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Major Bad Bills That Passed This Year

Child Care and Early Childhood Grants -- A new law expands existing, and creates new, grants for various child care and early childhood programs and services. Among other things, it (1) creates a grant program in FY 23 for early childhood program operators and child care services providers to supplement employee salaries or address program or administrative needs and (2) creates a $13,500 per-child grant for children ages 3 and younger enrolled in Office of Early Childhood (OEC)-contracted child care centers for disadvantaged children and requires that excess grant funding be used for educators’ salary increases (sSB 1, as amended, various effective dates).

Penalty for School Construction Projects Failing to Meet Minority Business Enterprise Set-Aside Goals -- Under the state set-aside program, municipal project contractors, including those for school construction projects, must set-aside 6.25% of the value of all construction contracts for minority business enterprises (MBEs). This session’s budget act adds a mechanism to enforce MBE setaside requirements for school construction projects. It does so by withholding 5% of a school construction project’s reimbursement grant if the town does not meet MBE set-aside goals (HB 5506, as amended (§ 370), effective upon passage)

Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies Requirement -- Beginning with the 2025-26 school year, a new law (1) requires local and regional school boards to include Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) studies in their social studies curriculum and (2) adds AAPI studies to the state’s existing required program of instruction for public schools as part of the social studies curriculum. As with other required subject matter areas under existing law, the State Board of Education must make AAPI curriculum materials available to help boards develop their instructional programs (sSB 1, as amended (§§ 32 & 33), various effective dates).

Absentee Voting -- This year, the legislature expanded two of the six statutory reasons for which qualified voters (i.e., electors and people eligible to vote in a referendum) may vote by absentee ballot in an election, primary, or referendum. Under newly enacted legislation, qualified voters may vote by absentee ballot if they are unable to appear at their polling place because of (1) sickness, rather than because of their own illness, or (2) physical disability, rather than because of their own physical disability. Additionally, the act authorizes qualified voters to vote by absentee ballot if they are unable to appear at their polling place because of absence from the town of their voting residence. Prior law authorized voters to vote absentee for this reason only if they were absent during all hours of voting (PA 22-2, effective upon passage).

Fair Rent Commissions -- This session, the legislature enacted a law that requires all municipalities with a population of 25,000 or more to adopt an ordinance creating a fair rent commission. They must do so through their legislative bodies by July 1, 2023. It also requires the chief executive officers of these municipalities, within 30 days after an ordinance is adopted, to notify the housing commissioner and give her a copy of the ordinance. Under the act, municipalities’ populations are determined by the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent decennial census (PA 22-30, effective October 1, 2022).

Children’s Mental Health Services -- A new law includes numerous provisions on mental health services, particularly for children. Among other things, it includes several provisions on access to providers and services, such as (1) requiring DPH to develop a plan to waive licensure requirements for certain providers already licensed in other states; (2) temporarily exempting increases in the licensed bed capacity of mental health facilities from certificate of need requirements; and (3) establishing grant programs to provide funding to K-12 schools and colleges for mental health providers and services. It also addresses payment and insurance coverage, such as (1) establishing a fund to help families pay for children’s medication or treatments that are not covered by insurance or Medicaid and (2) requiring certain health insurance policies to cover two mental health wellness examinations per year with no patient cost sharing or prior authorization requirements. Additionally, the act includes provisions on care coordination and collaboration, including expanding the Department of Children and Families’ regional behavioral health consultation and care coordinating program. Among other things, it also establishes an oversight committee within the Legislative Department to evaluate and report on various matters related to the mental health system for children and develop a related strategic plan (PA 22-47, various effective dates).

More found here in pages 15-21:


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