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November 21, 2019

Politics

A new state law regulating gun storage went into effect on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
A new state law regulating gun storage went into effect on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Follow The Laws: New Minimum Wage, Gun Rules, Smoking Limits, Sex Abuse Statutes

New sales taxes, minimum wage, safe gun storage rules and a 21-year-old minimum age to purchase tobacco and vaping products became law on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Prepared meals from restaurants, caterers and grocery stores are now taxed at 7.35 percent -- up from 6.35 percent. The 1 percent surcharge applies to supermarket catering services; sandwiches, grinders, coffee or tea sold for takeout; and food sold at a supermarket snack bar or food court. The Department of Revenue Services recently issued a memo that clarified the higher tax only applies to prepared foods already taxed at grocery stores, not other items like containers of lettuce or baked goods.

Gun Safety

Loaded and unloaded firearms will now have to be stored safely in homes where there are minors. Handguns left unattended in a vehicle must be stored in a trunk, locked safe or locked glove box. So-called ghost guns are also banned.

Minimum Wage

A higher minimum wage applies to all businesses: The minimum hourly wage increases from $10.10 to $11, and then by another $1 every 11 months until it reaches $15 on June 1, 2023. Starting on Jan. 1, 2024, the law will index future minimum wage changes to the federal employment cost index.

Sex Abuse & Harassment

Another new law impacting businesses changes how employees are trained when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace. The law requires employers to train all employees on sexual harassment, not just supervisors.

The so-called “Time’s Up Act” also extends the statute of limitations for forced rape or rape by drugs from five years to 20 years and things like unwanted touching from one year to 10 years.

It eliminates the statute of limitations for all children. If a victim was 18, 19, or 20, the statute of limitations would be 30 years following the victim’s 21st birthday, effectively the victim’s 51st birthday.

Immigration

A new law changing how the state responds to civil immigration detainers also took effect. It prohibits state and local law enforcement from serving federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers without a valid federal judicial warrant. The law expands the definition of law enforcement to include adult probation officers, bail commissioners, school police and certain judicial branch employees.

Police Accountability

The definition of police “use of force” expands to include chokeholds and pursuits. It also prohibits police from shooting into or at, or standing in front of, a fleeing vehicle in most cases. Police departments whose officers are involved in the use of deadly force must release any video footage of the incident. The law requires police departments to release any body- or dash-camera footage of police using deadly force within 48 hours of involved officers viewing the video, or within 96 hours of the incident, whichever comes first.

Jailhouse Witnesses

Connecticut became the first state in the nation to require prosecutors to track information on jailhouse witnesses with. The first-of-its-kind law requires that the state’s Office of Policy and Management Criminal Justice Division set up a system to track information on all potential jail houses that can be accessed by every prosecutor in the state. The law is designed to create safeguards against the use of unreliable jailhouse testimony that could impact the outcome of a case.

Youthful Offenders

A new law will close Connecticut courtrooms and seal the records of juveniles being prosecuted as adults for certain crimes.

The legislation will retroactively seal 116 pending and future cases.

The arraignment and all subsequent proceedings in these cases before the entry of a guilty plea or the entry of a verdict after trial are to be conducted in a closed courtroom. The records of these proceedings are confidential in the same manner as are juvenile proceedings in accordance with state law, except that the victim can obtain case records and information through an official designated by the court.

Digital Downloads

Monthly Netflix subscriptions and electronic books will cost a little more at the end of October. That’s because their sales tax is going to increase from 1 percent to 6.35 percent.

The new digital download tax applies to most online services and applications. It’s expected to generate $27.5 million for the state in 2020 and $37.1 million in 2021.

Alcohol

While the tax on alcoholic beverages except beer will increase by 10 percent, the tax on beer produced by craft breweries will be cut in half. 

Used cars

The motor vehicle trade-in fee that new and used car dealers are charged on each vehicle they accept as a trade-in will increase from $35 to $100.