Lawmakers Send Gov. Wolf Fiscal Code and Medical Marijuana Bill; House Starts 2016-17 Budget Process
Today lawmakers sent Democratic Governor Tom Wolf the final key piece to the 2015-16 budget and started the process of moving the vehicle legislation for the 2016-17 budget.
Nearly two weeks ago Governor Wolf vetoed the Fiscal Code bill, an important companion to the state budget that is the road-map for how budget dollars are spent. In that legislation was a formula for the distribution of education dollars as well as the authorization of funding for Pennsylvania’s fairs.
This afternoon the state House and Senate approved another Fiscal Code bill (HB 1589) in hopes that the governor will allow the measure to become law and if not, they will have the votes to override a veto. The Senate approved the bill 37-11 and the House 149-45.
On a party-line vote, the state House Appropriations Committee moved legislation, sponsored by Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph, to start the budget process for the 2016-17 fiscal year. The bill (HB 1999) is nearly identical to the current 2015-16 budget with some changes. Adolph stressed that the bill is not a final product but a placeholder to move forward the budget process. The new budget year starts July 1, 2016.
Lawmakers also approved legislation (SB 3) to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. Under the proposal, patients with specific ailments could take the drug in pill, oil or liquid form. The proposal would also set standards for growers, dispensaries and physicians. The Senate approved the measure 42-7 and the House 149-46. Governor Wolf is expected to sign the bill, which would make Pennsylvania the 24th state to legalize a medical marijuana program.
The legislature is now in recess ahead of Pennsylvania’s April 26 primary election. The state House is scheduled to return to voting session May 2 and the state Senate is expected to return May 9.