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State senate passes 25-cent gas tax holiday bill

The Senate voted with no opposition, the bill now moves to Gov. Lamont for him to sign

HARTFORD, Conn. — The Connecticut Senate unanimously passed a proposal to suspend the state's gas tax, as gas prices saw an all-time high this month. 

With the Senate's approval, the bill now moves over to Gov. Lamont's office for his signature. 

The bill the Senate and House of Representatives passed would suspend the state’s 25-cent gas tax.

"People are feeling the pinch of a 40 year high in inflation, I think we can do better," said Senate Republican Leader Sen. Kevin Kelly.

"The key is to get the relief to the people who are struggling right with the high cost of gas right now," said Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Martin Looney.

The bill also includes a week in April where people can purchase clothing and footwear for up to $100 with no sales tax. This would be in addition to the holiday in August ahead of school return.

It would also make bus transportation free. The tax cut would last from April 1 to June 30. The week of no sales tax for clothing and footwear would be the week of April 10. 

RELATED: Why are gas prices still so high? Here's what one expert says

The increased gas prices have taken a hit on drivers’ pockets. Some people said though it is a small amount of savings, anything helps right now.

"That would be nice. It definitely would help us in the short term, don't know about long term but it would definitely help us out especially those that need the extra money," said Anna Ybarra of West Hartford.

Food trucks, who rely on driving for income, are in favor of the bill.

“Our prices have gone up because of the gas surcharge in my employees getting here so I think gas impacts all of us,” Kevin Masse, owner of Small State Provisions in West Hartford, said. 

The governor, speaking alongside food truck owners Wednesday, echoed the call for tax relief. He said they want to do all they can to help out. If passed in both the House and Senate, he said he would get pen to paper quickly.

Tate Norden, owner of Gastropark in West Hartford, said this is going to empower food trucks to continue driving around and bringing in revenue.

The bill does not include diesel fuel. Some, including Republican Representative Tom Delnicki, wish it did include produce transportation to help any potential increase in grocery stores. 

“One thing that we really ought to do though is take a look at diesel, especially for agriculture. This is something we tried to do. We tried to amend the bill for the highway-used tax back last year,” he said.

In favor of the original bill, he said it gives people breathing room for spending.

“A lot of people are struggling to get to work, they’re struggling to take their kids to school. They’re struggling plain and simple,” the South Windsor representative said. 

The bills have received both Democratic and Republican support in both chambers. The free bus rides would allow people to save money instead of filling up at the pump.

“This may be an option for them as opposed to driving and filling up the gas tank. They can now take a free bus to and from work or community college or whatever they got to do,” Democratic Representative and House chairman of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding committee Sean Scanlon said. 

The Guilford representative said more than two million people rode the buses last month. He said that would take effect as soon as all services are ready to go.

The gas tax also wouldn’t go into effect until the gas stations go through their current, already purchased supply of fuel which can take up to five days.

“We believe that by April 1, they will have cycled through whatever they bought and then there is a provision to this bill that specifically requires every single retailer in Connecticut to pass this along to consumers,” he said.

If gas stations do not follow, there can be repercussions. House Speaker Matt Ritter said it may hurt them more than drivers as people will find cheaper stations to fill up. Representative Scanlon said it is up to the Attorney General’s office and Department of Consumer Protection to enforce. 

“The public perception might be enough to hurt a business quite frankly more than a legal action,” the Democratic Representative Ritter said. 

The three months of relief would cost the state more than a hundred million dollars. They would use $90 million from the Special Transportation Fund for the gas relief, more than $8 million from ARPA for the bus services, and $3 million from the general fund for the shopping holiday.

The President and CEO of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association spoke with FOX61 earlier this week saying he wishes there was help for the increased prices people have already paid.

When asked, Representative Scanlon said stations have already bought the supply and this will help moving forward. Representative Delnicki said he would like to see some sort of retroactive action take place.

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RELATED: Lawmakers expected to vote on gas tax holiday on Wednesday

There are 1,400 gas stations in Connecticut.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tony Black is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tblack@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at mmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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