PA 16-117—sHB 5433

General Law Committee

Judiciary Committee

Insurance and Real Estate Committee

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

SUMMARY: This act makes various unrelated changes to the consumer protection statutes by:

1. eliminating a requirement that the Real Estate Commission automatically revoke a real estate broker's or salesperson's license when a judgment is entered against him or her;

2. eliminating “trickery” by a real estate broker or salesperson as a reason a person may receive compensation from the Real Estate Guaranty Fund;

3. allowing a coliseum concession permittee to sell beer in plastic or aluminum containers, rather than only in paper containers as required under prior law;

4. specifying that pharmacist continuing education requirements do not apply in the first year a pharmacist is licensed;

5. allowing the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) to establish a program for the test audit of alternative electronic retail pricing, based on a prior pilot program;

6. eliminating all state regulation of kosher foods by repealing the (a) DCP commissioner's specific authority to enter premises to inspect kosher food and (b) criminal offense of fraudulently selling kosher food; and

7. allowing manufacturer permittees for a farm winery to sell and offer free samples of wine one hour earlier on Sundays, starting at 10: 00 a. m. instead of 11: 00 a. m.

The act also makes other minor, technical, and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2016, except the farm winery provision is effective upon passage.

REAL ESTATE GUARANTY FUND

The act removes trickery by a real estate broker or salesperson as a reason a consumer may recover from the Real Estate Guaranty Fund. (The term trickery is not defined in statute. )

By law, a consumer may still recover if a licensed real estate broker or salesperson or his or her unlicensed employee causes injury through certain fraudulent actions (e. g. , embezzlement, false pretense, or misrepresentation). To collect from the fund, a consumer must have a court judgment that the broker, salesperson, or unlicensed employee lacks the funds to satisfy.   Consumers must apply to DCP to receive compensation, which may be up to $25,000 for any single real estate transaction or claim.

ELECTRONIC RETAIL PRICING PROGRAM

The act allows DCP to establish, within available appropriations, an alternative electronic retail pricing system program based on a prior pilot program. The program test audits different cash register systems that use bar codes and scanners and displays the consumer commodity's name and price.

By law, a consumer commodity is any food, drug, device, cosmetic, product, or commodity of any class, except prescription drugs, that is customarily produced for retail sale for individual consumption, personal care, or household purposes and is usually consumed or expended during use. It does not include alcoholic liquor or carbonated soft drink containers (CGS 21a-79 & -73).

Retailer Requirements

Under the act, a retailer that conducts business in at least one store in the state may submit to the commissioner a written request to participate and pay all costs associated with the test audit. The commissioner must then select one or more retailers to participate.

The retailer must put in place a system to be tested that, at a minimum:

1. stores the retailer's current item and unit price for each product in an electronic database;

2. prints shelf tags that meet all applicable requirements for item and unit pricing; and

3. directly transmits price increases and decreases to the point of sale (but for price increases, only if shelf tags have been posted and verified in the electronic database).

Audits

The commissioner can choose a private auditing organization to carry out the audit program, which must not last more than 12 months, and pass the cost on to the selected retailer. During its audit, the store is exempt from the universal product coding and electronic shelf labeling law and regulations, including the “get one free” law that generally allows consumers to receive a free item, up to a $20 value, if an item scans incorrectly at a higher price.

KOSHER FOOD REPEALER

The act eliminates DCP's authority to enter certain business premises to determine if they are fraudulently selling food advertised as kosher. Such premises included (1) places where meat or meat products are sold or offered for sale as kosher and (2) restaurants or other places where food being sold is represented as kosher.

The act also eliminates the criminal offense of fraudulently selling kosher meat, meat products, and other foods. Among other things, a person committed this offense if he or she, with intent to defraud, sold or advertised for sale any food and falsely represented that it was kosher or had been prepared according to orthodox Hebrew religious requirements. A person also committed this offense if he or she sold both kosher and non-kosher food without having a sign indicating that such foods were being sold together. Under prior law, a violator could be fined up to $100, imprisoned up to six months, or both.

BACKGROUND

Related Act

PA 16-103, 3, allows a farm winery permittee to sell and offer free samples of wine two hours earlier Monday through Saturday, starting at 8: 00 a. m. instead of 10: 00 a. m.

OLR Tracking: DC; SD; PF; cmg