Legislators have wasted no time filing bills for the legislative session that began today.
Some are likely to be central to the session, like Senate Bill 1, “An act concerning the protection of children, families and other individuals from violence” (the language so far is vague): amend the general statutes “to protect children, families and other individuals from violence by (1) strengthening provisions concerning the sale, possession and transfer of firearms, assault weapons and ammunition, and (2) enacting other measures to enhance safety in schools, residences and the community”).
Others are less likely to get as far, like the proposal by Insurance and Real Estate Committee Co-Chairman Joseph Crisco, D-Woodbridge, to establish a single-payer health care system in Connecticut.
Here’s a sampling of the new proposals:
Worker’s compensation: A bill that would expand coverage for first responders diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder was introduced by West Haven Democrat Rep. Stephen Dargan, co-chairman of the Public Safety Committee. This has been an issue in Newtown, where the police union is seeking to get expanded worker’s compensation for first responders who were traumatized by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Mental health: Crisco introduced a bill aimed at improving the coverage of mental health services by insurance companies by requiring them to define mental health coverage as “medically necessary.”
Guns: Dargan proposed an already widely discussed bill that would allow for the disclosure of the names and addresses of people who have handgun permits. That information used to be public record in Connecticut but is not now.
Right to die: Sen. Edward Meyer, D-Guilford, introduced a bill that would allow a person with a terminal illness to get a prescription for a lethal medication to end his or her life.
Minimum wage: Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, proposed raising the minimum wage by 75 cents next year and by another 75 cents in 2015. A controversial measure to raise the minimum wage last year passed the House but died in the Senate.
Sexual assault: Bills in the House and Senate would expand the definition of “physically helpless” in a statute involving the sexual assault of someone who is physically helpless.
In a controversial case last year, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that a woman who had cerebral palsy and mental retardation and could not speak or walk did not meet the legal definition of “physically helpless” when she was allegedly sexually assaulted. A jury had previously convicted Richard Fourtin of sexual assault under a statute that prohibits sexual contact with a person who is physically helpless, but an appellate court ruled that the woman did not meet the definition because she could communicate by gesturing, vocalizing and using a communication board. The Supreme Court upheld the appellate court’s ruling, drawing criticism from advocates for sexual assault victims and people with disabilities.
Mandatory flu shots: Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, introduced a measure that would prohibit employers from requiring their workers to get flu shots as a condition of employment. Many hospitals in the state have done this, although some allow those who decline the shots to wear masks.
Driver’s licenses: Crisco introduced a bill allowing people to get driver’s licenses or vehicle registration regardless of immigration status. A separate bill from Looney would allow for driver’s licenses for people covered by the president’s executive order covering young people brought to the country illegally as children.
Weather emergencies: Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton, proposed requiring pharmacies to fill prescriptions up to two days early if there’s a severe weather emergency.
Pets: As usual, there are several proposals about animals. A bill from Fairfield Republicans Sen. John McKinney and Rep. Brenda Kupchick would prohibit the sale of dogs or cats from animal mills at pet stores. Meyer introduced two related to pet groomers: One would exempt those that have annual sales of less than $100,000 from the sales tax. The other would create a voluntary certification process for pet groomers.
Drug testing: Rep. Lawrence G. Miller, R-Stratford, proposed a bill requiring drug testing for people who get cash assistance.
Parking permits for pregnancy: Miller also proposed a bill that would provide temporary parking permits for pregnant women so they could park in spots designated for people with disabilities.