Three states consider tolls, including some for trucks only

March-April 2020

Keith Goble

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A plan to toll large trucks traveling in Connecticut is having a tough time winning favor at the statehouse.

Gov. Ned Lamont and leaders of his party unveiled a draft bill to raise as much as $180 million annually for transportation purposes by dipping deeper into the wallets of professional drivers.

At the call of the governor, a special session was scheduled the first week of February before the beginning of the regular session on Feb. 5. Legislative Democrats later backed away from convening a special session and instead decided to take up the issue during the regular session.

The governor’s plan calls for collecting truck tolls on 12 bridges around the state. Specifically, truckers would pay from $6 to $13 per bridge. Out-of-state truckers would pay more.

Rate increases would occur at the discretion of a new transportation policy council.

Republican lawmakers are the minority party at the statehouse. They remain steadfast in their opposition to any toll plan.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, an attorney, is drawing attention to language in the bill that he says includes a “workaround” provision to permit the General Assembly to charge more highway users in years to come.

OOIDA among challengers on claims about truckers

OOIDA and the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut are opposed to efforts to single out professional drivers to foot the bill for transportation improvements.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA manager of government affairs, previously communicated to Connecticut Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney the Association’s concerns about comments made about many professional drivers “currently paying nothing” to use the state’s roadways.

“Hopefully by now you’ve at least learned that out-of-state trucks do in fact pay for every mile they run on Connecticut highways through apportioned funds from the International Fuel Tax Agreement and the International Registration Plan,” Matousek wrote in follow-up communication with Looney.

“And let’s not forget that all truckers pay numerous other trucking-related taxes that support the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges throughout Connecticut.”

As of press time, Lamont hoped to bring his transportation plan up for a vote in mid-February.

Michigan

The possibility of adding tolls also is being discussed at the Michigan statehouse.

The state Senate voted to advance a bill to create a panel to investigate the feasibility of charging tolls for roads and bridges throughout the state. It now heads to the House.

Sponsored by Sen. John Bizon, R-Battle Creek, SB517 calls for state officials to hire an independent consulting firm to study the feasibility of collecting tolls on interstates.

Wyoming

A plan to add tolls to Interstate 80 in Wyoming was killed the state Senate in February.

The bill, SF6, would have had the state Department of Transportation come up with a master plan to toll Interstate 80. According to a fiscal note attached to the bill, the agency would need to come up with between $1 million and $1.25 million to develop the plan.

The Fairfield Sun Times reports the bill failed by a vote of 18-11. Though it had some support early on, many senators changed their votes when it became clear the bill would not reach the two-thirds majority needed for introduction.

OOIDA spoke out against the bill earlier this year, sending a letter to state lawmakers stating that tolls are not a practical solution to funding for roads and bridges.

OOIDA instead supports the idea of raising fuel taxes, which is up for consideration in another bill – HB 63. That bill calls for raising taxes on both diesel and gasoline in the state to 27 cents per gallon. LL

Land Line Now’s Terry Scruton contributed to this report.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.