A number of new state laws take effect Saturday, including requirements for when police must provide notifications to a deceased person's next of kin, new protections for online dating users and domestic violence victims, and the establishment of Juneteenth as a holiday.
Here's a look at some of the new laws:
A new law requires law enforcement officers to notify a deceased person's next of kin about the deceased's death as soon as practicable, but within 24 hours after identifying the deceased. The law came about from the fallout of two cases last year in which Bridgeport police failed to notify family members of the premature deaths of two women. In those two separate high-profile cases in Bridgeport, two Black women, Lauren Smith-Fields and Brenda Lee Rawls, had died and police failed to quickly notify their families.
Online Dating Services and Domestic Violence Victims
A new law requires operators of online dating services in the state to provide Connecticut users with safety awareness notifications - such as whether the operator conducts criminal background screenings - before allowing them to use their online dating platforms. The law authorizes the consumer protection commissioner to penalize violators up to $25,000 per violation.
The act also prohibits discrimination based on a person's status as a domestic violence victim in employment, public accommodations, housing and the granting of credit.
A new law makes various changes to procedures when a juvenile is arrested after an alleged delinquent act, including:
Requiring an arrested child to be brought before a judge within five business days after the arrest;
Allowing the court to order electronic monitoring if a child was charged with a second or subsequent motor vehicle or property theft offense; and
In certain circumstances, increasing the maximum period, from six to eight hours, that a child may be held in a community correctional center or lockup without a judge's detention order.
The new act also expands an existing law on juvenile serious sexual offender prosecutions to cover certain homicide and firearm crimes, and allows the juvenile portion of the sentence to be extended for up to 60 months. The law also establishes a new penalty structure for larceny of a motor vehicle, with graduated penalties based on whether it is a first or subsequent offense, rather than based on the vehicle's value.
Fair Rent Commissions
Municipalities with populations of 25,000 or more must create their own fair rent commissions via ordinance by July 1, 2023.
Account Closure Notices
A new law requires Connecticut-chartered banks and credit unions to tell account holders why their deposit accounts - such as personal checking or savings accounts - are being closed. There are several exemptions, including if the account closure is a result of a law enforcement investigation.
Juneteenth Independence Day - June 19 - has been established as a new state holiday. The law does not require schools to close if the new holiday falls on a school day. If schools are in session on that date, the districts are required to have each school to hold a suitable, nonsectarian educational program in observance of the holiday. School districts are not required to recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday for staff members if school is in session.
Police Officers and Religious Head Coverings
All law enforcement units by Saturday must have adopted or amended a policy to permit a police officer to wear a religious head covering in accordance with the police officer's religious beliefs while the police officer is on duty and wearing a uniform or other authorized attire. The law does not apply where the use of tight-fitting protective headgear is required by the police department.
A new law limits the ability of state licensing agencies to revoke, suspend, or deny certain occupational licenses due to a person having committed a felony. Among the practitioners affected by this revision would be licensed clinical and social workers with master's degrees, art therapists, dietitian-nutritionists, architects, public accountants, certain tradespersons, estheticians, eyelash and nail technicians.
A change to an existing law now requires that a dog be given adequate shelter when the National Weather Service issues a weather advisory or warning or adverse outdoor environmental conditions pose a risk to the dog's health or safety, based on the dog's breed, size, age, coat thickness, or physical condition. The law also prohibits tethering a dog to a stationary object or mobile device - such as a trolley or pulley - in a way that places it at risk of injury by another animal; or for more than 15 minutes without giving it continuous access to sanitary drinking water.