OPA: Legislative Update

Legislative Update


Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

 

Beth A. Leslie

Legislative and Regulations Specialist

Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities

60-B Weston Street

Hartford, CT 06120

Beth.Leslie@ct.govv

Office 860-297-4369

Cell 860-371-7614

Toll free voice/TTY 1-800-842-7303

Fax 860-566-8714

 

Visit us on the web at www.CT.gov/opapdd




2015 Annual Legislative Report


 Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities


 New state laws affecting people with disabilities.


Issued August 5, 2015

New laws are listed by topic.



New laws are listed by topic, except that the budget implementer bill, June Special Session, Public Act 15-5 (SB 1502) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, Concerning General Government, Education, Health And Human Services And Bonds Of The State affects multiple topic areas and is listed under each topic area it affects.


New laws are listed under the following topic areas:

ACCESSIBLE "HANDICAPPED" PARKING (see 'TRANSPORTATION / MOBILITY')

ALLERGIES (including food allergies in schools)

AUTISM (including Applied Behavior Analysis)
BRAIN INJURY

BUDGET
DEAF, HARD OF HEARING
DISCRIMINATION

EDUCATION, INCLUDING TRANISITON SERVICES (all ages)

ENVIRONMENT

FINANCE
GOVERNMENT ADMINSTRATION

HEALTH and HEALTHCARE (Insurance Bills listed under ‘INSURANCE’)

INSURANCE (including Medicaid)

INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY
LABOR and EMPLOYMENT (see also 'EDUCATION, INCLUDING TRANSITION SERVICES (all ages)')

LONG TERM CARE
MENTAL HEALTH (see 'PROBATE' for civil commitment and other related issues)

PROBATE (including GUARDIANSHIP and CONSERVATORSHIP)

TAXES
TRANSPORTATION / MOBILITY (Accessible “handicapped” Parking included)



GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS

This report contains information on legislation affecting people with disabilities passed during the 2015 legislative session.  “HB” stands for House Bill. Members of the State House of Representatives introduce House Bills. House Bills are numbered 5001 and higher. “SB” stands for Senate Bill. State Senators introduce Senate Bills. Senate Bills are numbered starting at 1, and can go up to 4999. Over 3000 bills were introduced in 2015. Less than 300 bills were enacted into law.


Legislative Website

Copies of bills, public acts and special acts are available on the legislative website www.cga.ct.gov   The bottom of the first page of the legislative website allows you to enter the bill number or public or special act 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 or Special Act. The Act is the official wording of the new law.


Legislative Research Website

The legislature also has an Office of Legislative Research website www.cga.ct.gov/olr that is very useful.  This website contains summaries of Public Acts as well as reports and information on a wide variety of topics. You can do searches on specific topics or browse the list of reports that are available.


Legislative Office of Fiscal Analysis

The legislature has a nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis which does a very good job explaining the state budget. The website address is www.cga.ct.gov/ofa


Public Act

Once a bill becomes law it is given a Public Act Number. Public Acts are laws passed by the state legislature that amend the Connecticut General Statutes. In the 2015 Regular Session, there were 249 Public Acts.


Special Act

Bills with a limited application or limited duration, and bills that are not incorporated into the Connecticut General Statutes, are given a Special Act Number once they become law. In 2015 there were 22 Special Acts during the Regular Session.


ACCESSIBLE “HANDICAPPED” PARKING (see TRANSPORTATION / MOBILITY)


ALLERGIES (including food allergies in schools)


Special Act 15-17 (HB 6975) An Act Establishing A Task Force To Study Life-Threatening Food Allergies In Schools.

This act establishes a task force to study life-threatening food allergies in schools. The task force must address the efficacy of the implementation, dissemination and enforcement of the guidelines for the management of students with life-threatening food allergies and glycogen storage disease, developed by the Department of Education pursuant to section 10-212c of the general statutes; methods used by school districts to ensure the safety of students with life-threatening food allergies while such students are being transported to and from school; the plans for the management of students with life-threatening food allergies and glycogen storage disease, implemented by local and regional boards of education pursuant to section 10-212c of the general statutes, to ensure the safety of students with life-threatening food allergies and their inclusion as fully participating members in the school community; the emotional and psychosocial welfare of students with life-threatening food allergies as it relates to and is influenced by such students' membership in the school community and how such students are included or excluded from participating in school events, and how instances of isolation or targeting of students with life-threatening food allergies by other students, school staff or school policy are addressed by the school or district administration.


The task force will have members appointed by legislative leaders with the following expertise: a representative of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, a  physician who is an allergist; a certified teacher in a public elementary school; the parent or guardian of a student with a life-threatening food allergy enrolled in a public school in the state; the principal of a public middle school in the state; a school nurse supervisor; the parent or guardian of a student with a life-threatening food allergy enrolled in a public school in the state; and a food service director or cafeteria supervisor employed by a local or regional board of education. Also on the task force are the Commissioner of Public Health, or the commissioner's designee; the Commissioner of Education, or the commissioner's designee; and one person appointed by the Governor, who shall be a mental health professional with an expertise in school climate. The task force report is due to the General Assembly not later than January 1, 2016.

Effective date: July 2, 2015


Public Act 15-242 (HB 6987) An Act Concerning Various Revisions To The Public Health Statutes.

Section 31 of this act, beginning July 1, 2016, bans the use of disposable natural rubber latex gloves at a retail food establishment, including retail food establishments, including, but not limited to, food service establishments, catering food service establishments or itinerant food vending establishments.  The fine for violations are $200 to $500.


AUTISM (including Applied Behavior Analysis)

See EDUCATION for PA 15-209 (HB 6737) An Act Implementing The Recommendations Of The Program Review And Investigations Committee Concerning Transitional Services For Youth And Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder.


June Special Session, Public Act 15-5 (SB 1502) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, Concerning General Government, Education, Health And Human Services And Bonds Of The State.

Section 347 and 348, effective January 1, 2016, makes changes and clarifications to state laws addressing Applied Behavior Analysis.


Section 348, effective January 1, 2016, addresses insurance coverage for applied behavior analysis and other services for Autism Spectrum Disorder.


Section 351, effective from passage, requires the Commissioner of Developmental Services, in consultation with the Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Council, to designate services and interventions that demonstrate, in accordance with medically established and research-based best practices, empirical effectiveness for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder.

BRAIN INJURY


June Special Session, Public Act 15-5 (SB 1502) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, Concerning General Government, Education, Health And Human Services And Bonds Of The State.

Section 114 requires, not later than January 1, 2016 and annually thereafter, young athletes and their parent or guardian to be informed by written or electronic statement regarding concussions. The statement must be consistent with “the most recent information provided by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding concussions.”


BUDGET

Public Act 15-244 (HB 7061) An Act Concerning The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, And Making Appropriations Therefor, And Other Provisions Related To Revenue, Deficiency Appropriations And Tax Fairness And Economic Development. This is the state budget for July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2017. For more information on specific budget items, refer to the legislative Office of Fiscal Analysis website: www.cga.ct.gov/ofa


DEAF, HARD OF HEARING

PA 15-81 (HB 6805) An Act Concerning The Birth-To-Three Program And Hearing Tests

This act establishes an October 1, 2015 deadline by which the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) commissioner must require, as part of the Birth-to-Three program, that notice of the availability of hearing tests be given to parents and guardians of children receiving program services who are exhibiting delayed speech, language, or hearing development. The notice may include information on the benefits of, and available financial assistance for, hearing tests for children, as well as available hearing test and treatment resources. The act allows the DDS commissioner to adopt implementing regulations. The Birth-to-Three program is a private, provider-based system that provides services to families with infants and toddlers who have developmental delays or disabilities.
NOTE: Birth to Three has been moved from DDS to the Office of Early Childhood. The act listed below, Public Act 15-5 reflects that this notice still needs to be give, but that the Office of Early Childhood is responsible for taking this action.


EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015


June Special Session, Public Act 15-5 (SB 1502) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, Concerning General Government, Education, Health And Human Services And Bonds Of The State.

Section 262, effective July 1, 2015, requires the Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood, beginning October 1, 2015, to notify parents or guardians of a child receiving Birth to Three services and is exhibiting delayed speech, language or hearing development, of the availability of hearing testifying for such child. The notification can include the benefits of hearing testing for children, the resources available to the parent or guardian for hearing testing and treatment, and any financial assistance that may be available for such testing.


DISCRIMINATION


June Special Session, Public Act 15-5 (SB 1502) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, Concerning General Government, Education, Health And Human Services And Bonds Of The State.

Section 73 adds “mental disability” to the list of protected classes for purposes of anti-discrimination and hate crimes. The list already included, among other things, blindness and physical disability. Effective October 1, 2015.


EDUCATION, INCLUDING TRANSITION SERVICES (all ages)

Public Act 15-232 (SB 843) An Act Concerning Trauma-Informed Practice Training For Teachers, Administrators And Pupil Personnel.

This act requires the State Board of Education, within available appropriations, to create materials for local or regional boards of education for in-service training programs related to trauma-informed practices for the school setting to enable teachers, administrators and pupil personnel to more adequately respond to students with mental, emotional or behavioral health needs. The act does not define “trauma-informed practices”.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015


Public Act 15-141 (SB 927) An Act Concerning Seclusion And Restraint In Schools.

The act prohibits teachers, administrators, and other public school employees from using restraint or seclusion on any student, except to prevent immediate or imminent injury to a student or others. The act bars school employees from using physical restraints on students or placing students in seclusion, unless the employees have been properly trained. It requires training for school professionals, paraprofessionals, and administrators to be phased in over three years, beginning with the July 1, 2015 school year. It requires school boards to notify parents and guardians no later than 24 hours after a child has been placed in physical restraint or in seclusion, and to make a reasonable effort to notify them immediately after beginning the physical restraint or seclusion.


The act requires school boards to take certain steps for students placed in physical restraint or seclusion four or more times in 20 school days. And, as under existing law, it limits when school employees may administer certain medication to students. Among other things, the act also requires school boards to identify, by July 1, 2015, the same date the act takes effect, crisis intervention teams to respond to incidents of physical restraint or seclusion; adds reporting requirements; requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to adopt or revise regulations on the use of physical restraint and seclusion; and makes conforming changes.

The act does not limit the justified use of physical force by local, state, or federal law enforcement officials performing their duties.


Effective date: July 1, 2015

Public Act 15-97 (SB 1054) An Act Concerning Students With Dyslexia.

This act makes several changes to state education law regarding dyslexia. It requires: the State Department of Education (SDE) to designate an employee to help parents and boards of education detect and intervene on behalf of students with dyslexia; and teacher preparation programs and in-service training programs to include dyslexia education and training. Furthermore, the act extends by two years, from January 1, 2014 to January 1, 2016, the deadline for SDE to develop or approve reading assessments, which, among other things, help identify students at risk for dyslexia. It also extends, from February 1, 2013 to February 1, 2016, the deadline for the commissioner to submit the assessments to the Education Committee. The act also defines dyslexia for its purposes.

Effective date: July 1, 2015


See GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION for PA 15-80 (HB 6738) An Act Implementing The Recommendations Of The Program Review And Investigations Committee Concerning The Federal Achieving A Better Life Experience Act.


Public Act 15-209 (HB 6737) An Act Implementing The Recommendations Of The Program Review And Investigations Committee Concerning Transitional Services For Youth And Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder.

This act requires the State Board of Education to draft a bill of rights for parents of children receiving special education services to guarantee that the rights of these students and their parents are protected when receiving these and related services. Starting with the 2015-16 school year, the bill of rights must be provided annually to parents at planning and placement team (PPT) meetings for special education students in grades six through 12. The bill of rights must inform parents of the right to request consideration for transition services for a child receiving special education who is between ages 18 and 21; to receive transition resources and materials from SDE and the school board responsible for the child; and right of the child to receive realistic and specific post-graduation goals as part of his or her IEP. The act also requires schools to create a student success plan starting in sixth grade. The act specifically requires schools to provide parents with information related to transition resources and services for high school students.


The act also requires the Department of Rehabilitative Services (DORS) commissioner, in consultation with the Department of Developmental services (DDS), Education, Labor, and Mental Health and Addiction Services commissioners or their designees a proposed definition for “competitive employment” for each agency to use in relation to state matters. By February 1, 2016, the DORS commissioner must report on the proposed definition to the Education, Human Services, Labor, and Public Health legislative committees.

Finally, the act requires DDS, by February 1, 2016, to begin reporting annually to the legislative Public Health Committee on the activities of the department's Division of Autism Spectrum Disorder Services and Advisory Council. This report must include the number and ages of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who are served by the department's Division of Autism Spectrum Disorder Services (the division); the number and ages of people on the division's waiting list for Medicaid waiver services; the type of Medicaid waiver services DDS currently provides to people with ASD; descriptions of the unmet needs of people with ASD on the division's waiting list and new initiatives and proposals that are under consideration; the projected estimates for the next five years of the costs to the state for the unmet needs; and measurable outcome data for people with ASD who are eligible to receive division services, including their enrollment in postsecondary education, employment status, and living arrangements.


Effective Date: July 1, 2015

Public Act 15-168 (HB 6834) An Act Concerning Collaboration Between Boards Of Education And School Resource Officers And The Collection And Reporting Of Data On School-Based Arrests.


This act requires a local or regional school board that assigns a sworn police officer to a school (i.e., school resource officer) to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the local police department or the Division of State Police that defines the officer's role and responsibilities. The MOU must address daily interactions among students, school personnel, and police officers, and can include a graduated response model for student discipline.

By law, each local and regional school board must submit to the education commissioner an annual strategic school profile (SSP) with certain required data (e.g., student performance and school resources) for each of its schools and the district as a whole. The act adds to this requirement data on (1) in-school and out-of-school suspensions and expulsions and (2) school-based arrests.


Effective date: July 1, 2015

Public Act 15-242 (HB 6987) An Act Concerning Various Revisions To The Public Health Statutes.

Section 32 requires the Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Commissioner of Public Health, to study the potential advantages of licensing board certified behavior analysts, and assistant behavior analysts. The commissioners must also study the inclusion of board certified behavior analysts and assistant behavior analysts in school special education planning and placement teams, as described in section 10-76d of the general statutes. The Commissioner of Education must report to the legislature by January 1, 2016, with recommendations concerning: any new licensure or certification categories relating to behavioral analysis; inclusion of board certified behavior analysts or assistant behavior analysts on special education planning placement teams; and incentives for persons to enter the field of behavior analysis.


June Special Session, Public Act 15-5 (SB 1502) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, Concerning General Government, Education, Health And Human Services And Bonds Of The State.

Section 226, effective from passage, requires each local and regional board of education, not later than January 1, 2016, and annually thereafter, to review transportation arrangements for “special needs students, both in and out of district, and make the appropriate changes to ensure the safe transportation of the students, which may involve placing school bus monitors or cameras on the vehicles used for such transportation.”


Section 266, effective July 1, 2015, requires the State Board of Education to collaborate with the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, the Department of Developmental Services, and the Office of Workforce Competitiveness to coordinate “the provision of transition resources, services and programs to children requiring special education and related services…create, and update as necessary, a fact sheet that lists the state agencies that provide transition resources, services and programs and a brief description of such transition resources, services and programs and disseminate such fact sheet to local and regional boards of education for distribution to parents, teachers, administrators and boards of education, and …annually collect information related to transition resources, programs and services provided by other state agencies and make such information available to parents, teachers, administrators and boards of education.” Each school year, beginning July 1, 2016, each local or regional board of education shall annually distribute information regarding transition resources, services and programs to the parent or guardian of each child requiring special education and related services in grades six to twelve, inclusive, at a planning and placement team meeting for such child.

Section 267 and 268, both effective July 1, 2015, create the Individualized Education Program Advisory Council and require the development of a new individualized education program (IEP) form that is easier for practitioners to use and easier for parents and students to understand. The new IEP form must include a brief description of, and contact information for, the parent training and information center for Connecticut and the Bureau of Special Education within the Department of Education in a conspicuous place on the first page of the individualized education program form using at least twelve-point Times New Roman font. The new form must be submitted to the legislative Education Committee not later than January 1, 2017.


Sections 269, effective July 1, 2015, allows the State Department of Education to purchase a digital individualized education program form software for purposes of creating, submitting and sharing digital copies of a student's individualized education program and related documents among authorized users, and provide such digital individualized education program form software at no cost to local and regional boards of education and the technical high school system.

Section 271, effective July 1, 2015 requires the State Education Resource Center (SERC) to conduct a study regarding assistive technology equipment sharing programs. The study shall examine existing assistive technology equipment sharing programs in the state, the effectiveness and capacity of such existing assistive technology equipment sharing programs, whether local and regional boards of education have access to at least one assistive technology equipment sharing program, and how to create a plan that would make assistive technology equipment sharing programs available to local and regional boards of education who do not have access to assistive technology equipment sharing programs. SERC must report on its study to the legislative Education Committee not later than January 1, 2016.


Section 272, effective July 1, 2015, requires the Department of Education shall provide, upon request, complete and accurate information regarding special education programs and services offered by the state, local and regional boards of education, regional educational service centers and other providers, provided such information is not otherwise prohibited from disclosure under state or federal law, to organizations that represent and provide services to parents and guardians of children requiring special education and related services.

Section 273, effective July 1, 2015, the State Education Resource Center (SERC) must accept notices of events submitted to the center by special education advocacy groups, local and regional boards of education, regional education service centers and other providers of special education services for the purpose of maintaining a calendar of learning and training opportunities for the public regarding the provision of special education programs and services. SERC is not required to post any notice of an event that the center determines is not a legitimate learning or training opportunity for the public. Such calendar may be made available on the center's Internet web site. This section also specifically allows the Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center to reproduce and share this calendar. The Department of Education is required to post a link to this calendar on its Internet web site.


Section 275 requires each regional educational service center to develop, in consultation with the Department of Education, a regional model for the provision of special education services related to transportation, training and therapeutic services to be used for the provision of such special education services to all school districts served by such regional educational service center. The models developed must be presented to the State Board of Education and legislative Education Committee not later than October 1, 2016.

Section 277, effective July 1, 2015 amends Public Act 15-141 to clarify that parents and guardians can bring an advisor with them to planning and placement team (PPT) meetings and that parents and guardians have the right to have the school paraprofessional assigned to their child at the PPT meeting, with the paraprofessional being involved in the meeting.


ENVIRONMENT


June Special Session, Public Act 15-5 (SB 1502) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, Concerning General Government, Education, Health And Human Services And Bonds Of The State.

Sections 436, 437, 438 and 439 address the use of pesticides on school yards, play grounds and other areas and the use of integrated pest management. Various effective dates.


FINANCE


See GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION for PA 15-80 (HB 6738) An Act Implementing The Recommendations Of The Program Review And Investigations Committee Concerning The Federal Achieving A Better Life Experience Act.

GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION


Public Act 15-80 (HB 6738) An Act Implementing The Recommendations Of The Program Review And Investigations Committee Concerning The Federal Achieving A Better Life Experience Act.

This act requires the state treasurer to establish a qualified Achieving A Better Life Experience (ABLE) program, as permitted by federal law, and administer individual ABLE accounts to encourage and help eligible individuals and families save private funds to pay for qualifying expenses related to disability or blindness. It establishes the Connecticut ABLE Trust, administered by the state treasurer, to receive and hold funds intended for ABLE accounts. It exempts money in the trust and interest earnings on it from state and local taxation while in the trust and requires the treasurer to ensure that funds are kept exempt from federal taxation pursuant to federal law.


Funds invested in, contributed to, or distributed from an ABLE account must be disregarded when determining an individual's eligibility for assistance under federally funded assistance or benefit programs, including: Temporary Family Assistance; Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; and the state's medical assistance program (i.e., HUSKY and Medicaid).

The act also prohibits the state's public colleges and universities from considering funds invested in ABLE accounts when determining eligibility for need-based institutional aid. In general, institutional financial aid consists of aid originating from the institution and excludes federal or state financial aid awarded to students.


Effective date: October 1, 2015

June Special Session, Public Act 15-5 (SB 1502) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, Concerning General Government, Education, Health And Human Services And Bonds Of The State.


Section 259, effective July 1, 2015, formally moves the DDS Birth to Three program to the Office of Early Childhood. Section 261 also changes a reference to DDS to Office of Early Childhood.

Section 492, effective from passage, adds the Governor or the Governor’s designee as a non-voting member of the advisory board of the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities.

HEALTH and HEALTH CARE (Insurance Bills Listed Under 'INSURANCE')

Public Act 15-45 (SB 925) An Act Establishing A Home Visitation Program Consortium.

This act establishes a Home Visitation Program Consortium of up to 25 members to advise the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) and the children and families (DCF), developmental services (DDS), and education (SDE) departments on implementing OEC's recommendations to coordinate home visitation programs within the early childhood system. By September 15, 2016, the consortium must begin annual reporting to the Children's Committee.

Effective date: June 05, 2015


Public Act 15-10 (HB 5525) An Act Concerning Cytomegalovirus.

Starting January 1, 2016, this act requires all health care institutions caring for newborn infants to test those who fail a newborn hearing screening for cytomegalovirus (CMV). CMV is a type of herpesvirus, which places it in a group with chickenpox, shingles, and mononucleosis. Although usually harmless in healthy adults and children, CMV in newborns can lead to hearing loss or developmental disabilities. Transmission from mother to fetus occurs during pregnancy.


Effective date: testing must begin no later than January 1, 2016


PA 15-116 (HB 5771) An Act Authorizing Pharmacists To Dispense Drugs In Ninety-Day Quantities.

This act allows a pharmacist to refill a prescription for a drug, other than a controlled drug, in an amount greater than the initial quantity prescribed by the practitioner, up to a 90-day supply. Drugs not covered by this are defined in state law CGS 21a-240 and are generally drugs with a depressant, stimulant, or hallucinogenic effect upon the higher functions of the central nervous system that tend to promote abuse or dependence


Effective date: July 1, 2015

Public Act 15-203 (HB 5903) AN ACT CONCERNING A STUDY OF CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASE.


This act requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to study chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and report to the legislature not later than February 1, 2016.  The report must include: hospitalization and rates of hospital readmission within thirty days for persons with COPD in the state; a description of current activities by state agencies to promote awareness and education by health care providers and the general public on COPD; an assessment of the need for community-based services for persons having the disease; and recommendations concerning the necessity and feasibility of conducting a needs assessment with respect to the disease, hosting an annual summit on the disease, development of a pilot program to determine best practices and outcomes and to lower hospital readmission rates for persons with the disease, and identification of the amount of funding and potential funding sources for such a pilot program. Finally, the act requires the Commissioner of DPH to post on the agency’s Internet web site information concerning COPD from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other information that the commissioner believes may aid persons with COPD in talking with such persons' health care providers about the disease.

Effective date: July 2, 2015


Public Act 15-87 (HB 6100) An Act Designating Spinal Muscular Atrophy With Respiratory Distress Awareness Day And Dwarfism Awareness Month.

This act requires the Governor to proclaim February tenth of each year to be Spinal Muscular Atrophy with Respiratory Distress Awareness Day to heighten public awareness of the associated presentation and available treatments for spinal muscular atrophy with respiratory distress. Additionally, the act requires the Governor to proclaim the month of October of each year to be Dwarfism Awareness Month to increase public awareness of the associated presentation and available treatments for dwarfism.

Effective date: May 28, 2015


Public Act 15-157 (HB 6579) AN ACT CONCERNING DEVELOPMENTAL SCREENINGS FOR CHILDREN

This act requires a health care provider, when completing the state's (1) early childhood health assessment record form (“yellow form”) or (2) public school health assessment form (“blue form”) for a child age five or younger, to indicate on the form whether he or she performed a developmental screening during the related examination. Under the act, a developmental screening is one that uses a method recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to identify concerns with a child's physical and mental development, including the child's sensory, behavioral, motor, language, social, perceptual, or emotional skills.


Effective date: July 1, 2015

Public Act 15-198 (HB 6856) AN ACT CONCERNING SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND OPIOID OVERDOSE PREVENTION.

This act makes various changes affecting prescription drugs, drug abuse prevention, and related topics. Among other things, it: requires practitioners, before prescribing more than a 72-hour supply of any controlled substance, to check the patient's record in the prescription drug monitoring program; requires practitioners to review the patient's record at least every 90 days if prescribing for prolonged treatment; makes other changes to the prescription drug monitoring program, including exempting opioid agonists in certain situations; allows pharmacists to prescribe opioid antagonists, used to treat drug overdoses, if they receive special training and certification to do so, and expands the existing immunity for all prescribers when prescribing, dispensing, or administering opioid antagonists; requires physicians, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), dentists, and physician assistants (PAs) to take continuing education in prescribing controlled substances and pain management; makes changes to membership and other matters concerning the Connecticut Alcohol and Drug Policy Council; and adds pharmacists to the definition of “healing arts” in the health care center (HMO) statutes.


Effective date: Upon passage, except the provisions on continuing education and the prescription drug monitoring program are effective October 1, 2015.

Public Act 15-172 (HB 6884) An Act Concerning The Department Of Public Health's Recommendations Regarding Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention And Control.

This act lowers the blood lead level threshold at which local health directors must inform parents or guardians about a child's potential eligibility for the state's Birth-to-Three program and lead poisoning dangers, ways to reduce risks, and lead abatement laws. Under existing law, local health directors must provide this information after receiving a report from a clinical laboratory or health care institution that a child has been tested with a blood lead level of at least 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood or any other abnormal body lead level. The act requires them to also provide this information when a child is known to have a confirmed venous blood lead level of at least five micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. The act specifies that the local health director must provide the information to the parent or guardian only once, after the director receives the initial report.


Effective date: October 1, 2015

Public Act 15-129 (HB 6892) An Act Concerning Hospital Training And Procedures For Patients With Suspected Dementia.

Starting October 1, 2015, this act requires hospitals to train direct care staff in the symptoms of dementia as part of staff training they regularly provide. Neither state law nor regulation specifies general training requirements for hospital direct care staff. In practice, hospitals must comply with clinical training requirements set by certain regulatory and accrediting agencies, including the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the Joint Commission (an independent, national accrediting agency for hospitals and health care organizations), among others.


Effective date: July 1, 2015

Public Act No. 15-174 (HB 6949) An Act Concerning Childhood Vaccinations.

Existing law exempts children from school immunization requirements if the child presents a statement from his or her parents or guardians that the immunization would be contrary to the child's religious beliefs. This act additionally exempts children who present a statement that the immunization would be contrary to the parents' or guardians' religious beliefs. It requires any such statement to be officially acknowledged by a notary public, Connecticut-licensed attorney, judge, family support magistrate, court clerk or deputy clerk, town clerk, or justice of the peace.


The act extends the above requirement to children attending child day care centers and group or family day care homes whose parents or guardians object to such immunization on religious grounds. Under the act, the child's parents or guardians must submit the religious exemption statement annually in order for the child to remain enrolled in a public or private school, child day care center, or group or family day care home.

In addition to the religious exemption, the law provides a medical exemption for children that document such immunization is medically contraindicated. 


By law, children attending (1) child day care centers, (2) group and family day care homes, and (3) public and private schools must be immunized against certain diseases, including:


1. Measles, Mumps, Rubella (preschool through grade 12);


2. Polio (preschool through grade 12);


3. Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (preschool through grade 12);


4. Hemophilus influenza B (under age 5);


5. Hepatitis B (preschool through grade 12);


6. Hepatitis A (preschool and kindergarten);


7. Chicken Pox (preschool through grade 12);


8. Influenza (preschool);


9. Pneumonia (under age 5); and


10. Meningitis (7th grade)


Effective date: July 1, 2015

Public Act 15-242 (HB 6987) An Act Concerning Various Revisions To The Public Health Statutes.

Section 35 establishes a task force to study rare diseases. The task force shall examine research, diagnoses, treatment and education relating to rare diseases, and make recommendations for the establishment of a permanent group of experts to advise the Department of Public Health on rare diseases. Members of the task force will be appointed by legislative leaders and will include medical professionals with experience researching, diagnosing or treating rare diseases, an adult rare disease survivor, and a caregiver of a pediatric rare disease survivor. The report is due to the legislature no later than January 1, 2016.


June Special Session, Public Act 15-5 (SB 1502) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, Concerning General Government, Education, Health And Human Services And Bonds Of The State.

Sections 506 and 507 provide for testing of newborns for adrenoleukodystrophy beginning on or before October 1, 2015.

INSURANCE (Including Medicaid)

Public Act 15-247 (SB 1023) An Act Concerning Revisions To The Health Insurance Statutes.

This act makes numerous changes in the insurance statutes. The act prohibits individual and group health insurance policies from reducing a person's coverage because he or she is eligible for Medicare due to age, disability, or end-stage renal disease. It allows a coverage reduction when a person is actually enrolled in Medicare, but only to the extent Medicare provides coverage. The act broadens the prohibition on the use of preexisting condition provisions from only children under age 19 to all ages. A “preexisting condition provision” is a policy provision limiting or excluding coverage for a condition that existed before the coverage effective date for which any medical advice,


Effective date: Upon passage, except for a provision that allows insurers to vary premium rates for certain small employer health insurance policies to reflect the policies' different provider networks and administrative expenses (§ 20), which is effective January 1, 2016.


See GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION for PA 15-80 (HB 6738) An Act Implementing The Recommendations Of The Program Review And Investigations Committee Concerning The Federal Achieving A Better Life Experience Act.

PA 15-154 (HB 6155) An Act Concerning Notification Of Medicaid Waiver And Medicaid State Plan Amendment Proposals.

By law, whenever the Department of Social Services (DSS) commissioner applies to the federal government to waive certain federal program requirements, he must first submit the waiver application or proposed amendment to the Human Services and Appropriations committees. He must also do so if he intends to amend the state Medicaid plan to change program requirements that would have required a waiver but for the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act. This act conforms law to current DSS practice by additionally requiring the commissioner to submit applications for waiver renewals to these committees. The act requires the commissioner to (1) also provide such notice for waiver renewals and (2) post the same notice he posts in the Journal on the DSS website. It also specifies that the commissioner must post any waiver, amendment, or waiver renewal notice 30 days before submitting the application or proposal to the committees.


Additionally, the act extends the number of days, from 15 to 30, that the commissioner must allow individuals to submit written comments on the application or proposed amendment before submitting it to the committees. (But by extending the time for comments, the act requires DSS to submit the application or proposed amendment and related comments on the same day the comment period closes.) The act also applies this comment period requirement to waiver renewal applications. It also requires the commissioner to submit all written comments regarding a waiver renewal to the committees and the federal government along with the application, as the law already requires him to do for written comments on waiver applications or proposed amendments.


Effective date: July 1, 2015


PA 15-165 (HB 6770) An Act Concerning Medicaid Coverage For Over-The-Counter Drugs And Products And Requirements For Medicaid Benefit Cards And Notice Of Regulations.

This act expands the types of over-the-counter drugs and products that the Department of Social Services (DSS) may pay for through its medical assistance programs (Husky and Medicaid) to include those the DSS commissioner determines to be appropriate for coverage based on their clinical efficacy, safety, and cost effectiveness.


Effective date: July 1, 2015


Public Act 15-69 (HB 6946) AN ACT CONCERNING HUSKY PROGRAMS.

This act makes numerous technical, conforming, and substantive changes to statutes related to the Department of Social Services' (DSS) HUSKY programs. The act creates “HUSKY Health” as a term to refer to HUSKY A, HUSKY B, HUSKY C, and HUSKY D and makes a number of conforming changes. The act redefines “durable medical equipment” to conform to the definition DSS uses in practice. The act amends the statutory definition of durable medical equipment to match the DSS regulatory definition. Durable medical equipment is equipment that: can withstand repeated use, is primarily and customarily used to serve a medical purpose, generally is not useful to a person in the absence of an illness or injury, and is nondisposable.


Effective date: June 19, 2015 (some technical changes take effect July 1, 2016.

June Special Session, Public Act 15-5 (SB 1502) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, Concerning General Government, Education, Health And Human Services And Bonds Of The State.


Sections 44 and 46 require, effective January 1, 2017 health insurance coverage (with some limitations) for family and community based behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment, including home-based therapeutic interventions. Such services must address “environmental systems that impact chronic and violent juvenile offenders”.

INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY


PA 15-54 (HB 6815) An Act Concerning The Definition And Use Of The Term "Intellectual Disability".

Legislation approved in 2011 and 2013 substituted the term “intellectual disability” for “mental retardation” in several statutes to reflect changes in federal law and the developmental disabilities community. This act makes conforming changes by: replacing “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in a statute defining the term; eliminating an obsolete provision that lists statutory references in which “intellectual disability” has the same meaning as “mental retardation” and expanding the definition's application to all uses of “intellectual disability” throughout the statutes, except as otherwise provided. Prior law defined “intellectual disability” as a significant limitation in intellectual functioning and deficits in adaptive behavior that began before a person reached age 18. The act specifies that the limitation must exist concurrently with the adaptive deficits. Lastly, the act corrects an improper reference to federal regulations that define intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.


Effective date: Upon passage

LABOR and EMPLOYMENT (see also ‘EDUCATION, INCLUDING TRANSITION SERVICES’)


June Special Session, Public Act 15-5 (SB 1502) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, Concerning General Government, Education, Health And Human Services And Bonds Of The State.

Section 473, effective July 1, 2015, allows contracting for the provision of training and related services to personal care attendants, “at cost directly with a nonprofit labor management trust” as authorized by federal law.


LONG TERM CARE 

Public Act 15-115 (HB 5358) An Act Establishing A Bill Of Rights For Residents Of Continuing-Care Retirement Communities.

This act requires continuing care facility providers to give residents advance notice of major construction, ownership change, and increases in monthly service fees. It allows residents of continuing care facilities to form residents councils, defined in the act as boards elected by residents to advocate for their rights and advise the provider on resident welfare and interests. The act also stipulates rights and entitlements for continuing care residents. The act adds to continuing care contracts new requirements regarding refunds, new construction, and periodic charges and fees. The act also decreases the amount of funds continuing care providers must keep in escrow and allows providers to use funds in accounts for mortgage loans, bond indentures, or other long-term financing in their computation of required reserve amounts for the escrow account, in certain circumstances.


Effective date: October 1, 2015

Public Act 15-150 (HB 5257) An Act Concerning Requiring Notice Of Abuse Reports Concerning Residents Of Long-Term Care Facilities.

This act requires DSS, after receiving a report of suspected abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment from mandated reporters (such as nurses), to notify the resident's guardian or conservator, if any; legally liable relative; or other responsible party. The department must get the contact information from the long-term care facility and provide the notice as soon as possible, but no later than 24 hours, after receiving the report. The notice is not required when the guardian, conservator, legally liable relative, or responsible party is the suspected perpetrator.


Effective date: October 1, 2015


Public Act 15-130 (HB 6894) Act Concerning The Safeguarding Of Funds For Residents Of Certain Long-Term Care Facilities.

This act extends to residential care homes (RCHs) statutory requirements for nursing homes regarding the management of residents' personal funds. It establishes notification and account management procedures and penalties for failure to comply. Existing Department of Social Services (DSS) regulations establish similar procedures and requirements for managing RCH residents' personal funds. Presumably, RCHs would continue to follow these regulations in areas left unaddressed by the act. By law, an RCH is an establishment that furnishes, in single or multiple facilities, food and shelter to two or more people unrelated to the proprietor and provides services that meet a need beyond the basic provisions of food, shelter, and laundry.


Effective date: July 1, 2015

MENTAL HEALTH (see ‘PROBATE’ for civil commitment and other related issues)

PA 15-27 (SB 841) An Act Concerning The Implementation Of A Comprehensive Children's Mental, Emotional And Behavioral Health Plan.

This act establishes a 34-member Children's Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Health Plan Implementation Advisory Board. The board must advise specified individuals and entities on: executing the comprehensive behavioral health plan that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) developed; cataloging (by agency, service type, and funding allocation) the mental, emotional, and behavioral services for Connecticut families with children to reflect the services' capacities and uses; adopting standard definitions and measurements for the services delivered, when applicable; and fostering collaboration among agencies, providers, advocates, and others interested in Connecticut child and family well-being to prevent or reduce the long-term negative impact of children's mental, emotional, and behavioral health issues. By September 15, 2016, the board must begin annual reporting to the Children's Committee.


Effective date: July 1, 2015


Public Act 15-246 (SB 903) AN ACT CONCERNING VETERANS' AFFAIRS

This act requires the Judicial Branch, beginning January 1, 2016, to collect data on the number of armed forces members, veterans, and nonveterans who apply for, and are admitted or denied, entry into the (1) accelerated rehabilitation program, (2) pretrial supervised diversionary program for individuals with psychiatric disabilities and veterans, or (3) pretrial drug education and community service program. The data must be based on information applicants provide when they apply. The Judicial Branch, beginning January 15, 2017, must annually submit a report detailing the data compiled for the previous calendar year to the Veterans' Affairs and Judiciary committees. For these purposes, a “veteran” is anyone who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable from active service in the U. S.  Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force, or any reserve component, including the National Guard performing duty under Title 32 of federal law.


Effective date: January 1, 2016


Public Act 15-242 (HB 6987) An Act Concerning Various Revisions To The Public Health Statutes.


This act requires alcohol and drug counselors, chiropractors, psychologists, marital and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, social workers, physicians, and advanced practice registered nurses to obtain continuing education on the topic of mental health conditions common to veterans and family members of veterans, including (1) determining whether a patient is a veteran or family member of a veteran, (2) screening for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, risk of suicide, depression and grief, and (3) suicide prevention training.

Effective date: October 1, 2015


June Special Session, Public Act 15-5 (SB 1502) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, Concerning General Government, Education, Health And Human Services And Bonds Of The State.

Section 356, effective July 1, 2015, requires the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services, in consultation with the Commissioners of Children and Families and Social Services and providers of behavioral health services, including, but not limited to, hospitals and advocacy agencies, to study the current adequacy of psychiatric services. The Commissioner must report, not later than January 1, 2017, to the legislative Appropriations, Public Health, and Human Services committees regarding the results of the study.

PROBATE (INCLUDING GUARDIANSHIP & CONSERVATORSHIP)


PA 15-240 (HB 6774) An Act Concerning Adoption Of The Connecticut Uniform Power Of Attorney Act.

This act repeals the current law governing powers of attorney (POA), enacting the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. Note: this act does not go into effect until July 1, 2016. The act does not affect POA to make health care decisions. POAs are documents used by a person (the principal) to designate someone (the agent) to make decisions and act on the principal's behalf. POAs generally name the agent and the powers granted to him or her. Noteworthy changes the act makes to current law: more extensively covers an agent's authority, duties, and liabilities; allows a probate court to continue, limit, suspend, or terminate a POA when appointing a conservator; authorizes certain people to petition the probate court to review a POA or an agent's conduct.


Effective date: July 1, 2016

Public Act 15-217 (HB 7029) An Act Concerning Probate Court Operations.

Under current law, a person seeking a voluntary conservatorship must apply in the probate court for the district where he or she resides or is domiciled. The act also allows the person to apply in the district where he or she is located when filing the petition. This corresponds with the law for involuntary conservatorships.


By law, probate courts must notify certain people of hearings to appoint a guardian of an adult with intellectual disability. Current law requires notice by first class mail to certain recipients and allows the court to direct the form of notice to others. The act specifies that notice to all such people must be made by first class mail and makes clarifying changes.


Effective date: January 1, 2016


TAXES

See GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION for PA 15-80 (HB 6738) An Act Implementing The Recommendations Of The Program Review And Investigations Committee Concerning The Federal Achieving A Better Life Experience Act.


TRANSPORTATION / MOBILITY (Accessible “handicapped” Parking included)


June Special Session, Public Act 15-5 (SB 1502) An Act Implementing Provisions Of The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, Concerning General Government, Education, Health And Human Services And Bonds Of The State.

Section 196, effective from passage, states: “The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles may permit a person whose license has been withdrawn as a result of a condition that makes such person eligible for evaluation and training under this section to operate a motor vehicle while accompanied by personnel assigned to the driver training unit for persons with disabilities.” And states: “If such person with disabilities has met all other requirements for obtaining a license, the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles shall issue a license with such restrictions recommended by the Department of Rehabilitation Services.”


Section 202, effective from passage, addresses commercial driver licenses for individuals who are not physically qualified and medically certified in accordance with federal regulations. Such individuals can provide the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with a medical examiner’s certificate that indicates the individual is medically certified to operate a commercial vehicle. Such certificates are valid for up to twenty four months (based on the medical examiner’s statement). With the medical certificate, the DMV “shall post a medical certification status of "certified" on the Commercial Driver's License Information System driver record for such applicant.”

Section 222, effective from passage, adds a special “medical permit” to the already allowed education and work permit, to allow individuals whose driver license is suspended to drive to and from required medical treatment.


Section 224, effective October 1, 2015 prohibits dumping snow into handicapped parking spaces. The fine for a first offense is $150. Subsequent offenses the fine is $250.

Section 225, effective October 1, 2015, makes a technical correction to include removable windshield placards to the special international symbol of access license plate to the requirement under Section 14-325b regarding the requirements to provide refueling service at self-service pumps at no extra charge.


Section 233, effective October 1, 2015, allows an owner or lessee of private commercial property to have any motor vehicle towed, without any signage warning of such towing, if such vehicle is left in an accessible parking spot for persons with disabilities and does not bear the removable windshield placard  or special license plate allowing parking in such space. Vehicles also may be towed without warning signage if parked in an area reserved for emergency vehicles, within ten feet of a fire hydrant, blocks building access, or blocks entry or exit from the property or is parked for forty-eight hours or more.


END OF REPORT


 


 




Content Last Modified on 8/5/2015 9:23:53 AM