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Connecticut Prevention Network
2012 Legislative  Session Wrap-Up
Kenneth L. Przybysz LLC

On Wednesday May 9, the legislature concluded the 2012 legislative session.  The session began as the education session and concluded with a bipartisan vote in favor of education reform.  Some of the other major issues addressed include: repeal of the death penalty, storm response legislation, legalization of medical marijuana, same day voter registration, collective bargaining rights for some personal care attendants and day care workers, changes to the states liquor laws and campaign finance reform.  This was all done in the short session despite a $285 million deficit that is being closed through several measures.

Despite all of the work that was done, the legislature ran out of time on passing budget implementation language.  They passed a budget but not the language that includes the policy for these expenditures.  Therefore, before July 1, 2012 (the beginning of the 2013 fiscal year) the legislature will hold a special session.  We will be closely following developments and will work on budget issues that may impact you.

Below is a summary and explanation of legislation that was passed, as well as details on other bills that failed to make it through both chambers.

 

FY 2013 BUDGET MODIFICATIONS

HB 5557- AN ACT MAKING ADJUSTMENTS TO STATE EXPENDITURES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 2013.

  • A $20.5 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2013 (2% boost in overall spending).  Passed both chambers with Republicans in oppositions.
  • HIGHLIGHTS:
    • Education: $90 million in new education initiatives including a $50 million increase in Education Cost Sharing grants to cities and towns. $7.5 million for the state’s 25 lowest-achieving schools and 1,000 new preschool seats.
    • Health & Human Services: Saving $50 million by tightening eligibility in the Low Income Adult (LIA) Medicaid program. The changes include limiting enrollment to people with assets below $10,000, and counting family income in determining eligibility for applicants under 26. The program currently has no asset limit.  Also cut $600,000 to Life Star
    • Transportation: $70 million transferred from the transportation fund to the general fund.
    • Finance: No new taxes.  Diversion of $222 million that had been dedicated to pay down the state’s credit card to help close the deficit.
  • The legislature still needs to pass implementation language which will impact and illuminate parts of the budget.

 

LIQUOR LEGISLATION

  • Public Act 12-7 (HB 5021) changes many of the states liquor laws.  The Governor will sign the legislation in the next few days.
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • SUNDAY SALES– Package stores and grocery stores will be able to sell alcohol from 10am to 5pm on Sundays.  This will most likely begin on May 20.  They will also be able to sell on additional holidays.
    • INCREASED HOURS–  Extends the hours café permittees may serve food, but not alcohol, to the public.  May serve until 1am during the week and 2am on weekends.
    • OTHER CHANGES– Increase from two to three the number of package stores a person may own.  Allows stores to discount one item a month.
    • TASK FORCE– Establishes a 15-member Competitive Alcoholic Liquor Pricing Task Force to examine, review, and analyze Connecticut alcoholic liquor taxes, quantity and volume discounts, existing liquor permit restrictions, and minimum pricing and price posting laws.
  • Notably the law will not expand sales to convenience stores.  Although the Governor initially proposed allowing sale of alcohol in convenience stores that was not part of the final package.  Grocery stores will still only be able to sell wine and beer.

TOBACCO

  • SB 270 would have prohibited anyone from selling a smoking device to a minor.  Violators would be fined up to $ 200 for a first offense, up to $ 350 for a second offense within an 18-month period, and up to $ 500 for each subsequent offense within an 18-month period.  The bill passed the Senate but not the House.  However, the legislation may be included in an implementer bill.
  • There was also a proposal to tax tobacco manufacturers who use “cigarette rolling machine” to make cigarettes at his or her retail or commercial premises but different iterations of the bill did not pass.

 

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

  • HB 5389 allows a licensed physician to certify an adult patient’s use of marijuana for a debilitating illness including cancer; glaucoma; HIV; AIDS; Parkinson’s disease; multiple sclerosis; damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity; epilepsy; cachexia; wasting syndrome; Crohn’s disease; posttraumatic stress disorder; and other medical conditions, treatments, or diseases that DCP approves via regulations.
  • Among other requirements, patients seeking to use marijuana for palliative purposes must have a written certification by a physician and register with DCP. The bill provides for temporary registrations until 30 days after certain required regulations take effect. The bill allows qualifying patients and their primary caregivers to possess a combined one-month marijuana supply.
  • The bill creates licensing requirements for pharmacists (termed “dispensaries”) to supply the marijuana and for producers to grow it. DCP must adopt regulations setting the maximum number of dispensaries and producers (the number of producers must be at least three but no more than 10), providing for their licensure, and setting standards.  This is projected to take up to a year to get underway.
  • The bill prohibits patients, their caregivers or doctors, dispensaries, or producers from being subject to criminal or civil penalties, or being denied any right or privilege, for specified actions relating to palliative marijuana use.  However, the bill makes it a class C misdemeanor to lie to a law enforcement official about the palliative use of marijuana and a class A misdemeanor for someone to lie to a law enforcement official about the issuance, contents, or validity of a written certification for palliative use.

OTHER NOTEABLE LEGISLATION

SOCIAL HOSTING BILL

  • HB 5360 passed both chambers.  It prohibits anyone who owns or controls private property, including a dwelling unit, from recklessly or with criminal negligence, permitting any minor to illegally possess alcohol in the unit or on the property, in addition to existing law’s prohibition on knowingly allowing such possession.  It also increases the penalty to a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in prison, up to a $ 2,000 fine, or both. Under current law, a first violation is an infraction.
  • The bill was amended to: eliminate the original provision requiring the owner to be physically present, add the reckless and criminal negligence standards, eliminate the knowledge requirement for making reasonable efforts to stop a minor and increases the penalties.

TREATMENT FOR A DRUG OVERDOSE

  • HB 5063 passed both chambers.  The bill allows licensed health care practitioners who can prescribe an opioid antagonist to prescribe, dispense, or administer it to a third party to treat or prevent a drug overdose without being civilly or criminally liable to anyone for such action or for the opioid antagonist’s subsequent use.

OFF TRACK BETTING

  • HB 5095 passed both chambers with some opposition.  It increases the number of off-track betting facilities that may operate as simulcasting facilities, from 15 to all 18 of the currently authorized OTB facilities.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROGRAMS

  • HB 5553 passed and makes a number of changes to the DUI laws.  Specifically, it refines last years legislation and allows a person subject to lifetime ignition interlock use under the bill’s provisions to request a hearing on removing the device after 15 years; deletes a provision and reinstates the alcohol and drug addiction treatment program- allowing anyone previously participating in or eligible for it to complete the new program or an equivalent one; and deletes a provision allowing a second-time DUI offender to drive to an appointment with a probation officer during the first year of driving with an ignition interlock.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES

  • HB 5031 passed and requires public and private higher education institutions to adopt and disclose one or more policies on sexual assault and intimate partner violence. The policies must include provisions for providing information to students, disciplinary procedures and possible sanctions.

FAILED BILLS

MED DISPOSAL

  • SB 92 would have done two things.  First, it would have prohibits a health care institution and its employees, staff, contractors, or other people under its direction or supervision from discharging, disposing of, flushing, pouring, or emptying unused medication into a wastewater collection or septic system.  Second, it would have required DCP to set up a program mandating all police stations and state barracks to have a 24 hour anonymous pharmaceutical drop box.

BAC TESTING

  • SB 63 would have allowed a blood alcohol test taken after the current two-hour deadline to be admissible if evidence is presented that the results and analysis accurately indicate the BAC at the time of the alleged offense.

PRESCRIPTION DRUG MONITORING

  • SB 436 passed the Senate but not the House.  It would have required people or institutions that must register with DCP as controlled substance practitioners to also register for access to DCP’s electronic prescription drug monitoring program enabling DCP the ability to maintain a tracking database of drug use.

DIVERSIONARY PROGRAMS

  • HB 5555 would have made changes to court diversionary programs.  Specifically, it would have expanded the pretrial drug education and community service program, eliminate the pretrial diversion option of the community service labor program, expand the criminal mediation program and allow for more people to participate in accelerated rehabilitation.

DMHAS REPORTING BILL

  • HB 5064 passed the House but not the Senate.  It would have made changes to the state substance abuse plan including requiring the state substance abuse plan to include a summary of DMHAS’ data repository of substance abuse programs administered by state agencies and state-funded community based programs