This week, the U.S. Senate is expected to work on advancing workforce development and needs provisions, and Senator Booker is set to introduce federal cannabis decriminalization legislation.
Senate Aims to Advance CHIPS Act with Workforce Provisions
On Tuesday, the Senate is scheduled to hold a cloture vote on the CHIPS Act of 2022. If it receives the necessary 60 votes, a vote for final passage will be scheduled for later this week. Public reports indicate the House will consider it later this week once it passes the Senate. This legislation includes $52 billion in subsidies to domestic semiconductor manufacturers to pursue the goals of both spurring domestic manufacturing of semiconductors and easing global supply chain issues.
The bill also includes $1 billion in workforce provisions, including a grant program focused on persistently distressed communities, creating good-paying jobs, meeting local economic development needs, and providing money for STEM education.
The League’s federal partner, the National League of Cities (NLC), has advocated for this legislation and reports that the funds and provisions are good first steps. They will continue to work with Congress to advocate for more money authorized and appropriated for the workforce and post-secondary education.
Federal Marijuana Decriminalization Introduced
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D, New York), along with Sen. Cory Booker (D, New Jersey) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D, Oregon), formally introduced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). Among the goals of this legislation are:
- Allows for the creation of a Center for Cannabis Products within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA);
- Removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates federal prohibitions in states that have chosen to legalize medical cannabis or adult-use cannabis;
- Transfers federal jurisdiction over cannabis from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) within the Treasury Department and implements a regulatory regime similar to those for alcohol and tobacco, while recognizing the unique nature of cannabis products;
- Requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study and report on metrics that may be impacted by cannabis legalization, including traffic-related deaths and injuries, hospitalizations and poison control center calls, violent crime rates, employment statistics, rates of cannabis use, and various other criteria;
- Uses federal tax revenue to fund an Opportunity Trust Fund to reinvest in communities and individuals;
- Establishes a Cannabis Justice Office at the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs to administer the Community Reinvestment Grant Program;
- Establishes the Community Reinvestment Grant Program to award grants to community-based organizations to establish job training, reentry services, legal aid, literacy programs, youth mentoring and health education;
- Requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct or support research on the impacts of cannabis, including its effects on the human brain, the impact on various health conditions, and the identification of potential medical benefits and uses of cannabis;
- Removes unnecessary federal employee pre-employment and random drug; testing for cannabis while preserving appropriate drug testing for certain sensitive categories of employees where continued testing is determined necessary, including national security, law enforcement, and commercial transportation; and
- Reduces barriers to employment at banks or credit unions based on past minor criminal offenses, including criminal offenses that have been expunged, sealed, or dismissed.
This bill is the result of a year-long effort by the three senators, but it does not currently have unanimous support from Senate Democrats. With just a few days remaining before Congress leaves for recess, it is likely that little will happen with CAOA at this moment. While this legislation has been the result of much collaboration, there will likely be substantial changes to pass the Senate. Instead of passing CAOA as introduced, it is expected that the Senate will break up this 269-page bill into smaller chunks and pass the provisions that are likely to have support by the end of the year.
One of the engines that are likely to pull some provisions along is the House-passed SAFE Banking Act. The House has passed this legislation seven times and is widely supported in Congress. The NLC has a policy supporting the passage of the SAFE Banking Act, which generally prohibits federal banking regulators from penalizing a depository institute for providing banking service to a legitimate cannabis business, and has been working with Congressional offices to try to get it into must-pass legislation.
Contact: Paul Penna, Senior Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-695-3481, x110.