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Speaker Aresimowicz: Expect vote on tolls, not on pot or casinos

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Speaker Aresimowicz

A vote in the state House of Representatives on bringing tolls back to Connecticut will take place soon, but votes on legalizing marijuana and adding casinos will probably wait until 2019, Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz told the public this week.

Aresimowicz, speaking at a news conference at the Hartford capitol building on April 10, said he expects a House vote on tolls to take place before the legislative session ends on May 9. He did not, however, guarantee passage of the bill, which faces staunch opposition by most Republicans in the state legislature.

Last week, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s bill authorizing the state Department of Transportation [CTDOT] to study and implement statewide tolling, narrowly passed the General Assembly’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee narrowly by a vote of 26-25.

If passed, the legislation would require the CTDOT to study how to establish tolling on Interstates 84, 91 and 95, and on the Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways. The department would also be required to study the amount of revenue that could be raised from tolls, congestion pricing, and possible discounts for Connecticut residents. Even if the current bill is fully approved, tolls would likely not be in place before 2021.

Meanwhile, Aresimowicz expressed doubts that legislation to legalize and tax the recreational use and sale of marijuana would pass the various legislative hurdles it faces before May 9. As previously reported, the Marijuana Policy Project maintains that Connecticut could derive $166 million per year from excise and sales taxes on marijuana sales.

Aresimowicz, who represents parts of Hartford County, also said he did not expect various gaming issues – including bills on casinos, sports betting and online lottery sales – to be resolved during the current session. If true, that would further delay the proposed MGM casino in Bridgeport.

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