PA 07-5, June 2007 Special Session—HB 8006

Emergency Certification

AN ACT CONCERNING MINOR AND TECHNICAL CHANGES TO CERTAIN SPECIAL SESSION AND REGULAR SESSION PUBLIC ACTS

SUMMARY: This act enacts unrelated provisions dealing with unemployment benefits for military spouses, nonpartisan legislative employees' compensation, below-cost cigarette sales, Medicaid reimbursements, payments to dairy farmers, and the use of biomass in electric generating plants. It also makes substantive, technical, and conforming changes to acts passed during the regular session and acts passed earlier in the special session that implement the budget.

A section-by-section analysis appears below.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Various, see below.

1-3 — STATE-ASSISTED HOUSING SUSTAINABILITY FUND

The act changes a provision in PA 07-4, June Special Session (JSS) regarding the State Assisted Housing Sustainability Fund. PA 07-4, JSS required the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to adopt procedures to implement the fund and the awarding of grants and loans for emergency repairs, relocation costs, and other items. The act requires DECD to adopt regulations rather than procedures. It also expands the scope of the regulations to include (1) the State Assisted Housing Sustainability Advisory Committee and (2) physical needs assessment grants.

The act requires the advisory committee to advise the DECD commissioner and CHFA on the adoption of regulations.

The act gives DECD until October 1, 2009 to submit final regulations to the Regulation Review Committee. While in the process of adopting regulations, DECD must adopt written policies and procedures, which will be valid until the regulations become effective. DECD must print a notice of intention to adopt regulations in the Connecticut Law Journal no later than 20 days before implementing the policies and procedures.

It also makes technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

4 — LOCAL PLANS OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT

By law, municipalities must prepare or amend plans of conservation and development at least once every 10 years. If they do not, the municipality's chief elected official must send a letter to the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) secretary and the transportation, economic and community development, and environmental protection commissioners explaining why the plan was not amended.

PA 07-239 requires that a copy of this letter be included in each municipal application for discretionary funding submitted to any state agency, rather than just applications submitted to the four officials for funding real property conservation or development. This act specifies that the requirement applies just to applications for discretionary state funding, instead of all discretionary funding. PA 07-239 makes a municipality that has not met the plan update requirement ineligible for such funding unless the OPM secretary expressly waives this provision.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2010

5 — PUBLIC HOUSING AUTHORITIES

The act makes a technical correction.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

6 — OPM STUDY

PA 07-4, JSS requires OPM to report to legislative committees by January 15, 2008 analyzing the impact on budgeted state agencies of:

1. raising the juvenile delinquency and Family With Service Needs (FWSN) Program age limits to 18 and restructuring detention options for serious juvenile repeat offenders under age 18;

2. establishing and operating family support centers and staff-secure facilities for FWSN children; and

3. implementing the (a) extended guardianship program, (b) court transcript fee increase, and (c) trafficking in persons contracting provisions, as provided in other sections of that act.

This act eliminates the analysis and reporting requirements for the FWSN program and for the third group of items listed above.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

7-10 — CERTIFIED COMPETITIVE VIDEO SERVICE

The act makes conforming tax changes to PA 07-253, which allowed telecommunications companies to provide video services and subjected the affected companies to the same gross earnings tax as cable TV companies pay. That act subjected cable TV companies to less extensive regulation if a telecommunications company begins offering service in their franchise areas or if a cable TV company enters another company's franchise area. PA 07-253 specified that the cable TV company is still subject to the gross earnings tax even if it is subject to competition from a telecommunications company. This act similarly specifies that a cable TV company is still subject to the gross earnings tax if it enters another cable TV company's franchise area. It subjects unpaid taxes to interest and penalties for all of the companies providing video services, which go into an account used to support public access and educational TV established by PA 07-253.

The act also makes the tax used to fund this account payable quarterly, rather than annually.

EFFECTIVE DATES: Upon passage

11, 12 – ENERGY CONSERVATION

The act makes conforming changes in the Neighborhood Assistance Act to reflect a provision of PA 07-242, which (1) increases, from 60% to 100%, the maximum credit against business taxes for a firm's investments in energy conservation projects in low-income housing developments or properties occupied by charitable organizations and (2) establishes a 100% credit for energy conservation investments in properties owned, but not occupied by, these organizations. (Investments in buildings occupied by the organizations were already eligible. )

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

13-15 — FILM INDUSTRY TAX CREDIT CHANGES

PA 07-236 establishes new tax credits for film infrastructure investments and digital animation production expenses and makes several changes in the existing credit for film production expenses. That act requires the Commission on Culture and Tourism (CCCT), which administers all three credits, to issue tax credit vouchers to eligible companies and, once the vouchers are issued, limits the state's power to audit or review the expenses on which they are based. This act makes conforming changes to the audit and review limits in PA 07-236 to substitute the CCCT for the revenue services commissioner as the entity that issues the tax credit vouchers. It also makes technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

16 — CHILDREN'S HOSPICE PILOT PROGRAM

The act extends, from September 20, 2007 to September 20, 2009, Sunshine House, Inc. 's pilot program to create a comfort center for children with a limited life expectancy and their families.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

17 & 61 — UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR MILITARY SPOUSES

The act makes eligible for unemployment compensation benefits an employee who voluntarily leaves his or her job to accompany a spouse who is required to relocate while on active duty with the United States armed forces. It applies only to those who leave their job between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008. Furthermore, it establishes that an employer's unemployment taxes will not be directly affected by an employee who files a claim under the act's provisions.

By law, in most cases an employee who voluntarily leaves work through no fault of the employer is not eligible for unemployment compensation. Some current exceptions to this include when an employee leaves a job to (1) care for a seriously ill child, spouse, or parent living with the employee or (2) protect himself or herself or a child living with the employee from continued or threatened domestic violence.

The act also requires the labor commissioner to submit quarterly reports on the effect of providing unemployment benefits for military spouses to certain legislative committees and the OPM secretary. The first report is due by January 1, 2008. They must be submitted quarterly until June 30, 2009.

The reports must include (1) data on the number of quits compensated under the spousal provision and (2) a description of the cost to the Unemployment Compensation Fund. They must be submitted to the Appropriations, Labor, and Veterans' Affairs committees.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007, except the reporting requirement is effective upon passage.

18 — NONPARTISAN PAYMENTS

The act removes a ban on lump sum payments to nonpartisan employees of the General Assembly. It permits the award of a bonus payment for meritorious service, based on office directors' annual performance appraisals, to employees who have reached the maximum salary for their job classification. Any such payment, which must be made in accordance with an incentive plan the Joint Committee on Legislative Management or its personnel policies subcommittee establishes, is not considered a salary increase.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

19 — BIODIESEL DISTRIBUTORS

PA 07-4, JSS creates a variety of incentives for biodiesel producers and distributors. This act specifies that distributors can receive grants only to help them buy equipment or construct, modify, or retrofit biofuel facilities. Under PA 07-4, JSS, the distributors were eligible for grants for other purposes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

20-21 — BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR SCHOOL VEHICLE DRIVER APPLICANTS

PA 07-224 requires the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) commissioner, before issuing a commercial driver's license with a school bus or school transportation vehicle (STV) endorsement, to check each applicant against the Department of Children and Families' (DCF) state child abuse and neglect registry. That act allows the DMV commissioner to refuse endorsements to applicants listed on the registry as perpetrators of abuse. This act also (1) requires the DCF commissioner to give DMV copies of records, without the person's consent, to allow DMV to check the registry for applicants for school bus and STV license endorsements and (2) makes technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

22-24 — CIGARETTE DISTRIBUTORS SELLING OR BUYING BELOW COST

The act increases the administrative and criminal penalties for cigarette distributors who sell or buy cigarettes below cost if the intent is to injure competitors or to destroy or substantially lessen competition. The law presumes that “cost” includes a mark-up based on the types of businesses selling and buying the cigarettes. By law, the commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services, which licenses cigarette distributors and dealers, may administratively impose license suspensions, license revocations and fines as follows:

1. for a first offense, a license suspension of at least seven days and a fine of up to $10,000;

2. for a second offense within five years, a license suspension of at least 30 days and a fine of up to $25,000; and

3. for a third offense within five years, license revocation and a fine of up to $50,000.

A distributor is also subject to a criminal penalty of a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense, up to $5,000 for a second offense, and up to $10,000 for subsequent offenses. The act adds an additional $1,000 fine for each carton of cigarettes sold or bought in violation of the prohibition to both of the existing administrative and criminal penalties.

The act also creates another enforcement mechanism by making a violation an unfair trade practice. By doing so, it authorizes the consumer protection commissioner to investigate complaints, issue cease and desist orders, order restitution in cases involving less than $5,000, enter into consent agreements, ask the attorney general to seek injunctive relief, and accept voluntary statements of compliance. Under the Unfair Trade Practices Act, courts may issue restraining orders; award actual and punitive damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys fees; and impose civil penalties of up to $5,000 for willful violations and $25,000 for violation of a restraining order.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2008

25 — MEDICAID REIMBURSEMENT FOR CERTAIN CHILDREN'S HOME HEALTH SERVICES

PA 06-188 required the Department of Social Services (DSS) commissioner to provide reimbursement under the HUSKY A program for services for children a home health care agency provides either in the child's home or a substantially equivalent environment, which can include a child day care center or after-school program. The act instead requires DSS, to the extent federal law permits, to provide reimbursement through the Medicaid program, but only for physical, occupational, and speech therapy these agencies provide in these settings. HUSKY A is one of several Medicaid categories under which children get medical coverage. For example, children with severe physical disabilities could alternatively be enrolled in the Katie Beckett Medicaid waiver program.

Federal Medicaid regulations (1) define home health services as those provided to recipients in their place of residence and (2) specify that hospitals, nursing facilities, and intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded are not residences.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

26 — MEDICARE PART D SUPPLEMENTAL NEEDS FUND

PA 07-2, JSS limits annual expenditures for Medicare Part D nonformulary drugs that the state's Supplemental Needs Fund pays for to the amount appropriated for that purpose in PA 06-186 ($5 million). This act eliminates the spending limitation. But the law continues to specify that assistance from the fund is subject to available funds.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

27 — CHEFA BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The act expands the eligibility requirements for Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority members appointed in their capacity as trustees, directors, officers, or employees of higher education or health care institutions in the state by permitting them to be retired or currently serving. Prior law required them to be currently serving.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

28 — LEADERSHIP IN ACTION PROGRAM FUNDING

For FYs 08 and 09, the act allows up to $100,000 per year from appropriations for the Early Childhood Education Advisory Cabinet to be used to support the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Leadership in Action Program. The program trains people from diverse fields and backgrounds, including agency managers, educators, business people, nonprofit leaders, public officials, parents, and child advocates to focus on achieving a specific result, such as reducing the number of low birth-weight babies or increasing the number of children ready for kindergarten.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

29 — PAYMENTS TO DAIRY FARMERS

The act authorizes the agriculture commissioner to compensate dairy farmers operating in Connecticut, in a manner he determines, for low milk prices they received between January 1and December 31, 2006. The commissioner must (1) make the payments from available appropriations and (2) calculate them based on the amount of milk each farmer produced during this time.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

30-31 & 33-38 — TECHNICAL CHANGES

The act makes technical changes to public acts enacted during the 2007 regular session.

32 — GOLD STAR FAMILY LICENSE PLATES

PA 07-167 creates a Gold Star Family license plate that can be issued to the immediate family members of Connecticut service members killed in the line of duty. This act changes the criterion to state residents killed in action while performing active military duty with the armed forces (defined by law as the U. S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force and any of their reserve components and the Connecticut National Guard performing duty under Title 32 of the U. S. Code (e. g. , certain homeland security missions)).

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

39-41 — EMINENT DOMAIN

PA 07-141 makes many changes to the laws towns must follow when taking property to eliminate blight and prepare an area for redevelopment. This act makes technical changes to those sections of PA 07-141 requiring a development agency's governing body to approve each taking, allowing property owners to ask the Superior Court to enjoin a taking, and establishing owners' right of first refusal.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

42 — HEARSAY EXCEPTION

PA 07-143 creates an exception to Connecticut's hearsay rule for statements of children under age 13 about sexual or physical assault committed against them by someone with authority or apparent authority over them. It requires courts to accept these statements as evidence in criminal, juvenile, or civil proceedings under certain circumstances. This act eliminates the requirement for courts to accept these statements in civil proceedings.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

43 — VISION SCREENING FOR DRIVERS' LICENSE RENEWALS

Prior law required, beginning July 1, 2007, that the motor vehicle commissioner screen the vision of every licensed driver before every second license renewal. It allowed the commissioner, in lieu of conducting the screening, to accept the results of a vision screening conducted by a licensed and qualified health care professional within the 12 months preceding license renewal. The law prohibited the commissioner from renewing a driver's license unless the applicant passed the vision screening.

PA 07-167 repealed these vision screening requirements. This act restores the prior law and changes the requirements' start date to July 1, 2009.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007

44 — USE OF UNALLOCATED SCHOOL READINESS FUNDS

The act restores a provision, eliminated in PA 07-3, JSS, that allows the education commissioner to use funds appropriated for noncompetitive school readiness grants for supplemental grants to other eligible towns, among other things.

Under both PA 07-3, JSS and this act, the commissioner can also use the unallocated funds for:

1. assisting local school readiness programs in meeting and maintaining accreditation requirements;

2. providing training in implementing the preschool curriculum frameworks and developing a statewide preschool curriculum;

3. developing assessments for kindergarten, first, and second grade students;

4. developing and implementing best practices for parents in supporting preschool and kindergarten student learning and for children to transition from preschool to kindergarten; and

5. providing for professional development.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

45 — MAGNET OPERATING GRANTS

The act sets the maximum grant interdistrict host-magnet schools can receive for any student from another district at the same rate that the law allows for students from another district that supplies more than 55% of a host-magnet school's enrollment. The per student grant amounts are:

FY 08

$6,016

FY 09

6,730

FY 10

7,440

FY 11

8,158

Prior law did not provide a grant for students from participating districts that supplied less than 55% of the school's enrollment.

The act also requires all (host and regional education service center) magnet school operating grants to be proportionately adjusted within available appropriations, if necessary. It prohibits the distribution of grants in excess of the magnet school program's reasonable operating budget after other revenue sources are deducted.

Finally, the act makes any magnet program operating between half- and full-time eligible to receive 65% of the grant that it would receive if it were operating as a full-time program.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

46 — TRANSPORTATION TO VOCATIONAL-TECHNICAL SCHOOLS

The act changes the vocational-technical school transportation cost ceiling for school districts from the ECS foundation amount to $6,000 per student. PA 07-3, JSS increased the ECS foundation amount from $5,891 to $9,687 per student, starting in FY 08.

By law, local and regional school boards must pay reasonable and necessary transportation costs to allow their students to attend vocational-technical schools. The state reimburses districts for such costs under its school transportation grant, with costs up to $800 per pupil reimbursed at the regular rate of zero to 65% and costs over $800 reimbursed from 20% to 85%, depending on wealth.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

47 — SUPPLEMENTAL PRIORITY SCHOOL DISTRICT FUNDS DISTRIBUTION

The act extends an FY 07 allocation of $2,610,798 in additional priority school district (PSD) grants to the three largest school districts (Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven) for two years, through FY 09.

It also reduces the total funding for a supplemental PSD grant to all priority districts from $6 million to $4,750,990 per fiscal year. By law, the State Board of Education must allocate a share of these supplemental funds to each priority district in proportion to its regular PSD grant. The money is in addition to all other PSD grants each district receives.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

48 — CURRENT PROGRAM EXPENDITURES PER RESIDENT STUDENT

The act eliminates a separate calculation for “current program expenditures per resident student” for towns that are members of K-12 regional school districts. “Current program expenditures per resident student” is one of three factors used to calculate each town's ECS minimum budget requirement (MBR) under PA 07-3, JSS. This change makes all three MBR factors town-based. The other factors are per capita wealth and percentage of students who score below proficiency on state mastery tests.

The act also makes two technical, conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

49 — HARTFORD INTERDISTRICT ALL-DAY KINDERGARTEN GRANTS

The act extends indefinitely the education commissioner's ability to provide grants for Hartford students to participate in an all-day kindergarten program under the Open Choice interdistrict school attendance program. The grants can be used to pay for before- and after-school care and remedial services for the kindergarten students in the program as well as for subsidies to receiving districts. Under prior law, the program would have expired June 30, 2007.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

50 — SDE SCHOOL READINESS ADMINISTRATION

The act allows the State Department of Education (SDE) to continue to retain up to $198,200 of the annual total school readiness grant appropriation for coordination, program evaluation, and administration through FY 09.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

51 — EARLY READING SUCCESS COMPETITIVE GRANTS

The act increases the amount of the annual appropriation for early reading success competitive grants from the FY 07 level of $1,788,001 to $ 1,850,000 and extends the grant through FY 09. It continues to limit the maximum amount SDE may use for administering the grants to $353,646 per year.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

52 — FY 08 ECS INCREASE DEFERRAL OPTION

PA 07-3, JSS allows towns, by September 15, 2007, to ask the education commissioner to defer part of their ECS aid increases for FY 08. If the commissioner approves, deferred amounts must be added to the town's FY 09 grant. This act overrides provisions of any state law, local charter, special act, or home-rule ordinance to allow towns to ask for the deferrals and repeals a similar but broader provision of PA 07-3, JSS (see below 73).

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

53 — ECS PHASE-IN FOR FY 08

PA 07-3, JSS phases in full funding of new ECS grants. For FY 08, that act requires each town to receive the ECS grant it was eligible to receive in FY 07 (“base aid”) plus 17. 31% of the difference between that and its fully funded grant, but no less than a 4. 4% increase in base aid. This act requires the state to adjust the 17. 31% percentage for all towns to accommodate the cost of the minimum 4. 4% increase within the budgeted ECS appropriation for FY 08.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

54 — USE OF EXCESS CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDS

The act expands the permitted uses of any excess charter school funds to include paying expenses incurred (1) in the creation of a CommPACT school or (2) by SDE to ensure continuity of a charter school, when a competent court requires it. SDE must consult with the OPM secretary in allocating the funds for CommPACT school expenses.

Under existing law, if the amount appropriated for the charter school grants exceeds the amounts set by law, SDE must increase the per-student grant proportionately, but by no more than $70 per student. If funds remain after the proportionate increase, SDE must use them for supplemental grants to interdistrict magnet schools or to pay for a portion of the required random charter school audit.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

55 — ENERGY IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS

PA 07-242 allows municipalities to establish energy improvement districts. It grants the districts a number of powers, including issuing revenue bonds, and exempts the bonds and the income from them from taxes. This act subjects the bonds and the income they produce to the estate and succession taxes and subjects the interest on the bonds to excise and franchise taxes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

56 — REPLENISHMENT OF CLEAN ENERGY AND ELECTRIC CONSERVATION FUNDS

This act defines several terms used in PA 07-1, JSS (the budget act) with regard to the replenishment of state's Clean Energy Fund and the electric companies' conservations funds. Several years ago, the legislature diverted to the General Fund part of the revenue that would have otherwise gone into these funds. To reduce the impact of the transfer, the legislature authorized the issuance of “state rate reduction bonds” backed by future revenue from the conservation and renewable energy charges on electric bills. PA 07-1, JSS appropriates $85 million from the FY 07 budget to defease or buy back the bonds that mature after December 30, 2007, or a combination of these measures. Seventy-five percent of the revenue resulting from this measure (net of the state's expenses in paying off bonds) must go into the conservation funds and 25% must go into the Clean Energy Fund. This act defines “state rate reduction bonds,” “operating expenses,” and several related terms. These definitions are virtually identical to those in PA 07-242, which the governor vetoed.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

57 — CONNECTICUT HIGHER EDUCATION TRUST ANNUAL REPORT

The act delays the deadline for the state treasurer to submit her annual financial report on the Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) from October 15 to December 31. CHET is Connecticut's state-sponsored college savings plan. By law, the report must cover CHET's operations for the previous fiscal year, including receipts, disbursements, assets, investments, and liabilities. The report goes to the governor and the CHET Advisory Committee and is available to CHET depositors and designated beneficiaries.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

58 — USE OF BIOMASS IN ELECTRIC GENERATING PLANTS

The act temporarily broadens the types of power plants where construction and demolition (C&D) waste and certain other biomass products can be used as a fuel and the resulting power considered a class I renewable resource. By law, electric companies must get part of their power from class I renewable resources. Under prior law, for power generated from biomass to be eligible to be considered a class I renewable resource (1) the biomass product had to be turned into a gas which was then burned to produce power at a plant that received funding from the Clean Energy Fund before May 1, 2006 or (2) the energy derived from the biomass had to have been the subject of a long-term power purchase entered into before that date. The act additionally allows the biomass products to be used in any renewable energy facility certified as a class I resource by the Department of Public Utility Control until the department certifies that the plant funded by the Clean Energy Fund is operational and able to accept the biomass products. In addition to C&D waste, the affected biomass products are organic refuse fuel derived from municipal solid waste; finished biomass products from sawmills, paper mills, or stud mills; and biomass from old growth timber stands.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

59 — COMPENSATION FOR BILLBOARDS ACQUIRED BY DOT

The act modifies the compensation the Department of Transportation (DOT) must pay when it acquires a billboard or other outdoor advertising structure. Under PA 07-141 and PA 07-207, the amount of compensation depends on whether the structure's owner is able to relocate it within the same metropolitan area within one year.

Under prior law, if the owner (1) was able to obtain all of the state and local permits to relocate the structure to a new site within one year of DOT's acquisition and (2) was not previously offered the site, the DOT commissioner had to pay (1) the replacement cost of the old structure plus (2) the structure's fair market value less the fair market value of the new site. The act instead sets the second component of this amount at the fair market value of the old structure less the fair market value of the structure at the new site. It requires using the income capitalization method to determine the value of the old structure, rather than the value of the new site. This method values a property based on the amount of income it generates.

Under prior law, if the owner (1) could not obtain the permits within one year of DOT's acquisition or (2) was previously offered the site, the DOT commissioner had to pay a different amount. This amount was the replacement cost plus the fair market value of the old structure. The act eliminates the requirement that the commissioner pay the replacement costs and requires the fair market value of the structure be determined by the income capitalization method.

Under both scenarios, the act allows the commissioner and the owner to agree to extend the one-year period.

Under prior law, the commissioner had to pay the owner's relocation costs in any case. The act instead requires the commissioner to pay the relocation costs or the amounts described above. However, federal law (42 USC 4601 et seq. ) requires the payment of relocation costs if the acquisition is federally funded, as is typically the case in DOT projects. In addition the federal and state constitutions require the state to pay just compensation when it takes property.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage and applicable to property acquired on and after that date (October 6, 2007)

60 — UCONN HEALTH CENTER STUDY

The budget act (PA 07-1, JSS) requires the Office of Legislative Management to contract with the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) for a needs-based analysis of the UConn Health Center's facilities plan. This act requires CASE to conduct its analysis in consultation with the Office of Health Care Access.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

61 — UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR MILITARY SPOUSES

See section 17 above.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

62 — DISTRIBUTION OF EXTRA TOWN ROAD AID

Instead of allowing the funds to lapse, the act requires the DOT to distribute funds for extra town road aid for FYs 07 through 09. The funds, which were appropriated in the 2005 and 2007 budget acts, must be distributed to towns in proportion to their shares of regular town road aid.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

63 — UCONN EMINENT FACULTY RECRUITMENT PROGRAM

The act requires UConn to raise at least $2 million from industry and other sources before it can spend any state dollars for its program to recruit eminent faculty and their research staffs. To meet this requirement, UConn's president must certify to the OPM secretary that it or the university's foundation received written commitments from these sources for at least this amount. Prior law allowed UConn to spend state dollars if outside funds were available to match to state dollars.

The law requires UConn to recruit faculty to accelerate applied research and development in a way that supports the state's economic development and promotes core competence areas. It must do this by supplementing faculty compensation and related costs. Eligible scientists must have demonstrated excellence in their research fields, want to work collaboratively with other UConn scientists, and be interested in commercializing their research.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

64 — ENVIRONMENTAL EVALUATION OF QUARRYING ON NEW BRITAIN-OWNED WATER COMPANY LAND

The act requires the Department of Public Health (DPH), within 90 days after the act takes effect (October 6, 2007), to commission and supervise an independent third-party environmental evaluation of the potential effects of allowing New Britain to change city-owned Class I water company land to Class II to allow the lease of about 131. 4 acres (the “0 Biddle Pass” in Plainville) for quarrying stone and other minerals. DPH must commission the evaluation within available resources and approve the independent evaluator.

The act specifies the minimum factors and effects the evaluation must analyze. These include (1) the likely environmental impacts of such change of use on local hydrology, forest ecology, and wetlands systems; (2) long-term water supply needs for New Britain as well as interconnected and reasonably feasibly interconnected water companies in the geographic region surrounding the areas New Britain's water system supplies; (3) likely safe yield increase to New Britain's water reservoir system that could be supplied by the change of use; (4) the change's likely impact on raw reservoir water quality; (5) steps available to minimize environmental impacts from the proposed change of use; and (6) a summary conclusion comparing the environmental impacts and potential environmental and water supply benefits.

The act requires the DPH commissioner to review the evaluation with respect to DPH's water-related jurisdiction in order to give the New Britain Water Department guidance on the best management practices the evaluation identifies to protect the public water supply and public health.

Within 90 days after the act's effective date, the DPH commissioner must give the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) commissioner the evaluation's results. The DEP commissioner must review and comment on the evaluation within 90 days after receiving it. By March 1, 2008, the DPH commissioner must submit the results of the evaluation and the departments' reviews and recommendations to the Public Health Committee.

The act specifies that its provisions do not affect requirements under the state water resources laws or any other applicable law for obtaining permits before beginning any activities on the land.

(The act repeals a provision of PA 07-244 ( 6) that allows New Britain to change the use of some of its water company-owned lands to allow for extraction of stone or other materials from the Plainville acreage through a leasing process as part of a contract with New Britain as a party (see 73 of this act. ))

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

65 — NEWTOWN CONVEYANCE CORRECTION

The act corrects the property description reference in PA 07-11 for a 1. 23-acre conveyance in Newtown from the Department of Public Works to the town. The property is to be used for municipal purposes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

66 — OPERATION FUEL

The act requires Operation Fuel, Inc. to establish a one-time grant program in 2007 for low-income people with high utility bill arrearages. The program must provide one-time grants of up to $1,000 based on the customer's arrearage and income level. The grants can be used only for arrearages that are up to 24 months old. The program must also provide case management services such as budget counseling and help with utility payment programs.

The act allocates the following amounts from the FY 07 General Fund surplus appropriation in PA 07-1, JSS to OPM for “Implement Energy Initiatives”:

1. $2. 5 million for the arrearage forgiveness program,

2. $1. 75 million to expand Operation Fuel, and

3. $750,000 for Operation Fuel's infrastructure.

The governor vetoed the sections of PA 07-242 containing these provisions.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

67 — PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS

Existing law requires a person seeking licensure as a professional counselor to have (1) completed 60 hours of graduate school work in counseling-related areas; (2) earned a master's or doctoral degree in social work, marriage and family therapy, counseling, psychology, or a related mental health field from an accredited higher education institution, and a sixth-year degree in counseling; (3) acquired 3,000 hours of postgraduate degree supervised experience in professional counseling performed over at least one year; and (4) passed a DPH-prescribed exam.

The act eliminates the sixth-year degree requirement.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

68 — APPROPRIATION CHANGES

The act transfers funds appropriated in the budget act (PA 07-1, JSS) as follows:

1. $250,000 in each of FYs 08 and 09 for the Amer-i-can Program from the Department of Correction to the Department of Education and

2. $250,000 FY 07 carried forward for a Hartford Arena study from the Commission on Culture and Tourism to the Capital City Economic Development Authority.

The act expands the purpose of a $300,000 appropriation to DECD in each of FYs 08 and 09 for the Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA), from the “SAMA Bus Windham” to “SAMA Windham.

The act also corrects a typographical error in the budget act.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

69 — CONNECTICUT CENTER FOR ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY (CCAT)

The act makes the requirement that the CCAT extend the services it provides through its Center for Supply Chain Integration to more businesses effective on the date of passage of this act (October 6, 2007), rather than October 1, 2008.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

70 — SCHOOL READINESS PER-CHILD LIMIT

Prior law limited the per-child cost of the SDE's school readiness program component to $6,925 for FY 07 and subsequent fiscal years. The act extends this limit only through December 2007. For January 2008 and each subsequent month, it requires SDE to increase the limit to a level it determines can be funded with 50% of the estimated unspent FY 08 appropriation for school readiness spaces as of June 30, 2008, but not more than $8,266 per child. SDE must estimate the projected lapse on January 1, 2008.

The act does not specify a per-child funding limit for FY 09 or subsequent years.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

71 — GRANTS FOR OPEN CHOICE STUDENTS IN THE SHEFF REGION

The act allows the education commissioner, within available appropriations, to provide grants for preschool, kindergarten, and academic support programs for students participating in the Open Choice interdistrict attendance program in the Sheff Region. The commissioner must approve the programs receiving the grants.

The act defines the “Sheff Region” as the following 22 towns:

Avon

Ellington

Newington

West Hartford

Bloomfield

Farmington

Rocky Hill

Wethersfield

Canton

Glastonbury

Simsbury

Windsor

East Granby

Granby

South Windsor

Windsor Locks

East Hartford

Hartford

Suffield

 

East Windsor

Manchester

Vernon

 

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

72 — CONSULTATIONS ON ADDITIONAL MAGNET SCHOOLS IN THE SHEFF REGION

The act requires the education commissioner to consult with the boards of trustees of public and private higher education institutions and constituent units, and with nonprofit organizations that will serve students in the Sheff Region (see 71 above) to initiate collaborative planning for establishing additional interdistrict magnet schools. The commissioner must approve any nonprofit organizations that participate.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

73 — REPEALER

“Reach Out and Read” Grants

The act repeals a requirement that SDE administer grants to pediatric care providers to promote early childhood literacy in health care settings. PA 07-3, JSS required the grants to match federal and private funds for:

1. promoting early literacy as a standard part of well-child medical visits for children between the ages of six months and five years;

2. buying appropriate new children's books to distribute during visits;

3. training new pediatric care providers, and maintaining all such providers' proficiency, in how to promote early childhood literacy; and

4. making health clinics and medical office waiting rooms more conducive to learning to read by using volunteer readers and providing other opportunities to surround children with oral language, books, or print.

Town ECS Carryover Provision

The act repeals a section of PA 07-3, JSS that overrides provisions of any state law, local charter, special act, or home-rule ordinance to require local and regional school districts to carry unspent ECS grant funds remaining at the end of any fiscal year forward to the next fiscal year (see 52).

New Britain Water Company Land Lease

The act repeals a provision of PA 07-244 that allows New Britain to change the use of some of its water company-owned lands to allow for extraction of stone or other materials from defined acreage in Plainville through a leasing process that is part of a contract with New Britain as a party.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

OLR Tracking: MJ: Various: dw