HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A new state budget, a slightly higher fee for ride-hailing services and permission for young students to self-apply sunscreen while at school are among a host of new laws set to take effect in Connecticut.
July 1 marks the first of several key dates when a large number of new laws kick in.
Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont recently signed the new, two-year $43 billion state budget bill, which includes various provisions that take effect Monday. One notable line item is $1.7 million to keep seven state-operated highway rest areas open to the public, around the clock, beginning on Monday.
Staffing levels at the facilities had been reduced in 2016 to just daytime operations to save money. While the rest areas were technically open 24 hours a day, the indoor facilities, including the rest rooms, were closed in the evenings and overnight to the dismay of many drivers.
"While I'm proud of the fact that we managed to at least keep them open in the face of financial adversity, our residents and visitors to our state deserve better than portable bathrooms," said Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe Giulietti. "This has been a long time coming."
Here's a look at some of the new laws that are taking effect:
While the new budget makes numerous changes to state taxes and fees, only a handful are set take effect on Monday.
Included on that list is an increase in the per ride fee for ride-hailing services, such as Lyft and Uber. The budget legislation increases that fee from 25 cents to 30 cents on rides that originate in Connecticut.
Also on Monday, the first of two reductions in the state admissions tax at certain venues for certain events will begin. The rate will drop from 10% to 7.5% at the XL Center in Hartford; Dillon Stadium in Hartford; New Britain Stadium; Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Harbor Yard Amphitheater in Bridgeport; Dodd Stadium in Norwich; Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford; and Rentschler Field in East Hartford. Those rates will later drop from 7.5% to 5% on July 1, 2020.
The admissions tax rate at Dunkin' Donuts Park in Hartford will drop from 10% to 5% and it will be fully exempted beginning July 1, 2020.
Additionally, certain properties with crumbling foundations caused by the presence of the mineral pyrrhotite will be exempted from the real estate conveyance tax beginning Monday.
A wide variety of new laws affecting students are set to take effect.
One new law allows any student 6 years old or older to self-apply sunscreen in school before they participate in recess and other outdoor activities, with the written permission of a parent or guardian. Parents told legislators that elementary school students are currently required to have a school nurse apply sunscreen before they go outside. They said students often skip sunscreen so they don't miss out on recess, putting them at risk for skin cancers.
The new law requires school boards to adopt policies concerning self-application of sunscreen.
Another piece of legislation requires the State Board of Education to develop guides that will help local and regional school boards develop firearm safety programs for public school students, from kindergarten through grade 12. Students won't be required to participate in the programs, however.
Current law allows the State Board of Education and the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association to develop guides for students in grades kindergarten through eight.
A number of new laws create task forces and panels that have been charged with coming up with future legislative recommendations.
They include a new organization that will recommend to state officials ways to build a safer and healthier environment for the LGBTQ community and a 20-member panel that will study discrimination faced by living with a criminal record. The new Council on the Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Record must develop recommendations for state legislators that reduce or eliminate discrimination by Feb. 1, 2020.
Another new law creates the 17-member Connecticut Open Educational Resource Coordinating Council, charged with coming up with a program to lower the cost of textbooks and course materials for certain courses at state higher education institutions in Connecticut.