Hemp

Sorry Connecticut, no legalization for you … yet

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HARTFORD, CT – State lawmakers approved a biennial budget of $ 46.3 billion on Wednesday, the final day of the General Assembly’s regular legislative session, but passed no law to legalize adult marijuana.

A special session to review the marijuana legalization law could be held within the next few weeks.

While the General Assembly passed the new budget before Wednesday’s midnight adjournment, the law to legalize adult cannabis use would not be ready in time. The Democratic leaders of the House of Representatives said they would take up this and other bills in a special legislative session.

Their decision comes after members of the Republican House of Representatives who oppose the legislation were expected to run out of time by continuing to debate the bill until the legislature deadline.

“Since we weren’t allowed to do the business today that we had to do today, every item is open for consideration in the special session,” said House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, admitting the list could be extensive could. “You should have let us vote. So that’s how it will be. “

The special session could take place in the next few weeks, said Ritter.

State needs revenue, marijuana offers plenty

Despite their concerns about the marijuana law, there was some support from the GOP for the budget deal the Democratic legislative leaders reached with Democratic Governor Ned Lamont. Twenty-two Republicans in the House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill, with some praising it for not raising taxes, something progressive Democrats tried early in the legislature to eradicate long-standing racial and economic inequalities.

“The state of Connecticut is unable to deal with the revenue, especially at a time when families are suffering,” said Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, the chairman of the House of Representatives who voted for the bill. “Our economy is trying to recover, and we are not sure where we will be in a year when the US dollars start to disappear and maybe show the real landscape of our economy.”

Status quo budget: inconspicuous

However, the chairman of the Senate’s Finance Income and Bonds Committee expressed disappointment that the final budget did not include a list of tax increases that were voted out of the committee with the aim of raising long-term money after the federal government ran out of COVID bailout funds.

Senator John Fonfara, D-Hartford, argued that now, with the assassination of George Floyd in Minneapolis, it was time to look at the “concentration of poverty” in the state and issues such as housing shortages, business capital and infrastructure as well Kindergarten maturity.

“We can make these investments and not change the lives of those who have been asked to contribute a little more,” said Fonfara, who referred to the budget as the “status quo budget,” which leads to “status quo results.” becomes.

“It is as if we have our politics, our knee, on the neck of the black community and other underserved communities in our state,” he said. “We can do better and we have to do better.”

Resistance to a “mansion tax”

Lamont opposed the tax increases included in the Democrats’ original revenue package, such as a new “consumption tax” and a capital gains tax for higher-income residents, a so-called “mansion tax” and a tax on digital advertising, arguing that they could fuel the economic recovery of the state. He told reporters that he made “exceptions” to comments made by Fonfara, an experienced state lawmaker.

“I think this is an incredibly important transformative budget. I think it makes a huge difference in people’s lives, especially in the lives of the people hardest hit by the pandemic, especially in the lives of blacks and browns like it hasn’t been in 30 years. said Lamont. “And I think you can finally do it now.”

Lamont said he is also pleased that the House and Senate have finally passed a bill that will generate new revenue for transportation projects. Both chambers approved Lamont’s kilometer-based “motorway toll” for tractor units along the party lines late Tuesday to support the state’s financially troubled transportation fund. Republicans argued that the charge was unfair to local haulage companies and would result in higher prices for consumers, and accused Lamont and the Democrats of being dishonest when they say there is no tax.

Federal Covid funds have really helped, really

The main draft budget, which the House of Representatives passed by 116 votes to 31, benefits from a massive infusion of federal COVID aid and an improving state economy, including historic tax surveys. Though no new taxes are being added, it is promoting funding for local education, nonprofits, nursing homes, college grants, health insurance programs, community aid, staff development, residential groups, housing, summer camps and learning opportunities for children, as well as an expanded daycare center.

“A little over a year ago we faced the prospect of a pandemic-induced financial crisis that left families, state and local governments, and employers of all kinds in great uncertainty. So many have suffered so much, so many have lost too much. But a year later there is hope for a better future, ”said House Majority Leader Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford. “We were given an incredible opportunity to continue what is known as the Connecticut comeback.”

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Beth Edmonds