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November 22, 2019

Politics

Legislation to legalize marijuana in Connecticut will have to wait another year.
Legislation to legalize marijuana in Connecticut will have to wait another year.

State Legislators Also Tackled Minimum Wage, Family Leave, Legalizing Marijuana

This story has been updated.

A higher minimum wage, getting high legally and paid family leave were some of the miscellaneous bills before the Connecticut General Assembly in the closing days of its 2019 session. 

The first two bills were approved earlier this month, while legalizing marijuana was postponed another year, according to legislative leaders. 

The marijuana legalization bill is projected to yield about 20 percent in taxes on legal pot. That's similar to Massachusetts, so legal cannabis in Connecticut would be at competitive prices to those over the border.

The current drafting of the bill would also designate all new revenue raised from taxes on marijuana as going to invest in city neighborhoods and in low education performance city school zones, like New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport. It's a concept at least partially endorsed by Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney of New Haven, a principal backer of legal marijuana.

During recent testimony at the Capitol, Andy and Tiffany Davidson of Westport described the rapid THC addiction of their 17-year-old son. "My bright, enthusiastic, competent and curious son became a shell of his former self in just six short months by vaping 97% THC oil," Mrs. Davidson said.

In contrast, Kebra Smith-Bolden of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana said, "This is an economic opportunity not just for people to consume or get high but for people to really create and partake in an industry and look at new careers and build generational wealth and legacy."

Paid Family & Medical Leave

Meanwhile, Gov. Ned Lamont and state legislators were at odds over this bill to create a paid family and medical leave for up to 12 weeks off of work to take care of a newborn baby or sick family member. The legislation ultimately passed both chambers and Lamont said he will sign it into law.

Under the latest proposal, employees would pay 1.5 percent of their paycheck into the fund to qualify for up to $900-a-week for paid leaves.

The Senate version of the bill had state government administering it -- prompting a veto threat from Lamont.

Republican legislators wanted family leave to be run by private insurance companies. They also sought a voluntary fund -- allowing employees to pay into it, or opting out.

Connecticut is the last state in the region to approve paid family medical leave. 

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