HARTFORD, CT — A new law imposing tougher sentences on hate crimes is among the 140 new laws that take effect Sunday, Oct. 1.
The change to the hate crime statutes includes enhancing penalties in some cases. It imposes fines for certain hate crimes, including deprivation of rights; desecration of property; cross burning; and 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree intimidation based on bigotry or bias.
It enhances the penalties for desecration of a house of religious worship; increases the penalty for 1st and 2nd degree threatening when the threat affects the house of worship or a religiously affiliated community or day care center, and; increases from class A misdemeanor to a class E felony the penalty for 3rd-degree intimidation based on bigotry or bias.
Legislators, who passed the bill unanimously in the House and the Senate, claim it will give Connecticut the strongest hate crime laws in the country.
Legislators said the law is necessary to respond to the increase in hate crimes directed against African Americans, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, Sikh Americans, transgender women and others both across the country and in Connecticut.
Another new law looks to strike a better balance between pregnant employees and their employers. The new law expands employment protections provided to women under the state’s anti-discrimination law.
It requires employers to provide a reasonable workplace accommodation for a pregnant employee or applicant, unless the employer demonstrates that the accommodation would be an undue hardship.
The law applies to state, municipal, and private employers with three or more workers.
As of Oct. 1, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promoters will no longer be liable to pay the health care costs that an MMA competitor incurs from an injury, illness, disease, or condition resulting from an MMA match.
Rather, just like boxing promoters, MMA promoters must now provide: insurance coverage of at least $20,000 for medical, dental, surgical and hospital care; and death benefits of at least $50,000 to the estate of an MMA participant who dies as a result of match.
The new law also eliminates the 5 percent gross receipts tax that promoters now are required to pay.
Legislators who backed the bill said they weren’t necessarily fans but understand that it’s a sport that attracts people to a venue and that spectators spend money on restaurants and other amenities while attending.
Another new law will increase the age and weight requirements for car seats. It also requires that child restraint systems be equipped with a five-point harness.
With the new law, Connecticut will become the eighth state in the country to adopt recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics that suggest children remain in rear-facing child restraints up to age 2.
The new law specifically states that: any child under 2 or weighing less than 30 pounds, regardless of age, must be in a rear-facing child restraint; a child between 2 and 4 or weighing between 30 and 39 pounds, regardless of age, must ride in either rear-facing or forward-facing child restraint.
Additionally, children aged 5 to 7 or weighing 40 to 59 pounds must sit in a rear-facing child restraint, a forward facing child restraint, or a booster seat secured by a lap-and-shoulder seat belt.
And, children aged 8 to 15 who weigh 60 pounds or more must use an approved child restraint system or a safety seat belt.
Currently, a child only needs to be in a rear-facing child seat until age 1 or 20 pounds. The current law keeps a child in a booster seat until age 7 or until the child weighs 60 pounds.
A first violation is an infraction and a second violation is punishable by a fine of up to $199.
Yet another new law taking effect on Oct. 1 is that anyone who wants to operate or maintain an animal shelter in Connecticut must register with the agriculture commissioner and comply with regulations on sanitation, disease, humane treatment of cats and dogs, and public safety.
The legislature also passed legislation taking effect on Oct. 1 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of a veteran’s status in employment, public accommodations, the sale or rental of housing, the granting of credit, and other laws over which the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities has jurisdiction.