The CT General Assembly will convene on February 9th to open the 2022 legislative session. Amid the high COVID positivity rate, session will once again be virtual. It is the hope of the leadership that the building will reopen to the public in March or April if the virus begins to taper down and lead into its endemic state. Although there are drawbacks to virtual session, there are some positives, public hearings being one.
All public hearings will be held virtually, eliminating the need to travel to Hartford and wait for your turn to be called. Last year’s procedure of signing up a day in advance, and being given a time slot in which to testify, was much more efficient. It also empowered many more people to participate in the legislative process, especially in a time of marginalization. It is our hope that more members will become engaged in the legislative process this session. For legislators to see their individual constituents participating in government makes them pause and really consider your position.
This session LDAC will be focused on two main issues. The first is the repeal of the Highway Use Tax (HUT) also referred to as the Highway Use Fee (HUF) to give it a softer feel. Last year, this per mile tax applied to tractor trailers, to help fund the Special Transportation Fund which cares for CT’s roads and bridges. Since the passage of HUT, the Federal Government passed its own bipartisan infrastructure bill which will send $5.3 billion to CT to use on our roadways. In addition the Office of Fiscal Analysis is projecting a surplus in the Special Transportation Fund over the next few years. It is our feeling that HUT is no longer necessary and should be repealed. As inflation has grown and the supply chain is further stretched to bring goods to market this tax should be removed as it will only add costs to consumers. We will continue working with coalition to repeal this tax.
The second issue LDAC will be focused on is allocation of State funding to help payoff the Unemployment Compensation loan that was borrowed during the pandemic. Currently business owners will have to repay, via assessments, more than $500 million dollars. Although we were successful last year, with funds to pay down the debt, more is needed to ensure employers are not drowning in debt and that the economy can solidify.
Due to the virtual session, strong grassroots programs will need to be an essential tool in our arsenal. We urge each and every member to get engaged in the process and help us help the industry to meet with more success.