July 1 Newsletter: New Laws, July 4th Weekend

July 1, 2021
We are constantly working to provide updates and important news as it develops over social media and by email. This is a recap of some of this week’s highlights.

Below you can find information on the following topics:

  • New Laws Going Into Effect Thursday
  • Preventing Crime
  • Summer 2021 Free Youth Admission to CT Museums
  • Happy July 4th Weekend

For more information about the state's response efforts visit ct.gov/coronavirus. To receive text message notifications, sign up for CTAlert, the state’s emergency alert system. To subscribe, text "COVIDCT" to 888-777.

New Laws Going into Effect Thursday
Over 100 new laws in Connecticut will go into effect today, July 1st. These laws mark the tireless work put in by my colleagues and I over the past few months. We all worked hard to listen to your concerns in order to advocate for you in Hartford.
This year, our efforts focused heavily on responding to COVID-19 and measures centered upon equity. Many of the bills passed during the 2021 Legislative Session work to address the disparate impacts COVID-19 has had on our communities while also addressing numerous archaic laws and practices in an equitable way to better Connecticut.

Here are just a few of the laws and provisions taking effect July 1st:
Inclusion of Black and Latino Studies in Public School Curriculum:

  • HB 7082 – Passed in 2019 – requires public school curriculum to include Black and Latino studies to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of history.
  • Under the act, boards must offer the course in the 2022-23 school year, but they may do so in the upcoming 2021-22 school year.
  • The State Board of Education (SDE) will conduct an annual audit to ensure that the required courses are being offered and report their findings to the Education Committee.

Access to Birth Certificates:

  • HB 6105 – Passed in 2021 – takes steps to allow adoptees 18 and older to understand the history of their biological families by allowing them access to their birth certificates.

Ice Cream Truck Safety:

  • SB 608 – Passed in 2021 – protects children who are buying ice cream from an ice cream truck
  • The law requires these ice cream trucks to increase their visibility to other drivers, , including flashing red lights and a stop signal arm.
  • This will also establish limitations and conditions as to where ice cream trucks will be available to kids in order to optimize their safety.
  • Starting today, ice cream trucks will be prohibited from dispensing ice cream to a child coming from the opposite side of the road unless they have an adult present to assist them in crossing the road.

Legalizing Sports Betting:

  • HB 6451 – Passed in 2021 – allows for the Governor to amend agreements with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe in order to modernize and expand gaming in Connecticut. The agreement between the State and the tribes still needs to be approved by the U.S. Department of Interior.
  • States across the country have already made critically needed expansions to their gaming industry by investing in new online technology, and this law allows our State to keep up with these developing efforts.
  • This law will generate additional revenue for the Connecticut’s General Fund.

Legalizing Adult-Use of Recreational Cannabis:

  • SB 1201 – Passed in 2021 – is a multi-part bill that will take effect in annual increments with the first portion taking effect July 1st, 2021. The breakdown is as follows:
    • Possession: Possession of cannabis for recreational use will be legal in Connecticut for adults age 21 and over beginning July 1st, 2021. Adults cannot have more than 1.5 ounces of cannabis on their person, and no more than 5 ounces in their homes or locked in their car truck or glove box.
    • Retail sales: Retail sales of cannabis are projected to begin in Connecticut by the end of 2022. The sale, manufacture, and cultivation of cannabis for commercial purposes requires a license from the state.
    • Homegrown: Patients who are participating in Connecticut’s medical marijuana program will be permitted to cultivate up to six cannabis plants (three mature, three immature) in their homes beginning October 1, 2021. All adults age 21 and over will be permitted to grow a similar number of plants indoors within their homes beginning July 1, 2023.
  • The bill erases convictions related to possession of less than 4 oz. of marijuana, for offenses occurring between 2015 – 2021 and erases convictions related to possession of any amount of marijuana for offenses occurring between 2000-2015.
  • The majority of revenue from cannabis sales will be utilized to establish an Equity Fund.
    • The Equity Fund will help Connecticut right the wrongs of the War on Drugs by initiating criminal justice reforms while creating economic opportunities for communities disproportionately affected by this divisive tactic.

Plastic Bag Ban:

  • The second and final stage of Connecticut’s single-use plastic bag law that passed in 2019 will also take effect today.
  • The first phase of this bill initiated a 10-cent charge for plastic bags back in August 2019.
  • Beginning today, you will not be able to get a plastic bag at grocery store check outs—however, paper bags will still be available for a fee. Connecticut residents are of course to continue to use and bring their reusable bags (also sold in stores).

These are just a few of the laws and provisions going into effect today. The full list of laws taking effect on July 1st can be accessed by clicking the buttons below.

Laws Taking Effect Thursday
You can also find a full list of bills from the 2021 Legislative session which were effective upon passage.
Laws Effective From Passage
Although these laws are a compilation of this year's accomplishments in the legislature, you always have the opportunity to make your voice heard. Please make sure to stay active in the legislative processes and let me know what you would like to see in both our community and throughout Connecticut.
Preventing Crime
I am pleased the Governor has announced a new initiative which seeks to address the uptick in gun violence and drug overdoses in recent weeks, and has done so in part in response to concerns from our communities. It is a step forward, but there is much more work to be done.

As you may know, our regular legislative session just concluded on June 9, and there was a good amount of discussion about the issue of increased crime, particularly an uptick in car thefts and the fact that many of these crimes seem to be committed by young adults and juveniles. Some of these crimes have been violent and occurred in our own backyards - the incidents on Woodfield Crossing late last year, and the one a few weeks ago in Glastonbury that culminated in a horrific accident on Route 17 were especially troubling. It is an issue that is important to me and one that many of us on both sides of the aisle have tried to push forward.

I worked within the Judiciary Committee to raise HB 6669 and was one of the original cosponsors of this legislation. I worked hard with my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to get this bill narrowly passed out of the committee. Unfortunately, there was not particularly strong support for this entire bill among the key committee leaders, and while we fought to advance it further, I was disappointed that it did not make it to the full House for a vote. However, sections of the bill made into other bills and were passed into law - Senate Bill 1093 will create stricter penalties against adults who commit thefts and induce minors to do so and will work to improve the court process to adjudicate juvenile cases from the time of arrest. House Bill 6505 will improve the juvenile detention process.

While it is certainly alarming, it is also important to note that this trend is a national phenomenon that has emerged everywhere over the course of the pandemic. For what it is worth, some experts believe this trend does not appear to be directly related to any changes to our criminal laws - this article from the Hartford Courant provides a good summary of the Connecticut data.

Most of the relevant changes during my tenure in the legislature were ones to try and strengthen the consequences and programming for juveniles (see above and also PA 19-110 which actually made it easier for the court to detain a child as a risk to public safety by adding motor theft as a criteria in making that determination). While juveniles who commit crimes are subject to prosecution, the question of why juveniles are often released is a good one - under state law and under 19-110, judges have the ability to order detention, but often do not. We are trying to gather more information on this process to make it better and ensure detention is happening when appropriate.

Rep. Barry and I are in discussions about setting up a meeting in Glastonbury with key stakeholders, policymakers and officials from within the State's Attorney's office, and others within the juvenile justice system. I do not believe there is any one solution to this problem - while more can be done legislatively, I do also believe there may be policy changes that can take place without legislation, which is why it is important to continue a dialogue with the Judicial Branch and Division of Criminal Justice officials. As mentioned above, there are already some policies in place, but I think it is clear that they are not working as intended - particularly the lack of detainers being issued and the apparent limited use/success of diversionary programs.

Please be assured that this issue is important to me and I will continue to be working on it.

Summer 2021 Free Youth Admission to CT Museums
The past year was very difficult for families across Connecticut as children and parents both navigated remote learning, new childcare demands, and social distancing measures. As our communities re-open, Connecticut has launched several summer enrichment initiatives to provide children with fun and educational opportunities that capitalize on the outstanding resources throughout our state.

Starting today, July 1st, all children—plus one accompanying adult--will receive free admission to over 90 museums across Connecticut.This program will be offered through September 6th to all Connecticut children, ages 18 and under.
This initiative will be available at museums, science centers, aquariums, and historical landmarks across the state. Participating centers include the Connecticut Science Center, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, Mystic Aquarium, and Mystic Seaport Museum. Click below to view the full list of participants. 

CT Summer at the Museum
I hope you and your kids take time to explore all our state has to offer this summer- especially throughout hot weeks like this one!
Happy July 4th Weekend!
This weekend we celebrate our country’s independence. Have a happy and safe 4th of July!