PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP/WPRI) — A bill to charge big-rig trucks to travel Rhode Island highways is scheduled for important votes despite protests from some lawmakers who say they don’t have enough details.
Finance committees in the House and Senate are scheduled to vote on the legislation Tuesday afternoon. The bills could go for a full vote in both chambers this week if they’re passed.
House Speaker Nicholas Matiello and Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed both say they have the votes to pass Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposal to finance a 10-year plan to repair deteriorating bridges and roads in the state.
They both spoke before the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning, where they were urging swift passage of RhodeWorks.
A number of businesses – including Cumberland Farms, UPS and Ocean State Job Lot – have come out against the plan, asserting tolls would be detrimental to their business. This weekend, Ocean State Job Lot said it would put a planned expansion on hold if the toll proposal is passed.
In response to those concerns, Raimondo said, “Obviously, we are sensitive to business needs. Everything I’ve done as governor has been to improve our business climate. To make it easier to do business. So, we’re going to watch it.
“I will say almost every state, from Maryland to Maine, has tolls. Much higher truck tolls than we are considering and most of those economies are thriving,” she added.
Arnold Bromberg, the owner of Benny’s, said while he wants safe roads and bridges for his customers, he believes the toll plan would negatively affect his business. He said he wants to digest what he heard at Tuesday morning’s meeting.
Rep. Patricia Morgan, who sits on the House Finance Committee, wants more time to decide. The Republican from Coventry was cut off from asking questions during marathon hearings last week that fielded hours of public testimony.Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.