MTAC 2022 Legislative Recap

The 2022 legislative session has ended, and below is a recap of the legislative issues MTAC worked on this year. Please contact MTAC’s Joe Sculley directly with any questions.

SB 4 – An Act Concerning the Connecticut Clean Air Act

This was a large bill designed to reduce carbon emissions by expanding public and private utilization of electric vehicles in Connecticut to protect human health and the environment. One provision included in the bill was the establishment of incentives for the purchase of “zero emission” commercial medium and heavy duty trucks through creation of a “medium and heavy duty vehicle voucher account.” MTAC’s testimony pointed out that the way the language was initially written, it excluded heavy duty trucks from eligibility for vouchers. The bill was amended in response to MTAC’s testimony to clearly include heavy duty trucks.

As passed by the Transportation Committee, SB 4 would have provided for $15 million in the voucher account. The Senate then amended that, saying that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) “may establish” the voucher program “within available funding.”

Section 12 of the state budget bill included language regarding the voucher account stating that “up to $10,000,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023” was available to fund the account.

The bill passed the Senate, the House, and will be signed into law by the Governor.

HB 5039 – An Act Concerning Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Emission Standards

This bill would allow the Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to adopt California’s truck emissions regulations for trucks that are sold in Connecticut, rather than emissions standards set by US EPA. MTAC’s testimony focused on the fact that California-compliant trucks will be significantly more expensive than EPA-compliant trucks, and since out-of-state trucks won’t be required to comply even though they come to and through the state, Connecticut businesses will be put at a competitive disadvantage.

MTAC president Joe Sculley had this Op Ed published on the subject, and also spoke to NBC Connecticut about the issue, among other developments throughout the process.

This bill was ultimately rolled into SB 4 which was passed by the Senate, House, and will be signed into law by the Governor.

A rather interesting exchange regarding the California truck emissions standards occurred during debate in the House of Representatives, which you can see here.

It should be noted that, according to a DEEP document, California emissions standards will become effective in Connecticut beginning with model year 2025.

SB 334 – An Act Establishing a Program to make Preparing for and Taking the Commercial Learner Permit Knowledge Test Available for Incarcerated Persons

This bill requires the Department of Corrections to establish a program to make preparation materials for and administration of the commercial driver’s license knowledge test available to certain incarcerated persons. MTAC was involved in the crafting of this legislation, and supported the bill. MTAC’s testimony said this step can help to alleviate the nationwide truck driver shortage, and should also help society by giving opportunities to people who are leaving prison.

A good article that was written about this issue can be seen here.

This program will begin to be administered on January 1, 2023.

The bill unanimously passed the Senate, unanimously passed the House, and was signed into law by the Governor.

SB 479 – An Act Establishing a CDL Training Program

This bill would have established a training program to assist individuals seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license for the purpose of establishing a career as a commercial truck driver. MTAC’s testimony pointed out that this legislation, as initially drafted, had several flaws, including the limitation that the only commercial driver’s license training providers that could participate in the program would be 501(c)3 organizations. The only known 501(c)3 entity offering CDL training that exists in Connecticut is a Teamsters Union entity.

MTAC ultimately negotiated compromise legislation with the Teamsters, Connecticut Business & Industry Association, a non-profit organization focused on workforce development, and key legislators. That agreement became Sections 471 and 472 of the state budget. The key provision will create Income Share Agreements (ISAs), where an individual can have most of their tuition to CDL training school paid by a “revolving fund” established under the legislation, in exchange for the individual agreeing to make payments back to the fund only under certain terms, such as when the individual makes more money than they were making before obtaining their CDL and entering into the ISA agreement.

The language holds that the Office of Workforce Services must design the program by January 1, 2023, and that it shall be implemented not later than July 1, 2023.

HB 5255 – An Act Concerning Recommendations by the Department of Transportation

This is the annual bill which contains recommendations made by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT). MTAC’s testimony focused on a few of the provisions in the bill including: ConnDOT lowering speed limits during inclement weather; truck platooning; increasing transmittal fees associated with the purchase of over-dimensioned permits; a study of potentially creating a limited access highway between Danbury and Norwalk.

The speed limit provision was amended in response to MTAC’s testimony to hold that the commissioner must erect electronic signs indicating such speed limit. The truck platooning and the increase in the transmittal fees advanced. The increase in the transmittal fees will fund ongoing maintenance of an automated issuance system for over-dimensioned permits, which MTAC supports.

The provision regarding the study of a limited access highway between Danbury and Norwalk was removed from the bill.

This has passed the House, the Senate, and will be signed by the Governor.

HB 5258 – An Act Concerning Moving Over when Approaching Certain Emergency Vehicles

This bill would have required drivers to reduce the speed of a motor vehicle to twenty miles per hour when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle on the shoulder, lane or breakdown lane of a highway. MTAC’s testimony pointed out that immediately slowing down to 20 miles per hour on the highway would be very dangerous. Other groups submitted testimony in agreement with this assessment. The bill was ultimately killed by the Transportation Committee.

SB 314 – An Act Concerning Protection of Warehouse Workers

This bill was designed to protect warehouse workers from workplace quotas that allegedly violate their rights and occupational safety and health standards. MTAC’s testimony suggested that the bill was likely targeted at certain internet retailers who happen to have warehouses, but that the bill would actually have consequences for other businesses. MTAC’s testimony suggested that the bill would unintentionally force businesses with qualifying warehouses that did not have quotas, to create quotas, in order to be in compliance with this bill.

The bill passed out of the Labor Committee, but sat on the Senate Calendar and did not advance.