House speaker: Vote likely coming for medical marijuana next week

Osborne less confident about sports wagering coming to a vote


FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - The House could take final action next week on a measure that would legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky while there is no sign of a vote on sports wagering, according to House Speaker David Osborne.

The medical marijuana bill, sponsored by Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, cleared the House Judiciary Committee on a 17-1 vote on Wednesday with one abstention, which sent it to the full House. Osborne, R-Prospect, told reporters Friday that it will be discussed in caucus on Tuesday where they will “develop a plan.”

Legislators will not meet Monday because of President’s Day.

Osborne said it’s possible the medical marijuana measure could see a floor vote next week. 

“Rep. Nemes has made significant revisions to the bill to gain a lot of support.  Judiciary Committee Chairman Jason Petrie [R-Elkton] has worked very hard on the bill as well, and I think they have done a good job of building support for it,” he said.

Since California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, 32 more states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands have enacted similar laws.

A similar measure passed a committee last year but never had a vote on the House floor, but Nemes believes its time has come since it currently has 50 co-sponsors. “It’s going to get a vote on the House floor,” he said. “It’s going to pass overwhelmingly, more than two to one.  I expect the first number in the vote total will be a seven,” meaning at least 70 votes.

Nemes added, “My message to citizens is don’t give up, don’t stop, let’s go.  Contact your senators and let them know where you are.  I believe we have the votes in the Senate today.”  

A recent poll by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky found that 90 percent of Kentuckians support medical marijuana.

However, the future remains cloudy for sports wagering legislation, sponsored by Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger. The measure easily made it through a House committee but has stalled since.

“Chairman Koenig is still diligently working to satisfy concerns of some of the members,” said Osborne.

When pushed by reporters if he was as sure that bill would get a vote next week as medical marijuana, Osborne replied, “I am not as confident.”     

He added, a vote on sports wagering is expected before action on the budget.  “It would be important to know if we’re going to have that revenue or not.”

Gov. Andy Beshear has made revenue from sports wagering part of his budget, estimating it at over $20 million per year.

As for the budget itself, Osborne says to expect a House floor vote during the first week of March.  “You started seeing public meetings of the subcommittees this past week.  Those will continue for the next couple of weeks and then the overall committee will start meeting.”



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