2004 Legislative Session Summary

The 2004 legislative session adjourned on May 5th, 2004. Unlike last year, an interim budget passed with little rancor and was signed by Governor Rowland on May 6th. This budget reverses the merger of the Department of Agriculture (DOA) into the Department of Consumer Protection that was to take place July 1, 2004. The legislature and the public showed strong support to keep the Department of Agriculture as a stand-alone agency.
The following Public Acts, passed this legislative session, are pertinent to the agricultural community or to subject matter under the purview of the Department of Agriculture. For the specific language for each Public Act you may use the Connecticut General Assembly website as a resource at http://www.cga.state.ct.us or call Melanie Attwater, Legislative Liaison, Department of Agriculture at (860) 713-2509.

Public Act 04-189 An Act Continuing the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Consumer Protection as Separate Agencies - Eliminates the merger of the departments of Agriculture and Consumer Protection that was authorized by PA 03-6 of the 2003 June 30 Special Session and was scheduled to take effect July 1, 2004.
EFFECTIVE DATE: June 1, 2004
Public Act 04-216 An Act Making Adjustments to the State Budget for the Biennium Ending June 30, 2005, and Making Appropriations Therefor, Making Deficiency Appropriations for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2004 and Making Adjustments to State and Municipal Revenues - Contains a budget for the Department of Agriculture as a stand-alone agency. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2004
Public Act 04-1 An Act Increasing Certain Bond Authorizations for Capital Improvements – Section 19 of this act contains a new authorization of $2 million dollars for the fiscal year 2004-2005 for the purpose of preservation of farmland in Connecticut. The Act also contains other bond authorizations for projects unrelated to agriculture. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2004
Special Act 04-2 An Act Authorizing Bonds of the State for Capital Improvements and Other Purposes – Contains a new authorization of $500,000 for the Farm Reinvestment Program for fiscal year 2004-2005. These funds may be used for capital improvements to working farms. Matching monies are required for participation in this program. The Act also contains bonding authorizations for projects and purposes unrelated to agriculture. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2004
Public Act 04-197 An Act Concerning Vocational Agricultural Centers - The Act increases the maximum tuition a school district operating a vocational agriculture ("vo-ag") center can charge other districts for each student it sends to the center from 102% to 120% of the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) foundation amount. Since the ECS foundation is currently set at $ 5,891 per student through June 30, 2005, the Act raises the maximum vo-ag center tuition from the current $ 6,009 to $ 7,069 per student. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2004
Public Act 04-222 An Act Concerning Preservation of the Family Farm and Long Island Sound - Extends the Long Island Sound moratorium by one year to June 3, 2005, for final decisions regarding applications for electric power line, gas pipeline or telecommunications crossings of the Long Island Sound. Allows applicants to petition for a moratorium waiver and requires the DOA commissioner to impose a 40 cents per linear foot per year on the owner of Long Island Sound pipeline crossings that cross any grounds with Connecticut’s jurisdiction, including any shellfish grounds. Seventy-five percent of these monies are to be deposited in the General Fund in an “expand and grow Connecticut agriculture” account; the remaining twenty-five percent is to be deposited into the Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Quality Fund.
The act requires any municipality planning to take active agricultural land by eminent domain to purchase an easement on equivalent agricultural land within its jurisdiction or pay, to the state, for the development rights to equivalent active agricultural land outside such municipality's borders. The monies collected from these payments will be deposited in the state farmland preservation program and will be used to purchase development rights for other active agricultural lands. The DOA commissioner must determine the amount a municipality will pay for the easement purchase.
Requires the DOA commissioner to establish “Connecticut Farm Fresh” promotional programs that certify grocery stores, schools and restaurants for participation upon proof that certain percentages of the food offered for sale are grown or produced in Connecticut. EFFECTIVE DATE: varies by section
Public Act 04-145 An Act Concerning Companion Animal Health Certificates, Establishing an Animal Abuse Cost Recovery Account and the Restraint or Disposal of Dogs – Requires that all companion animal health certificates (dog/cat) be issued no sooner than thirty days of the animal’s arrival into the state of Connecticut. Establishes an account into which proceeds from the auction of abused animals seized by and rehabilitated by the DOA are to be deposited. The purpose of such account is to offset costs associated with the DOA’s rehabilitation of starved, neglected and abused animals. Requires the DOA commissioner to adopt regulations that will expedite, to a maximum of sixty days from the filing date of an appeal, final restraint or disposal orders of certain dogs. EFFECTIVE DATE: from passage
Public Act 04-223 An Act Concerning Farm Waste Management - Increases the total percentage of state/federal grant monies farmers may apply for from 75 to 90 percent when matching dollars for farm waste management projects. EFFECTIVE DATE: from passage

Public Act 04-216 An Act Concerning State Shellfisheries, Standards for Shellfish Testing, Leasing of Shellfish Grounds, Shellfishing Violations, the Use of Power Dredges to Restore Shellfish Beds and the Agricultural Technology Advisory Board - Allows the agriculture commissioner, when a lessee requests, to divide or consolidate the lessee's grounds, if doing so is in the state's best interest. Increases the minimum fee the state charges for leasing of state shellfish grounds from two dollars to four dollars per acre and requires that a lessee, upon termination of their lease must have met the obligations of the lease in order to receive preference for the reletting of those lease grounds. Requires the DOA Aquaculture Bureau Director to study and report the effects of disease, pollution, siltation and storm damage on oyster populations. Requires the DOA to promulgate health standards for shellfish testing based upon the USDA's National Shellfish Sanitation Program. Allows local shellfish commissions to use power dredges to cultivate and restore natural shellfish beds. Enhances penalties for illegal shellfishing and tampering with signs designating areas closed to shellfishing. Repeals the responsibilities of the Agricultural Technology Program and the its associated Board. EFFECTIVE DATE: varies by section.
Public Act 04-111 An Act Concerning Farm Wineries – In order to obtain a liquor permit as a "farm winery", current law states that 51% of the fruit used by a farm winery in the production of its wines must grown in Connecticut. This Act reduces the percentage to 25%. EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2004
Public Act 04-239 An Act Concerning the Recovery of Damages for the Unlawful Killing or Injuring of a Companion Animal - Makes anyone who intentionally kills or injures a dog or cat liable to the animal's owner for economic damages the owner sustains. These damages include veterinary care, the animal's fair monetary value, and burial expenses, if applicable. The Act specifies that this liability does not apply to a person authorized to kill or injure an animal or to a person who kills or injures an animal if the person acted in self-defense or to defend another person. EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2004
Public Act 04-185 An Act Concerning the Funding of Municipal Clean Water Projects and the Registration of Water Diversions - Requires any person or municipality with a registered water diversion permit, which continues to be in use after July 1, 2001, to annually report on forms (developed by the Department of Environmental Protection in consultation with the DOA, Department of Public Health, Public Utility Control and a working group of the Water Planning Council) the most detailed available daily monitoring data collected for each subsequent calendar year. Requires the Water Planning Council to appoint five persons who are required to register diversions to a working group to aid in the development of water diversion the reporting forms.
Public Act 04-115 An Act Concerning Forestry Management - Eliminates the requirement that landowners apply to the state forester for evaluation and classification under Public Act 490 as "forest land" and instead requires a landowner must hire a "certified forester" for such evaluation and classification. Requires the state forester to implement "standards and procedures" for trained foresters that have been certified by the state forester as a "certified forester" to use during the interim period between October 1, 2004 and June 1, 2006. During this interim period, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection shall establish regulations regarding standards for forest stocking, distribution and conditions for evaluation by a certified forester of land proposed for classification as forestland under Public Act 490. After June 1, 2006, the regulations interim "standards and procedures" shall cease to be in effect.
Requires certified foresters to submit a report to the landowner which must be submitted, along with any application for forest land classification as PA 490 on the town grand list, to the town assessor. Requires town assessors to report annually to the state forester various details with regard to the land classified as forest land that is within its jurisdiction. Changes the town's or landowner's appeal to any certified foresters decisions to a process from an appeal filed with the Superior Court to an appeal filed with the state forester.
Public Act 04-203 An Act Concerning Fines for Banned Invasive Plants -
Effective October 1, 2004, the act extends the date by which the Invasive Plants Council shall make its report to the General Assembly by one year to February 1, 2005.  Effective October 1, 2004, adds 54 plants to the "banned list" thus banning the importation, sale, movement, purchase, transplantation, cultivation or distribution of those 54 plants. Bans, after October 1, 2005, notwithstanding any local ordinance, the importation, movement, sale, purchase, transplantation, cultivation, or distribution of an additional 20 plants, the majority of which are aquatic plants. Adds a fine of not more than $100 per plant to any person who violations the provisions of the Act. EFFECTIVE DATE: varies by section.
Last edit 6/3/04