OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 796 (File 482, as amended by Senate "A")*



This bill generally updates terminology to use “person first” language in various statutes relating to older adults and individuals with disabilities. Among other things, it substitutes the terms “person with disabilities” for “handicapped person,” “deaf and hard of hearing” for “hearing impaired,” and “older person” for “elderly person.” Additionally, the bill:

1. removes the prohibition on certain older persons, disabled veterans, and individuals with disabilities working extended hours in manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishments; restaurants; and various other settings ( 81-83);

2. modifies the conditions under which the Department of Public Health (DPH) may purchase certain medical equipment for children with disabilities without going through the state's normal purchasing procedures ( 73);

3. adds a statutory definition for “supervision” pertaining to licensed occupational therapists who oversee the work of occupational therapy assistants ( 75);

4. designates the month, instead of the first week, of each October as “Disability Employment Awareness Month” ( 85);

5. renames the “Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB)” the “Advisory Board for Persons Who are Blind or Visually Impaired” ( 22 & 23);

6. replaces references to BESB with the Department of Rehabilitative Services (DORS) in statutes pertaining to retirement credits for certain state employees, including those who are blind or visually impaired ( 24 & 25); and

7. removes an obsolete provision transferring certain funds and responsibilities between the social services and aging departments in 2013 when the aging department was re-established ( 55).

The bill also makes several technical and conforming changes.

*Senate Amendment “A” replaces the underlying bill (File 482) and eliminates provisions that (1) renamed the “Commission on the Deaf and Hearing Impaired” the “Advisory Board for Persons who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing,” (2) removed an obsolete reporting requirement for the aging and social services departments on alternative funding sources for elderly nutrition programs, and (3) made terminology changes to the Office of Protection and Advocacy statutes (the office was eliminated by PA 16-66).

It also adds the provisions that replace certain statutory references to BESB with DORS and make various technical and conforming changes to update terminology.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017


The bill removes the prohibition on employees working extended hours without their consent in manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishments; restaurants; and various other settings if they are:

1. age 66 or older,

2. designated by a medical or government authority as handicapped, or

3. a disabled veteran.

Current law subjects the above individuals to the following work hour limits:

1. for manufacturing or mechanical establishments, no more than nine hours per day or 48 hours per week;

2. for mercantile establishments, no more than eight hours per day, six days per week, or 48 hours per week; and

3. for restaurants, recreational establishments, and various other settings, no more than 10 hours per day, six days per week, or 48 hours per week.

Under current law, handicapped persons and disabled veterans who consent to working hours that exceed these limits must also provide written certification from a licensed physician or advanced practice registered nurse that doing so will not injure their health.

The bill retains the extended work hour limits for individuals under age 18 who are not enrolled in and graduated from a secondary education institution (e.g., high school). Existing law, unchanged by the bill, generally applies stricter limits to individuals under age 18 who are enrolled in such an institution.


Current law allows DPH to purchase, within available appropriations, wheelchairs and placement equipment for children with disabilities without going through the Department of Administrative Services' normal purchasing procedures, provided (1) the cost of an individual item does not exceed $6,500 and (2) purchases are made on the open market and, when possible, through competitive bidding.

The bill instead allows DPH, or the department's contractor, to purchase medically necessary and appropriate durable medical equipment and other DPH-approved goods and services. Services must be identical to those goods and services covered under the state's Medicaid and HUSKY programs and payment cannot exceed the current Medicaid payment rate for these goods and services.


By law, an occupational therapy assistant must be licensed to assist in the practice of occupational therapy under a licensed occupational therapist's supervision or consultation. The bill defines “supervision” as overseeing or participating in an occupational therapy assistant's work by a licensed occupational therapist. It includes:

1. continuous availability of direct communication between the occupational therapist and occupational therapy assistant;

2. availability of a licensed occupational therapist on a regularly scheduled basis to review the occupational therapy assistant's practice and support his or her service; and

3. a predetermined plan for emergency situations, including designating an alternate licensed occupational therapist in the absence of the regular one.


Public Health Committee

Joint Favorable