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Extended gas tax holiday, pandemic payment on lawmakers’ agenda | Stoneton

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut state lawmakers will return to the Capitol on Monday to consider extending the soon-to-be-expired gas tax holiday and increasing funding for state pandemic payments to essential workers, as well as voting on several other initiatives aimed at helping residents with the Coping with rising costs.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, fresh from his re-election victory, on Wednesday issued the first executive order of his second term and called the lame duck’s General Assembly to a special session.

“These actions can help bring immediate relief to Connecticut residents as consumers across the country face rising prices that extend well beyond our state due to a variety of international dynamics and market instabilities,” Lamont said in a written statement.

Connecticut’s excise tax of 25 cents per gallon gas has been suspended since April 1 and is currently scheduled to resume on November 30. Lamont wants lawmakers to continue suspending the full 25 cents through Dec. 31 before gradually phasing out the five-cent-a-month tax break, beginning Jan. 1.

Connecticut is one of three states that still have a gas tax suspension in effect.

Lamont also wants the Democrat-controlled General Assembly to extend free public bus passes, first introduced April 1, through March 30.

Other actions Lamont is calling for state legislatures to include:

PANDEMIC PAYMENT

Lamont has proposed increasing funding for the state’s premium pay program for key private sector workers employed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic from $30 million to $90 million. The program was originally intended to provide up to $1,000 for eligible workers. However, given the large number of applicants, there were concerns that workers would end up being paid up to $233.

ENERGY SUPPORT

The Governor is also asking state legislatures to allocate an unspecified amount of additional funding to the state’s Heat and Utility Assistance program for eligible homes in light of anticipated higher energy costs. Lamont’s order calls on the General Assembly to pass a bill directing state energy regulators to allocate “a portion of certain fines” to a nonprofit organization dedicated to energy assistance programs.

RETURNABLE BOTTLES

Lawmakers are also being asked to change the Jan. 1 effective date for planned updates to the state’s so-called “bottle bill.” Lamont’s proposal would allow retailers to sell their existing inventory without violating part of the new law, which expands the types of beverage containers covered. Meanwhile, the bottle deposit is set to increase from $0.05 to $0.10 starting January 1, 2024.

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