New laws take effect Sunday; here’s a breakdown of 13 of them

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HARTFORD -- October 1st brings about a fresh new round of acts and laws for the state. Some existing laws are being revised, and some are being put into place for the first time. There are a lot going into effect but we picked out several to highlight. For the full list of what will go into effect Sunday, you can click here.

Child seats in cars: Here is a guide to the changes for child safety in cars:

  • Is your child under 2 years old or weighs under 30 pounds?   Use a rear-facing car seat.
  • Is your child 2-5 years old or weighs under 40 pounds?   Use a child restraint with a 5-point harness.
  • Is your child 5-8 years old and weighs under 60 pounds?  Use a booster seat or a 5-point harness.
  • Is your child older than 8 and over 60 pounds?  Use a safety belt or a booster seat.

Safe Haven law: The law makes various chances to the safe haven law, which requires hospitals to designate a place in their emergency departments where a parent or a legal guardian can surrender an infant up to 30 days old without facing arrest for abandonment. The changes to the law are:

  • Requiring the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to identify a foster parent for the surrendered child.
  • Spells out how the DCF commissioner can require DNA tests to determine the infant's parents, will require a court order.
  • Limits the circumstances that allows DCF to remove safe haven infants from the foster home. The infant will have to be in their care for at least 30 days and DCF must allow the foster parents to request a hearing before the removal.
  • It clarifies the information a hospital employee may disclose about an infant surrender if the employee believes the child was abused or neglected
  • It prohibits DCF from disclosing information about the parents of a surrendered infant to a foster parent without a court order, unless required by law.

"Sexting" by minorsThe law removes the lower age limit. In doing so, the law subjects minors under the age of 13 who "sext" or transmit child pornography will be charged with a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

Domestic violence: The act will make various changes in certain laws concerning crimes against an individual:

  • It expands defining "stalking" to conduct that causes a person to suffer "emotional distress".
  • Specifies that 1st or 2nd degree stalking may occur through the use of electronic or social media.
  • It broadens the strangulation statues to include suffocation that occurs when a person obstructs a nose or mouth.
  • Increases the penalty for violating conditions
  • Requires a presentence investigation for anyone convicted of a family violence felony when they are facing jail time, and does not allow the defendant to waive the investigation.

Human traffickingThe act will make various changes in the laws that pertain to human trafficking. Here are some of the changes:

  • Adds to the Trafficking in Persons council's membership and expands its charge.
  • Adds to the types of punishable acts a Trafficker will face and increases the penalty for the crime.
  • Creates the new crime "commercial sexual abuse of a minor" punishable as either a class A or class B felony and removes the class C felony.
  • It requires the DCF commissioner to consult with the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) commissioner to develop an educational and refresher training program related to human trafficking.

Legal age to marry: This law prohibits anyone under the age of 16 being issued a marriage license under any circumstances and narrows the circumstances in which a license may be issued to a 16-17 year-old:

Under the prior law, a 16 or 17-year-old could be issued a license if they had written consent of the minor's parent or guardian. If the minor was under the age of 16, they would also need the written consent of the probate judge where the minor resided.

Under the act now, a minor under the age of 16 will not be issued a marriage license. A 16-17 year-old may only get a marriage license if the probate court where they live approves a petition. The petition will have to be filed by their parent or guardian.

The court much also schedule a hearing on the petition and notify the minor, their parents or guardians, and the other party in the marriage. After hearing on the petition, the court may approve the license if it finds:

  • The petitioning parent or guardian gives consent to the marriage.
  • The minor consents to the marriage based on an understanding of the nature and consequences of marriage and is capable of making that decision.
  • The minor's decision to marry is voluntary and made without coercion
  • The marriage will not be detrimental to the minor.

Emancipated minors are treated as adults for marriage purpose and will not be subject to these restrictions.

Emergency generators in housing for elderly: This act requires each privately owned, multifamily housing project in a municipality with a population between 130,000 and 134,999 to install and maintain at least one emergency power generator. The generator must be capable of providing at least four hours of sufficient election power to each unit for heating, water, lighting, and critical medical equipment as well as a passenger elevator.

Hate Crimes: The act makes several changes to the state's hate crime laws, including enhancing penalties. Here are the changes:

  • Modifies the elements of certain hate crimes that deprive someone of his or her rights.
  • Imposes minimum fines for certain hate crimes, including: deprivation of rights, desecration of property, cross bring, and intimidation based on bigotry or bias.
  • Allows the court to cancel or reduce the minimum fines the act imposes if the court state son the record for its reasons for doing so.
  • It enhances the penalty for desecrating a house of religious worship.
  • Increases the penalty for first and second degree threatening when the threat affects a house of worship, religious affiliated community center, or day care center.
  • It increases the penalty for intimidation.
  • Allows the court to require hate crime offenders to participate in certain programs as a condition of probation or release.
  • It replaces the Hate Crimes Advisory Committee with a new  State-Wide Hate Crimes Advisory Council within the officer of the State's Attorney.

Coal-tar ban: This law prohibits the use or application of sealants made from coal-tar on any state or local highway. The transportation commissioner, along with the DEEP commissioner, may enforce the ban.

Anti-Descrimination against pregnant women in the workplace: This act expands the employment protections provided to pregnant women under the stat's anti-discrimination law:

  • It requires employers to provide a reasonable workplace accommodation for a pregnant employee or applicant unless the employer shows that the accommodation will be a hardship.
  • It also prohibits employers from limiting, segregating, or classifying an employee in a way that would deprive her of employment opportunities.
  • It also stops an employer from forcing a pregnant employee or applicant to accept accommodation if she does not need one.

Opioid addition: This act makes various changes to prevent and treat opioid drug use. Here are some of the changes:

  • Allows the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) commissioner to share certain prescription drug monitoring program information with other agencies for drug abuse studies.
  • Limits access to controlled substances by allowing certain register nurses employed by home health care agencies to destroy or dispose of them; creating a process for patients o ask that opioids not be prescribed and generally reducing the amount of opioid drugs a minor may be prescribed.
  • Requires practitioners, when prescribing opioids, to discuss them with all patients not just minors and to tell them about the risks associated with the drugs.
  • It requires the Department of Public Health (DPH), to state on its website starting on October 1st, how a prescribing practitioner may obtain a certification to prescribe take-home medications to treat opioid use.
  • Requires the Alcohol and Drug Police Council (ADPC) to take action to address opioid drug use.
  • It requires certain individual and group health insurance to cover  necessary inpatient detox services for an insured or enrollee diagnosed with substance abuse.
  • The law also extends the date that municipalities must require their EMS first on the scene to have NARCAN and train them how to use it.

Mushroom picking!: The state is allowing people to take mushrooms for their personal use from property under the control of DEEP (state parks, etc.). Under the act, the state will not be liable to whoever does pick mushrooms.

Law enforcement training: This act requires training for state and local police to include techniques for handling incidents that involve juveniles with autism spectrum disorder or non-verbal learning.

The cost will not go to State Police if the training comes from higher education institutions, health care professionals, or advocacy groups concerned with the juveniles who have these disorders, or if it's a collaboration of such institutions, professionals, or organizations.

Under the current law, police training must already cover a range of juvenile matters.

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