Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

File No. 43

    January Session, 2017

House Bill No. 6123

House of Representatives, March 13, 2017

The Committee on Environment reported through REP. DEMICCO of the 21st Dist., Chairperson of the Committee on the part of the House, that the bill ought to pass.

AN ACT CONCERNING TREE REMOVAL ALONG LIMITED ACCESS HIGHWAYS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective from passage) Notwithstanding any other provision of the general statutes, one hundred twenty days prior to undertaking any tree removal along any limited access highway, as described in section 13b-27 of the general statutes, in the state, the Department of Transportation shall submit a plan for such removal to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to the environment, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, and to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Such plan shall: (1) Detail the proposed areas scheduled for tree removal, (2) state the time frame for such work, (3) include the amount of funds allocated by the Department of Transportation for such work, (4) following consultation with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, detail the environmental impact of the proposed tree removal, including, but not limited to, consideration of erosion and the growth of invasive species, (5) state the distance such department intends to clear in such proposed areas, (6) provide for the removal of debris created by the proposed tree removal, and (7) require planting of noninvasive species to replace the removed trees, as recommended by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Prior to the implementation of such plan, the Department of Transportation shall have such plan reviewed and approved by a licensed arborist if the services of such a licensed arborist are available from a licensed arborist who is employed at either the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection or the Department of Transportation. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to apply to the removal of any damaged or dead tree or group of trees when such damaged or dead tree or group of trees constitutes an immediate public hazard, as determined by the Commissioner of Transportation or said commissioner's designee.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

from passage

New section

ENV

Joint Favorable

 

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.


OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact:

Agency Affected

Fund-Effect

FY 18 $

FY 19 $

Department of Transportation

TF - Cost

at least 88,449

at least 88,449

State Comptroller - Fringe Benefits1

TF - Cost

24,392

24,392

Note: TF=Transportation Fund

Municipal Impact: None

Explanation

SUMMARY

The bill requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop a plan for tree removal on all limited access highways which includes the environmental impact of the proposed tree removal, the impacts of erosion and the planting of noninvasive species. It is anticipated that the additional environmental obligations would require DOT to hire one transportation planner at a cost of $88,449 ($64,057 annual salary and $24,392 for fringe benefits).

Additionally, the bill requires DOT to plant noninvasive species at each tree removal location and it is anticipated that the agency would incur costs associated with this provision dependent on the type of species planted.

Lastly, the bill requires the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to consult with DOT on the environmental impact of certain trees scheduled for removal and to make recommendations regarding planting noninvasive species to replace the removed trees.  This is not anticipated to result in a fiscal impact to DEEP as they currently employ 12 foresters with expertise in this area.

The Out Years

The annualized ongoing fiscal impact identified above would continue into the future subject to inflation.

OLR Bill Analysis

HB 6123

AN ACT CONCERNING TREE REMOVAL ALONG LIMITED ACCESS HIGHWAYS.

SUMMARY

This bill requires, regardless of other laws, the Department of Transportation (DOT) to submit to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Environment Committee a tree removal plan 120 days before removing any trees from a limited access highway. DOT's plan must:

Before implementing the plan, DOT must have it reviewed and approved by a licensed arborist, provided such services are available from a licensed arborist employed by either DOT or DEEP.

The bill does not apply to the removal of damaged or dead trees that pose an immediate public hazard, as determined by the DOT commissioner or his designee.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

BACKGROUND

Limited Access Highway

By law, a limited access highway allows access only at designated intersections or points (e.g., Rt. 2 and Rt. 8).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

30

Nay

0

(02/22/2017)

TOP

1 The fringe benefit costs for most state employees are budgeted centrally in accounts administered by the Comptroller. The estimated active employee fringe benefit cost associated with most personnel changes is 38.08% of payroll in FY 18 and FY 19.