New laws that take effect on Monday will make it easier to resell concert tickets, harder to be an Uber driver, and will allow those that still can’t let go of the Hartford Whalers to remind everyone else on Connecticut’s roadways of that fact.
Jan. 1 is one of three days of the year when legislation that passes the state House and Senate and is signed by the governor takes effect. Here’s a look at some of the new laws.
The Whale is back. Well, at least on your license plate. Beginning Jan. 1 the Department of Motor Vehicles is required to begin selling Hartford Whalers commemorative license plates. Of the $60 fee for the plates, $15 goes to the DMV with the remainder being deposited into an account that will benefit Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. The plates come 21 years after the Whalers played their last game in Hartford before moving to North Carolina.
One new law bans the state Department of Correction from placing anyone under the age of 18 in solitary confinement. Supporters of the legislation brought a replica solitary confinement cell to the state Capitol in February as lawmakers were considering the bill. Keishar Tucker, a 35-year-old from New Haven who was in solitary confinement when he was 17 years old, was among those who testified in favor of the bill. “I would not want anyone else to go through the psychological torture that I experienced,” he told lawmakers.
Ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft will be subject to a host of new regulations in Connecticut next year. The companies will have to annually register with the state Department of Transportation and pay a $5,000 fee. They will also be required to obtain background checks on all of their drivers and prohibit people who have been convicted in the last seven years of certain crimes, including driving under the influence, fraud, sexual offenses or acts of violence, from being a driver. The state can revoke the license of a company that does not comply with the regulations.
It will soon be illegal under Connecticut law to use automated ticket purchasing software to scoop up tickets for concerts, sporting events or other performances. Opponents of the use of the computer programs, also known as ticket bots, say they allow people to quickly purchase vast quantities of highly desirable tickets to mark up and resell on the secondary market. Sen. Richard Blumenthal helped draft legislation at the federal level that prohibited the practice.
In another new law related to buying and selling tickets, most venues will no longer be able to sell “paperless” tickets that are nontransferable. Venues have been using the practice, which require purchasers to show their ID to be admitted, to curb secondary ticket sales from resellers like StubHub. The new law also says nobody can be denied entrance to an entertainment event because the ticket they present was resold. Leaders from The Bushnell and UConn opposed the legislation.
Several provisions of a lengthy bill to tackle Connecticut’s opioid overdose epidemic kick in on Jan. 1, including the requirement that insurers cover the cost of treatment, including inpatient services, for enrollees who have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder. Another provision requires prescriptions for controlled substances to be transmitted electronically to prevent abuse. Overdose deaths in Connecticut in 2017 are expected to top 1,000, according to the state’s office of the chief medical examiner.
The law governing people eligible for infertility coverage under their insurance policies was expanded and will include those facing cancer diagnoses. Melissa Thompson of Stamford, a former analyst at Goldman Sachs, led the effort to change the law.
Thompson was 32 and had just given birth to her first child when she was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer. The chemotherapy needed to treat her cancer was likely to render her infertile. Thompson opted to undergo a procedure that would retrieve her eggs for a future pregnancy, but after learning that her infertility was linked to her cancer diagnosis, her health insurer reversed its preauthorization of the treatment, leaving her on the hook for a procedure that cost more than $10,000.
A new law that has some retirees in Connecticut concerned requires income taxes to be withheld from pension payments, a practice that used to be optional. If pension recipients fail to fill out a new form that was distributed, they will be charged the highest marginal rate of 6.99 percent, regardless of their income. The state said the change will prevent seniors from getting hit with large tax bills at the end of the year if they don’t withhold, but accountants said the change could cause confusion.
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