Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed 65 bills on Monday, dealing with everything from birth certificates to brew pubs.
Among the bills Malloy signed was one that requires police departments to keep track and report every instance in which an officer discharges a stun gun. The legislation follows the death of 22-year-old Jose Maldonado of Manchester in April. He was shocked by East Hartford police after they say he became combative during his booking on an assault charge. It was the fourteenth stun-gun related death involving police in Connecticut since 2005, and the tenth involving a minority, according the ACLU of Connecticut.
“This is significant because it will let the public and legislators in Connecticut get a handle on how tasers are being used and who they’re being used on," said David McGuire, an attorney with the ACLU of Connecticut. "And we are one of the first states in the country to require this really comprehensive reporting, so this is a great day for the state of Connecticut.”
The bill also mandates that departments adopt training and procedures for using the electronic weapons. Among other things, the policies prohibit the use of stun guns in a punitive or coercive manner, on handcuffed criminals or when someone can be "reasonably dealt with in any other less intrusive fashion."
Malloy signed a controversial bill that allows some people who were adopted to see their original birth certificates - including information on who their birth parents were. WSHU featured that issue here. Another bill intends to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest prevention. We covered that issue here.
One bill expands regulation of bakeries to include food warehouses. Another allows brew pubs to cater. The legislature altered one bill to specify that in order for it to be a crime for people to fail to stop minors from possessing alcohol in their homes, they have to actually know that it's happening.
Malloy signed a bill that that limits the insurance co-pay for breast ultrasound screenings to $20. Democratic Senator Joseph Crisco is chair of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee. He says the bill is meant to remove financial barriers to getting the screening.
“Advocates for early detection of breast cancer felt it was a deterrent to women having the ultrasound," says Crisco. "So it was an incentive to make sure that women are diagnosed at the earliest possible date.”
Crisco says Connecticut has taken steps to improve early diagnosis, particularly for women with dense breast tissue, which can make diagnosis particularly difficult. The state passed a law last year which requires radiologists to inform women who undergo mammography if they are diagnosed with dense breast tissue.
One bill Malloy signed allows the town of Cheshire to bring a claim against the state. The town says the state owes it money, because a state prison in Cheshire sends its effluent to a wastewater treatment plant in the town. Town officials say because of a malfunctioning meter, the state under-paid for wastewater treatment for nine years. Town manager Michael Milone says they’ve been trying to negotiate with the state for about two and a half years to get the issue resolved.
“What we learned is that you can only go back one year in terms of a retroactive claim," says Milone. "So our bill asks the legislature to allow us to go back the full 9 years to reclaim, or attempt to reclaim the full $1,453,000 that we’re owed.”
Cheshire still has to make its case to the state claims commission. The town is also suing Connecticut in an attempt to get the state to pay 20 percent of the expense of upgrading the wastewater treatment plant.
Malloy also vetoed two bills this week. One would have given cities and towns the ability to limit the eligibility of low-income seniors for a property tax relief program. Malloy said in his veto message that he was concerned the bill would result in a tax increase for those households.
Malloy vetoed a bill that dealt with tree branches falling on a neighbor’s property. Democratic State Senator Paul Doyle heads the General Law Committee, which supported the bill. He says it provided a process in which you could write a letter to a neighbor, voicing concern that a rotten branch might fall on your property.
“If they don’t, and it falls and damages your house, then you can bill your neighbor," said Doyle. "And apparently the Governor thought there was not enough protection for the other neighbor. And, I don’t necessarily agree, but hopefully if we do the bill next year, we can get input from the Governor on what he thinks.”
Malloy’s veto message says he’s concerned property owners would feel compelled to remove a tree after receiving such a letter, even if the tree was actually healthy.
The Governor did, however, sign a bill that establishes liability for people who plant bamboo that spreads onto neighbors' property.
The full list of signed and vetoed bills is online here.