The New Year Brings New Laws

December 30, 2009

In legislative terms the New Year has more than just one meaning. On the one hand the start of the year means that the General Assembly is preparing to go back into session. On the other hand, January 1st is a date when a number of new laws that were passed in a previous session go into effect.

Normally when a bill is passed and signed by the Governor it will have an effective date included as part of the legislation. January 1, July 1 and October 1 are the most common dates applied to a bill. Sometimes an effective date is pushed off for a year or two. You will usually see this with a tax policy change, or major legislation that could take considerable time to put in place.

A bill could read “effective upon passage,” meaning that once the Governor signs the bill the bill becomes law immediately. This may occur when dealing with an emergency budget situation, public safety or judicial matter.

Last Friday, 19 new laws went into effect, including a few insurance bills. Among them was a measure I co-sponsored that provides insurance coverage for those affected by autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Each year a growing number of children in the United States are diagnosed with ASD and the cost of treatment can place an inordinate financial burden on any family. Public Act 09-115, An Act Concerning Health Insurance Coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorders is a major step in caring for those affected by the condition by giving them and their families the peace of mind that the diagnosis and treatment of autism will be covered under the law.

Another new law would allow people who are suffering from terminal illnesses to receive accelerated life insurance benefits. There are times when people who are suffering from grave illnesses need financial assistance. Public Act 09-216, An Act Concerning Accelerating Benefits of Life Insurance Policies gives them the opportunity to receive payments from their life insurance carrier while giving insurers the ability to pay such benefits over a period of time.

A third law Public Act 09-51, An Act Requiring Health Insurance Coverage for Wound Care for Individuals with Epidermolysis Bullosa gives coverage to those afflicted with the condition. Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) is an inherited rare skin disease that is characterized by recurring blisters and open sores. While it is not known exactly how many cases of the disease exist, reports have estimated between 25,000 to 50,000 cases nationwide. The law requires that coverage include wound care supplies that are medically necessary to treat EB and administered under a physician’s direction.

These are just a few of the new laws going into effect this week. For more information about these matters or to see all the new laws that took effect on January 1st go to and click on “New Legislation Effective January 1, 2010”. As always if you have any specific questions or concerns about state government please contact me at 1-800-842-1421.