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Rhode Island mayors want their cut of marijuana dollars

The Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns is asking for municipalities to receive at least a 3 percent local sales tax

Field Analyst Byron Aceveda processes marijuana samples in a lab at PureVita Labs, a cannabis testing and analytics laboratory in West Warwick, R.I. on Jan. 05, 2022.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Happy Wednesday! I’m Dan McGowan and today’s Wordle should have been ORTIZ. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

Coronavirus updates

Rhode Island has a high level of transmission: 1,547.1 total new cases per 100K population in the past 7 days

Vaccinated with two shots: 826,128 (of about 1.1 million residents)

New cases: 1,321

Test-positive rate: 11.8 percent

Currently hospitalized: 460

Total deaths: 3,263

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Leading off

With Rhode Island lawmakers likely to approve legislation this year that would legalize the sale of marijuana to adults, mayors and town managers have a message: We want our cut of the proceeds.


In its list of legislative priorities set to be released today, the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns is asking for municipalities to receive at least a 3 percent local sales tax and be allowed to opt-out of allowing retail dispensaries through of the city city or town council rather than placing the question on the ballot for voters to decide.

“The League will scrutinize any proposals to expand marijuana distribution and sales to assure that local regulatory rights are maintained and that cities and towns receive an appropriate portion of revenues generated,” the agenda states.

Under Governor Dan McKee’s proposed budget, marijuana would be taxed at roughly 20 percent, and 15 percent of revenues would be distributed to cities and towns. The sale of cannabis would begin in April 2023.

Other top priorities in the League’s legislative agenda include reforming the binding arbitration rules for public employee unions and lowering disability pensions for people who are able to do other work.

The League is also seeking changes to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR), including increasing the number of days a police officer can be suspended before triggering a LEOBOR hearing and expanding the board that oversees LEOBOR cases.


When it comes to taxes, the League is asking the General Assembly to reforming the tangible tax structure, tweaking the 4 percent cap on property taxes to make an exception for new development in cities and towns, and continuing the phase out of the car tax (which is in McKee’s proposed budget).

Something to watch: The League is still searching for a new executive director since Brian Daniels joined McKee’s administration, but mayors like Charlie Lombardi in North Providence and Joe Polisena in Johnston continue to have the governor’s ear.

While it’s unlikely that McKee is going to back all of the mayors’ proposals in an election year, the League could continue to grow its influence if he wins a four-year term in November.

The Globe in Rhode Island

⚓ My latest column: State Treasurer Seth Magaziner should stay in the race for governor instead of changing course to run for Congress. Read more.

⚓ Ten years ago, Rhode Island Democrats redrew the boundary between the state’s two congressional districts, bolstering Democratic US Representative David N. Cicilline’s chances as he faced abysmal poll numbers and a strong opponent in his first reelection campaign. Now, that maneuver may help Republicans. Read more.

⚓ The key things to know about Rhode Island’s big opioid settlement. Read more.

⚓ Governor Dan McKee on Tuesday defended his administration’s $46,000-a-month, three-month consulting contract with outgoing Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, but gave a one-word answer when asked whether he thought it was a lot of money. Read more.


Here’s more Globe Rhode Island coverage.

Also in the Globe

⚓ Governor Charlie Baker, a second-term Republican who first ran more than a decade ago on calls to cut Massachusetts residents’ taxes, on Tuesday said he will pursue a wide-ranging package of tax breaks for low-income workers, renters, and seniors that could come to define his final months in office. Read more.

⚓ My colleague Jon Chesto writes that the devastating blackouts that rocked Texas nearly a year ago were a long way from here. But they don’t seem far away at all for the many key players in New England’s electricity industry. Read more.

⚓ Here’s a gift for all Red Sox fans: A look at every one of David Ortiz’s 558 homeruns. Read more.

Our journalism relies on support from readers like you. Please help us continue our mission with a subscription to the Globe. Here’s a special deal for Rhode Island.

What’s on tap today

E-mail events to us at RInews@globe.com.

Birthdays: Rhode Map readers, if you want a friend or family member to be recognized on Friday, send me an e-mail with their first and last name, and their age.

⚓ The House Education Committee meets at 3 p.m. Here’s the agenda.

⚓ The COVID-19 Equity Council meets at 4 p.m.


My previous column

With Congressman James Langevin set to retire from Congress, don’t be surprised if you start to hear his name being tied to the presidency of Rhode Island College. If you missed the column, you can read it here. And all of my columns are on our Rhode Island Commentary page.

Rhode Island Report podcast

Ed Fitzpatrick talks to the mayor of Central Falls, Maria Rivera, about how her first year in City Hall went. Listen to all of our podcasts here.

Boston Globe App

You can get alerts about Rhode Island news on the Globe’s app (iOS and Android). Just tap the gear icon, then “Edit Alert Settings,” and choose Rhode Island.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to Dan.McGowan@Globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.