HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – Lawmakers hammered out the state budget as the legislative session came to an end on Wednesday night.
It was the first bipartisan budget since 2018.
However, Democrats and Republicans continue to spar over legalizing recreational marijuana.
In fact, the House Speaker said there will be a special session to take up legalizing recreational marijuana.
He said Republicans who are against the legislation are planning to have lengthy debates, and since the session ends at midnight, there wouldn’t be enough time to pass a bill.
“I’ve heard from my counterparts on the other side is they will talk until midnight, so what we will do is call ourselves back into session at a date and time of our choosing. We will do the budget implementer and the legalization of cannabis,” House Speaker and Democratic State Rep. Matt Ritter.
Many Republicans don’t support it.
“Basically, someone can drive around, smoke marijuana as they are driving, and if that’s the only violation an officer sees, there’s nothing he can do,” said Republican State Senator Dan Champagne.
The plan is to come back within seven to 14 days because it will be special session. Recreational marijuana will have to be voted on in both chambers.
Calling lawmakers and staff back in for a special session will cost additional money.
Legislators returned to the capitol on Wednesday morning to continue the debate.
Overnight, lawmakers said they passed the two-year budget.
The state Senate approved the state budget on Wednesday night. It will now head to Governor Ned Lamont’s desk.
Lamont released a statement saying, “The bipartisan approval of the 2022-2023 biennial state budget sends a clear message to all of the residents of our great state – this is the most progressive, transformative, and life-changing budget our state has ever seen. We agreed across party lines that now is the time to ensure thousands of families have access to affordable childcare, the expansion of access to free and affordable healthcare will provide security to households, and investments in our future through workforce development will make our state stronger. The investments in equity will lift up our state for generations to come. I want to thank the co-chairs of the Appropriations and Finance Committees and the bipartisan leaders of the General Assembly for working with my administration to move our state forward with this budget.”
This is a little bit unusual because normally the budget is the final piece of legislation that lawmakers hash out during the session. This year, there was greater consensus on the budget in large part because of billions of dollars in federal stimulus money. Legislators were able to craft a two-year $46 billion budget that does not call for any tax increases or spending cuts.
“It’s a strong, aggressive bipartisan budget, on time and gives people a road map of where we are going to be two and four years out,” Gov. Ned Lamont said on Wednesday.
Twenty-two House Republicans voted for it. It now heads to the Senate.
The House of Representatives also passed a truck mileage tax which requires that drivers of heavy weight trucks be charged a fee per mile.
It was something for which Lamont had been pushing.
“I congratulate the Connecticut General Assembly for making a concerted investment in our state’s infrastructure to improve our roads, bridges, and allowing us to provide even more support to public transit,” Lamont said. “This highway use fee is designed to be paid by only one group of vehicles: the heaviest tractor trailers which do the most damage to our roads, especially those which use our state as a pass-through and never contribute to the improvement of our infrastructure. Those responsible for the most wear and tear of our roadways must compensate the state to ensure our residents have safer roads and bridges to drive on, and this proposal accomplishes that goal. I look forward to signing this into law, as it is a critical step forward for our state when it comes to competitiveness, keeping our economy growing, and providing for safer travel for our residents.”
The bill to legalize recreational marijuana passed narrowly in the state Senate and Lamont supports the idea, but Republicans in the House threatened to try and kill the bill through a filibuster if they can’t reach an agreement with Democrats.
Early Tuesday morning, Connecticut took an important step towards legalizing recreational marijuana.
Both sides still have some leverage because the governor has already said if no agreement is reached regarding marijuana before the session ends at midnight, he would have no qualms in calling for a special session dedicated to the issue.
The current legislative session ends at midnight.
Stay with Channel 3 for continuing coverage.
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