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Thursday, November 30, 2023

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As climate change conference opens, one CA city takes action; Israel and Hamas extend Gaza truce by one day in a last-minute deal; WV could lose hundreds of millions in Medicaid funding.

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An expulsion vote looms for Rep. George Santos, the Ohio Supreme Court dismisses lawsuits against district maps and the Supreme Court hears a case which could cut the power of federal agencies.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

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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