Every year, the Connecticut General Assembly has the opportunity to review old laws and craft new laws that are designed to improve the quality of life in our state. While some laws take effect immediately, others are rolled out over several months. Earlier this month, nearly 100 new laws came into effect on Monday, Oct. 1. Several of these laws are important to families in our district. This week, I would like to share some of the laws that I supported and have now come into effect.
Our families deserve to live in healthy and safe communities. This year, together with the help of state Rep. Laura Hoydick (R-120), we helped craft bipartisan legislation that aims to identify sources of funding for future remediation of the Raymark Superfund site. It requires the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to submit a report to the legislature’s Environment Committee by Feb. 1, 2013 on any private or public source of revenue that may be available for remediating the properties. It is my hope that this legislation will be the first important step toward bringing the clean up of Raymark waste in our community to a conclusion.
After Tropical Storm Irene brought severe damage to our state’s coastal properties, new legislation changes the way we protect the coastline. Among its provisions, the law ensures the rights of private property owners living along the shoreline, allows structural options to protect property from severe weather, establishes a program to encourage low impact methods of protecting the coast, requires state and local officials to provide alternatives if a flood and erosion structure application is denied and examines the potential impact from a rise in sea level, allowing residents to plan accordingly.
Another law helps protect the rights of grandparents who want to visit their grandchildren. By improving the court process, grandparents will now have the ability to obtain visitation rights to see their grandchildren by demonstrating they have a parent-like relationship and that the denial of visitation rights would harm the child. It also requires a court to hold a hearing and grant the request if there is strong evidence of these conditions.
When it comes to our children, we can never be too cautious. A new law makes it a Class A misdemeanor to knowingly fail to report the disappearance of a child under age 12. This applies to any person who has custody, control or is supervising the child. The adult must report if they do not know the child’s location or have not had contact with the child for 24 hours. Often referred to as “Caylee’s Law,” the legislation was a response to the 2008 high profile disappearance and death of Florida toddler Caylee Anthony, who was not reported missing for 31 days.
Other laws that took effect include requiring health care institutions caring for newborn infants to test them for critical congenital heart disease, providing greater support to victims of domestic violence, banning the sale of children’s jewelry containing the carcinogen cadmium, increasing the penalty for additional convictions of cruelty to animals and several revisions to the way government is run.
These are just some of the nearly 100 new laws that took effect last week. From extending insurance coverage to ensuring grandparent visitation rights to protecting our environment, it is my hope that these laws will positively impact the lives of families in our district and throughout the state. If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to contact me by email at Kevin.Kelly@cga.ct.gov or by phone at 800-842-1421.