State legislators had until midnight on June 3 to pass any bills they hoped would become law. Aside from the controversial passage of the biennial state budget that raises tax revenues by $2 billion, students, immigrants, consumers and domestic workers had major legislative wins during this session.
Below are the bills that have passed the House and Senate, and wait for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signature to become law or veto.
In-state Tuition for Undocumented Immigrants
Connecticut law allows undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities if they attended four years of high school in the state. This controversial measure would reduce that to two years and would expand the in-state tuition rates to immigrant children who were victims of labor abuses or sex trafficking.
Reduce Teacher Shortage for Bilingual Teachers
This bill makes it easier for bilingual teachers from other states to become certified in Connecticut by reducing how long they must have taught elsewhere and allows the education department to give them a 90-day temporary license. The department must also join interstate agreements to facilitate certification of qualified out–of-state teachers.
Drop Smarter Balanced Assessments for High School Students
The legislation would do away with the requirement that every junior take the Smarter Balanced Assessments, the controversial exams aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Instead, every student would either take the SAT or ACT college-entrance exam.
Police in Schools
To ensure that the presence of a police officer in a school does not lead to more student arrests, this bill would require school boards to enter into agreements with the police department to define the officer’s role and responsibilities. Numerous districts have already entered into these agreements.
Variable Electric Rates
The legislation would make Connecticut the first state to ban variable electric rate contracts for residential customers, a consumer-protection measure sought by AARP and others to end the bait-and-switch tactics of some electricity retailers. Consumer advocates say that some retailers used variable contracts to offer a teaser rate that quickly would exceed the standard offer available from the state’s two major utilities, United Illuminating or Eversource.
The CARE Act
This bill is intended to help people who care for relatives or friends by requiring hospitals to give them instructions when their loved one is being sent home. Under the proposal, patients being discharged from a hospital could designate a caregiver, and the hospital would be required to give the caregiver instructions – in person or on video – on the patient’s discharge plan.
Consumer Protections in Banking
This bipartisan bill would broaden consumer protections against online financial threats ranging from payday loans to identity theft. It would punish lenders who ignore the state’s limit of 12-percent on short-term loans by rendering those loans uncollectable. Other provisions of the bill would give the Banking Department greater authority to regulate virtual currencies, such as bitcoin, and give victims of identity theft the right to bar credit rating agencies from releasing credit information without their permission. With a so-called “security freeze,” lenders cannot gain access to a consumer’s credit file unless the consumer has thawed the file with a code, similar to a PIN number.
Defining “Domestic Worker”
The bill would define domestic workers, who are excluded with agricultural workers from most state and federal labor laws, as employees under Connecticut law. The change would allow them to file discrimination complaints to the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, but it does not require that they be paid a minimum wage.
Undocumented Immigrants’ Licenses
This bill is intended to make it easier for people who are not in the country legally to get a license that would permit them to drive (but cannot be used for federal identification purposes or to vote). It allows people applying for these licenses to use a birth certificate from a foreign country as a secondary proof of identity.
SOURCE – CTMirror.org