Higher cigarette tax among new Connecticut laws kicking in


HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A number of new laws will take effect in Connecticut on Friday, the first day of the new fiscal year, including many provisions in the newly revised $19.7 billion state budget. Following are highlights of some of the new laws.

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CIGARETTE TAX

Smokers will have pay 25 cents more for a pack of cigarettes in Connecticut. Starting Friday, the state’s tax will become $3.90 a pack, making it the second highest cigarette tax in the nation. Lawmakers imposed a phased-in 50 cent increase last year to help close the budget deficit.

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SPENDING HOLDBACKS

With the start of the new fiscal year, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget director says he’ll exercise authority granted to him in the new budget to withhold funds from state agencies. Ben Barnes, the secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, was granted the authority to withhold approximately $130 million or 0.7 percent of the state’s general fund, its main spending account. Barnes assigned savings targets to agencies across state government. The executive, legislative and judicial branches of government are all affected.

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AFFIRMED CONSENT

Public and private colleges across the state will be required to adopt policies regarding “clear and voluntary” student consent to sexual activity. The policy has been described as yes means yes. While most schools in the state already have similar policies, proponents said they wanted all colleges and universities in Connecticut to have the same standard.

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COLLEGE POLICE FORCES

State-run community colleges will be allowed to begin forming special police forces to patrol their campuses. Ultimately, these armed police forces will have to be approved by Connecticut’s Board of Regents for Higher Education. The officers will generally have the same powers as municipal police and must be certified by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council. The legislation was in response to student and teacher concerns following the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

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STUDENT LOANS

Connecticut will now have requirements and standards for student loan services. These entities will have to apply for a state license and list any history of criminal convictions. The state will be able to issue a license if the applicant’s financial condition is sound and it has conducted business “honestly, fairly, equitably, carefully, efficiently” and in a manner “commanding the community’s confidence and trust.”

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LIQUOR AUCTIONS

A deceased Connecticut resident’s wine and liquor collection can now be sold at auction, under certain circumstances. Under a new law, liquor listed in an estate’s inventory filed with a probate court can be sold or transferred without a liquor permit. Proponents of the change said there was no legal way to legally re-sell alcohol and liquor from estates. Some collections have been sold at auction in neighboring New York. Ultimately, the probate court with jurisdiction over the estate and the state’s consumer protection commissioner to approve the transaction.

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Source: Connecticut Office of Legislative Research and Office of Policy and Management.

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