PA 15-60—sSB 975

General Law Committee

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT MAKING MINOR AND TECHNICAL CHANGES TO DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER PROTECTION STATUTES

SUMMARY: This act increases, from $5,000 to $10,000, the maximum restitution amount the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) commissioner may order a respondent (the subject of a hearing) to pay a consumer under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA, see BACKGROUND).

The act also makes various unrelated changes in the consumer protection statutes by:

1. allowing consumers who apply to the Home Improvement and New Home Construction Guaranty funds to receive payment if they receive court orders and decrees, not just court judgments, as under prior law;

2. removing the requirement that consumers certify copies of court judgments when applying to DCP for New Home Construction Guaranty Fund payments;

3. amending the bazaar and raffle permitting process by (a) eliminating the requirement that applicants submit duplicate applications to DCP and (b) changing the permit payment process;

4. allowing golf ball-drop raffles to be conducted from a payloader, bucket truck, crane or similar vehicle, or platform, rather than just from a helicopter, hot air balloon, or other hovering aircraft; and

5. making technical changes concerning fire sprinkler layout licenses and real estate appraisers, thereby conforming the law to current practice by respectively removing (a) certain licenses that are not exempt from certification requirements from the list of exemptions and (b) language that does not comply with federal guidelines.

The act also makes other technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015, and the guaranty fund provisions are applicable to orders and decrees entered on or after that date.

BAZAAR AND RAFFLE PERMIT PAYMENT

The act requires applicants to pay their bazaar and raffle permit fees separately to DCP and the municipality where the event is held. It also specifies that the state's permit fee is due when the application is made, and the municipality's portion is due when the permit is issued. Under prior law, the applicant paid the entire fee to DCP, which then remitted the applicable portion to the municipality.

By law and unchanged by the act, both DCP and the municipality retain the same fee amounts and application review powers.

BACKGROUND

CUTPA

The law prohibits businesses from engaging in unfair and deceptive acts or practices. CUTPA allows the DCP commissioner to issue regulations defining what constitutes an unfair trade practice, investigate complaints, issue cease and desist orders, order restitution in cases involving less than $5,000 (effective October 1, 2015, this act increases the amount to $10,000), enter into consent agreements, ask the attorney general to seek injunctive relief, and accept voluntary statements of compliance. It also allows individuals to sue. Courts may issue restraining orders; award actual and punitive damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys' fees; and impose civil penalties of up to $5,000 for willful violations and $25,000 for violation of a restraining order.

Home Improvement and New Home Construction Guaranty Funds

The Home Improvement and New Home Construction Guaranty funds are separate funds that can reimburse consumers unable to collect for work performed by either a registered (1) home improvement contractor or salesman or (2) new home builder.

To collect from either fund, a consumer must have been awarded a court judgment (or order and decree, under this act) which the contractor lacks the funds to satisfy. Consumers must apply to DCP to receive payments.

OLR Tracking: DC; JR; MS; BS