Marijuana hot topic during legislative session - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Marijuana hot topic during legislative session

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Marijuana is a hot topic during legislative session. (WFSB) Marijuana is a hot topic during legislative session. (WFSB)

Friday was the deadline for lawmakers to submit bills for this year's legislative session.

There are hundreds of them. The focus this session will be on ways to save money and create revenue as the state faces a deficit of well over a billion dollars.

The state needs to cut its expenses and look at ways to bring in more money.

Once again, they are looking at marijuana.

It's a growing business in Connecticut. The number of marijuana dispensaries and growers have expanded to meet the demands of patients.

Connecticut allows marijuana for medical use, but lawmakers will again consider legalizing it for recreational use. Taxing it could bring in millions, which is something the state needs but it is controversial.

This year there will be an informational hearing.

Tolls are also controversial, but supporters say it's the only way to raise money to repair the state's aging roads and bridges.

"It is a good thing because as of today we can see Massachusetts is getting rid of their toll booths. It's all electronic, so we are in a predicament to make tolling much easier than any other state," said State Rep. Tony Guerrera.

The state did away with tolls after a deadly crash at a toll booth in Stratford in 1983. Critics said it's another tax on people in the state.

A number of bills are aimed at reducing overtime and pension costs for state workers.

Benefits for older state workers can not be changed. However, going forward, Republicans want state employees to pay more.

In Connecticut, the average state employee pays about about two percent towards their pension.

The national average is six percent.

The GOP also wants state contracts to be voted on by legislature.

"They should be debated and discussed and if there are any increases in salaries that are built into those contracts, or costs to the state, they should be approved. We really can't afford to spend more money on anything at this given time," said State Rep. Art O'Neill of the Appropriations Committee.

There was a highly controversial bill that would have taxed state workers with pensions if they moved to another state, which was quickly withdrawn.

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