Major Laws We Passed in 2016



This year we made economic growth and support for small business our number one priority. Through Connecticut Innovations, an organization we developed 25 years ago to help boost our tech companies, we are investing millions of dollars where they will do the most good: supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses by providing them with the concrete support they need to take them to the next level, and continuing to invest in education so that Connecticut workers are trained in the 21st century skills our companies need. Here is more on our many initiatives:

Innovation Places –concentrates nodes of entrepreneurs, tech talent, support organizations and research institutions in walkable, transit-connected, mixed-use neighborhoods.

Entrepreneur Support Programs – provides $5 million a year to support a range of needs for entrepreneurs, such as residencies, coworking space and mentoring.

Tech Talent Development Fund – 10 year goal to at least double Connecticut’s stock of software developers and other tech talent we’re short on. Tactics will include: recruitment from out of state, upskilling or reskilling current workers in other fields, and bolstering education programs in this field.

Added Support for Growing Small Businesses - $1 million a year for 5 years to support firms that have made it past the startup phase, and mature companies that have plateaued but have the potential to grow.

University Innovation Ecosystems - $10 million of seed funding to strengthen the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems at all of Connecticut’s colleges and universities, public and private.

Connecticut 500 Project - main goals are to create a net increase of 500,000 private sector jobs over the next 25 years; increase the state’s population by 500,000 new residents; create 500 new startup businesses; increase by 500 the annual number of students graduating from state colleges and universities; maintain CT’s top five ranking with respect to productivity, higher ed and per capita income.


Even during difficult times when we struggle to balance the state budget, protecting our older citizens remains a high priority.

This year we passed legislation in many areas of concern to seniors:

  • Notice of nursing home closings or bed reductions for residents. When nursing homes or long-term care facilities plan to close or cut back on beds, the Department of Aging’s ombudsman must submit a letter to each patient detailing the rights and services available to the patient.
  • Utilization of patient-designated caregivers. Nursing homes now will be required to allow a resident being discharged to designate a caregiver who will work with the nursing home on a plan for post-discharge tasks.
  • Installers of residential stair lifts. This legislation creates a residential stair lift technician’s license, making it easier for homeowners to have stair lifts installed in their homes by allowing more contractors to be licensed to perform these installations.
  • Security deposits for age-restricted public housing. The elderly or disabled who want to live in state-assisted public housing now will be able to pay their security deposits in installments instead of the usual lump sum before being allowed to move in.


Although there were no easy solutions this year, after a lot of hard work we approved a budget that is balanced, without tax or fee increases, without borrowing, and without dipping into the Rainy Day Fund. Cutting $830 million is painful, but these long-term structural changes will help put Connecticut’s budget on a sustainable path – not just this year, but into the future.

Almost every line item in this budget was impacted. It cuts spending:

  • Without borrowing
  • Without taxes

We made structural changes that reduce long-term obligations and create a more sustainable budget over time.

  • Non–union wage freeze & insurance co-pay increase
  • Pension cap of $125,000 for retiring non-union state employees
  • Reduces size of state government

Even big-headline projects face cuts. We are delaying some of the Governor’s transportation initiative in order to protect legislative priorities like:

  • Hospital funding
  • School funding
  • Property tax relief
  • Funding for colleges and universities


We enacted important consumer protections this year:

  • we provided increased privacy for cellphone and internet subscribers, controlling the disclosure of customers’ information in criminal investigations
  • required service stations to post a notice informing customers if a 24-hour hold will be placed on their credit or debit card account
  • encouraged cooperation between landlords and tenants in the treatment of bed bug infestations.
  • Allowed consumers to receive cash back on gift cards with a remaining balance of less than three dollars.


This year the House passed numerous laws to promote children’s health and safety and ensure they receive a high-quality educational experience.

  • A House bill banned certain flame retardant chemicals in children’s products. Flame retardants have been linked to numerous health issues. Firefighters also say these chemicals actually make fires harder to fight by increasing the amount of smoke produced. (This did not pass the Senate.)
  • A House bill addressed childhood obesity by limiting the amount of sugar children in child care centers are consuming by putting restrictions on juice, and required schools to provide students from preschool to fifth grade a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise per day. (This did not pass the Senate.)

We’re also protecting children’s online privacy at school by:

  • Protecting student data used by web-based companies and consultants that do business with our schools
  • Requiring notification of parents in the case of a data breach
  • Prohibiting companies from using student data for advertising, unless explicitly allowed in their contract

Finally, to help ensure children receive top-quality childcare, we’ve required improved notification to parents when a childcare program is not licensed.


Legislators have always understood the importance of promoting job growth in Connecticut. To improve the state’s business climate, we passed several laws this session that:

Establish an Entrepreneur Learners Permit Pilot Program

  • Cover the initial costs associated with starting up a business for first-time business owners
  • Encourage entrepreneurial start-ups in the area of information services, biotechnology and green technology

Encourage careers in manufacturing

  • The state will develop programs to introduce students and their parents to careers in manufacturing
  • The Department of Labor will update their website to provide information on apprenticeship opportunities

Address teacher shortages in technical high schools

  • The Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS) superintendent will have the ability to hire teachers without the approval of the Commissioner of Education
  • Gives the CTHSS superintendent the same latitude that superintendents throughout Connecticut have
  • Allows the CTHSS superintendent to submit their estimated expenditures directly to the state’s budget office, thus allowing the school to make a direct case for funding
  • Establishes an evening pilot program for incumbent workers to train existing employees so they can move up the career ladder

Adopt the Connecticut Uniform Limited Liability Company Act

  • Connecticut will join the growing number of states who have adopted the UCLLA, a set of rules by which to regulate the formation and dissolution of limited
    liability companies (LLC’s)
  • More modern and business friendly for entrepreneurs than current LLC Act
  • Offer companies a greater level of consistency


Research has shown that a diverse teaching workforce that reflects the students they serve improves outcomes and inspires students of color and English Language learners to purse higher education. As in most states across the country, teachers of color are underrepresented in Connecticut schools.

We’ve passed a law to help recruit more minority teachers by improving the existing Minority Teacher Recruitment Task Force:

  • Increases the size and scope of the task force
  • Requires a review of existing state-sponsored recruitment efforts
  • Explores pathways for existing school employees to gain teaching certification

We’ve also passed legislation encouraging minority students to pursue a college degree in education by creating a pilot program in towns that are home to state universities and teacher preparation programs. The program would allow minority students to:

  • Earn college credits while still in high school
  • Take an introductory course in education


The legislation prevents certain municipalities with magnet schools from charging neighboring towns for the students they send to those magnet schools.

The law was prompted by the city of New Haven, where administrators indicated they may start charging tuition to Hamden, West Haven and other towns, while also collecting thousands from the state in per student reimbursement.

The legislation does not impact towns that are already charging tuition. Bridgeport and New London are the only other host municipalities currently doing so. Regional magnet schools like Wintergreen Magnet School or those under the court-ordered Sheff v. O’Neill settlement are also not affected.


One of our top priorities is to ensure that children are safe when they go to school and shielding students from sexual predators. Colloquially known as “passing the trash,” a school system may force a teacher who has been accused of sexual abuse to resign. However, the teacher may be able to get a job in another school district or another state because boards of education do not always share information.

The new legislation:

  • Promotes a safe school environment
  • Requires local and regional boards of education to share findings of certain misconduct with other boards of education
  • Ensures that local and regional boards of education have information concerning whether a job applicant has been found to have committed abuse or sexual misconduct
  • Makes Connecticut the fourth state in the nation – joining Missouri, Oregon and Pennsylvania – in requiring boards of education to share information about sexual abusers


If you remember the Halloween Blizzard, Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy - and who doesn’t - then you also recall the widespread power outages. Microgrids can help keep the power on when there’s a loss of electricity from the big utilities. Microgrids supply power to hospitals, police and fire facilities and other vital services when severe weather knocks out electricity. New legislation broadens available credits from the traditional power company and expands the types of renewable energy sources that are eligible.

Other energy accomplishments include:

  • Virtual net metering gets a boost with an additional $6 million in credits for municipal customer hosts.
  • Additional time for meeting eligibility for credits under virtual net metering.
  • Broadening eligibility for agricultural virtual net metering.
  • Allowing electric distribution companies to get credit for excess power generated from clean energy sources.
  • Tracking the number of electric vehicles registered in Connecticut and making sure the electric distribution system is capable of handling demand.
  • Establishing regulations for public charging stations.


Legislators recognize the vital role agriculture plays in the Connecticut economy and have passed several laws this session to support their growth. These laws:

Expand the Farm Link Program

  • The Department of Agriculture will maintain an accessible database for both prospective buyers and sellers of farm and land
  • Older farmers looking to retire will have an easy way of giving away the land
  • Those interested in farming but don’t have relatives who own a farm can easily find someone who wants to sell their land

Support the Farm to School Program

  • Local farms will work with companies to grow food for school’s breakfast and lunch meals
  • Gives a boost to our local agriculture business
  • Improves and enhances the markets available to local farmers

Extend Farm Winery Sale Hours

  • Farm wineries will be allowed to sell/offer free samples of wine at 8 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. from Monday through Saturday
  • Longer hours=Increased sales
  • Free wine tastings will be allowed at farmers market if the wine was manufactured at the winery


Honeybees don’t just give us delicious honey, as pollinators they’re also crucial to the environment and local agriculture. That’s why we’ve passed legislation to address the collapse of bee colonies and ensure our pollinators remain healthy. This law will help our pollinators by:

  • Greatly restricting the use of certain pesticides linked to the decline of honeybees
  • Creating a Pollinator Advisory Committee to aid in preserving pollinator habitats
  • Promoting the planting of pollinator-friendly vegetation on state land

This legislation also encourages citizens to help honeybee preservation efforts by instructing the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station to create a citizen’s guide to model pollinator habitats


We heard from local town officials and residents over how utilities cut, prune, and remove trees and shrubs in our communities.

The legislation requires utilities to provide advance notice to towns and tree wardens of their trimming schedule. In addition, it expands the options for removal of wood generated by tree work, including allowing residents to take wood for their use. The legislation:

  • Requires utilities intending to conduct vegetation management to begin annually providing town officials with a plan of proposed work.
  • Requires utilities to remove any debris related to their pruning.
  • Allows tree wardens to post notices of proposed shrub removal or pruning on groups of shrubs, instead of each individual shrub.


This year, we’ve sent a message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated in Connecticut. We’ve passed two laws that ensure that the punishment for animal cruelty reflects the serious nature of this crime.

Malicious and intentional animal cruelty will now be a class C felony in Connecticut. This carries the potential for:

  • Jail time
  • A fine of up to $10,000

We’ve also established a program to allow volunteer legal advocates to assist in the prosecution of animal abuse cases. This legislation aims to increase the conviction rate for animal cruelty and hold abusers accountable. Here’s how it works:

  • A judge can appoint a volunteer advocate to an animal cruelty case
  • All advocates will be law students or lawyers
  • Advocates will assist the prosecutor with the case and make recommendations

All of the advocates will be volunteers, which means this extra resource won’t cost the state a dime.


Helping municipalities to meet their budgetary needs and keeping taxes in check have always been priorities - this measure accomplishes both. To relieve the cost associated with collecting the current sales tax on parking fees, we exempted seasonal parking lots with over 30 spaces or parking lots operated by the federal or state government from the sales and use tax. This not only aids the municipalities, but also will save consumers money.


The legislature took another step this year to ensure that everyone can exercise their right to vote. We expanded Election Day Registration to include anyone in line on Election Day at their registration location by 8 pm. Current law states that an applicant may only vote if the voter registration process is completed by 8 pm. In addition, we moved back the deadline for online registration to seven days before a regular election in line with mail-in and in-person procedure. And while increasing voters’ rights to allow more participation, we are also maintaining the public trust and integrity in this process. The registrar of voters will conduct their election audit with a minimum of 5% of voting districts following elections.


We’ve passed legislation that will require that all Connecticut public and private universities to adopt policies establishing ‘affirmative consent’ as the standard definition of consent in their investigations of sexual assault.

Affirmative consent is defined as an active, clear, and voluntary agreement by a person to engage in sexual activity with another person.

Often referred to as the ‘yes means yes’ standard, it recognizes that a sexual assault can occur without a victim actively saying ‘no.’ For example, a victim may be unable to say ‘no’ if she or he is:

  • Unconscious
  • Impaired by drugs or alcohol

Here’s what the legislation does:

  • Changes the conversation about consent from ‘no means no’ to ‘yes means yes’
  • Creates a uniform standard across Connecticut colleges and universities
  • Requires universities to educate students about affirmative consent

And what it doesn’t do:

  • Presume guilt of any party
  • Affect sexual assault investigations within the criminal justice system


It’s important that Connecticut’s laws enable everyone to be treated fairly under our justice system; this includes ensuring that everyone has reliable access to legal services.

New legislation:

  • Provides funding of legal services for the poor. Ensuring reliable access to legal services for the poor is critical. This new measure will increase certain court filing fees and direct that increased revenue to funding legal services for the poor. This law also permits the use of existing grant funds for the program.
  • Establishes a task force to study access to counsel in civil matters. Access to reliable counsel for criminal defendants has not been a problem, but the same is not true in civil court proceedings. This new task force will examine the issue and report its findings to the General Assembly later this year.


Women in abusive relationships are 5 times more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a firearm. Connecticut is taking great strides in protecting women and children from domestic violence by requiring a person to surrender firearms after being served with a temporary restraining order. Another new law was created to help prevent sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Reasons for the legislation:

  • The days following service of a temporary restraining order and the days leading up to the first court appearance are the most dangerous for a victim of domestic violence
  • Nationally, domestic assaults involving firearms are 12 times more likely to result in fatal violence than those involving other weapons or bodily harm.
  • Connecticut averaged 14 intimate partner homicides per year from 2000 to 2012 and firearms were used in 39 percent of those 188 homicides, making them the most commonly used weapon to commit intimate partner homicide in Connecticut

Connecticut is not alone in enacting this type of legislation. At least twenty other states, including Massachusetts and Texas – the bastion of gun rights – have passed similar laws authorizing or requiring the surrender of firearms at the ex parte stage.

Sexual exploitation and human trafficking:

This legislation strengthens laws against trafficking of human and sexual exploitation. It adds membership to the Trafficking in Persons Council and strengthens its charges.

  • Creates agency trainings to enforce trafficking laws
  • Improves annual record-keeping
  • Shifts some criminal responsibility away from minors charged with prostitution and onto those who solicit prostitution from minors
  • Expands scope, enforcement and notice of state trafficking laws
  • Makes it easier for rape victims to terminate the parental rights of assailants


Firefighters risk their lives every day to protect citizens within their community, but the risk does not stop once the fire is out. Each fire burns toxins into the air that firefighters absorb, even while wearing proper protective gear. These toxins highly increase risk of certain cancers each time a firefighter is exposed. Prior to this legislation, firefighters who contracted cancer had to return to work while still recovering because they did not have proper compensation as they already cannot receive short/long term disability or social security. During this session, the Legislature established a self-sustaining relief fund to cover lost wages, without raising taxes. Now, both volunteer and career firefighters will be able to take necessary time to recover from cancer they've contracted while on the job, protecting us. Other legislation allows municipal property tax relief for retired volunteered firefighters, fire police officers and EMTs who volunteer at least 25 years of service.

Other legislation:

  • Grants a municipality the authority to offer a municipal property tax relief program to retired volunteer firefighters, fire police officers and EMTs who volunteer at least
    25 years of service
  • Allows for municipalities to authorize inter-local agreements so that even if the retired volunteer no longer lives in the town in which they volunteered, they can still
    remain eligible


An Act Concerning Fair Chance Employment was created to prevent employers from automatically disqualifying a job applicant based on a criminal history. On job applications, people are frequently asked to “check the box” for any arrests or convictions. Under this legislation, the box would be banned, giving people with a criminal record a better chance at obtaining a job.


Faulty foundations are plaguing homeowners in north-central and eastern Connecticut. Some face repair costs estimated as high as $150,000. While an investigation by the state may help homeowners find relief, legislators are looking ahead with a law requiring documentation showing the source of concrete used in the foundations of new residential construction and who installed it.


This year we made a number of changes to increase municipal efficiencies and regional cooperation.

Sharing Law Enforcement Personnel

The law allows non-adjoining municipalities to enter into an agreement to share the services of a resident state trooper or other law enforcement personnel.

School Transportation Costs

The law requires the state to study methods and practices local school districts can use to reduce costs and increase efficiency in school transportation.

Plans of Conservation and Development

The law requires municipalities, COGs, and OPM to consider, when updating their respective plans of conservation and development, the need for technology infrastructure in their respective jurisdictions.

Regional Performance Incentive Program

RPIP grants provide funds to municipalities and regional entities for jointly performing a service, conducting a study on joint service provisions, or sharing information technology services. The bill expands eligibility for RPIP grants – promoting regionalism and efficiency. Grants will be provided to municipalities to promote shared services and combined back office functions between municipalities and boards of education. Consolidating these services will result in greater savings to taxpayers.


We strengthened existing practices by requiring the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to improve communications with families. The new legislation requires DDS to provide, upon a client’s request, information on an individual’s position on the waiting list for residential services, documentation of an individual’s need for residential services, copies of an individual’s plan or assessment, as well as copies of any requests for funding or services along with any decisions made regarding those requests.


In recent years, Connecticut, like other New England states, has seen a heartbreaking increase in fatal opioid overdoses. Earlier this year we passed groundbreaking legislation to combat this crisis. This lifesaving law will:

Increase access to Narcan, a drug that reverses opioid abuse

  • Allow any licensed healthcare professional to administer Narcan
  • Require municipalities to equip their first responders with Narcan
  • Allow pharmacists to prescribe Narcan

Limit opioid prescriptions, reducing the risk of addiction

  • Caps first-time adult prescriptions at 7 days
  • Caps all prescriptions for minors at 7 days
  • Contains exceptions for certain medical conditions

Add more on-the-ground experts to the Connecticut Alcohol and Drug Policy Council, such as:

  • An emergency medical technician
  • A licensed drug and alcohol counselor

While there is still more work to be done, this legislation is a historic step forward in both combatting opioid overdose and preventing new cases of opioid addiction.


We stand by our veterans. This year, we passed measures that will facilitate veteran employment with a resource network for specialized skills in the Department of Labor and preferences in state contract bidding for veteran-owned small businesses. We also broadened the scope of the law that bars discriminatory practices in our state's armed forces, and approved a resolution urging our nation’s leaders to to provide VA benefits for Blue Water Navy Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.