With A New Year Comes Some New Laws
As usual, a new year will bring new state laws to Connecticut, and several pieces of legislation — governing a wide range of topics — are slated to take effect on Jan. 1.
Beginning New Year’s Day, certain health insurance policies must cover tomosynthesis mammography, or three-dimensional mammograms. Under existing law, policies have to cover baseline mammograms for women ages 35 to 39, and annual mammograms for women 40 and older. Under the new law, 3-D mammograms can be provided at a woman’s request and insurance must cover it.
In tomosynthesis, imaging machines take standard two-dimensional digital mammograms and computer software then combines those X-rays into a 3-D image, according to advocacy organization Susan G. Komen. Some studies have shown the technique finds a few more breast cancers than 2-D images alone, according to the group, but the 3-D method exposes women to more radiation and is still being studied. Tomosynthesis is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
One other health-related law taking effect pertains to the state’s medical marijuana program, which launched in 2012 and in October was expanded to include seriously ill children. Starting Jan. 1, advanced practice registered nurses can certify patients for medical marijuana use; currently only physicians can certify patients.
A new “symbol of access” for people with disabilities will become increasingly visible throughout the state in the new year, under a new law requiring the Department of Administrative Services to adopt regulations designating a new logo.
The logo, which will appear on parking spaces, buildings, restrooms and other areas that are handicapped-accessible, will depict “a dynamic character leaning forward with a sense of movement,” under the law. The logo must be put in buildings constructed, expanded or substantially renovated on or after Jan. 1, as well a space signs that are repaired, expanded or erected on or after Jan. 1.
Also starting Jan. 1, employers will no longer be allowed to ask about a prospective employee’s prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions on an initial employment application — unless required to by state or federal law, or if the employee is applying for a position for which the employer has to obtain a security or fidelity bond.
Finally, another law will change the way taxpayers determine how much of a multi-state company’s gains and losses are attributable to Connecticut for personal income tax purposes.
Typically, income from companies set up as pass-through entities flows from the company to the owner or partners, where it is taxed as personal income. Under the current law, taxpayers calculate the proportion that is taxed by multiplying the company’s net income by the average of the percentage of property, payroll, and gross sales in Connecticut. Beginning in the new year, however, they will calculate that amount based on Connecticut sales alone.
Also beginning on Jan. 1, 2017, Connecticut’s minimum wage will increase to $10.10 an hour. The increase is just in time for a new push to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Earlier this month, Connecticut’s Low Wage Advisory Board created by the legislature in 2015 voted in favor of gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years. After reaching $15 an hour, the board is recommending in its 40-page report that it be indexed to inflation.
In the 2016 legislative session a bill that originally would have fined large companies for not paying their employees $15 an hour was amended to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour by Jan. 1, 2020, and failed after briefly being debated in the Senate.
Labor unions and other groups supporting a $15 minimum wage increase believe its possible to get the bill over the finish line this year. Business organizations are still opposed to the idea and say it will only hurt workers and force businesses toward more automation.