Following my column two weeks ago, this is part two of legislation passed this session that I thought you would find of interest.

It is important to note the many good pieces of legislation that passed with strong bipartisan support. These deserve recognition for the benefits they will provide to many people in our communities and state in public health, education and our environment.

Public Act (P.A.) 19-115: Concerning Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia Training and Best Practices. Between 2000 and 2017 in the United States, deaths caused by Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia increased by 145 percent, becoming the 6th leading cause of death in the country. Currently, only 16 percent of seniors receive cognitive assessments during regular check-ups. This legislation, therefore, requires emergency and primary care physicians, as well as APRNs (nurse practitioners), to receive training on how to recognize the early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. It also establishes a working group to develop recommendations on improving the care of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

P.A. 19-191: Addressing Opioid Use. This bill requires pharmacists and pharmacy employees to offer risk counseling to patients prescribed with opioids. It also requires that pharmacists keep three-year records of any counseling provided and any patient refusal to accept such counseling. Practitioners prescribing more than a seven-day supply of an opioid drug must also clarify the reason for its use and diagnosis, or a diagnosis code. When prescribing more than a 12- week supply, practitioners must establish a treatment agreement or discuss a care plan including treatment goals, risks of using opioids, drug screens and expectations regarding long term use of these drugs.

P.A. 19-38: Increasing Penalties for the Sale of Fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, which is dramatically becoming more and more widespread across the nation and state. On the last two days of June session, the Hartford Police Department reported five fatal overdoses due to a fentanyl-laced batch of cocaine. This bill increases penalties for the manufacture and sale of fentanyl and fentanyl derivatives by re-classifying the drug as a narcotic substance.

Special Act (S.A.) 19-14: Prevention and Treatment of Mental Illness at Institutions of Higher Education. There is a growing need among college students for mental healthcare at their local campuses. To address this need, this bill establishes a task force to study policies and procedures regarding the treatment of mental illness at colleges and universities in Connecticut, both public and private.

P.A. 19-13: Prohibiting the Sale of Nicotine and Tobacco Products to Anyone Under 21: This bill raises, from 18 to 21, the legal age to purchase cigarettes, tobacco products, and e-cigarettes — including electronic nicotine delivery systems and vapor products. Unfortunately, notably absent from the final language is a prohibition on the sale of flavored vaping products. Vaping by teens is becoming a borderline epidemic, so I hope that we are able to address vaping next session.

S.A. 19-8: Dyslexia Task Force. With close to 20% of our school children struggling with a language-related learning disability, it is critically important to continue improving training for our special education teachers. I was pleased to introduce this legislation, which creates a task force that will review requirements — to assure consistency and adherence to best practices governing dyslexia training — in our higher education system.

Lastly, an effort of many years to ban single-use plastic shopping bags became reality this year. A provision in the budget — PA 19-117 section 355 — legislates that 10 cents will be charged on every single-use plastic shopping bags in the state for two years starting on Aug. 1, 2019. On July 1, 2021, single-use plastic shopping bags will be banned from the state entirely.

Local regulations, however, will supersede this state ban. For example, Norwalk’s single use plastic bag ban will commence on July 8, 2019, and Darien’s on Jan. 1, 2020. Both towns will also be allowing a 10 cent fee charged on paper bags. Many thanks to those in Norwalk and Darien who have helped over the past couple years to make this new law a reality.

You may research more details about these bills by visiting the Connecticut General Assembly website at www.cga.ct.gov and entering the bill number into the “Quick Bill Search” bar at the bottom of the page.

Working toward making Connecticut better, safer and brighter is one of my guiding principles and it is my honor to represent you in Hartford. Please let me know your thoughts or questions on these or other state government related issues. Contact me at terrie.wood@cga.ct.gov or 860-240-8737, and follow me on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/TerrieWoodCT.