State Senator Terry Gerratana (D-New Britain) today outlined several new state laws taking effect this Sunday, January 1, 2012, including a host of beneficial new insurance coverage regulations, paid sick leave for certain service-industry workers, tax incentives for new job growth and partial loan forgiveness for ‘green’ job majors.
“These new laws cap off a very productive 2011 legislative session,” Sen. Gerratana said. “They provide significant opportunities for our citizens that will enhance their lives and livelihood. We are moving Connecticut in the right direction toward better workplace and job creation opportunities as well as addressing current health needs. These new laws boost our economy and our well-being, which moves us toward a healthier financial and physical state.”
The new laws include:
- Tax credits for new job creation
As part of the October special session on jobs and the economy, the legislature passed a comprehensive package of small-business assistance that includes tens of millions of dollars in state-funded small business grants, loans and tax credits.
Beginning January 1, Connecticut businesses can earn tax credits ranging from $500 to $900 for every new employee they hire. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees can earn a tax credit for each new hire; 50-100 employees earns a tax credit for at least five new hires; and over 100 employees earns a tax credit for at least 10 new hires. The credits range from $500 for a new employee to $900 for hiring a veteran.
- Expanded insurance coverage for breast MRIs, bone marrow tests, colorectal cancer screening and ostomy supplies
New laws effective January 1 require insurance companies to: pay for a comprehensive ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of a woman’s breast or breasts if a mammogram shows she has ‘dense’ breast tissue; cover the cost of an annual colorectal cancer screening with no coinsurance, copayment, deductible or other out-of-pocket expense; cover testing to determine compatibility for bone marrow transplants (limited to one free test in a lifetime); and increase the maximum annual coverage for ostomy appliances and supplies from $ 1,000 to $ 2,500.
- Paid sick leave for service industry workers in businesses with 50+ employees
Service industry workers in businesses with 50 or more employees can begin accruing paid sick leave on January 1 at a rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked. Such workers had to have worked with the employer for at least 680 hours, and averaged at least 10 hours a week over the past three months. Workers can use their sick leave for an illness or injury to themselves, a child or spouse, or for a family violence issue. This very popular new policy is supported by 72 percent of all state residents, according to a June Quinnipiac University poll.
- Loan forgiveness for college graduates in ‘green’ studies
One aspect of the Democratic Majority Leader’s Roundtable jobs bill that was passed in 2010 takes effect on New Year’s Day. $3 million is being made available in loan forgiveness grants to any Connecticut resident who graduated on or after May 1, 2010 from a state college or university with a bachelor’s degree in a field related to the promotion of clean energy, renewable energy or energy efficiency; reducing greenhouse gases or carbon emissions; or inventing, designing and applying chemical products and processes to eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. The family contribution for the most recent full academic year cannot exceed $35,000, and students are eligible for a maximum loan of $2,500 per year for up to four years.