Tuesday, March 23, 2021

MA State News: unemployment insurance bill; cannabis local impact fee questioned

"Lawmakers find common ground on unemployment insurance bill"

"TIME-SENSITIVE LEGISLATION aimed at stabilizing the state’s unemployment system, providing targeted tax relief to employers and workers, and creating a COVID-19 emergency sick leave program requires one final vote in each chamber after the House and Senate reached agreement on the bill’s details Monday.

After hours of talks, lawmakers ironed out differences between the underlying versions of the bill  to produce a compromise without a formal conference committee, teeing up the roughly $351 million bill and its $7 billion borrowing authorization to reach Gov. Charlie Baker as soon as Thursday.

The branches agreed on most aspects of the bill in their respective versions, but took different approaches to tax breaks on unemployment benefits, a commission studying the unemployment system, and length of the special obligation bonds that will be issued to help the state cover massive demands on its benefits system."

"3% cannabis impact fee covers costs that don’t exist"

"IN 2017, Massachusetts lawmakers revised the cannabis legalization ballot measure approved by voters the year before.  They made improvements, such as expanding the Cannabis Control Commission from three members to five, and increasing the local tax option from 2 percent to 3 percent.

They also made mistakes, including mandating host community agreements between municipalities and cannabis operators that allowed towns to collect an additional 3 percent of gross sales.  This stream of funds was meant to offset costs imposed upon the municipality “by the operation of the marijuana establishment.”

After more than two years of legal cannabis sales, it’s hard to make a case that towns have incurred any such costs.  There have been no reported incidents of sales to minors, no reports of increased crime around cannabis stores, no reported increase in cannabis-intoxicated driving arrests, no reported impacts on nearby businesses or neighborhoods, and no reported staffing or budget increases in police, fire, or health departments attributable to cannabis stores."

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