On Monday, lawmakers in Montana passed a bill to allocate tax revenues to recreational marijuana and sent the bill to the desk of Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte for consideration. law, Senate Bill 442was approved in a final vote by the Montana Senate on Monday after the state House passed an amended version of the bill last week.
Montana voters passed Initiative 190 in 2020 to legalize recreational marijuana. Under the initiative, recreational marijuana products will be subject to a 20% tax, and revenue generated by the tax will go towards a 30-year-old wildlife habitat often referred to as Montana’s “premier habitat program.” Reserved to Habitat Montana, an acquisition initiative. Report from the Montana Free Press.
Governor called for redistribution of cannabis tax
Before this year’s legislative session begins, the governor said he wanted to reallocate state recreational marijuana taxes from habitat purchases and instead spend the money on law enforcement resources related to legalizing marijuana. Lawmakers responded with several new proposals to reallocate recreational marijuana taxes so the state could meet other pressing budgetary needs and give Congress more control over revenues. claimed to be
The original version of Senate Bill 442, introduced in February by Republican Sen. Mike Lang, diverted some of the cannabis tax revenue from the Habitat Fund and instead allocated it to county road funds. Proponents of the proposal argued that the bill would support access to rural areas and open spaces. But wildlife advocates frowned upon the proposal, arguing that it went against the will of voters expressed through Initiative 190.
Lang then amended the bill to divide most of the cannabis tax revenues into the state’s General Fund, funding county roads, and a new Habitat Legacy Account that will be used to improve wildlife on public and private lands. Did. Smaller allocations will also be made to funding substance abuse programs, Veterans Services, and state parks and trails.
“I think we’ve made some pretty smart changes here that are meant to invest in rural Montana’s roads, land and hunting opportunities while supporting the growing need for support and medication for veterans. increase.” Lang said After fixing the bill. “Ultimately, we want to give our counties and locals the tools and resources they need to improve the condition of their land and be good stewards of Montana.”
The amended bill came from Montana legislators and groups representing business interests, such as the Montana Animal Breeders Association and the Montana Petroleum Institute, and conservation groups such as Wild Montana, Helena Hunters and Anglers, and Citizens’ Elk Management Coalition. It has support and has registered support for all proposals. Many county commissioners and the Montana County Association also approved the bill.
“Our county roads are being used more than ever before,” said Montana State Association President Roman Girrawi. We recognize the importance and need to bring it all together through investment.… The Montana County Association thanks you all and with the utmost respect we have signed SB 442 to Governor Gianforte and issued county roads We encourage you to continue to invest in
Competing bill dies in Senate
Another bill passed in the House of Representatives last month directing all cannabis tax revenues to the state’s General Fund. House Bill 669, by Bill Mercer, a proponent of the bill, argued that lawmakers could control the allocation of tax revenue and direct it toward state budget priorities.
“Under 669, revenue should go to the General Fund, and Congress as a whole should decide how it wants to spend that revenue,” Mercer told members of the House Appropriations Committee last month. I’m simply saying it,” he said. “One of the reasons I wanted to bring this bill forward is because I fear that if we start allocating dollars to the special revenue account, basically, we will continue to evade scrutiny. Every time I divert to , I worry that it doesn’t get the same scrutiny as the General Fund.”
But Jim Vashro, president of Flathead Wildlife Inc, said the will of Montana voters expressed in the 2020 ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana should prevail.
“I hope Congress listens to people,” said Vachero. “We seek to protect the funds of Habitat Montana, the purpose of Initiative 190.”
House Bill 669 was introduced by a Senate committee late last month. Senate Bill 442 has been sent to the governor’s desk, awaiting action from Gianforte. A spokesperson for Gianforte on Monday said the governor has “substantial concerns” about Senate Bill 442, but did not provide further details about his position.