No Budget But Lots of Bills Passed

The state has no budget but the state Legislature had a busy final night of the session Wednesday.

As the session ends, and we soon head into special session, you won't being paying for shopping bags or carry pot legally but you can win $50 in a "blower ball" game.  

Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed several bills into law, including changing the state's marriage law to conform with the court ruling letting gay and lesbian couples tie the knot. She also put her stamp on barring anyone from selling, giving or transferring machine guns to people under age 16.
The Legislature passed a dangerous animal ban that received a lot of attention after a chimp named Travis mauled Charla Nash in Stamford in February. It’s heading to Rell for her signature.

A bill replacing capital punishment with life in prison without the possibility of parole is also on Rell’s desk. She said she would veto the bill.

Two bills people have been watching that failed include sick day legislation that would have required companies with 50 workers or more to give employees at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours they work.

The Legislature also failed to decriminalize marijuana and pass a national popular vote that would have included Connecticut in a compact with several other states to cast its presidential electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote.

Here’s some of what happened:

What the governor signed:

  • Veterans Graves: Prohibits towns, cemetery associations or ecclesiastical societies from restricting placement of U.S. flags on veterans' graves from the Saturday before Memorial Day until the Monday after July 4 annually.
  • Cystic Fibrosis: Requires health care institutions caring for newborns to test them for cystic fibrosis unless their parents object on religious grounds.
  • Drinking Water: Requires public health commissioner, no later than five business days after receiving notice that a public water system violates federal drinking water standards, to notify the chief elected official of where the public water system is located and any municipality it serves.
  • Blower Ball: Allows organizations authorized to conduct bazaars to award cash prizes of up to $50 for "blower ball games," where players wager on ping pong balls mixed in blown air.
  • Apple Wine: Allows manufacturers of cider and apple wine to sell and ship cider or apple wine to in-state and out-of-state customers.
  • Cell Phone Ban: Allows members of the armed forces to use a hand-held mobile telephone or mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle on official duty.

What the Legislature Passed, Awaiting Action By Governor:

Dangerous Animal Ban: Bans private citizens from owning primates heavier than 35 pounds and certain other wild animals as pets. Also lets people and groups import captive reindeer from other states between for holiday displays between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day each year.

  • Autism Coverage: Requires group health insurance policies to cover costs of diagnosing and treating autism in young children.
  • Dairy Farmers: Provides a grant program for struggling dairy farmers.
  • Slavery Apology: Makes Connecticut the second northern state to apologize for slavery, segregation and other racist policies its lawmakers once condoned.
  • Restroom Access: Provides people with certain medical conditions the right to use employee bathrooms in retail establishments.
  • Foreclosure Blight: Creates a registration system to track owners of foreclosed, uninhabited homes.
  • Paintball Safety: Requires minors who use paintball guns to wear eye protection.
  • Healthcare Pooling: Opens up state's health insurance to nonprofit agencies, small businesses and municipalities.
  • SustiNet Health: Creates a new public authority to develop a self-insured health care plan to cover the state's uninsured.
  • Calorie Counts: Requires chain restaurants with 15 or more sites to post calorie counts for their regular menu items.
  • Pet Trusts: Allows residents to create legally binding trusts for the care of their pets.
  • Defibrillators in Schools: Requires schools to have automatic external defibrillators on hand for cardiac emergencies. Exempts schools that cannot afford to buy the units, but lets districts accept donated defibrillators.

Here’s What Failed:

  • Open Container: Would have banned open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles.
  • Same-Day Registration: Would have let people register to vote on Election Day.
  • Sick Days: Would have required companies with 50 workers or more to give employees at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours they work.
  • Shopping Bags: Would have imposed a nickel fee for every plastic or paper bag shoppers receive at retail stores. Money would have funded recycling initiatives.
  • Hedge Funds: would have required hedge funds and private equity funds located in the state and doing business here to disclose certain conflicts of interest to customers.
Copyright AP - Associated Press
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