Lamont hopes for December or January vote on bill for truck-only tolls

HARTFORD (AP) — Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday he hopes Connecticut lawmakers will vote next week on a transportation improvement plan that includes truck-only tolls, but isn't ruling out a possible vote in January.

The Democratic governor and legislative leaders have discussed the possibility of holding a special legislative session Dec. 16-19. Besides the transportation proposal, lawmakers still need to approve a settlement agreement reached between Lamont's administration and the Connecticut Hospital Association; a bonding package; and legislation that addresses a dispute over how certain restaurant workers are paid.

“Look, I think we can get it done the 16th through the 19th,” Lamont told reporters on Monday. "But if the leadership wants a little more time and has some more hearings, we'll do it in January. But let's get it done.”

The next regular legislative session opens in February.

Lamont had originally hoped to pass a transportation plan earlier this year that addresses roads, bridges, rail, buses and airports, but the issue became bogged down in a debate over using electronic tolls on all vehicles to help finance part of the proposal. He and leaders of the General Assembly's majority Democrats now appear to support tolling only trucks on a dozen bridges around the state. The minority Republicans, however, oppose truck-only tolls.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano of North Haven warned that Connecticut taxpayers could face a risk of a lawsuit and financial damages if the state follows the path of Rhode Island, where a legal challenge of that state's truck-only tolls last week was sent back to the U.S. District Court.

Lamont appeared unfazed by the ruling and what it could mean for Connecticut.

“We have a plan where they're going to pay a little bit more to help keep up our roads and bridges,” he said of the trucking industry. “I think this is something we're going to get done”

Meanwhile, Lamont suggested including language in a bond covenant that says tolls would only be imposed on trucks and not passenger vehicles. It's a legally binding document that would spell out what the state will or won't do during during the life of the bonds needed to help pay for the transportation projects. There has been some suggestion of passing instead a state constitutional amendment.

 

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