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Published on Monday, April 27, 2015

Marijuana – One down & one to go

With sine die on Friday, April 24, we saw one major marijuana bill signed by the Governor, and one bill that didn’t quite make it to the finish line. The Governor signed SB 5052, which eliminates collective gardens and creates a new regulatory scheme for medical marijuana. Governor Inslee vetoed some sections of the bill. Most notably for cities, he vetoed the section that linked enactment of SB 5052 to passage of HB 2136. AWC had requested this section be vetoed and was pleased to see that SB 5052 will stand without being linked to the other bill.

However, we are also committed to the passage of HB 2136, especially since it contains provisions important to cities including revenue sharing and local siting flexibility. HB 2136 didn’t quite make it to the finish line before sine die. It appeared that an agreement had been reached last Thursday, but negotiators weren’t able to overcome a disagreement over the amount of funding dedicated to prevention programs. In anticipation of reaching an agreement, the Senate Ways & Means Committee heard a proposed amended version of the bill that addressed all of the issues cities had with the version passed by the House.

The amended version of HB 2136:

  • Removes the sunset in fiscal year 2022 on revenue sharing;
  • Removes the requirement for a public vote prior to enactment of a ban;
  • Retains local flexibility to reduce the 1,000 foot buffer zones; and
  • Provides revenue sharing for cities and counties of $6 million per year in the 2015-17 biennial budget. After that it gives cities and counties 30% of the state’s general fund share, once the general fund share has exceeded $25 million, up to $15 million per year for the 2017-19 biennial budget and up to $20 million per year thereafter.

Cities and counties had sought a share of the revenue equal to 10% of the overall excise tax collected (estimated to be about $27 million for the next biennium); however, legislators were not willing to go that high as they continue to struggle with their own budget negotiations. We are hopeful that in future years, we can increase the amount shared with local jurisdictions.

Legislators have agreed to continue work on HB 2136 during the special session. We would like to thank all of the legislators who worked so hard to ensure that cities’ interests were addressed in the latest version of HB 2136 including Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia), Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), Rep. Eileen Cody (D-Seattle), Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah), and Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center).

During the next few days, please continue to remind your local legislators about the importance of this bill and ask for their support to ensure that it is acted upon during the special session.