A handful of new laws take effect July 1, including the Baby Bonds program, permissions to allow more adults to grow cannabis at home, and a boost to voter rights.
Baby Bonds are trusts set aside for children born into poverty, meant to help them improve their lives when they become adults. The state will deposit $3,200 into a trust for each baby born on or after July 1 and who is covered by Husky, the state’s Medicaid program.
Recipients can withdraw the money between the ages of 18 and 30 for certain approved expenses, including attending college, starting a business or buying a home.
The program is currently slated to run for 12 years. It was supposed to start last year but was put on hold due to concerns about funding.
Treasurer Erick Russell addressed those concerns, using $381 million that had been set aside in a reserve fund when the state borrowed money to help fund the pension program for retired teachers. The reserve fund was meant to cover any missed payments, but the state can now afford to buy insurance for that purpose.
That’s not the only change. Anyone age 21 or older can grow up to six cannabis plants in their home, with a limit of 12 plants per household.
Before the expansion, only adults with a medical marijuana card could grow their own cannabis. Plants must be grown inside and out of the view of passersby.
Other changes starting next week include the state no longer requiring a $100 registration fee for medicinal marijuana cards.
Certain public agencies have to start providing free menstrual products to everyone “without stigmatizing the individuals who request the products.” This includes schools working with the Department of Correction, public colleges and universities, homeless shelters that receive grants from the Department of Housing and domestic violence emergency shelters that receive state aid.
The same law requires local and regional school boards to comply with similar compliance by Sept. 1. The public agencies can accept donations of menstrual products and can work with nonprofit organizations to comply with the rules.
Jury selection will look different, as administrators are now required to consider additional data to try and make sure juries reflect the surrounding community.
When issuing summons, administrators now have to take into account the number of jurors from each town in the judicial district who complied with the summons and appeared for service during the prior year.
Administrators are supposed to use this “yield rate” to make sure the number of jurors from each municipality reflects that municipality’s size within the district.
A new law also extends eligibility for the state’s debt-free community college program to returning students by removing requirements that a qualifying student must be a first-time enrollee at a community-technical college and awards must be applied during a student’s first 48 consecutive months. This means returning students can receive the award if they meet all other eligibility requirements.
Another new law also adds a half-credit of personal finance management and literacy to count towards either the nine-credit humanities graduation requirement or as an elective credit.
Yet, another new law requires UConn Health Center to develop an endometriosis data and biorepository program to enable and promote research on early detection and ways to manage the condition in adolescents and adults.
And there’s a new law that allows the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) to enter into one or more agreements for a project to renovate and reconstruct the XL Center in Hartford. The agreement must provide that CRDA, the state, or both together, must contribute no more than $80 million, and the contractor must contribute at least $20 million. Separately, the bond act authorizes $20 million in general obligation bonds for specified capital improvements to the XL Center.
And a new law, passed as part of the state budget, established requirements for municipalities to provide language assistance for limited English-proficient individuals at the polls and prohibits intimidation, deception, or obstruction related to voting.