OPA: Legislative Update

Legislative Update

Updated Friday, August 22, 2014

FYI--the 2014 Annual Legislative Report is available under the "2014 Annual Legislative Report" page.   But here it is also:





Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities

2014 Annual Legislative Report

The topics are laid out under the following headings below:










MENTAL HEALTH (‘PROBATE’ heading contains civil commitment and other related issues)  12




. 14


Legislative Website

Copies of bills, public acts and special acts are available on the legislative website www.cga.ct.gov   The top middle 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 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.

How This Report Is Organized

This report contains information on legislation affecting people with disabilities passed during the 2014 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.

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 2013 Regular Session, there were over 300 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. For example, the state budget is a Special Act because it is in effect for only two years. In 2013 there were more than 20 Special Acts.


Public Act 14-143 (HB 5328) An Act Concerning Advisory And Planning Councils For State Developmental Services Regions, A Change In Terminology And The Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Council.

This act is summarized under INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY.

Public Act No. 14-165 (HB 5456) An Act Concerning Mandatory Reporting Of Abuse And Neglect Of Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder, The Definition Of Abuse, And The Department Of Developmental Services Abuse And Neglect Registry.

This act creates a process for investigating claims of abuse of people with autism spectrum disorder. Currently, the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (OPA), the Department of Children and Families, and the Department of Social Services investigate claims of abuse (depending on the age and needs of the person). Certain autism spectrum disorder individuals are not specifically covered by any investigative process.

The act grants specific authority to the Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDS) to investigate reports of abuse of individuals ages 18-60 with autism spectrum disorder receiving services from DDS's Division of Autism Spectrum Disorder Services (the “division”) made against a DDS employee or an employee of any agency, organization, or individual licensed or funded by DDS. By law, DDS has general authority to conduct investigations, but the law provides no process.

By law, certain people, by virtue of their job title, must report suspected abuse to OPA. The act requires any such mandated reporter to report suspected abuse of a person receiving division services or funding to OPA. It makes conforming changes that require mandated reporters to follow the same procedures as when reporting other suspected cases of abuse. This includes filing a report that indicates their belief that the person they suspect is being abused receives services or funding from the division, among other things.

The act also expands DDS's abuse and neglect registry definition of abuse to include (1) financial exploitation and (2) psychological, verbal, and sexual abuse. By law, DDS maintains a registry of the names of any person who has been fired from his or her job because of a substantiated abuse complaint against them. These are people who were employed by DDS or an agency, organization, or individual who DDS licenses or funds.

Effective date: October 1, 2014


Public Act 14-66 (HB 5113) An Act Concerning Youth Athletics And Concussions.

This act makes several changes and additions to the laws regarding concussion prevention. It narrows the scope, from concussions and head injuries to just concussions, of the initial training course and subsequent information review that intramural and interscholastic athletics coaches must complete and training and refresher courses the State Board of Education (SBE) must develop in consultation with several entities. It also specifies that a concussion is a type of brain injury. The act broadens the list of entities SBE must consult when developing the training and refresher courses and information review to include the Department of Public Health (DPH) commissioner and information required in the refresher course.

Additionally, the act establishes a 20-member task force to study concussion occurrences in youth athletics and recommend possible legislative initiatives to address such concussions. The task force must report its findings and recommendations to the Public Health and Children's committees by January 1, 2015.

Effective date: July 1, 2014, except for the task force provision, which is effective upon passage.

PA 14-150— (HB 5402) An Act Concerning Waivers For Medicaid-Financed, Home And Community-Based Programs For Individuals With Acquired Brain Injury.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) administers a Medicaid-financed, home- and community-based program under a federally-approved waiver for individuals with acquired brain injury (ABI). This act authorizes the DSS commissioner to seek federal approval for a second waiver for this program. The act requires the commissioner to ensure that services provided under the first waiver are not phased out and no person receiving services under the first waiver program is institutionalized in order to meet its federal cost neutrality requirements. It also requires DSS to operate the first waiver program continuously, to the extent permissible under federal law.

Finally, the act establishes an advisory committee for the second waiver program. The committee must meet at least four times per year and report, by February 1, 2015, to the Human Services, Public Health, and Appropriations committees on the impact of the individual cost cap for the second waiver program and any other matters it deems appropriate. Under the act, “individual cost cap” is the percentage of the cost of institutional care for an individual that may be spent on any one waiver program participant.

Effective date: July 1, 2014


Special Act 14-15 (HB 5321) An Act Concerning Interpreter Qualifications.

This act requires the Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services, in consultation with the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities and the Connecticut Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf task force on interpreting, to develop a plan with the Commissioner of Education to ensure that an adequate number of qualified interpreters are available to assist students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

In addition, the Commissioner must develop a report recommending

  • Any new standards necessary to ensure that an adequate number of qualified interpreters are available to assist state residents
  • A timeline to implement such new standards

  • A fee structure, if advisable, for interpreters to register with the Department of Rehabilitation Services

Methods to monitor compliance with interpreter qualification standards.

The Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services must submit such plan and report to the legislative Education and Human Services Committees not later than December 31, 2014.

Effective date: July 1, 2014


Public Act 14-39 (HB 5562) An Act Establishing The Office Of Early Childhood, Expanding Opportunities For Early Childhood Education And Concerning Dyslexia And Special Education.

This act establishes the Office of Early Childhood (OEC), led by a commissioner who serves at the pleasure of the governor. It also requires that (1) dyslexia be added to the special education individualized education program (IEP) form as a separate category and (2) instruction in dyslexia be added to teacher preparation programs that lead to a professional teacher certification.

Effective date: upon passage (May 28, 2014).

Public Act 14-172 (SB 106) An Act Concerning Improving Employment Opportunities Through Education And Ensuring Safe School Climates.

This act makes several changes in the responsibilities of school districts to address bullying.

Concerning bullying, it requires separate meetings with the parents or guardians of a bullying victim and those of his or her assailants, rather than a combined meeting, and makes related minor and conforming changes.

Effective date: July 1, 2014

Public Act 14-176 (HB 5521) An Act Concerning The Storage And Administration Of Epinephrine At Public Schools.

This act requires schools to designate and train nonmedical staff to administer emergency epinephrine in cartridge injectors (“Epipens”) to students having allergic reactions who were not previously known to have serious allergies. It authorizes the emergency use of Epipens by nonmedical staff only if (1) the school nurse is not present or available and (2) certain conditions are met.

The act permits the following individuals (i.e., “qualified school employees”) to be trained and authorized: principal, teacher, licensed athletic trainer, licensed physical or occupational therapist employed by a school district, coach of school intramural or interscholastic athletics, and school paraprofessional. By law, (1) all of these individuals can, under specific circumstances, administer glucagon via injection to a student with diabetes and (2) a specifically designated paraprofessional can administer an Epipens to a student with a known allergy.

The act requires the school nurse or school principal to select qualified school employees to be trained and administer Epipens under the act’s provisions. The professionals must meet training and other requirements before being allowed to administer Epipens. Schools must (1) have at least one qualified professional on the school grounds during regular school hours and (2) maintain a store of Epipens for emergency use.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2014

Public Act 14-232 (HB 5564) An Act Concerning The Review And Approval Of Safe School Climate Plans By The Department Of Education And A Student Safety Hotline Feasibility Study

This act requires the State Department of Education (SDE) to approve or reject a local or regional board of education's safe school climate plan within 30 days of receiving it and, in the event it is rejected, creates specific follow-up steps for both SDE and the board. Under the act, only boards that have not previously had plans approved must submit them.  The safe school climate plan must address bullying and bullying prevention.

Effective date: Upon passage


Public Act 14-93 (SB 229) An Act Concerning Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention.

This act requires the State Board of Education, beginning July 1, 2015, to develop or approve a sudden cardiac arrest awareness education program for use by local and regional boards of education.  The program must be published on the State Board of Education's Internet web site and shall include: 1. The warning signs and symptoms associated with a sudden cardiac arrest, including, but not limited to, fainting, difficulty breathing, chest pain, dizziness and abnormal racing heart rate, 2. The risks associated with continuing to engage in intramural or interscholastic athletics after exhibiting such warning signs and symptoms,  3. The means of obtaining proper medical treatment for a person suspected of experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest, and 4. The proper method of allowing a student who has experienced a sudden cardiac arrest to return to intramural or interscholastic athletics. The State Board of Education must develop an informed consent form to distribute to students involved in intramural or interscholastic athletics regarding sudden cardiac arrest.

Effective date: October 1, 2014

Public Act 14-148 (HB 5386) An Act Concerning Care Coordination For Chronic Disease.

This act requires the public health (DPH) commissioner to develop and implement a plan to (1) reduce the incidence and effects of chronic disease, (2) improve chronic disease care coordination in Connecticut, and (3) improve outcomes for conditions associated with chronic disease. She must develop the plan (1) within available resources and (2) in consultation with the lieutenant governor or her designee and local and regional health departments.

The plan must address chronic cardiovascular disease, cancer, lupus, stroke, chronic lung disease, diabetes, arthritis or another metabolic disease, and the effects of behavioral health disorders. It must be consistent with (1) DPH's Healthy Connecticut 2020 health improvement plan and (2) the state healthcare innovation plan developed under the State Innovation Model Initiative by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center.

The act also requires the commissioner to report biennially on chronic diseases and the plan's implementation. The report must include several matters, such as a description of the diseases most likely to cause death or disability and recommendations for what health care providers and patients can do to reduce the diseases' incidence and effects.

Effective date: October 1, 2014

Public Act 14-203 (SB 257) An Act Concerning Hepatitis C Testing.

This act generally requires licensed primary care physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants (“primary care providers”) to offer to provide or order a hepatitis C screening or diagnostic test for patients born between 1945 and 1965, when providing services to these patients. The requirement does not apply when the provider reasonably believes that the patient (1) is being treated for a life-threatening emergency, (2) has previously been offered or received a hepatitis C screening test, or (3) lacks the capacity to consent. Under the act, a “hepatitis C screening test” is a laboratory test that detects the presence of hepatitis C virus antibodies in the blood.

Effective date: October 1, 2014

Public Act 14-214 (SB 438) An Act Concerning A Task Force To Study Stroke And Reporting On Health Care-Associated Infections.

This act establishes a task force to study issues related to stroke, specifies its charge, and requires that it report to the public health committee on or before January 15, 2015, upon which it terminates. The act also expands the scope of the healthcare associated infections report delivered annually by the Department of Public Health (DPH) to the public health committee.

The act requires the task force to study the feasibility of adopting a nationally recognized stroke assessment tool, establishment of emergency medical services (EMS) care protocols for assessing, treating, and transporting stroke patients,  establishment of a plan to achieve continuous quality improvement in providing stroke patient care and the stroke response system and feasibility and costs of establishing and maintaining a state-wide, hospital stroke designation program administered by DPH.

Effective date: From passage, except for the health care associated infections provision, which is effective October 1, 2014.



Public Act 14-46 (SB 364) An Act Concerning The Department Of Housing's Recommendations For Revisions To The Supportive Housing Initiative Statute.

This act adds the departments of Developmental Services and Veterans' Affairs to the entities with which the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) must collaborate in administering the state's permanent supportive housing initiative. It gives the entities administering the initiative more discretion in determining eligibility.

Effective date: July 1, 2014

Public Act 14-164 (HB 5441) An Act Concerning Direct Payment Of Residential Care Facilities.

This act allows the Department of Social Services (DSS) to pay Temporary Family Assistance (TFA) and State Supplement Program (SSP) benefits directly to a licensed residential care home or certain types of “rated housing facilities” through a per diem or monthly rate. Prior law generally required DSS to pay benefits directly to SSP and TFA participants.

Additionally, beginning in FY 14, the act directs DSS to give rate increases, within available appropriations, for any capital improvement a residential care home makes for the health and safety of its residents that is approved by DSS.

Effective date: Upon passage, except the provision on rate increases for capital improvements is effective July 1, 2014.


Public Act 14-10 (SB 199) An Act Concerning Long-Term Care Insurance Premium Rate Increases.

This act requires long-term care (LTC) insurance policy issuers (carriers) to spread premium rate increases of 20% or more over at least three years. It also requires LTC carriers to notify individual policyholders and group certificate holders of a premium rate increase and provide them the option of reducing benefits to reduce the premium rate.

Effective date: October 1, 2014

Public Act 14-118 (SB 394) An Act Concerning Requirements For Insurers' Use Of Step Therapy.

This act bars certain health insurers that use prescription drug step therapy regimens from requiring their use for more than 60 days. Under the act, “step therapy” is a protocol or program that establishes the specific sequence for prescribing drugs for a specified medical condition.

At the end of the step therapy period, the act allows an insured's treating health care provider to determine that the step therapy regimen is clinically ineffective for the insured. At that point, the insurer must authorize dispensation of and coverage for the drug prescribed by the provider, if it is covered under the insurance policy or contract.

The act requires insurers to establish and disclose to its providers a process by which they may request, at any time, an authorization to override any step therapy regimen. It prescribes the conditions under which the insurer must grant the override. If the provider does not consider the step therapy regimen to be ineffective or does not request an override, the drug regimen may be continued.

Effective date: January 1, 2015

Public Act 14-157 (HB 5443) An Act Concerning Coverage Under State Medical Assistance Programs For Certain Over-The-Counter Drugs.

This act expands the types of over-the-counter drugs the Department of Social Services (DSS) may pay for through its medical assistance programs to include those that must be covered as essential health benefits including drugs rated “A” or “B” in the current U. S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations for people with specific diagnoses (see BACKGROUND). USPSTF's recommendations currently include aspirin for men age 45 to 79 and women age 55 to 79 to prevent cardiovascular disease and folic acid for women who are pregnant or capable of pregnancy. The law generally bans DSS from paying for over-the-counter drugs, with the following exceptions: over-the-counter drug coverage through the Connecticut AIDS Drug Assistance Program (CADAP), insulin or insulin syringes, nutritional supplements for people who must be tube fed or who cannot safely get nutrition in any other form, and smoking cessation drugs.

Effective date: Upon passage


Public Act 14-121 (SB 463) An Act Concerning The Appointment Of A Conservator For A Person With Intellectual Disability.

This act allows psychological evidence from a psychologist to be introduced in place of medical evidence from a physician at a probate court hearing or review on involuntary conservatorship for a person with intellectual disability.

Effective date: October 1, 2014

Public Act 14-143 (HB 5328) An Act Concerning Advisory And Planning Councils For State Developmental Services Regions, A Change In Terminology And The Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Council.

This Act makes several changes to the Council on Developmental Services, the Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Council, and the advisory and planning councils for state developmental services regions.

The act increases, from 13 to 15, the membership of the Council on Developmental Services. One of the additional members, appointed by the House majority leader, must be a person with autism spectrum disorder who is receiving, or has received, services from the Department of Developmental Services' Division of Autism Spectrum Disorder Services. The other new member is appointed by the Senate majority leader. It expands those eligible to serve in certain positions on the council to include other relatives, not just parents or guardians, of individuals with an intellectual disability. The Act also changes how often the council must meet from every other month to six times per year.

The Act increases, from 23 to 24, the membership of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Council. The additional member must be a physician who treats or diagnoses persons with autism spectrum disorder appointed by the governor.

The Act allows a member of an advisory and planning council to serve beyond the current limit of two consecutive three-year terms if waiting for the appointment of a successor.

This act also updates terminology.

Effective date: October 1, 2014


Public Act 14-159 (HB 5453) An Act Concerning Employers And Home Care Workers.

This act allows a “sleep-time” exclusion from overtime pay requirements for certain employees employed by third-party providers (e.g., home care agencies) to provide “companionship services” as defined by federal regulations. In general, these regulations define “companionship services” to mean fellowship, protection, and limited care for an elderly person or person with an illness, injury, or disability. Specifically, the act allows such an employee and third-party provider to agree to exclude a regularly scheduled sleep period of up to eight hours from the work hours used to determine the employee's overtime pay if (1) the employee is required to be present at a worksite for at least 24 consecutive hours, (2) adequate on-site sleeping facilities are provided to the employee, and (3) the employee receives at least five hours of sleep-time.

Effective date: January 1, 2015


Special Act 14-6 (HB 5222) An Act Concerning A Study Of Funding And Support For Home And Community-Based Care For Elderly Persons And Persons With Alzheimer's Disease.

The act requires the Commission on Aging to study public and private funding sources for community based care for elderly persons and persons with Alzheimer’s disease. The study must address the cost effectiveness of state funded programs and recommend which state programs should be expanded. The study must be submitted to the legislative Aging Committee not later than January 1, 2015.

Effective date: May 28, 2014

Public Act 14-73 (HB 5227) An Act Concerning Livable Communities And Elderly Nutrition.

By January 1, 2015, this act requires the Aging Commission, as part of its “Livable Communities” initiative, to recognize communities that have implemented initiatives allowing people to age in place and stay in the home setting they choose. The initiatives must include (1) affordable and accessible housing, (2) community and social services, (3) planning and zoning regulations, (4) walkability, and (5) transportation-related infrastructure. (PA 13-109 required the commission to establish a “Livable Communities” initiative to serve as a (1) forum for best practices and (2) clearinghouse for resources to help municipal and state leaders design livable communities that allow residents to age in place. )

The act also requires the Aging and Social Services departments to hold quarterly meetings with nutrition service stakeholders to: develop recommendations to address complexities in the administration of nutrition services; establish quality control benchmarks; and help move toward greater quality, efficiency, and transparency in the elderly nutrition program.

Stakeholders include the Aging Commission, area agencies on aging, access agencies, nutrition providers, representatives of food security programs and contractors, nutrition host site representatives, and consumers.

Effective date: July 1, 2014

Public Act 14-142 (HB 5325) An Act Eliminating The Home-Care Cost Cap.

The Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders (CHCPE) provides home health and community-based services to frail elders as an alternative to nursing home care. This act eliminates the cost cap on community-based, Medicaid waiver-funded services, which, under prior law, was set at 60% of the weighted average cost of care in skilled nursing and intermediate care facilities.

The act also specifies that the state's cost for long-term facility care and all CHCPE services, not just the program's community-based services, cannot exceed the cost the state would have incurred to pay for nursing home care without the program.

Effective date: July 1, 2014

Public Act 14-194 (SB 179) An Act Concerning The Alzheimer's Disease And Dementia Task Force's Recommendations On Training.

This act establishes mandatory Alzheimer's and dementia-specific training for a wide range of personnel, such as emergency medical technicians (EMTs), probate judges, paid conservators, and protective services employees. It requires any Alzheimer's special care unit staff hired on or after October 1, 2014 to complete the currently required initial Alzheimer's and dementia-specific training within the first 120 days of employment. Prior law required completion of the training within six months of employment.

Effective date: October 1, 2014, except for the provisions on Alzheimer's training for nursing home administrator license applicants (sections 5 & 6 of the act), which take effect November 1, 2014.

MENTAL HEALTH (‘PROBATE’ heading contains civil commitment and other related issues)

Public Act 14-115 (SB 322) An Act Connecting The Public To Behavioral Health Care Services.

This act requires the Office of the Healthcare Advocate, by January 1, 2015, to establish an information and referral service to help residents and providers receive (1) behavioral health care information and (2) timely referrals and access to behavioral health care providers. It specifies the responsibilities of the healthcare advocate or her designee in establishing the service.

The act requires the office, by February 1, 2016, and annually thereafter, to report to the legislative Children's, Human Services, Insurance and Real Estate, and Public Health committees. The report must identify gaps in services and the resources needed to improve behavioral health care options for state residents.

Effective date: July 1, 2014


Special Act 14-5 (SB 413) An Act Concerning The Department Of Public Health's Recommendations Regarding Medical Orders For Life-Sustaining Treatment.

This act allows the Commissioner of Public Health to establish a pilot program to implement the use of medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST) by health care providers.  “MOLSTs” are medical orders that are dated and issued by a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant. These orders utilize a standardized format and specify the types of life-sustaining measures a person who is approaching the end of life has decided they want. MOLST would only be used to effectuate a patient's request for life-sustaining treatment when a physician has determined that the patient is “approaching the end stage of a serious, life limiting illness or is inn a condition of advanced, chronic, progressive frailty”. The patient or the patient's legally authorized representative must countersign the MOLST form, and must be given a copy. Prior to the participation in the pilot program, providers who would be signing MOLSTs must participate in a training program that stresses the importance of discussing the patients' goals. Finally, the act allows the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health to establish an advisory group would also include patient advocates, including but not limited to advocates for persons with disabilities.

Effective date: from passage (May 28, 2014). Any MOLST pilot program must terminate not later than October 1, 2016.


Public Act 14-103 (SB 154) An Act Concerning Probate Court Operations.

This act makes various revisions in probate statutes. It allows probate courts, when appointing a conservator, to designate a successor. It also allows people to designate their own successor conservators. Among other changes affecting civil commitment, it shifts jurisdiction over civil commitment review hearings from the probate court that ordered the commitment to the court where the hospital is located and specifies that the rules of civil evidence in Superior Court civil matters apply in probate court hearings on involuntary civil commitment, requests for release from psychiatric hospitals, and conservatorship.

Effective date: October 1, 2014


Public Act 14-16 (HB 5259) An Act Concerning The Use Of Debit Cards For Gasoline Purchases And Notification To Handicapped Drivers Of Self-Service Pump Refueling Services.

 Among other provisions, this Act requires all gasoline dealers to post a sign on or near each self-serve pump, in a location and manner clearly visible to handicapped drivers, with instructions on how to contact or notify the dealer or cashier for refueling assistance. Violators of the handicap notice provision may have their licenses suspended or revoked and are subject to a fine of up to $100 for a first offense and, for subsequent offenses, up to a $500 fine, up to six months imprisonment, or both (see Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 14-331).

Effective date: October 1, 2014

Public Act 14-31 (SB 336) An Act Concerning The Penalty For Causing Harm To A Vulnerable User Of A Public Way.

This act creates a separate violation for a motorist operating on a public way who fails to exercise reasonable care and causes the serious physical injury or death of a “vulnerable user,” provided the vulnerable user exercised reasonable care in using the public way. Any motorist found to have caused the serious injury or death of a vulnerable user in such circumstances must be fined up to $1,000.

Under the act, “vulnerable users” include: pedestrians, highway workers, people riding or driving animals, bicycles, skateboards, skates, tractors, wheelchairs or motorized chairs and persons who is blind and such blind person’s service animal.

Effective date: October 1, 2014

Public Act 14-130 (HB 5290) An Act Revising Motor Vehicle Laws.

Section 29 of this Act allows someone whose noncommercial driver's license allows him or her to carry passengers (e.g., taxi driver or student transportation vehicle driver) to renew his or her license if he or she is controlling an otherwise disqualifying medical condition with medication and is eligible for a waiver or exemption under federal regulations.

Effective date: October 1, 2014


Content Last Modified on 8/22/2014 11:01:52 AM