HARTFORD, CT — Dozens of new laws went into effect today, including an increase in the minimum wage, an increase in the minimum age to purchase cigarettes, and also changes to laws around sexual harassment in the workplace and gun storage.
Before it even went into effect, the increase in the minimum wage was used by at least one company as a reason for closing its West Hartford store. The company’s other 26 locations in the state will remain open.
ShopRite announced this weekend that it’s closing its Kane Street location on Nov. 26.
“In spite of our competitive pricing, large assortment of foods and products, and excellent service provided by our dedicated associates, we have struggled to make the store profitable,” Wakefern Food Corp., ShopRite’s parent company, said in a statement. “A challenging business climate impacted by rising costs, regulations and the new minimum wage increase led to the difficult decision to close our doors on Nov. 26.”
The Joseph Family Markets, which operates the West Hartford ShopRite franchise that’s closing, just re-opened its Canton store touting its chef-prepared meals and international cheese shop.
“The devil is in the details,” state Sen. Saud Anwar, D-South Windsor, said. “If you look at the fact that ShopRite is expanding in Canton but is walking away from the Hartford area, it’s because of the stores’ profitability in different locations. To use the minimum wage to try and justify this is factually inaccurate because 95% of Shop Rite locations are in regions where the minimum wage, by January, will be over $11 per hour. The minimum wage increase in Connecticut will help 330,000 workers who have every right to be able to improve their quality of life because of the hours and effort they put in every day.”
The minimum hourly wage increases from $10.10 to $11 today, and then by another $1 every 11 months until it reaches $15 on June 1, 2023. Beginning January 1, 2024, the law will index future minimum wage changes to the federal employment cost index.
The minimum wage law applies to all businesses.
As far as groceries are concerned, the sales tax on prepared meals under guidance issued by the Department of Revenue Services in 2002 will also increase Tuesday.
A tax of 7.35% will be applied to any item sold in the grocery store that was already being taxed at 6.35%.
In September, the state Department of Revenue Services rescinded its new guidance on the meals tax. ShopRite didn’t cite the increased tax as a reason for closing the Kane Street store.
Another new law impacting businesses changes how employees are trained when it comes to the subject of sexual harassment in the workplace.
The law requires employers to train all employees on sexual harassment, not just supervisors.
The so-called “Time’s Up Act” also extends the statute of limitations for forced rape or rape by drugs from five years to 20 years and things like unwanted touching from one year to 10 years.
It also eliminates the statute of limitations for all children and if a victim was 18, 19, or 20, the statute of limitations would be 30 years following the victim’s 21st birthday, effectively the victim’s 51st birthday.
A new law changing how the state responds to civil immigration detainers will also go into effect.
It prohibits state and local law enforcement from serving federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers without a valid federal judicial warrant. The law expands the definition of law enforcement to include adult probation officers, bail commissioners, school police, and certain judicial branch employees.
A law prohibiting so-called ghost guns starts Oct. 1. The law generally prohibits anyone from completing the manufacture of a firearm without subsequently obtaining and engraving or permanently affixing it with a unique serial number. It also prohibits manufacturing a firearm from polymer plastic that is not detectible by a walk-through metal detector.
Another new law expands the crime of negligent storage of a firearm to include situations involving the unsafe storage of a loaded or unloaded firearm in a home with a minor under age 18.
As of today, police departments whose officers are involved in the use of deadly force must release any video footage of the incident within 96 hours.
The new law paves the way for more police accountability after several dramatic shootings that sparked protests and calls for legislation. The law requires police departments to release any body- or dash-camera footage of police using deadly force within 48 hours of involved officers viewing the video, or within 96 hours of the incident, whichever comes first.
The definition of police “use of force” expands to include chokeholds and pursuits. It also prohibits police from shooting into or at, or standing in front of, a fleeing vehicle in most cases.
The Office of Policy and Management will also be tasked with cataloging police uses of force and reporting them to the legislature, in addition to making them available online.
Connecticut became the first state in the nation to require prosecutors to track information on jailhouse witnesses with the signing of SB 1098.
The first-of-its-kind law that went into effect today requirea that the state’s Office of Policy and Management Criminal Justice Division set up a system to track information on all potential jail houses that can be accessed by every prosecutor in the state.
The law is designed to create safeguards against the use of unreliable jailhouse testimony that could impact the outcome of a case.
A new law will close Connecticut courtrooms and seal the records of juveniles being prosecuted as adults for certain crimes.
The legislation passed unanimously by both chambers of the legislature will retroactively seal 116 pending and future cases.
The arraignment and all subsequent proceedings in these cases before the entry of a guilty plea or the entry of a verdict after trial are to be conducted in a closed courtroom. The records of these proceedings are confidential in the same manner as are juvenile proceedings in accordance with state law, except that the victim can obtain case records and information through an official designated by the court.
Monthly NetFlix subscriptions will cost you a little more at the end of October. That’s because the sales tax is going to jump from 1% to 6.35%.
The new digital download tax applies to most online services and applications. It’s expected to generate $27.5 million in 2020 and $37.1 million in 2021.