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La Crosse Mayor vetoed marijuana decriminalization initiative

The La Crosse Tribune reports: Mayor Harter rejects pot proposal

La Crosse Mayor Matt Harter again has vetoed a move to make first-time possession of small amounts of marijuana a municipal rather than criminal offense.
While it might be useful for police to have the option to issue a ticket and fine, Harter said Tuesday the community still perceives the ordinance as “this city is increasing tolerance on the use (of marijuana) and substance abuse.”

The proposal by District 3 Alderman Chris Olson would allow law enforcement to cite first-time possession of up to 7 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia as a municipal offense rather than misdemeanor.

But the city’s police department has indicated they do not want that option, Harter noted. If they do not plan to use it, “then there really is nothing good that’s going to come out of it,” he said.

Olson called the veto “expected,” even though the option would provide “a second chance for youth” and revenue to the city, half of which would go to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE, program.

The council passed the ordinance 11-4, but 12 votes would be needed to override the veto. Council members John Satory and Jai Johnson were absent Thursday and might support the measure, but there’s no guarantee other council members won’t change their vote in light of the veto, Olson said.

Harter’s veto of a similar measure in November ended up two votes shy of an override. If it again falls short, Olson said he will not bring the proposal back.

“I’ll let somebody else do it,” Olson said. “I gave it my chance.”

The mayor also vetoed filling nine vacant city positions, including an assistant fire chief, a civil engineer and a building inspector.
Harter said most of the departments have managed to perform “at a level that’s acceptable” so far and the city needs time to examine its staffing levels before going forward with additional hiring.

The council’s votes on each hiring were near-unanimous so a veto override is possible, council president Audrey Kader said.

Additional news reports and information about the La Crosse area can be found in the “La Crosse” category or by clicking here.

PLEASE NOTE:
This is the general schedule for each month.
Please use this as a general reference.

Regular meetings of the Common Council are held on the second Thursday of each month at 7:30 P.M.

Committee of the Whole meetings are held on the Tuesday immediately preceding each regular meeting of the Common Council at 7:30 P.M.

Please refer to the website and available information from the City of La Crosse

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