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Legislatively Speaking
Legislatively Speaking: Hot Topics Include Marijuana, Vaccinations and Tolls

By Alma Graham, CT State Grange Legislative Director

  March 1, 2020 --

The 2020 Connecticut Legislative Session convened on February 5th. The General Assembly’s Legislative Committees are hard at work reviewing and introducing bills to be acted on in the session. This year the “short session” or “budget session” which runs from February until May to deal with budget related bills.

Several key issues will be reappearing for action this session. There has been a lot of concern about flavored electronic vaping products, especially due to increased popularity with younger users and high school students. The proposal to ban these flavored vaping products will be on the agenda this year.

In the health field, concern had been raised about the number of parents who are not having their children vaccinated. There is a push to eliminate the religious exemption for school-aged children after the increase in the cases of measles in children last year.

The legalization of marijuana will again be a hot topic, especially as our neighboring state of Massachusetts recently legalized the use of recreational marijuana. Both New York and Rhode Island are considering legalizing the recreational use of marijuana this year. One component of the bills would be provisions for those who have been convicted of possession and other low-drug offenses. Should their records be erased?

Tolls will again be a hot topic. The Governor has been working with legislative leaders drafting a proposal to introduce tolls on Connecticut highways. Their proposal would only toll larger trucks. They are insisting that the bill would not include tolling private vehicles. Any changes to the vehicles would have to have legislative approval.

Bottle   redemption    centers are encouraging increasing and expanding the state’s bottle redemption system. The rate has not changed since 1980.  There is a push to increase the redemption rate to 10¢. They also want to expand the bill to include juice, tea, sports drinks, energy drinks and alcohol ‘nips.

Sports betting is appearing again this year. The hang-up is the agreement that Governor Weicker made with the Indian tribes giving them exclusive rights to operate gambling in Connecticut.     They are saying they have the exclusive rights to operate sports betting. Some feel that this is a new form of gambling and then not included in the original agreement with the Indian tribes.

Copies of our Legislative Guides have been delivered to the Legislators. This year Gordon Gibson will be stepping aside as our primary Legislative Liaison. He will be working with Susan Masino who will be stepping in to represent the Connecticut State Grange in Hartford. We will be monitoring bills as they are acted on by the committees and will testify on bills concerning topics that our delegates approved at our State Grange Session.



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