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Politics

Lockbox, Tesla Bills Move Forward in Connecticut Legislature

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Gov. Malloy’s 30-year transportation plan envisages a $100 billion investment, but the administration hasn’t identified where the funds will come from.

Governor Dannel Malloy’s bill which would create a constitutional lockbox to safeguard transportation funds has moved out of committee. But several lawmakers said they want the bill to be improved, or they won’t support it going forward.

Republican Senator Toni Boucher was one of those who said she’s long been in favor of the concept of a lockbox, but she’d like the legislation to be drafted differently.

"Alternative language could make this lockbox better," Boucher said during a Transportation Committee meeting, "that would more fully and clearly protect the revenue streams, and would give courts jurisdiction to hear and to decide cases."

Malloy’s 30-year transportation plan envisages a $100 billion investment in the state’s infrastructure. But the administration hasn’t identified exactly where the funds will come from.

The committee voted to keep the ban on issuing motor vehicle registrations to owners with delinquent property taxes. Members said they'd heard from cities and towns that they could lose five percent of their car tax revenues if it were removed.

Malloy had proposed ending the policy to reduce wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles. He argued that customers often make multiple visits to the DMV because they can't get a registration until their local taxes are paid off. The bill would still allow the DMV to use private entities such as AAA to provide more services.

Meanwhile, electric car company Tesla is once again on the road to direct sales in Connecticut. A bill that would allow Tesla to open a showroom in the state was among those voted out of committee.

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Tesla's push is opposed by car dealers in Connecticut, and co-chair of the transportation committee, Representative Tony Guerrera admitted there's still work to do on the bill.

"You know that not everyone's going to like it," Guerrera told the committee. "But at the end of the day, we hope that we can get something out there that allows a company to come into the state -- without trying to infringe so much on these car dealers -- but also gives a commitment to our constituents that they want to buy a Tesla, they're allowed to buy it."

This is the second time Tesla has pushed for the right to sell. At the moment, potential customers must travel to New York to buy a vehicle.

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