The last day of the legislative session is always full of unknowns, but in the House it looks like lawmakers are headed for a showdown over legalized cannabis.
Unable to resolve their differences, Republicans are poised to run out the clock on the legislative session and Democrats are looking at the possibility of a special session to legalize cannabis.
House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora and House Speaker Matt Ritter had several conversations Tuesday and Wednesday, but they couldn’t seem to figure out a way to get the budget bills passed and legalize cannabis before going into extra innings.
Legalized cannabis narrowly passed the Senate on Monday, but it has yet to be called in the House and there are a handful of important budget bills in front of it. The session ends at midnight tonight.
“The bill really should not have been called in the Senate Monday night,” Candelora said. “… Now I’m being asked to try and quick-pitch this massive 300 page marijuana bill on the last day of session on top of trying to do a budget implementer that impacts the entire state of Connecticut.”
Candelora said they should put legalized cannabis in a special session and take a day to debate it.
It means the state Senate would have to again debate and vote on the bill too, if Candelora gets his way.
Late Tuesday night, Ritter said there’s going to be a vote. The question is whether they will vote on Wednesday or Thursday or Friday.
Ritter said he knows the final bill language “came down late, there’s no denying that.”
At the same time, “we can’t abuse debate. I think there may come a point in time where we say enough’s, enough,” Ritter said.
Candelora said he’s not going to stop his members from asking questions about a public policy as big as recreational cannabis.
“What do we accomplish if the vote is 11 o’clock Wednesday as opposed to 6 a.m. Thursday morning?” Ritter asked. “I’m not sure what the distinction is.”
He said his pitch to the entire chamber was “let’s get everything done. Get out of here at midnight on Wednesday.” He said if he has to call them back to a special session he will put all the legislation that died “back on the table again.”
“Feasibly we don’t have enough time left in our schedule to do these pieces of legislation,” Candelora said. “So I suggest that we put marijuana into a special session.”
Ritter objected to the idea and is insisting that they get done before midnight Wednesday.
Candelora said they should focus on the budget and come back and “do marijuana in the summer.”