Sen. Seminara Votes “no” on Potential Future H2O Rate Hikes and Car Tax Hikes

June 26, 2024

Sen. Lisa Seminara today joined her Republican colleagues in unanimously opposing the Democrat majority’s omnibus aircraft-carrier bill during the state legislature’s June 26 special session. The bill dealt with six distinct policies: five of which died during the regular session (increasing motor vehicle tax assessments, innovation bank name-change, interest on certain tax underpayments, insurer assessments, and certain state historic preservation officer procedures) and one that has never received a public hearing (allowing the South Central CT Regional Water Authority to bid on Aquarion acquisition).

“While there were positive aspects in this wide-ranging bill, unfortunately the bill’s negatives far-outweighed those positives,” said Sen. Seminara. “Increasing the tax assessment amounts on motor vehicles by 5% was certainly a non-starter. My colleagues and I offered an amendment that would remove that portion of the bill while protecting commercial motor vehicle owners and allowing municipalities to set their own motor vehicle tax rate. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, that amendment was voted down along party lines.”

Sen. Seminara continued, “But the most egregious piece was the language that enables the South Central CT Regional Water Authority (“RWA”)– a quasi-public creation of the legislature – to bid on acquiring Aquarion from Eversource. RWA would be a more attractive bidder for Aquarion because, unlike many of their competitors, they are not subject to regulation by the Connecticut Public Utility Regulatory Authority (“PURA”). Aquarion is the primary water utility for many of my constituents in the 8th District, and this potential merger opens the real possibility for significant future rate hikes and service degradation outside of PURA’s normal ratepayer protections. This legislation came completely out of left-field, was never raised in our legislative session, and has never had a public hearing. I simply cannot rationalize approving a change that opens so many of my constituents to potential risk without being given the chance to ask questions and satisfy myself that this is the right move for the people of the 8th District.”

“As I mentioned, I did support multiple amendments to improve the bill. Among those amendments that failed was one that I spoke out on in the Senate Chamber that sought to create a bipartisan working group to study ways we can reform our obviously flawed school construction bidding process: a process that has made scandalous news headlines over the past several years and has led to federal criminal indictments brought against a top former state government employee. Shockingly, even a simple bipartisan amendment was defeated along party lines.”