A pair of controversial bills, each of which could make for significant changes to the way Connecticut traffic looks and operates, have been passed by the state Transportation Committee.
HB 5458, which would bring tolls back to the state’s highways, narrowly passed by a 19-16 vote and now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. The bill – which generally has been supported by Democrats and opposed by Republicans – calls for a network of all-electronic tolls, rather than booths with human operators.
Meanwhile, the Transportation Committee also passed HB 7097, which would allow automaker Tesla to directly sell its electric vehicles to customers. This is the third consecutive year that Tesla has sought passage of such legislation, which the state’s auto dealers have objected to on the grounds that it would violate the decades-old Connecticut Franchise Act.
Tesla has said it plans to open as many as three dealerships if the legislation is approved, with each employing up to 25 people. The Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association has been one of the legislation’s staunchest opponents. “We believe that by leaving the franchise system in place, we can employ twice the number of people at the local level than Tesla can,” the organization’s president, James Fleming, told the Business Journal earlier this month.
“According to DMV data, franchised dealers have only sold about 150 electric vehicles in the entire state over the last year,” a Tesla spokesperson said. “Allowing Tesla to operate in Connecticut as it does in neighboring states New York and Massachusetts will help the state meets its carbon emissions goals and also create hundreds of jobs, while giving consumers the freedom they deserve.”
HB 7097 has also been forwarded to the House.