New year, new laws
Several new state laws went into effect Jan. 1, including — but not limited to — those concerning pay equity, family violence, health benefits, prosthetic devices, pharmacy and drug control, law enforcement standards and practices.
In an effort to help women receive equal pay for equal work, Public Act No. 18-8 prohibits employers from asking about an employee's wages and salary history.
Employers are prohibited from inquiring, or directing a third party to inquire, about a prospective employee's wage or salary history beginning Jan. 1. A prospective employee may, however, volunteer to provide such information.
The law does not not apply to employers, employment agencies, or employees or agents “pursuant to any federal or state law that specifically authorizes the disclosure or verification of salary history for employment purposes,” according to the act.
This new law also allows employees to sue over violations of the law within two years of the allegations.
Domestic violence arrests
In an effort to “discourage, when appropriate, but not prohibit, dual arrests,” the Connecticut General Assembly passed Public Act No. 18-5 , under which peace officers are not required to arrest all involved parties when a complaint of family violence is made by two or more opposing persons.
Law enforcement must now determine the dominant aggressor in the domestic violence situation in an effort to minimize dual arrests. Officers are to “evaluate each complaint separately to determine which person is the dominant aggressor,” defined in the act as “the person who poses the most serious ongoing threat in a situation involving the suspected commission of a family violence crime.”
In determining which person is the dominant aggressor, the act states, a peace officer “shall consider the need to protect victims of domestic violence, whether one person acted in defense of self or a third person, the relative degree of any injury, any threats creating fear of physical injury, and any history of family violence between such persons, if such history can reasonably be obtained by the peace officer.”
The peace officer is to then arrest the person he or she determines to be the dominant aggressor.
If, however, the officer “believes probable cause exists for the arrest of two or more persons,” he or she may “submit a report detailing the conduct of such person during the incident to the state’s attorney for the judicial district in which the incident took place for further review and advice” instead of “arresting or seeking a warrant for the arrest of any person determined not to be the dominant aggressor.”
The act also prohibits peace officers investigating family violence incidents from threatening, suggesting, or indicating “the arrest of all persons involved in such incident for the purpose of discouraging any request from a person for law enforcement intervention.”
Under Public Act No. 18-10 , individual and group health insurance policies that provide the following types of coverage are required to provide coverage of “essential health benefits” ranging from emergency services to mental health and substance use disorder services:
- Basic hospital expense coverage.
- Basic medical-surgical expense coverage.
- Major medical expense coverage.
- Hospital or medical service plan contract.
- Hospital and medical coverage provided to subscribers of a health care center.
According to the act, essential health benefits include:
- Ambulatory patient services;
- Emergency services;
- Maternity and newborn health care;
- Mental health and substance use disorder services;
- Prescription drugs;
- Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices;
- Laboratory services;
- Pediatric services; and
- Preventive and wellness services and disease management.
Under the new law, the insurance commissioner “may adopt regulations,” such as those “specifying the healthcare services and benefits that fall within each category” of essential health benefits.
The act also requires individual and group health insurance policies to cover more than 20 benefits and services for women, including — but not limited to — domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling, tobacco use intervention and cessation counseling, breast cancer risk assessment, genetic testing and counseling; and screenings for chlamydia, gonorrhea, human immunodeficiency virus, and cervical and vaginal cancer.
The law also requires individual and group health insurance policies that provide prescription drug coverage to cover immunizations that are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; and that “have in effect a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with respect to the individual involved.”
Women will have access to contraceptives with no out-of-pocket costs, as provided in Public Act No. 18-159 . Coverage of mammograms, breast ultrasounds and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of breasts will also be provided within insurance policies.
Under Public Act No. 18-69 , individual and group health insurance policies that provide the same types of coverage mentioned in Public Act No. 18-10 are required to cover prosthetic devices that are “at least equivalent to [those] provided under Medicare.”
A prosthetic device is defined as “an artificial limb device to replace, in whole or in part, an arm or leg.” Under the act, prosthetic devices do not include those exclusively designed for athletic purposes.
Insurance policies providing prosthetic device coverage must also provide coverage for repair and replacement of the devices except when caused by misuse or loss.
Pharmacy and drug control
As of Jan. 1, registered drug manufacturers and wholesalers are required to operate systems to “identify suspicious orders of controlled substances” and “immediately inform the director of the Drug Control Division of suspicious orders,” according to Public Act No. 18-16 .
Suspicious orders include — but are not limited to — “orders of unusual size, orders deviating substantially from a normal pattern, and orders of unusual frequency.”
The new law also requires manufacturers and wholesalers to send a copy of “any suspicious activity reporting submitted to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration” to the state of Connecticut’s Drug Control Division.
Law enforcement standards and practices
The Police Officer Standards and Training Council and commissioner of emergency services and public protection must jointly develop, adopt, and revise when necessary “minimum standards and practices for the administration and management of law enforcement units” under the second section of Public Act No. 18-161 .
The standards and practices must be based upon standards established by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement and include “standards and practices regarding bias-based policing, use of force, response to crimes of family violence, use of body-worn recording equipment, complaints that allege misconduct by police officers, use of electronic defense weapons, eyewitness identification procedures, notifications in death and related events and pursuits by police officers.”
The standards and practices must then be posted to the Police Officer Standards and Training Council’s website and disseminated to law enforcement units.
The council and commissioner must also develop a process to review a law enforcement unit’s compliance with the standards and practices, and issue certificates of compliance to units that meet or exceed the standards and practices.
All new state laws that went into effect Jan. 1 are available here.