I. State Issues
a. Expansion of Medical Marijuana Passes
On Thursday, the General Assembly passed A-10, which expands access to medical marijuana by a vote of 65-5-6. This legislation establishes the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) to oversee the regulation of medical cannabis in the state, including the expansion of access to medical marijuana for patients with a diagnosed medical condition and the regulation of the four types of permits authorized by the Act. Under the act, patients could obtain up to 3 ounces of medicine per month, for 18 months, an increase from the current 2 ounce maximum. After that, the CRC will set the maximum amount that may be prescribed.
A-10 includes the following provisions:
1. Caps the number of cultivation permits to 23, with an 18 month exception to the limit for microbusiness;
2. Allows 7 alternative treatment centers to concurrently hold cultivator; manufacturer and dispensary permits. (All other entities can hold only one class of permit, and only one permit for that class.);
3. Allows the CRC to approve any medical cannabis dispensary permit holder to operate a medical cannabis consumption area, provided there is an endorsement from the municipality and permits municipality by ordinance to authorize the operations of local endorsed medical cannabis consumption areas;
4. CRC must consider proposed location including zoning approvals, provided there is a letter or affidavit from appropriate municipal officials and there is proof of local support, such as a resolution of the governing body; and
5. Authorizes a municipality with a medical cannabis dispensary may adopt an ordinance imposing a transfer tax on any medical cannabis dispensed by the dispensary. The rate is at the discretion of the municipality and cannot exceed 2%.
The Senate is expected to take action on this bill and its companion, S-10, next Thursday, May 30.
Contact: Michael F. Cerra, Assistant Executive Director, email@example.com, 609-695-3481 x120.
b. Interest Arbitration Cap
The temporary 2% cap on police and fire arbitration contract awards was an effective tool to control increasing salary costs and provided a solution to assist local governments in keeping property taxes down and costs under control. As predicted, the failure to permanently extend the 2% cap on binding interest arbitration awards in December of 2017 has inequitably altered the collective bargaining process in favor of labor and at the expense of property taxpayers.
In fact, municipal and county officials from across the State are once again urging State leaders to permanently extend the 2% cap on binding interest arbitration awards as police and fire unions have been aggressively leveraging the expiration of the Interest Arbitration cap to win contracts in excess of the 2% tax levy cap imposed on local governing bodies for nearly a decade.
As has been well documented, the 2% cap on binding interest arbitration awards established clear parameters for negotiating reasonable successor contracts that preserved the collective bargaining process and took into consideration the separate and permanent 2% tax levy cap. The equation is clear; failure to renew and permanently extend the 2% cap on binding interest arbitration awards is unsustainable without increasing property taxes or eliminating essential services.
The League continues to work with our partners to permanently extend the 2% cap on binding interest arbitration awards.
c. Assembly Judiciary Committee Approves Bill Intended to Correct
Municipal Liability Standards
Earlier this week the Assembly Judiciary Committee reported A-5392 out of committee, readying the bill for second reading in the Assembly. The intent of A-5392 is to establish liability standards for public entities, identical to the standards applied to non-profit organizations, in cases regarding sexual abuse.
A-5392 comes in response to concerns raised by the League and echoed by the Governor over a bill signed into law last week dealing with the extension of the statute of limitations, and expansion of categories of defendants in civil actions based on sexual abuse.
Without the intended corrective action of A-5392 public entities would be held to a different liability standard than non-profit organizations.
We are currently working with the sponsors to review S-3739/A-5392 in order to ensure the intent of the bill is properly effectuated. We would like to thank Senators Vitale and Scutari, and Assemblywoman Quijano, the sponsors of this legislation, and the Governor’s office for listening to the League’s concerns. We also commend these legislators for the efforts in this important matter.
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., League Staff Attorney, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481 x 137.