House chamber. (CTNewsJunkie photo)

The Connecticut General Assembly will convene today for a special session for a limited list of action items: extending the tax break on gasoline, boosting funds for an energy assistance program and essential worker bonuses, and to delay changes to the state’s bottle bill.

Gov. Ned Lamont issued the long-expected call of special session on Wednesday, in his first executive action since winning re-election. Lamont and lawmakers met last week to discuss extending a holiday on the state’s 25-cent excise tax on gas as well as another temporary policy providing free bus fare. Both policies were set to expire on Dec. 1.

Monday’s bill will continue free bus fares until April and phase out the ongoing suspension of the gas tax by restoring 5 cents every month between December and May.

“These actions can help provide more immediate relief for Connecticut residents as consumers across the country are facing rising prices due to a number of international dynamics and market instability that go far beyond our state,” Lamont said in a Wednesday press release.

The legislation will also commit additional funding for Connecticut’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program as well as dedicate an additional $60 million for a Premium Pay Program designed to compensate some essential private sector employees for working through the pandemic.

A final section of the bill will delay some changes to the state bottle bill, which lawmakers altered last year. Beginning on Jan. 1, the law called for bottle deposits to be applied to an expanded slate of beverages including hard ciders and seltzers as well as coffee drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks. 

In his Wednesday proclamation, Lamont called for delaying changes included in that bill to give store owners a chance to sell off their existing beverage inventories. 

“[S]mall store owners who have been hit especially hard by the pandemic and rising prices over the past year currently have inventory on their shelves which is not properly labeled and will not be in compliance with the January 1, 2023, statutory changes,” Lamont wrote. “[P]rompt action by the legislature is necessary to ensure that retailers, especially small business owners, can continue to sell their existing inventories of beverage containers after January 1, 2023.”

The legislature is expected to gavel in at 10 a.m. Monday.