Mortgages: If you're a homeowner facing foreclosure, you could qualify for two additional mortgage relief programs. The mortgage reform bill also creates a foreclosure mediation program through the courts and tightens restrictions on lenders who make loans to borrowers with tarnished credit.
Teen Driving: Expect longer restrictions on driving with passengers, as of Aug. 1. Until you turn 18, you will have an 11 p.m. curfew, your license will be suspended automatically for speeding and other violations, and your license could be seized and suspended for 48 hours if you violate restrictions. Parents are affected, too: They will have to complete two hours of instruction about the laws and teen driving. For more information, go to www.ct.gov/teendriving.
Teenage Workers: There will be more employment opportunities during school vacations if you're 14 or 15 years old.
Minimum Wage: If you are one of about 50,000 state residents who earns minimum wage — now $7.65 an hour — you'll get a raise to $8 on Jan. 1, if the governor signs the bill. You will see another boost, to $8.25, on the first day of 2010. If you're a low-wage worker near the minimum, you might gain some bargaining power for a small increase.
Young Voters: If you turn 18 before a general election, you could be allowed to vote in any party primary — but only if the change is approved by voters this November as a constitutional amendment.
Toys: You probably won't notice any difference on store shelves, but the amount of lead allowed in toys and other children's products will drop sharply by mid-2009 and drop further in 2011. (As of March 1, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us required suppliers to conform to a lead level much lower than federal standards, so some products may disappear.) The best way to avoid lead-tainted toys is to regularly check the recall lists posted at www.recalls.gov.
Gold Star License Plates: If you're an immediate relative of someone killed in combat, you will no longer need to pay the $10 fee for an honorary Gold Star Family license plate.
Tuition Waivers: Member of the Connecticut National Guard will get receive free tuition to attend graduate school at the University of Connecticut and the four-campus Connecticut State University system. The previous law covered only undergraduate tuition.
Autism: A pilot program to help adults who are diagnosed with autism, but who do not have mental retardation, would be expanded. This is one of three bills related to autism that passed.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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