Fawcett discusses laws taking effect Oct. 1

Rep. Kim Fawcett discusses issues impacting seniors with Bolade Akintolayo at a recent meeting with seniors.

Rep. Kim Fawcett discusses issues impacting seniors with Bolade Akintolayo at a recent meeting with seniors.

State Rep. Kim Fawcett (D-133rd District) shared recent changes in state laws that take effect on Oct. 1 and impact local families and children.

New laws she said strengthen care to seniors and preserve their relationships with grandchildren include:

• The Grandparent’s Bill of Rights: The new law strengthens the rights of grandparents seeking visitation by putting extra weight on evidence showing that a parent-like relationship exists and that a denial of visitation could cause harm to the child.

• Hospice care: This new law improves access to quality end-of-life care for families. By adjusting the state’s regulations to make them consistent with federal hospice standards, the law will encourage hospices to offer residential services in areas of the state where they are not currently available, including Fairfield County.

• Income eligibility requirements for seniors who benefit from the Medicare Savings Program, which helps with co-pays and deductibles, have been adjusted to account for recent Social Security cost of living increases. This change in law took effect earlier this year.

The legislature also approved a measure that restructures the legal adoption process for children in the custody and care of foster parents. The new adoption process permits the Department of Children and Families to file adoption petitions in the Superior Court instead of Probate Court.

“We have nearly 6,000 children in foster care in Connecticut and many of them are caught up in the arduous legal process and can wait for years to find permanent placement with loving families,” Fawcett said in a press release. “This restructuring of DCF not only makes sense but also helps the agency streamline its work to better serve the most vulnerable children of the state.”

Also going into effect this October is a law made famous by the 2008 disappearance of Caylee Anthony in Florida. Caylee’s Law makes it a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for up to one year, a fine of up to $2,000, or both, to knowingly fail to report the disappearance of a child under age 12. The duty to report applies to any parent, guardian or person who has custody or control of, or is supervising, the child and who either does not know the child’s location or has not had contact with him or her for 24 hours.

In a further effort to strengthen state laws that protect victims of violence, the state also amended existing statutes in 2012 to protect against family violence and the sexual exploitation of a minor.

• Family violence victims will see greater support from the courts, law enforcement agencies and court-based victim service providers. The law strengthens certain court restraining and protective orders aimed at protecting family violence victims. It also requires courts to provide copies of protective orders to victims’ employers and schools upon request and takes steps to create a standard police approach to family violence crimes.

• There is now a new class C felony for commercial sexual exploitation of a minor. The crime consists of knowingly purchasing space to advertise for a commercial sex act that includes a depiction of a minor. The act specifies that neither lack of knowledge of the depicted person’s age nor reliance on a non-governmental representation are defense. Class C felonies are punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

Fawcett’s district includes parts of Fairfield and Westport. She is assistant majority leader in the State House of Representatives.

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