Trucks parked at a Connecticut rest area.
Trucks parked at a Connecticut rest area. Credit: Staff / CTNewsJunkie

A highway tax on large commercial trucks, an expansion of the state bottle bill, and the elimination of criminal records of certain cannabis-related convictions are among the new Connecticut laws that will take effect on Jan 1.

The mileage-based fee on trucks using Connecticut highways was approved by state policymakers back in 2021 in an effort to generate ongoing revenue to support the Special Transportation Fund, which pays for the upkeep and improvement of roads and bridges. 

At the time, state fiscal analysts estimated the law would raise about $90 million a year through a per-mile tax on big rig trucks which will scale with the weight of the vehicle. The fee will range from 2.5 cents per mile for trucks weighing between 26,000 and 28,000 pounds to 17.5 cents per mile for trucks weighing more than 80,000 pounds. 

Another policy that will kick in after the end of this month will broaden the slate of beverages to which 5-cent bottle deposit charges will be applied. Beginning in January, the containers of hard ciders and seltzers as well as coffee drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks will be subject to the deposit charge. 

The change was part of a 2021 bill, which updated for the first time in decades Connecticut’s “bottle bill” designed to encourage recycling and reduce litter. The same legislation will increase the deposit fee to 10 cents in 2024.

During a special legislative session last month, lawmakers made a minor tweak to the bottle deposit plan to allow store owners to sell off their existing inventories of affected beverages which will not yet have packaging that reflects the bottle deposit charge.

The beginning of January will also see the expungement of records related to roughly 44,000 cannabis possession convictions. The automatic erasure of the records stems from the 2021 law which legalized the possession of marijuana by adults and set in motion the recreational cannabis market expected to launch later next month. 

A much broader expungement of criminal records had been scheduled to take place in January under the “Clean Slate Act,” written to erase records of misdemeanors and certain low-level felonies after a period of between seven and 10 years. However, state officials recently announced that implementation of the law affecting roughly 300,000 people would be delayed.

Another new law will give state lawmakers their first pay raise in more than two decades. The policy will boost the base salary of Connecticut legislators from $28,000 to $40,000 beginning next year, then tie the pay to the Employment Cost Index to be adjusted every two years. The law will also tie the salaries of state constitutional officers to the salaries of Connecticut judges.