HARTFORD, CT – The Connecticut General Assembly could vote as early as Thursday on a 10-year, $19.1 billion transportation plan that calls for 12 truck-only toll gantries.
However, it’s still unclear which chamber would take up the emergency certified bill first. Neither the House nor the Senate Democratic caucus wants to make members vote on a bill if it’s not going to pass the other chamber.
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said an option discussed last week is to have both chambers vote on identical bills at the same time. If that happens then one chamber would have to vote on a bill a second time.
“There were some members in each chamber who wanted to be assured it would be final action,” Looney said last week.
However, it’s not ideal and it’s not “my preferred way to do it,” Looney said.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz was away from the Capitol on personal business last week and unavailable for comment.
When it comes to what day the vote will happen, legislative leaders have told their members to be ready for a vote on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
“We’re trying to thread the needle,” Looney said.
As of Monday night no new information had been shared with members about scheduling a vote. It’s thought that members would be given at least 48 hours to read the legislation before voting upon it.
Democratic legislative leaders plan to use what’s called emergency certification to introduce the transportation bill.
It means the bill can bypass the committee process and move straight to a vote. Thus, the public won’t have another chance to weigh in on the proposal, which was posted in draft form on the Connecticut General Assembly website for a public hearing earlier this month.
The proposed bill calls for tolls ranging from $6 to $13 on large trucks.The dozen tolls are projected to raise $172 million a year for the state’s Special Transportation Fund.
While Democratic legislative leaders and Gov. Ned Lamont remain confident they have the votes to pass it, there are some still questioning whether certain lawmakers will vote for the plan if they face a tough re-election bid from an anti-toll Republican.
Recently, members of the Waterbury delegation raised concerns about the number of toll gantries in the Greater Waterbury area.
According to draft legislation, one gantry would be on I-84 over the Housatonic River on the Rochambeau Bridge, one at the so-called Mixmaster at the intersection of Routes 84 and 8 in Waterbury, and one on Route 8 south of I-84 in Waterbury.
Waterbury lawmakers, even those who support truck-only tolls, are concerned about the number of gantries in the area.
Rep. Geraldo Reyes, D-Waterbury, said he was on board to toll all vehicles and supports truck-only tolls, but Greater Waterbury can’t have 25% of the 12 toll gantries.
“It’s not a fair representation,” Reyes said.
Sen. Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury, agreed.
“If you want to have a conversation I said to them let’s start on equal ground,” she said.
She said 25% of the tolls is too much.
There are four Democratic senators who likely won’t vote for the proposal, requiring Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz to cast a tie-breaking vote. There’s been no firm count in the House where they need 76 of the 91 Democratic representatives to vote in favor of the proposal.