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Wolf asks lawmakers to legalize pot, spend virus funds

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday asked lawmakers to send him a bill to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and outlined how he thinks the state should spend more than $1.3 billion left in federal coronavirus relief funds during what’s left of lawmakers’ two-year session.

The Democratic governor urged the General Assembly to put $225 million toward hazard pay for more than 200,000 workers on the front lines of responding to the pandemic, effectively giving them all $3-an-hour wage increases.

The state House and Senate have 11 session days over four scattered weeks left before the November election, a limited period to wrap up their business as the two-year session winds down.

Leaders of the Republican majorities in both chambers have criticized Wolf during the pandemic period for what they consider a governing approach that has not given them sufficient input, and Wolf’s agenda is highly unlikely to be enacted in full, or without changes.

Pennsylvania received nearly $4 billion in federal coronavirus funds, but when lawmakers and Wolf allocated about two-thirds of it earlier this year they set aside the $1.3 billion that remained, and Wolf wants to spend that reserve.

House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, a Republican from Centre County, was dismissive of the governor’s proposals.

“It is disingenuous for this governor to put forward an unaffordable legislative agenda and require taxpayers to bail him out of his unilateral mandates that have devastated their lives and livelihoods,” Benninghoff said.

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Look for more in Wednesday’s print edition of The Express

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