Rep. Lavielle: Tolls: Every Possible Proposal, Except a Clear One


The Transportation Committee has raised four bills about tolls in Connecticut, and all are scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday, March 14. This year, the tolls debate is taking place against the backdrop of statements by the governor and the DOT that the state’s fund designated for transportation (STF) is running dry, and that services and projects must be cut and mass transit fares increased if there is no legislative action to increase revenue.

Whether you are among those who do not want tolls in Connecticut under any circumstances, whether you believe they are necessary, or if you’re still making up your mind, you deserve to have complete information on the proposals before you in bill form, and more generally.

To that end, I’d like to accomplish two things in this email. First, I’ll provide a reminder of a few background facts important to the current discussion of tolls in Connecticut. Second, I will provide you with an overview of the bills currently before the General Assembly.


Background information

* Federal regulations prohibit Connecticut from placing tolls just at the state’s borders.

* With a few limited exceptions, the only kind of tolls that Connecticut is presently has federal authorization to approve and implement are congestion pricing tolls, which must be demonstrably designed to manage traffic flow.

* Only electronic tolls are on the table for discussion.

* Tolls cannot be an immediate source of revenue, as they would take between 4 and 7 years (according to the DOT Commissioner) to implement. They also entail substantial up-front capital expenditures.

* No complete proposal for implementing tolls has been presented for legislative approval. One proposal that has been widely circulated was presented to the DOT by DCM Smith, a firm it consulted on the subject. This document includes maps that show 11 tolls between Danbury and Hartford on I-84 and 10 and 12 tolls respectively on the Merritt Parkway and I-95 between Greenwich and New Haven. It is not presently clear, however, whether this or any other proposal will be promoted by the administration, the DOT, or any legislators.

Bills now before the Transportation Committee

The bills now under consideration and scheduled for hearing all deal with the broad principle of authorizing tolls in Connecticut, but do not provide any particulars in terms of number of tolls, location of tolls, rates and how they would vary, construction plans, penalties for non-payment, or detailed construction and administration costs. These are the bills:

SB 389: An Act Establishing the Connecticut Transportation Authority

HB 5393: An Act Establishing the Connecticut Transportation Finance Authority to Maintain Major State Highways

HB 5046 (governor’s bill): An Act Concerning the Sustainability of Transportation Projects

HB 5391: An Act Concerning Transportation Infrastructure

* SB 389 and HB 5393 are very similar. They both propose the creation of a quasi-public agency, or transportation authority, governed by a board of political appointees who would hire an executive director and any staff. The agency’s purpose would be to construct, maintain, and operate highways and electronic tolling systems, and it would be charged with using toll revenues to pay for the costs of operation, maintenance, improvement, and administration. The agency would keep funds for these purposes in its own account, be able to employ people, issue bonds, and buy or lease property, and would be responsible for establishing toll rates, user classifications, and penalties for non-payment.

* HB 5393 stipulates that the quasi-public agency will not be created “until the General Assembly authorizes the implementation of electronic tolling systems”. This provision is not in SB 389.

* HB 5046 and HB 5391 both authorize the DOT to implement an electronic tolling system and gives it all the responsibilities assigned by the other bills to a quasi-public transportation authority. They both require toll revenues to be deposited into the STF, rather than a separate agency account.

* HB 5046 authorizes the DOT to implement tolls immediately without any other legislative action, and gives DOT absolute authority going forward in most matters related to tolls.

* HB 5391 allows the DOT to implement tolls only after the DOT has completed studies and submitted a complete tolling proposal to the legislature, and the legislature has approved it.

* HB 5391 also includes a provision decreasing the gas tax by one cent per year for five years. But this would take effect only after the implementation of tolls and only if and when the resources of the STF exceed two and one-half times the estimated debt service payments on the state’s transportation-related debt – a day likely very far away.

* HB 5391, shifting to another subject, accelerates a planned transfer of motor vehicle sales and use taxes into the STF.


What is wrong with this picture?

All of the bills under consideration share a few features. They all move the state forward in varying degrees toward approving tolls, as a general concept. They all give responsibility for determining number, location, and pricing of tolls to unelected bodies, and remove the legislature from the process once the concept is approved, placing the decisions on these matters in the hands of political appointees.

But none of these bills tells us what implementing tolls would cost, or what revenue they would provide. And none of them tells commuters, taxpayers, and motorists what this would cost them every day. In fact, they impose no limits on what that cost might be.

I don’t think it’s fair to expect you to make informed decisions when you don’t have complete information. Tolls are not an abstract concept. They are a tool for raising revenue that comes at a cost to residents. I believe you should have a clear picture of both the costs and the benefits. Because that picture is not clear, even partially, I cannot support these proposals on your behalf.

If you would like to submit written testimony on any of these bills in the next few days, you can send an email to, and copy me if you like at You should reference the bill numbers in your subject line, and include your name and town in the body of your testimony.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to discuss tolls, transportation funding, or any other issue further. I am always happy to hear from you.

Rep. Lavielle’s Bill Strengthening Bear Hunting Penalties Introduced by Judiciary Committee


HARTFORD – Following recent events in Wilton, State Representative Gail Lavielle (R-143) requested the Judiciary Committee raise a bill strengthening penalties for bear hunting, which is illegal in Connecticut.  The bill, HB 5469, has been raised by the Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a public hearing on March 14.

Provisions in the bill include increasing fines for bear hunting from a maximum of $500 to a range of $500-$750 for first time offenses; from a maximum of $750 to a range of $750-$1,000 for second-time offenses; and from a maximum of $1,000 to a range of $1,000-$2,000 for third-time offenses.  Maximum jail time would be doubled for second- and third-time offenses, with third-time offenders receiving up to one year in jail. The bill also mandates permanent revocation of an offender’s hunting license after the second offense, rather than the third.

Last year, many residents in Wilton and surrounding towns were extremely upset when two individuals were arrested in relation to the killing of two black bears on private property in Wilton, and it was reported that they were taking parts of the bears home as trophies. Many were further outraged when the individual charged with killing the bears received accelerated rehabilitation, a program that, if he completes it successfully, will allow him to expunge the charge from his record.

Rep. Lavielle submitted the bill request to the Judiciary Committee in response to residents who contacted her to urge increasing the penalties for bear hunting.

“Many constituents have told me that they don’t feel the current penalties are adequate punishment for the inhumane, illegal killing of these wild animals,” said Rep. Lavielle. “Certainly, in this case, our current laws were not sufficient to act as a deterrent. This bill aims to be more effective in preventing people from breaking the law, and to impose penalties that are commensurate with the offense.”

Rep. Lavielle encouraged concerned residents to submit testimony for the scheduled public hearing on HB 5469, and to include their opinions on whether the proposed penalties are too strong or not strong enough. For those who want to testify in person, the public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 14, at 10:30 am in Room 2D of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.  Those who prefer to submit written testimony may send an email to, and copy Rep. Lavielle at  Emails should refer to the bill, “HB 5469,” in the subject line and include the resident’s name and town.  There is no word limit on how short or lengthy written testimony can be.

In short sessions of the Connecticut General Assembly, which are held in even-numbered years, individual legislators may not introduce bills on non-financial subjects. Instead, they must submit formal requests to ask committees to raise bills on non-financial concepts. Rep. Lavielle used that procedure in this instance.

Rep. Lavielle and Rt. 7 Corridor Legislators Applaud DOT Commissioner, Commuters for Productive, Multi-Town Community Forum


DANBURY–On Tuesday night, State Representative Gail Lavielle (R-143) and other legislators were joined by area drivers, bus and train commuters, who all had an opportunity to voice their frustrations with the conditions of Connecticut’s transportation system, proposed fare hikes and to offer ideas for improvements at a forum with the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation (DOT) James Redeker.

The forum was organized by a bipartisan group of legislators from the Route 7 corridor who are concerned that in the last few months, the state DOT has proposed raising rail and bus fares 21.28 percent over the next 3 years, significantly reducing rail service on the Danbury and Waterbury Lines. Additionally, the governor has cancelled over $4 billion in transportation projects state-wide and introduced a proposal to bring tolls back to the state, raise the gas tax 7 cents over 4 years and implement a new ‘tire tax’.

The forum was held in the Council Chambers at Danbury City Hall.

“Meetings with the public are critical, because the voices of the people who are most affected by service cuts and fare hikes are the most important voices for us to listen to,” said Rep. Lavielle.  “I thank everyone who came out to the meeting in Danbury.”

Rep. Lavielle Update: Do You Think More New Taxes Are Going to Fix Connecticut’s Financial Problems?



Every two years, early in Connecticut’s short legislative session, the governor issues a proposal for revising the two-year budget currently in effect. In the proposal he released in February, Governor Malloy, faced with a $245 million current deficit, proposed a series of new taxes and fees as the solution for closing it.

All of these new taxes and fees were submitted to the General Assembly in SB 10, a bill that is now before the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee.

Within SB 10, the governor is proposing the following:

1.     A new tax on nonprescription drugs and medicines

2.     A new sales tax on tires, at $3 each

3.     Eliminating the $200 property tax credit, which will affect low-income families and elderly individuals particularly hard

4.     A gas tax hike of 7 cents per gallon

5.     A 25-cent deposit on bottles for wine and liquor, as well as fruit, tea, sports, and energy drinks

6.     Imposing a penalty on businesses by maintaining a temporary surcharge on the corporation tax that was due to expire on June 30

7.     An increase in the hotel tax

8.     An increase in the tax on real estate sales

9.     The elimination of the $500 income tax credit for recent college graduates who earn a degree in a science, technology, engineering, or math field


If approved, all of these taxes would follow in the wake of the two historic tax increases Governor Malloy and the legislative majority approved in 2011 and 2015.

You may see certain items on this list that you feel more strongly about than others. But I think the more important question is whether you think obtaining more revenue from a shrinking tax base is the answer to Connecticut’s fiscal problems.

Increasing the tax pressure on people and businesses has not improved Connecticut’s budgetary or economic situation over the past several years, and has led many to relocate. There are other, more promising avenues: reducing spending and spending tax dollars more wisely, prohibiting borrowing for operating expenses, reducing the state’s skyrocketing fringe benefits and post-retirement costs, and attracting new businesses by creating a more business-friendly environment.

SB 10 cannot become law unless the legislature approves it following a public hearing before the Finance Committee.  The public hearing is your opportunity to voice your opinion — either in writing or in person — about this proposal to tax Connecticut out of its financial stalemate.

Here’s how you can make sure your opinion on SB 10 counts:

– Submit your written testimony at, and copy me if you like at Please include SB 10 in the subject line, and include your name and town in the testimony.

– Or, if you would like to testify in person at the Finance Committee’s public hearing, it begins this Friday, March 2, at 12:00 pm. It takes place in Room 2E of the Legislative Office Building.

Please don’t hesitate to call or email me if you’d like to discuss this or any other issue further. I always appreciate hearing from you.

Reps. Lavielle & O’Dea Join First Selectwoman Vanderslice to Testify Before Planning & Development Committee


HARTFORD — State Representatives Gail Lavielle (R- 143) and Tom O’Dea (R- 125) joined First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice (R-Wilton) as they each testified before the General Assembly’s joint Planning and Development Committee on Monday, February 26, 2018 in support of H.B. 5181, An Act Extending the Municipal Revaluation Deadline for the Town of Wilton by One Year.  Rep. Lavielle proposed to the committee that it raise the bill, which she is co-sponsoring.