D.C. UPDATE: The November Election, What Comes Next, and Welcoming a New Staffer

By Michael Correia, NCIA Director of Government Affairs

As we come up on Halloween, I can’t think of a more fitting holiday to give a DC update (as most things coming out of Congress tends to scare us all!)

The election is just around the corner and, in addition to determining the make-up of Congress, there are four very important marijuana ballot initiatives voters will be deciding on. Voters in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. will be voting on some form of an adult-use, tax-and-regulate structure (similar to Colorado), and Florida voters will decide on legalizing medicinal marijuana. The passage of all four, in addition to being positive developments in the states, would certainly help our work in D.C. Members of Congress are self-interested and they care about their states and their districts. When more states legalize marijuana, it makes my job easier, as it forces more members of Congress to address the issue.

After the election, Congress will come back for a very short (two week) “lame-duck” session. In that time, they will vote on party leadership posts and determine committee chairs, in addition to funding the government. Because the two issues NCIA members care most about are 280E tax reform and resolving the banking issue, the committees of jurisdiction in the House are the Ways and Means Committee and the Financial Services Committee. In the House, it’s a near certainty Republicans will stay in control; so for Ways and Means, it’s looking like Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin will be Chair, and for Financial Services, it’s looking like Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas will be Chair (although both will be challenged by other members). Neither of them have been supporters of marijuana policy reform in the past and have voted in opposition to our amendments when they were on the House Floor earlier this year.

Control of the Senate is still up in the air, and it will come down to 3 competitive seats. The results should be known soon after polling places close, but in Louisiana, if no candidate receives over 50%, then a run off election is held in December. So it is conceivable that control of the Senate may not be determined until December 7. Exciting times indeed! The committees of jurisdiction in the Senate are the Banking Committee and the Finance Committee, and Senate Chairmen are picked based on Committee seniority.

Halloween also happens to be my one-year anniversary with NCIA! And what a year it’s been. I feel as if so much has been done in the past year, but there is so much more to do. I look forward to the upcoming year and am even happier to say that our DC operation is expanding. NCIA has hired Michelle Rutter as our new government affairs coordinator. Having her on board will make me more efficient and effective in my job and will allow me to focus more on strategy, fundraising, advocacy, and taking NCIA to new levels.

Prior to working for NCIA, Michelle was a Research Analyst at a government affairs firm in Washington, DC, where she analyzed and tracked legislation on numerous issues. Michelle graduated from James Madison University in 2012, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in History. During her studies, she held a year-long internship with Virginia House of Delegates member Tony Wilt. There, she communicated with constituents, businesses, and government officials alike, facilitating meaningful conversations. Michelle was also a member of a pre-law fraternity where she planned events and hosted social functions that sought to encourage long-lasting professional and personal relationships with members. A native Virginian, Michelle currently resides in the Washington, DC, suburb of Alexandria, VA.

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