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State Sen. Declan O'Scanlon (R-Little Silver). Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

O’Scanlon, still undecided, leans to yes on weed if plan includes tax relief

Monmouth senator looks for major overhaul of Murphy proposal, in from locals

By David Wildstein, March 25 2019 11:10 am

Hours ahead of a vote on the state’s marijuana legalization bill, State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver) said he was still undecided on the measure, indicating that he would likely vote in the legalization bill’s favor should Senate President Steve Sweeney post it on the board.

“I’m not sure that they’re to the point that the bill’s even going to be up on the board,” O’Scanlon said. “If it goes up on the board, it probably means they have the votes, and then it’s very likely that I’ve gotten everything I want, and again, the governor’s acted in good faith.”

O’Scanlon has sought a series of concessions in exchange for his vote on marijuana, foremost among which was a property-tax relief component to the tax on recreational marijuana sales.

Sources familiar with Gov. Phil Murphy’s thinking on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the New Jersey that O’Scanlon has won some ground on a property tax relief component in exchange for his vote.

“The governor’s office has been very responsive to my policy priorities on this. I won’t go to much further than that,” O’Scanlon said when asked about such a concession, adding that a yes vote was “conceivable.”

At the moment, Murphy Democratic leaders in the legislature are jockeying to secure the final few votes they need to pass the bill in the upper chamber.

If they’re unable to secure the votes, it’s unlikely the bill will be posted in either chamber since the measure would likely have to first go through the Assembly, where members may be reluctant to cast a vote on a doomed marijuana bill with elections a period of months away.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin will likely not post the bill unless he’s sure the votes are there in the Senate.

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