HARTFORD (AP) - A higher minimum wage, new registration requirements for certain contractors and new rules for using a modernized symbol for people with disabilities are among a host of new laws set to take effect Jan. 1. These new acts will take effect just days before the Connecticut General Assembly meets Jan. 4 to convene its new session and pass additional new legislation.
Highlights of some of the new laws that will kick in Sunday:
The minimum wage is set to climb from $9.60 an hour to $10.10, starting Sunday.
It will mark the final step in a series of three increases that Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed into law in 2014. At the time, Connecticut was the first state in the country to pass legislation committing to a $10.10 an hour wage, which President Barack Obama had sought for the federal minimum wage.
“No one who works full-time should live in poverty,” Malloy said.
Despite this latest increase, there are suggestions to raise it higher. The Connecticut Low Wage Employer Advisory Board has recommended state lawmakers gradually increase it to $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2022. The state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses has called the recommendation irresponsible.
Beginning Sunday, more types of home contractors will have to register with the state Department of Consumer Protection as home improvement contractors.
Until now, residential restoration companies have been unregulated in Connecticut.
Under the new law, anyone performing water, fire or storm restoration or mold remediation on a private residence or residential rental property will now have to register as a contractor and pay the department $220 annually. Of that $220, $100 is deposited in a state fund that reimburses customers - up to $15,000 per claim - who are unable to recover losses they suffered from a registered contractor who failed to fulfill a contract valued at more than $200.
The State Building Code will now refer to an updated symbol of access for people with disabilities, which shows a dynamic figure leaning forward with a sense of movement.
Under the new law, the new symbol must be used in all applicable buildings constructed, substantially renovated or expanded after Jan. 1.
The legislation also replaces the word “handicapped” with “reserved” on parking signs, which currently read “handicapped parking permit required” and “violators will be fined.”
Criminal records checks
Employers will now be prohibited in most cases from asking prospective employees about their prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions on an initial employment application.
The new law makes an exception for employers who are required to ask such questions under state or federal law and in cases where the prospective employee is seeking a position that requires a security or fidelity bond.