Volume 9 | January 2021

Happy New Year! All of us at Jainchill & Beckert wish you health and prosperity in 2021. 

Our firm started the year off by hearing from the Better Business Bureau that we've been accredited! In December we received a phone call from the bureau inviting us to submit an application. Apparently, they had done some research and found that we had a really good reputation and track record with clients. We’ve always looked to the BBB as setting the benchmark for identifying businesses known for integrity and honesty, and we’re honored to be part of their community of trustworthy businesses. 

In this month's Legal Ease, we're highlighting new Connecticut laws, a collaboration that could potentially boost the state's economy and a bit of our state's rich history.


Aaron and Bill
Personal Injury • Criminal Defense • Workers' Comp
"We are fighters who work to ensure that our clients are informed and empowered, so that we can achieve an outcome that provides peace of mind."
A look at new laws that went into effect Jan. 1
Each January brings many new state laws, but this year's list is smaller than most years due to a shorter legislative session in 2020.

1) Police accountability law
Several provisions of the Act Concerning Police Accountability already went into effect last year. Here are the new ones for 2021: 

  • Police officers who make arrests or interact with the public on a daily basis must also prominently display their badge and name tag on the outermost layer of their uniform. 

  • Every police officer must submit to a behavioral health assessment every five years by a board-certified psychiatrist or psychologist experienced in diagnosing and treating traumatic stress disorder. 

  • Changes to the membership structure of the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) council will also take effect. The overall number of members will increase to 21, gubernatorial appointments will be reduced from 17 to 11 and six legislative appointments will be added. 

  • Efforts to recruit, retain and promote minority police officers must be reported to the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. 

2) Pharmacists to dispense emergency insulin supplies  
Pharmacists are allowed to dispense one emergency diabetes-related prescription a year to diabetics. The new law covers insulin, glucagon drugs and diabetes devices, including blood glucose test strips, lancets and insulin syringes. 

The new law requires pharmacists to dispense a 30-day, price-capped emergency supply of diabetes-related drugs and devices for patients who have less than a one-week supply of insulin or related equipment. 
3) Lowering taxes on pension income
Connecticut is already into a six-year plan to phase out taxes on pension and annuity income for individuals earning less than $75,000 a year (or married couples earning under $100,000 a year). 

Starting Jan. 1 seniors can claim 28% of pension and annuity income received in 2020 as a deduction on their Connecticut adjusted gross income – twice the amount they were able to deduct in 2019 (or 14%). In 2022, the deduction will leap to 42%, with the eventual goal of 200% in 2025.

4) Half-percent payroll tax for Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act
As we reported in December's Legal Ease, many Connecticut employees’ paychecks were slightly reduced as of Jan. 1 due to a new payroll tax. The 2019 passing of Connecticut’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Act caused a decrease of up to .5%. The tax, levied against private employers with at least one employee, provides for up to 12 weeks of paid leave during a 12-month period.

Recipients of paid leave may include people with health issues or someone caring for an ailing spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent or person close to the employee. Leave time may also be used for the birth of a child, donating an organ, a domestic abuse issue or an issue related to military service. 
5) Increased regulation for electric utilities
This new law states that as of Jan. 1 each electric utility must report to Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), and the legislature’s energy committee, on how it prepares and responds to hurricanes, snowstorms and other emergencies. 

The report must contain: 
  • an analysis of how it responded to five previous storm events
  • an accounting of pre- and post-storm assessments
  • a breakdown of line workers and other factors, including its current infrastructure, facilities and equipment

After receiving the report, PURA will determine what it considers to be minimum staffing requirements for storm outrages and restoration, with detailed numbers of linemen, engineers, tree trimming crews and other personnel based on the severity. 

If an electric utility company fails to meet these standards, PURA can impose civil penalties, which cannot be passed down to ratepayers. 

Another provision in the bill involves utility companies’ leadership. Now any institution wishing to become a stakeholder in a PURA-regulated utility must have a proportional number of Connecticut-based directors on its board; for example, if one-third of a company’s total service area is in Connecticut, then one-third of its directors must be based in Connecticut.
Sports Betting Is Coming to Connecticut
“Sports betting will be legalized in 2021. You can bet on it,” said Rep. Sean Scanlon, House chairman of the legislature’s finance committee, in December after Foxwoods Resort Casino and DraftKings, a digital sports entertainment business, announced a partnership. The goal of the partnership is to raise revenue and revive eastern Connecticut’s economy. 

Scanlon, a Democrat from Guilford, added that the failure in previous years was a “missed opportunity” and that it’s one of his biggest priorities now. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns and operates Foxwoods, and DraftKings said their deal will set the stage for online sports betting “ahead of the anticipated launch of legal sports betting in Connecticut.” 

Previously Connecticut had been unsuccessful in drafting legislation permitting sports betting and making other changes in the state’s gambling law. Our neighboring states are capitalizing on lucrative sports betting and it’s sounding like it will happen here too.  

“I want to put forward something that works, that doesn’t result in litigation, that gets us off the dime,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in December. 

Foxwoods and DraftKings said they estimate online gambling and sports betting will generate $175 million in new revenue for the state over five years. Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequots, said the state’s share would be $40 million – $60 million a year. 

Since it reopened June 1 after being closed for more than 10 weeks, Foxwoods posted revenue that was down nearly $36 million from last year. The region lost 12,000 jobs from October 2019 to November 2020, a drop of 9.3%, according to the state Department of Labor.

Butler said he believes sports betting legislation would have passed last year if it hadn’t been for the coronavirus pandemic but he believes it will come up this year. “Sports betting fills revenue gaps caused by the damage to Connecticut’s economy from the coronavirus,” Butler said.

Matt Kalish, co-founder and president of DraftKings North America, called the Foxwoods agreement a “landmark deal” and a “critical next step” to bringing its sportsbook app to Connecticut.

Source: "Top lawmaker sees sports betting in Connecticut a reality next year" (Hartford Courant, Dec. 7, 2020) 
History quiz: Who is considered to be the real first president of the United States?
Some believe a farmer from Windham, Connecticut, deserves the title. As a young boy growing up in the 1700s, Samuel Huntington was on the path to becoming a rancher like his parents. But after working on the farm for some years, he decided he wanted to be a lawyer instead. Unable to have any formal training, he studied law books borrowed from friends and passed the bar in 1754. 

In 1765, Huntington was appointed to the position of King's attorney for the colony of Connecticut. Nine years later, even though he could have had a comfortable future in the employment of the King, Huntington resigned and instead became a patriot and dedicated the rest of his life to serving the public. 

In 1775, Huntington was chosen to represent Connecticut and serve as a delegate to the Continental Congress, and on July 4, 1776, Huntington was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

In 1779, Huntington was elected president of Congress and two years later, on March 1, 1781, the Articles of Confederation became the first Constitution of the country. The document designates the country as “the United States” for the first time. 

Some historians argue that this would make Samuel Huntington the first president of the United States (George Washington was elected president 10 years later in 1789). 

Source: Samuel Huntington: the First President of the United States? (State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, Law Library)
Personal Injury • Criminal Defense • Workers' Comp
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Plainville, CT 06062
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