Report by Paula Antolini
March 20, 2017 2:58PM EDT
Senator Boucher Details Transportation Committee Bills, Approved or Defeated
The legislature’s Transportation Committee this year was home to some of the most controversial legislation in the General Assembly. On Friday, March 17, we had our deadline for voting on bills that originated in the committee. As Co-Chair of the Transportation Committee, I’d like to tell you about some victories, some losses, and where we go from here.
One of the bills I am pleased to say we approved is HJ 41, Resolution Proposing An Amendment To The State Constitution Limiting The Use Of Moneys In The Special Transportation Fund. For many years, Republicans have tried to pass a bill that would create a transportation funding lock-box. This bill puts us on a path to create a mechanism so that money in the Special Transportation Fund can only be spent on transportation projects.
I also am happy to report that SB 76, An Act Concerning The Power Of The Commissioner Of Transportation To Conduct A Mileage Tax Study With State Funds, was also approved by the committee. This bill would prevent the Commissioner of Transportation from spending the $300,000 on a study of a mileage-based tax on motor vehicles. The people of Connecticut don’t want Big Brother tracking where they drive and taxing them on it. It is something that just riles them. By approving this bill, which I co-sponsor, we will prohibit the state from spending your tax dollars on a ridiculous study so it can be put toward something much more worthy, like funding the honor guard for Connecticut veterans’ funerals.
As I said, we had some controversial bills this session. One that moved forward is HB 7097, An Act Concerning The Licensing Of New And Used Car Dealers. This was also known as the Tesla bill. I know many car dealers are concerned about this bill and what it could mean for their future business in Connecticut. I want people to know that even though this bill was approved by the committee, it still must go before the House and Senate, where its language can be changed. We expect the bill that makes it to a floor vote to include limits on the number of Tesla facilities in Connecticut.
A bill I wish was defeated is HB 6058, An Act Concerning Electronic Tolls. As you may know, I have strongly opposed any move towards reinstituting tolls in the state of Connecticut. This topic is probably just slightly higher on the opposition scale than the mileage driven tax.
Before voting against this bill, I told my fellow committee members that the bottom line I am hearing from the public is: This is just another tax. It’s tax on those that least can afford it. Tolls, particularly with congestion pricing, would amount to a pay cut for average workers that don’t have the liberty of picking their work hours.
“We are in serious financial difficulty,” I said. “The way to go is not to add more tax burdens; make it more costly for someone to get to work . . . I do think this is the wrong approach.”
Some other bills failed to be approved by the committee, but that does not mean these proposals are dead. SB 257, An Act Concerning Legislative Approval For The Department Of Transportation To Increase Railroad Or Bus Fare, was defeated, as were proposals to install seatbelts on school buses. However, because these bills had public hearings, it is possible to add the language to another bill during the remaining legislative process.
As the legislative session continues, know that I am fighting for you, the taxpayers of Connecticut. I will continue to fight against tolls and other tax increases, and I will continue fighting for a transportation lock box and more oversight of bus and rail fare increases.
I am you voice in Hartford. Feel free to reach out to me about these and any other bills before the General Assembly by email at Toni.Boucher@cga.ct.gov. You can also look for more updates on my website at www.SenatorBoucher.com and on social media.
Senator Boucher represents the 26th State Senatorial District, which includes the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.