‘From the Capitol’ — New Laws to Consider

January 23, 2012

Now that the New Year has arrived, I want to share some new laws with you that have come into effect. In all, a total of 29 new laws became effective on January 1st. Most were passed by the General Assembly and then signed by Governor Malloy during the 2011 legislative session, but the legislature also met for a special session focused on economic growth and job creation in October.

As legislators, it is our duty to listen to and learn from you. Many of the proposals that we consider start from conversations with constituents who have firsthand knowledge about matters that need to be changed or improved. Among the many new laws that were enacted, I supported measures that will improve health insurance coverage, assist municipalities in pooling their resources, limit uncertainty for seniors who retain homemaker and companion services and promote economic growth and job creation in our state.

One law that I co-sponsored during last year’s legislative session now requires health insurance policies to cover magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for breast cancer screening for patients with dense tissue. In these cases, a mammogram often does not detect breast cancer in patients with dense tissue in early cancer screenings requiring an MRI. Because the MRI is initially more expensive, insurance companies did not want to cover this essential screening. However, this law will increase early detection of cancer in dense tissue patients and reduce health care costs. Overall, this legislation will advance women’s health and prevent future medical expenses.

In addition, offering health insurance to municipal employees or teachers can also be very expensive for small towns. A second aspect of the law allows two or more municipalities or boards of education to pool their resources to provide lower cost employee health care benefits and save taxpayers money.

Another law that I co-sponsored requires notification to seniors and their families who retain homemaker services about who is responsible for the employees’ withholding taxes, workers compensation and insurance. In recent years, families have been hit with uncertainty and financial hardship regarding these issues. For example, if a homemaker is injured and requires workers compensation, the family who hired the worker may be required to pay a large sum if it is determined that they are the responsible party. In some cases, the homemaker services agency may be responsible. This legislation is designed to make it clear who is responsible for the employee before a problem arises.

As we are all painfully aware, middle-class families have been suffering through a stagnant economy for far too long. At the October special legislative session, the General Assembly came together to vote in support of economic growth and job creation in Connecticut. There are provisions that expand retraining and educational opportunities for those who are unemployed or transitioning between jobs, offer incentives to job creators who hire more employees, and support increased investment in manufacturing companies.

For the past year, I have had the privilege of serving as your State Senator, and I look forward to the next legislative session starting in February. Please know that I will continue to advocate for legislation that improves the quality of life of families such as yours. I encourage you to share your thoughts and concerns with me regarding future legislation by sending an email to [email protected] or calling 1-800-842-1421.

For a full list and summaries of the 29 new laws please visit: http://cga.ct.gov/asp/Content/ActsEffective0112.asp