New laws are taking effect in CT on Jan. 1. Here's what to know
There are a number of new laws going into effect on Jan. 1.
Connecticut will join the ranks of dozens of other states who allow early voting for elections. The state’s bottle deposit will increase from 5 cents to 10 cents for many containers and a “Clean Slate” law will automatically erase the criminal records of people with certain convictions.
There are also adjustments to the state’s minimum wage, tweaks to workers’ compensation policies and new rules around artificial intelligence and personal data privacy.
Here are more details about the new laws taking effect as 2024 kicks off.
Early voting comes to CT
Connecticut will allow early voting days for primaries, general elections, and special elections after Jan. 1, 2024. Under the law, every municipality will have to create at least one early voting location. Voters will have 14 days of early voting in general elections, seven days ahead of primaries, and four days of early voting before a special election.
Supporters of the measure say it gives residents more options to vote, but some critics are concerned if Connecticut’s cities and towns can properly staff the new early voting polls.
Nearly all states in America offer some form of early voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Prior to the change in Connecticut’s law, the only way to vote outside of Election Day was via absentee ballot, but that option isn’t available to all voters – only certain people, such as individuals with an illness or disability who can’t vote in-person, or those who will be out of town on Election Day.
Minimum wage to increase according to inflation
The state’s automatic minimum wage adjustment takes effect Jan. 1, increasing that rate to $15.69. As part of 2019 law, in 2024, hourly minimum wages in the state will change every year in line with the the Employment Cost Index, a national measure of inflation in the labor market.
The measure increased the minimum wage from $11 an hour in 2019, to $15 an hour in June 2023.
Further minimum wage adjustments will occur every Jan. 1.
More than 80,000 in CT to get misdemeanor and felony charges erased
Formerly incarcerated people will soon have an easier time getting a job after the state announced it will erase the criminal records of more than 80,000 residents.
The law automatically erases low-level offenses and some felonies. An eligible person must have a clean record for at least seven years since their last conviction, and the conviction must be on or after January 2000. Older convictions can be erased by petitioning the state.
The new law means records can’t be accessed through background checks, which are routinely done for people wishing to get a job, find housing or apply for a loan.
More people eligible for certain workers’ compensation
As of Jan. 1, the coverage eligibility for post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI) is open to any employee covered by workers' compensation law – a change from the prior law which limited benefits to certain first responders. The new law requires a mental health professional to examine the worker and diagnose PTSI as a direct result of an event during employment, such as witnessing someone’s death or a traumatic physical injury.
The benefits must be granted less than four years after the qualifying event.
Bottle deposit-and-return amounts are increasing
A 45-year-old beverage container recycling law in Connecticut changes as of Jan. 1. The ten cent deposit, up from a longtime five cents, is built into the price of beverages like carbonated drinks, beer, seltzer, juice and more.
Once the metal, plastic, or glass containers are empty, that money can be recovered by returning the bottle to a designated pick up spot. But common empties like wine and liquor, paper cartons, or milk and dairy containers, can’t be redeemed.
Size is also a factor. So-called liquor “nips” (small alcoholic beverages under 50 mL) have caused headaches across Connecticut, prompting state officials in 2021 to enact a 5-cent surcharge redirecting money back to cities and towns for nip cleanups. But under the new bottle bill, those liquor nips still don’t qualify for the bottle deposit refund.
Generally, qualifying bottles will indicate on the label if they can be redeemed.
Improving maternal and infant health
The state Department of Public Health is creating an entirely new license category for independent birthing centers to improve health outcomes of pregnant people and their children.
The new law also prevents any birth center from operating without such a license, and establishes a program to review data surrounding deaths of infants to reduce health care disparities.
Expanding knowledge of endometriosis
Connecticut research institutions are working to study endometriosis, a chronic, painful reproductive health condition that is widely recognized as under-researched, yet affects about 1 in 10 female-born individuals globally. Under the law, Jan. 1 is the deadline for the program’s establishment, which will work to both understand the debilitating disease, and look into early detection, diagnostics, treatments and cures for patients in Connecticut and beyond.
The law also requires school nurses to receive training surrounding endometriosis, which affects both adolescents and adults.
Cracking down on artificial intelligence
As more states enact laws surrounding artificial intelligence, an act concerning AI, automated decision-making and personal data privacy, is taking effect in Connecticut. The law requires creation of an Office of Artificial Intelligence, and establishment of an AI task force and bill of rights. The law also requires Connecticut to examine the technology’s role and impact on state agencies.
Under the same measure, the state will also work to protect the data privacy of individuals, including the case of targeted advertising.
Other policies taking effect Jan. 1 can be followed on the Connecticut General Assembly’s website.
Connecticut Public's Patrick Skahill and Eddy Martinez contributed reporting.