Capital briefs

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Bill changes coverage for police, firefighters

HARTFORD — The state Senate passed legislation last week that would require cities and towns to cover certain mental health injuries suffered on the job by police, as well as certain cancers suffered by firefighters, under their workers’ compensation policies.

The bill rewrites the definition of “personal injury” or “injury” in workers’ compensation claims to include claims from a police officer who witnessed the death or immediate aftermath, within six hours, of one or more people who were intentionally murdered, according to a press release.

Under the bill, an interior firefighter or an arson investigator would be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they acquire any of the following conditions “arising out of and in the course of” their employment: Mahler’s Disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or any condition of cancer affecting the brain, skin, digestive system, endocrine system, respiratory system, lymphatic system, reproductive system, urinary system or hematological system, the release stated.

Firefighters would be required to undergo a physical exam before being hired and would have to have worked for at least five years in the department, or for 15 years as a volunteer, the press release stated. Firefighters who smoke would not be eligible for these benefits.

“Last year I had the honor of participating in Fire Ops 101, a day of intensive, hands-on activities designed to provide an understanding of the everyday life of firefighters,” said state Sen. Joseph Crisco, Jr. (D-17) in the press release. “To see firsthand the dangers and challenges these heroes face on a daily basis makes you respect them all the more. Our first responders put their lives on the line every day to protect us and it is only right that we do whatever we can to support them. I’m proud to stand with them today.”

The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Legislation facilitates follow-up care

HARTFORD — The House and Senate have approved legislation aimed at facilitating follow-up care for hospital patients.

The bill, SB 290, requires hospitals to record names of designated caregivers and provide detailed instructions for follow-up care.

“Complex medical care combined with shorter hospital stays can mean increased anxiety and stress on family members and leading to costly hospital readmissions,” state Rep. Theresa Conroy (D-105) said in a press release. “Caregivers provide patients with medication, injections, and change dressings and bandages. When a caregiver receives the proper tools and basic instructions from medical professionals at the hospital, we can ensure better outcomes.”

The legislation requires a hospital, when discharging a patient, to: Allow the patient to designate a caregiver; Document the designated caregiver; Attempt to notify the designated caregiver of the patient’s discharge home; Instruct the caregiver on post-discharge tasks and care.

“Today’s family caregivers are confronted with complex, taxing tasks,” said state Sen. Joseph J. Crisco, Jr. (D-17) in a press release. “This legislation will ensure that they have sufficient instruction to prepare them for the challenges that lay ahead, helping patients remain in their homes and preventing costly hospital readmissions.”

Bill would ban variable-rate contracts

HARTFORD — The state Senate has approved a bill that would ban variable-rate electricity contracts for to residential electric customers for electric generation service.

“This consumer friendly legislation keeps suppliers honest and accountable,” said state Sen. Joseph Crisco, Jr. (D-17) in a press release. “Unscrupulous business practices are leading consumers down an unstable path of severe rate hikes. Consumers deserve to be protected from this sort of deceptive business practice.”

Variable-rate contracts allow for fluctuations in electricity rate charges each month.

Last year, the General Assembly passed Public Act 14-75, which enacted several reforms for the protection of electric consumers, the release stated. Public Act 14-75 included a new requirement that, beginning this July, every residential electric customer’s monthly bill must display their rate for the coming month.

Senate Bill 573 moved to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Sprinkler systems target of legislation

HARTFORD — The state Senate voted unanimously last week to approve legislation that will inform prospective renters or leasers if a property has a working sprinkler system and if it was inspected for proper use.

“This is another step in the legislative process to provide as much protection as possible for students renting off campus apartments and a reasonable level of peace of mind for parents,” said state Senator Joseph J. Crisco (D-17) in a press release. “As legislators, we must take every step we can to prevent such tragedies. Requiring that landlords notify their tenants about whether there is an operative sprinkler system in their unit is one such step.”

Senate Bill 103 passed at the request of Jeffrey and Barbara Block whose daughter, Eva, was a student at Marist College when she died in an off-campus fire in 2012, the release stated. The bill moved to the House of Representatives for consideration.