (HB 6490) An Act Establishing A Procedure For Relief From Certain Federal Firearms Prohibitions

Federal law prohibits anyone who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or “committed to a mental institution” from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing firearms or ammunition, unless the person's firearm privileges are restored under a federally approved program. This act establishes a court procedure for restoring such privileges lost because of a state adjudication or commitment. The procedure is similar to the federal procedure for restoring firearm privileges lost as a result of federal adjudications or commitments.

Under the act, anyone seeking to regain firearm privileges must petition the probate court for relief, and the court must hear any such petition filed in accordance with the act. The court must grant relief if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that (1) the petitioner will not likely act in a manner dangerous to public safety and (2) granting relief is not contrary to the public interest. The act allows petitioners and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) commissioner to appeal the probate court's decision to the Superior Court. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2011

Public Act 11-174 (SB 954) An Act Concerning The Electronic Recording Of Custodial Interrogations

Under this act, a statement made by a person investigated for or accused of a capital felony or class A or B felony during a custodial interrogation at a place of detention is presumed inadmissible as evidence against him or her in a criminal proceeding unless: there is an audiovisual recording of the custodial interrogation made by an electronic or digital audiovisual device and the recording is substantially accurate and not intentionally altered.

The act's presumption can be overcome under certain circumstances and the act allows a statement to be admitted for impeachment purposes only (to question the credibility of a person's testimony). The act includes a number of exceptions to the recording requirement. By January 1, 2012, the act requires the chief state's attorney, with the Police Officer Standards and Training Council and a Connecticut Police Chiefs Association representative, to set standards for recording equipment, including transcriptions, and for training law enforcement officials in using the equipment. EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2014, except the provision on setting standards is effective upon passage.

Public Act 11-228 (SB 799) An Act Concerning Misrepresentation As A Board Certified Behavior Analyst

This act makes it a crime to represent oneself as a “board certified behavior analyst” (BCBA) or a “board certified assistant behavior analyst” (BCABA) unless certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. A person violating these provisions is guilty of an unclassified felony punishable by a fine of up to a $500, imprisonment for up to five years, or both. Each illegal contact or consultation constitutes a separate offense.  The Behavior Analyst Certification Board is a nonprofit corporation (1) established to meet the professional credentialing needs of behavior analysts, governments, and consumers of behavior analysis services and (2) accredited by the National Council for Certifying Agencies, or any successor national accreditation organization. EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2011

LONG TERM CARE

Public Act No. 11-242 (HB 6618) An Act Concerning Various Revisions To Public Health Related Statutes.

Sections 547 and 548 require the Department of Social Services commissioner to develop a strategic plan, consistent with the state's long-term care plan, to rebalance Medicaid long-term care supports and services, including supports and services provided in-home, in a community-based setting, and in institutions. He must include providers from all three setting types in the development of the plan. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2011

Public Act 11-236 (HB 6552) An Act Concerning The Transfer And Discharge Of Nursing Facility Residents

This act changes the process that the Department of Social Services (DSS), nursing homes, and their residents or their representatives must follow when nursing homes transfer or discharge residents, or when beds are reserved for residents who are hospitalized (i. e., a “bed-hold”).

With respect to transfers and discharges, the act: grants residents an explicit right to appeal these moves; establishes the circumstances in which a move can be stayed; reduces the time frame for the DSS commissioner to issue appeal hearing decisions for moves; requires the home to readmit the resident when DSS determines that the move violates the law; explicitly allows residents to request hearings when informed that they no longer need nursing home care, including residents with mental disabilities in homes that transfer or discharge them when the homes cannot provided needed services; refines the definition of “self-pay” residents for purposes of applying the law to them; and requires nursing homes in receivership to comply with its transfer and discharge notice requirements. EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage, except that the exemption of nursing homes from the audit provision is effective July 1, 2011.

MENTAL HEALTH

See PA 11-64 An Act Concerning Permanent Supportive Housing Initiatives under “Housing”

See PA 11-163 An Act Concerning Mental Or Nervous Conditions Under The Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act under “Insurance”

SERVICE ANIMALS

Public Act 11-182 (HB 5008) An Act Concerning The Quarantine Of Biting Guide Dogs

The law authorizes an animal control officer to quarantine, otherwise restrain, or dispose of an animal that bites someone. If a person fails to comply with a quarantine or restraining order, the officer may seize the animal. This act exempts certain guide dogs from these provisions. To be exempt, the guide dog must be (1) owned by or in the custody and control of a blind person or person with mobility impairment; (2) under the direct supervision, care, and control of the person; (3) currently vaccinated; and (4) receiving routine veterinary care.

Under prior law, police dogs were exempt from the quarantine and seizure provisions if they were (1) under the direct supervision, care, and control, of an assigned police officer; (2) receiving routine veterinary care; and (3) annually vaccinated. The act changes the third criterion from annually to currently vaccinated. EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2011

TRANSPORTATION / MOBILITY

 

Public Act 11-213 (HB 6581) An Act Making Revisions To Motor Vehicle Statutes

 

This act makes a number of changes to motor vehicle laws. Section 17 of the act eliminates the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) commissioner's ability to waive the requirement that a driver's license for people age 65 or older include a photograph. Under current law she may waive this requirement if the operator asks for the waiver in writing and shows evidence of hardship, such as living too far from a DMV office. EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

 

Starting October 1, 2011, section 39 of the act eliminates the DMV commissioner's ability to issue new special license plates for those people eligible for handicapped placards, except for these individuals with motorcycles. But it allows the commissioner to accept renewal applications for plates issued before that date. The commissioner must still issue removable windshield placards for these individuals. An eligible individual with a motorcycle registration may also obtain a removable windshield placard. EFFECTIVE Date: October 1, 2011

 

VETERANS

Public Act 11-3 (HB 5956) An Act Concerning The Internet Web Site Of The Department Of Veterans' Affairs

This act requires the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) to publish an informational page on its website by July 1, 2012, and after that date maintain and annually update it. The page must list any benefits, services, or programs any state or federal agency, department, or institution offers veterans or their families, including: any information concerning the eligibility requirements and application process for veterans' benefits, services, or programs; the name and contact information of any entity offering them; and a link to the entity's website. EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

Public Act 11-197 (HB 6259) An Act Concerning A State Identification Card Fee Waiver For Blind Veterans

This act authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles commissioner to waive the $22. 50 non-driver identification card fee for any applicant who is a blind veteran. For eligibility purposes: a “veteran” is an individual honorably discharged or released under honorable conditions from active service in the U. S. armed forces (CGS § 27-103) and someone is considered blind if his or her central visual acuity does not exceed 20/200 in the better eye with correcting lenses, or if it is better than 20/200 but is accompanied by a limitation in his or her fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle of no more than 20 degrees (CGS § 1-1f). EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2011

Public Act 11-68 (SB 371) An Act Concerning The Indication Of A Person's Status As A Veteran On A Motor Vehicle Operator's License And Identity Card And The Issuance Of Free Passes For Any State Park, Forest Or State Recreational Facility To Certain Disabled Veterans

This act requires the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) commissioner to include a person's status as a veteran, if applicable, on his or her state driver's license or identity card. The person must submit a request to have this status included to the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA), which must verify the status to the DMV commissioner.

The act also extends a free lifetime pass for state parks, forests, and recreational facilities to any resident who is a disabled wartime veteran, as defined under state or federal law. The law already allows a resident age 65 or older to apply for such a pass, which allows free parking, admission, and boat access parking. The pass (1) does not apply to any park, forest, or facility that a private concessionaire wholly manages and (2) may not apply to payments required for special events. EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2013; except for the free state park, forest, and recreation pass provision, which is effective upon passage.

VOTING

 

Public Act 11-20 (HB 6330) An Act Concerning Technical And Minor Revisions To Elections Related Statutes

This act makes technical, minor, and conforming election law changes to reflect the change from lever to optical scan voting machines (i. e., tabulators) and repeals provisions and procedures rendered obsolete by this change. EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

Public Act 11-173 (SB 939) An Act Concerning Revisions To Elections Related Statutes

 

Section 37 of this act concerns compliance with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).  It eliminates an obsolete provision requiring lever voting machines to be delivered to polling places by 6 p. m. the evening before an election. Instead, it requires each voting system, which the secretary of the state must have approved for use in an election, to be (1) ready for use when it arrives at the polling place, (2) tested and operable, and (3) delivered there no later than one hour before the polls open. These include voting systems that are equipped for individuals with disabilities to comply with the Help America Vote Act (P. L. 107-252). The change to the later deadline applies also to furniture and appliances necessary for conducting the election.

By law, individuals with disabilities may request voting assistance from anyone other than their employer, employer's agent, or union representative. With one exception, the bill adds candidates whose names appear on the ballot to those prohibited from providing such voting assistance. But, it allows a candidate to provide assistance if the elector making the request is an immediate family member. Under section 41 of the act, “immediate family” means the candidate's spouse, child, parent, or dependent relative residing with the candidate.

Section 56 of the act makes electors with permanent disabilities eligible for permanent absentee ballot status. Until they are removed from the permanent absentee ballot list pursuant to the bill or from the town's official registry list, or request not to receive the ballots, they receive an absentee ballot for each election, primary, and referendum in the municipality in which they are eligible to vote.

To be eligible for permanent absentee ballot status, electors must file an absentee ballot application together with a doctor's certificate stating that they have a permanent disability and are unable to appear in person at their polling place. The registrars of voters must send an annual written notice in January, on a form the secretary of the state prescribes, to determine if electors with this status continue to reside at the address on their permanent absentee ballot application. The registrars must: remove electors from permanent absentee ballot status if they do not return the notice within 30 days or the notice is returned as undeliverable; remove from the municipal registry list and send a voter registration application to electors who have moved out of town; and leave on permanent absentee ballot status and change the address of electors who indicate that they have moved within the same municipality.

Under the bill, registrars cannot remove from the official municipal registry an elector who fails to return the notice.

 



Content Last Modified on 11/22/2011 2:43:14 PM