Wayne Crouton of Houghton County has a drag as he listens to the speaker during the annual Hash Bash at U-M’s Diag in Ann Arbor on Saturday, April 7, 2018.(Photo: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)Buy Photo
LANSING — Worried about having a proposal on the November ballot that would legalize recreational use of marijuana, Republicans in the state Senate are working on a plan to vote on the citizen petition and tie it to a cut in the state income tax.
The working plan would try to attract wary Republicans to vote on the measure by tying it to a cut in the state’s 4.25% income tax, although a specific cut hasn’t been set yet, according to five people with knowledge of the proposal who couldn’t speak on the record. The revenues lost from the tax cut would be made up with the taxes generated by marijuana legalization, including a 10% excise tax and the state’s 6% sales tax.
The proposal also would allow Republicans to amend the recreational marijuana initiative so it is regulated more like the medical marijuana industry. Right now, the ballot proposal would have licensing handled by the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Republicans want the licensing to be handled by the same board that handles medical marijuana licenses — a board appointed by the governor and the leaders in the state House and Senate.
Keeping the initiative off the November ballot would be a plus for Republicans because the measure is expected to drive up voter turnout, especially among young voters, which could fuel a blue wave that could flip the Republican majority in the House to Democrats and significantly narrow the 27-10 GOP majority in the Senate.
Senate Republicans, however, will have a tall hill to climb to convince their colleagues in the House to jump on board.