Rep. Staneski Op-Ed: Toll Proposals Still Kicking Around

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As the legislative session has progressed I promised you an update on where we stand on the issue of tolls coming back to state highways.

Listen to my radio interview on on WPLR 99.1 New Haven with Chaz and AJ talking about tolls.

There has been a noticeable uptick in emails and phone calls to my office on the toll issue, with most of you, my constituents, asking me to oppose any toll proposal brought forth in the legislature this year.

Before I weigh in on this I want to update you on the bills regarding tolls that have moved forward.

There are currently four (4) toll proposals still alive in the legislative process:

Two of the proposals would create a transportation authority, governed by a board of political appointees. 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.

The only difference between these two plans is that one plan says that the transportation authority would not be created “until the General Assembly authorizes the implementation of electronic tolling systems”.

The third, Governor Malloy’s toll proposal, would authorize the DOT to implement an electronic tolling system and gives it all the responsibilities to a transportation authority.

The last proposal comes from the Chairman of the Transportation Committee and is a similar proposal to the Governor’s plan with one caveat—his plan allows DOT to implement tolls after the DOT has completed studies and submitted a complete tolling proposal to the legislature.  The legislature would be expected to vote to approve or reject, although if the General Assembly fails to vote on it then after thirty days the plan would be deemed approved.

Now, my thoughts—the common theme of all four of these toll proposals is their complete and utter lack of detail. The proposals basically say vote now to implement and let an unelected new Transportation Authority appointed by the Governor make all the decisions without any legislative input. That would include: toll locations, number of toll gantries, toll fares (including the determination of what constitutes ‘congestion’ pricing).  I also wonder if this new Authority would be able to shut down highway exits to maximize toll revenue or would they simply put a toll gantry on each exit ramp off the state highways. I quickly think about the example of the Metro-North fares and how the DOT sets and raises rail fares and the legislature has no ability to stop a proposed hike.  All reports that have been conducted on where the money will come from gives a range of 65% to 75% coming from YOUR POCKETS and the remainder from out-of-staters.  The estimated cost based on a DOT study would be just under $250/month.  This is one week of childcare, or a month of groceries.

I am a NO on tolls!  Please feel free to contact me on this or any other matters of concern to you.

Rep. Staneski: Bridge Maintenance, Interstate 95 Northbound and Southbound in Milford

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State Rep. Pam Staneski has announced that the Connecticut Department of Transportation will perform a bridge maintenance project on Interstate 95 North and South in Milford.

 

The project consists of structural repairs to various bridges on Interstate 95 North and South in Milford.  

This project is scheduled to occur at night beginning the evening of Monday, April 16, 2018 to the morning of Friday, April 27, 2018.

 

This work is being performed by state forces.

 

LANE CLOSURE INFO

Motorists can expect various lane closures on Interstate 95 North and South between Exit 38 Milford (Off Ramp to Route 15) and Exit 62 (Hammonasset Connector) in Madison.  Traffic control personnel and signing patterns will be utilized to guide motorists through the work zone. The regular work schedule for this project is from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. (Monday through Thursday evenings).

 

Motorists should be aware that modifications or extensions to this schedule may become necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions.  Motorists are advised to maintain a safe speed when driving in this vicinity.

Rep. Pam Staneski Op-ed: Human Trafficking

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Milford and Orange are beautiful New England towns that have so much to offer. We boast great school, sound local governments, a plethora of cultural activities, and beautiful beaches and rolling hills—a quality of life many envy.

This is why I struggle with writing this month’s issue; because, like you, I value our quality of life and want to protect it. However, sometimes protecting it means facing the reality that there are activities that could tarnish that quality if not left unchecked. I am referring to businesses that set-up shop along the Post Road and mimic legitimate massage therapy establishments while covering up their real business—human trafficking.

It is regrettable that our proximity to NYC has lent itself to this unwanted activity (that appears to originate out of Flushing, NY) in our community, and most unfortunate for legitimate massage therapists caught up in this fight when their work provides therapy for health and wellbeing.

To be clear, our local leaders, public health directors, and police departments are very aware of this and work collaboratively to combat human trafficking within our communities. Municipal ordinances have been passed to regulate their business operations, surprise inspections are done to enforce health issues, and stings are conducted to ‘catch’ the perpetrators.

Policing and regulating is like a game of whack-a-mole as the level of sophistication used by these operators is stunning. They operate like mom and pop shops, but are in fact connected to a national network. They work in unison, and when one place is shut down, another place opens.

Connecticut has enacted criminal penalties for traffickers and formed, through legislative action, task forces comprised of stakeholders to address the horrific practice of human trafficking. There are also many organizations that provide services and help for victims. However, to build on this work and address the activities in our community, I met with the members of the CT Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association to discuss how they can help prevent their industry from being used to shield human trafficking. It is those discussions that prompted me to a request an amendment that would add a member of CTAMTA to the Trafficking in Persons Council, and it is why I support SB-301, which will increase initial education hours for licensure of massage therapists and require supervised clinical/internship experience. This is not a panacea to stop human trafficking—it is more complicated than that; however, education, public awareness, enforcement, will help our anti-trafficking efforts.

The State Legislature statutorily created a Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Council. TIP Council’s members come from diverse backgrounds, including representatives from State agencies, the Judicial Branch, law enforcement, motor transport and community-based organizations.  The TIP Council is responsible for consulting with governmental and nongovernmental organizations in developing recommendations to strengthen state and local efforts to prevent trafficking, protect victims of trafficking, and prosecute traffickers.

As always please feel free to contact me on this or any matter that is of importance to you.