HARTFORD, CT — Frustrated with the lack of action by the federal government on a handful of issues, Gov. Ned Lamont and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, are looking to partner on things like recreational marijuana, transportation, and vaping.
“We don’t have a federal government that is providing leadership on these issues,” Cuomo said. “… If we are on our own let’s hook our boats together and see if we can find our way through this storm.”
This is the second meeting the two governors have had. The first was a fishing trip to Lake Ontario last month.
Cuomo said having a relationship with its neighbor Connecticut makes sense because “I believe we’re going to get very little help from the federal government.”
One of the areas where states are taking the lead is on the issue of vaping.
The U.S. death toll from vaping is up the nine with 530 confirmed and probable cases of vaping-related illness reported by 38 states, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Last week, Cuomo announced his intention to ban the sale of flavored vaping products through that state’s emergency regulations.
Lamont doesn’t have the same ability to sign an executive order and ban the sale of flavored vaping products.
“I don’t know what I can do by executive order but I’m going to be very strong doing it forward at least get something in a bill before the legislature as soon as I can,” Lamont said.
Max Reiss, a spokesman for Lamont, said they are researching how far Lamont’s executive authority extends to issues of public health.
“We’re exploring what are the emergency powers of the governor,” Reiss said. “If it needs to be done in a special session that’s something he’s looking at.”
On Oct. 1, anyone under the age of 21 will not be allowed to purchase vaping products, but the legislation did not ban the sale of flavored products.
Lamont said he wants to do more research on it.
On recreational marijuana some of the questions the states can resolve collectively aside from price are other regulatory issues about how old someone should be to purchase it, how much THC should be allowed, what substances should be allowed to be sold, and what precautions are on those substances to prevent children from getting a hold of them.
“Doing that collectively and regionally makes sense,” said Cuomo. That’s why New York, Connecticut and possibly New Jersey will be meeting Oct. 17 to discuss the issue further. Cuomo said he wants to be able to have something to present in January as part of his state-of-the-state.
Lamont said what’s important to him is getting this right and he wants to make sure Connecticut doesn’t “surrender” a legal market to the black market.
The two also talked about transportation and the funding of transportation, but Cuomo said they did not talk about tolls.
They did talk about Metro-North.
“We can speed up our transportation system,” Lamont said. “Get the rail going in a way that it should be going, but it doesn’t work unless the Metro-North goes all the way into Grand Central Station, it can’t stop at the border.”
Lamont said Cuomo reminded him he’s going to need some early successes to show people the direction he wants to go.
This is Lamont’s third meeting with neighboring governors. Earlier this year he met with Govs. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island. The trio plans to meet again later this month in Providence.