The legislature will recess for a week in observance of the Easter and Passover seasons. We will be back in session the week of April 5 with only six weeks remaining before we adjourn in accordance with the state constitution.

I remain a bit frustrated that my colleagues across the aisle continue to block efforts to exempt the 2020 federal Pay Protection Program (PPP) loan payments and the $10,200 of federally provided extra Unemployment Insurance (UI) income from state income tax. The Senate has already passed bi-partisan relief in this area. I will keep pushing for resolution of this issue.

This week we found time to hear House Majority Leader Rep. Winkler’s 176-page bill (HF 600) legalizing recreational marijuana. The proposal would create a Marijuana Management Board consisting of nine unelected individuals appointed exclusively by the governor.

The board would have broad authority to manage all aspects of recreational marijuana. Authority for local units of government to establish ordinances in this area is forbidden, except for very limited recommendations as to possible business hours. The governor would also appoint a 24-member marijuana advisory board, which would advise the management board.

The bill requires the Deptment of Agriculture to create a “CanGrow” program to assist farmers and nonprofit organizations in navigating the regulations of the recreational marijuana industry and assisting entry into the industry. The ag department would also endorse licenses issued by the marijuana management board to businesses that serve edible and drinkable marijuana products.

The Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development is to establish “CanStartup, CanNavigate, and CanTrain” programs to aid new business in getting started in the industry. Additionally, the commissioner of Labor and Industry and the commissioner of Higher Education would be funded to deal with competency standards and technical assistance for employee training programs.

The bill includes a small amount of funding for “Cannabis Education Programs.” Topics to be covered include raising public awareness of adverse health effects associated with use of marijuana by persons under 21. Education for pregnant and breastfeeding women, women who may become pregnant, and a home visit training program for public and tribal health officials to assist in recognizing the dangers to infants and young children.

I do not support this misguided effort.

On a more positive note, we continue see increased availability of COIVD-19 vaccine. Please be safe and enjoy the spring weather.

Dale Lueck (R) is the state representative for District 10B.

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