New year, new laws: State makes changes to opioids, auto insurance, and taxes

Several new state laws went into effect Jan. 1, including those concerning opioids, auto insurance, occupational licensing, commercial real estate transactions, fertility preservation, and taxes.

Opioids

In an effort to prevent prescription opioid diversion and abuse, two provisions made to Public Act No. 17-131 went into effect Jan. 1.

One requires “certain individual and group health insurance policies” to cover the cost of treatment — including “medically monitored inpatient detoxification services” and “medically managed intensive inpatient detoxification services” — for enrollees diagnosed with a substance use disorder.

The second provision requires prescriptions for controlled substances to be transmitted electronically in order to prevent abuse. Prior law allowed prescribers to issue written, oral or electronically transmitted prescriptions.

Auto insurance

The minimum amount of auto insurance a person must maintain to receive or retain a driver’s license or motor vehicle registration has been increased under Public Act No. 17-114.

State law requires that a driver maintain liability and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Prior law required minimum liability coverage of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident for bodily injury and $10,000 per accident for property damage. These minimums have been increased to $25,000, $50,000 and $25,000, respectively.

The new law also increases the minimum amount of underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage required from $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident to $25,000 and $50,000, respectively.

These increases apply to policies delivered, issued, renewed, amended, or endorsed in Connecticut on and after Jan. 1.

Occupational licensing

The following Department of Consumer Protection occupational licenses, registrations and certificates have been eliminated under Public Act No. 17-75:

  • Swimming pool assembler’s license.
  • Athlete agent registration, by repealing the Uniform Athlete Agents Act.
  • Shorthand reporter’s license.
  • Itinerant vendor’s license and municipalities’ specific authority to license itinerant vendors.
  • Liquor wholesaler’s salesman certificate.

Workers in these occupations no longer need a state credential under the new law, which also eliminates real estate student intern programs in which “students enrolled in accredited schools who were directly supervised by a licensed real estate broker were, with the Real Estate Commission’s approval, exempt from other real estate licensing requirements while enrolled in the program.”

Commercial real estate

Public Act No. 17-169 delays when a real estate broker or salesperson acting as an agent must disclose whom he or she represents in commercial real estate transactions.

Before, brokers and salespeople had to disclose this at the beginning of the first personal meeting about a purchaser or lessee’s specific needs or a seller or lessor’s real property. This is still required for residential real property transactions.

Now, disclosures in commercial real estate transactions must be made before a prospective purchaser or lessee signs the purchase contract or lease, respectively.

According to the act, such disclosures are not required if the other party is also represented by a real estate broker or salesperson and they must be signed by prospective purchasers or lessees.

The act also changes when commercial real estate brokers must file notices of commission rights with town clerks.

Fertility preservation

Public Act No. 17-55 expands the range of people eligible for infertility coverage under certain individual and group health insurance policies, which, by law, must cover “the medically necessary costs of diagnosing and treating infertility.”

Prior law limited coverage to those who are presumably healthy and unable to conceive, produce conception or sustain a successful pregnancy during a one-year period.

By removing the “presumably healthy” limitation, the new law extends infertility coverage to those who are not healthy. According to the Public Act No. 17-55 summary, the law “appears also to extend coverage to anyone who requires medically necessary infertility treatment.”

The new law applies to policies delivered, issued, renewed, amended, or continued in Connecticut on and after Jan. 1 that cover:

  • Basic hospital expenses.
  • Basic medical-surgical expenses.
  • Major medical expenses.
  • Hospital or medical services, including those provided under an HMO plan.

Taxes

Several changes have been made to Public Act 17-147, which concerns tax-related matters.

One of those changes has to do with taxpayers who must remit sales taxes weekly. Such taxpayers must continue to file their returns on a monthly or quarterly basis, according to the act, but now must do so electronically.

The act also codifies Department of Revenue Services (DRS) requirements for remitting sales tax on an annual basis. As of Jan. 1, taxpayers are required to remit the tax on an annual basis if they collected and remitted less than $1,000 in sales tax for the 12-month period ending June 30. The act also requires these taxpayers to file returns annually by Jan. 31, reporting the sales made during the previous calendar year.

Connecticut residents who receive pensions or annuities used to be able to instruct the payer of the pension or annuity to withhold Connecticut income tax, but now income tax withholding is required by certain payers of pensions and annuities — including those from an employer pension, annuity, profit-sharing plan, stock bonus, deferred compensation plan, individual retirement arrangement, endowment, or life insurance contract.

The withholding requirement applies to payers of pension or annuity distributions that maintain an office or transact business in Connecticut and make taxable payments to resident individuals. Such payers must deduct and withhold from the taxable portion of any such distribution, “as far as practicable,” an amount “substantially equal to the tax reasonably estimated to be due from the payee during the calendar year,” according to the act.

All new state laws that went into effect Jan. 1 are available at http://bit.ly/2E06qsf.

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