May 6, 2016

Pro-Legalization Representatives Scramble to Find Votes

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Pro-Legalization Representatives Scramble to Find Votes

FullSizeRenderMontpelier (May 2) – “They are stalling until they have enough votes to pass,” lobbyist Kevin Ellis explains. It’s 8:00 pm in the Statehouse in Montpelier and marijuana legalization has yet to be debated. Rumors have been swirling in the building all day about when the compromise on legalization, H.858, would reach the House floor. The sun has set and still no word.

 

Ellis believes they are putting off the topic until they can secure enough votes to pass the measure. Representative Pearson and House Speaker Shap Smith leave the floor frequently to convene in Smith’s office. Ellis believes to tally secured votes. Reporters, news crews, and lobbyists have been waiting patiently for hours.

 

After a tumultuous tenure in the House, the original legalization bill S.241was left mangled. As a response, the Senate sent the full original text of S.241 attached as an amendment to H.858. H.858, without the Senate amendments attached, pertained to the online sex offender registry and policies surrounding expungement of criminal records. Ellis predicted weeks ago that the Senate might make a move like this, but felt a highway safety bill would be more germane to the issue of legalization.

 

It is not uncommon for floor amendments to be added to bills, but can sometimes leave a bad taste in the mouth. In Vermont’s open and accessible legislature, it is interesting to witness such strategic political tactics.

 

At 8:30 pm, the House votes to postpone the marijuana bill until the following day.

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