This story is part of CT Mirror Explains, an ongoing effort to distill our wide-ranging reporting into a "what you need to know" format. To dive deeper on any element of this topic, use the links in the story.
The Connecticut General Assembly’s 2023 legislative session ended last week. Lawmakers introduced hundreds of bills, and around 330 were passed by both the House and the Senate.
Here’s a look at some of the bills likely to impact many Connecticut residents.
Traffic camera option for municipalities
Connecticut municipalities would have the option to use automated cameras to enforce speed limit and red light violations under a traffic safety bill that gained final passage.
According to House Bill 5917, the speed limit and red light cameras would be limited to school zones, defined pedestrian safety zones and other locations chosen by local officials and approved by the Office of State Traffic Administration.
Automated enforcement zones must be clearly marked, and speeders would have to be going at least 10 miles per hour over the limit to get an automated ticket.
Fines would be capped at $50 for a first offense and $75 for a second offense regardless of a violator’s recorded speed. The revenue would go to municipalities and must be used for traffic-related expenses.
- CT House approves speed limit, red light cameras
- Red light cameras in CT get Senate OK; bill goes to Lamont
Early voting/no-excuse absentee voting
The legislature approved two election measures, one bringing early voting to Connecticut and another that will ask voters by referendum in 2024 to authorize no-excuse absentee voting.
House Bill 5004 requires municipalities to offer 14 days of early voting in the general election in 2024, less for primaries and special elections. Ballots cast early will be sealed in envelopes not opened until Election Day.
An additional resolution scheduled a constitutional amendment referendum in 2024, the next statewide election.
If approved, that would give the legislature discretion over absentee balloting — that is, voting by mail, rather than in-person at a polling site.
- Senate votes to bring early voting to Connecticut in 2024
- House passes bill to bring early voting to Connecticut
- CT approves early voting ballot question, paving path to new law
Income tax cut
The biennial budget adopted by the state legislature includes the first major cut in state income tax rates since the tax was enacted in 1991.
The budget specifically would reduce the two lowest marginal rates on the income tax. The 3% rate imposed on the first $10,000 earned by singles and the first $20,000 earned by couples would drop to 2%. The 5% rate imposed on the next $40,000 earned by singles and the next $80,000 by couples would drop to 4.5%.
The budget would begin to phase out the tax cut for singles earning more than $105,000 per year and for couples topping $210,000.
The rate changes are expected to save many middle-class households $300 to $500 per year in the 2024 tax year, for which returns are filed in the spring of 2025.
- CT House adopts $51B budget with big middle-class tax cut
- Gov. Ned Lamont pitched an income tax cut in CT. Here’s an overview of his proposal
An omnibus housing bill that gained final passage contains several measures designed to improve tenants’ rights in Connecticut.
The bill notably increases the amount municipalities are allowed to charge for code violations from $250 to $2,000, which officials hope will push landlords to improve sub-par rental housing.
It also requires that tenants be given a chance to walk through apartments before renting them and limits what landlords can charge for tenant screening reports. Tenants would have to get a copy of the screening report.
The bill also curbs what landlords can charge in late rent fees, would have the Department of Housing develop standard leases in English and Spanish, and would ban small landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their sexual orientation.
The bill would also have courts remove online eviction records within 30 days if the case is withdrawn, dismissed or a judge rules in favor of the tenant.
- Stripped-down CT housing bill gains narrow passage in House
- How have eviction rates in CT changed since COVID?
Access to contraception/Narcan
A wide-ranging bill would permit the sale of non-prescription drugs in vending machines, including emergency contraception, and allow pharmacists to prescribe hormonal birth control.
The measure, which has received final passage, would enable greater access to over-the-counter medications by making them available in special temperature-controlled vending machines throughout the state. Drug packages in the machines cannot exceed a five-day supply.
The proposal also lets pharmacists prescribe hormonal contraception. Pharmacists who are morally or ethically opposed to prescribing birth control must provide patients who request it with a list of the nearest pharmacies that may prescribe the drug.
Additionally, the bill requires pharmacists to give patients a list of pharmacies that dispense abortion pills if their own location does not have a supply on hand or if the pharmacist objects to providing it for moral or ethical reasons.