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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; Healthcare decision planning important for CT residents; Debt dilemma poll: Hoosiers wrestle with college costs.

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Civil Rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

MN Local Government: Give Us a Voice in Marijuana Plan

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Tuesday, April 25, 2023   

This week, the Minnesota House began the floor-vote process for a bill that would legalize and regulate recreational marijuana for adults. Lawmakers are being asked to help smaller governments transition to any mandates. With Democrats holding majorities this session, political analysts say it appears likely a legalization bill for Minnesota will clear all the hurdles.

Alex Hassel, intergovernmental relations representative with the League of Minnesota Cities, said they do not have a stance on legalization itself, but added they have been closely following the debate. She said they are seeking provisions that do not take away from the bill's intent but rather give local governments reasonable control for a successful rollout.

"Through our requests for more zoning authority, for revenue sharing - all we're asking is that we're going to be partners as local governments with the state," Hassel said.

She acknowledged the revenue-sharing component could be an even bigger priority for rural communities, with those local governments needing more resources for things like compliance checks. Leading up to the floor votes, some of the League's requests were only in one version, possibly setting the stage for both chambers to have come together to address differences.

While local control affects cities of all sizes, Hassel noted that a recreational marijuana law could be very complex for smaller communities. That includes figuring out where licensed retailers can set up shop.

"You can imagine in some of our smaller communities, our school might be close to Main Street downtown - which is really the one central hub for where things might be," she said. "And if the adult-use cannabis retailer is maybe the first in line after the school - how that could be maybe not desired."

Municipalities have long dealt with zoning matters for retail operations such as alcohol, and providing flexibility for marijuana regulations wouldn't be much different, she continued. More broadly, supporters of decriminalization laws say they can bolster regional workforces, including rural areas, in part because people would not have minor offenses on their criminal record. In Minnesota, opponents have voiced common concerns, such as negative social impacts.


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