New Month, New Laws

With July 1 come new laws in the state and they include: a new loan fund to help small businesses, rules requiring student athletes to leave the game if they show signs of a concussion, measures to improve failing schools, and more.

Staring today:

Medical mistakes made at hospitals will have to be reported to the General Assembly.

The state's Judicial Branch can begin planning for a new pilot program that involves electronic monitoring of serious family violence offenders from courts in Danielson, Hartford and Bridgeport.

Today is also the start of the new fiscal year and the revised $19 billion state budget. That plan was partially balanced by a requirement that Gov. M. Jodi Rell's administration to come up with approximately $300 million in spending reductions across state agencies.

"That's an aggressive number and will be a significant challenge to achieve," Jeffrey Beckham, a spokesman for Rell's budget office, said.

The 2011 budget was originally approved in September 2009 as part of a two-year plan. It had a $2 billion hole -- $1.3 billion that was supposed to be filled with borrowed money and a $700 million deficit that developed since September.

Other budget changes that take effect today, according to Senate Democrats, include deferring a $100 million payment to the state employee retirement system; cutting $1.5 million from the Office of Legislative Management, which oversees the state Capitol; and scaling back state grants for culture and tourism programs by $241,491.

The pilot program to track serious domestic violence offenders has already received $140,000 needed to begin on Oct. 1, Stephen Grant, director of family services for the Judicial Branch, said. Officials could monitor about 21 high-risk offenders who had pending family violence cases and were charged with violating a protective or restraining order.

When an offender enters a buffer zone, their potential victim would get a cell phone call from a monitoring center, and an electronic alert from a small alert device they would carry. Grant said that could give the victim time to escape.

"It helps, it's a tool, but it's only a tool," Grant said. "This shouldn't negate other safety planning."

The law to protect student athletes requires a coach to immediately take an athlete out of any interscholastic or intramural competition, practice or athletic activity if he or she has been diagnosed with a concussion or shows signs of one after a head or body blow. The athlete cannot return without a medical clearance.

Parts of a far-reaching education reform law aimed at improving the state's chances to receive funding under President Barack Obama's "Race to the Top" education initiative, are set to take effect.

Also taking effect Thursday are job creation measures including a $15 million revolving loan fund for small businesses and nonprofit organizations and funds, and an "angel investor" tax credit program for investors who provide at least $100,000 startup capital to bio-science and information technology businesses.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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