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Associations (Mostly) Score Big With “Cromnibus” Bill Riders

The $1.1 trillion spending bill is loaded with riders big and small. Many of the changes were welcomed by associations, but a rollback of Washington, DC's, marijuana legalization initiative proved controversial.

A lot went into the $1.1 trillion “cromnibus” spending bill—a combination of a continuing resolution and an omnibus spending bill. It’s a massive piece of legislation, full of surprises, many of which were the product of last-minute deal making.

We’ve already mentioned the American Trucking Associations’ successful campaign to roll back driver-fatigue rules. A lot of other small-but-important provisions made it into the final bill, which narrowly passed the House on Thursday and the Senate on Saturday—and now sits on the President’s desk—as legislative riders. The biggest might be one giving the residents of Washington, DC, some major headaches this week.

DC’s Last Dance With Mary Jane?

A longtime sticking point for many who reside in the District of Columbia—full-time residents, not members of Congress—is that, due to the city’s home-rule regulations, Congress holds final say over the district’s legislative decisions. In the omnibus spending bill, Congress just said no to legal marijuana in DC.

Last month, District voters passed a marijuana legalization ballot initiative by a 2-1 margin. But a provision added to the the spending bill by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) blocks any use of federal funds to “enact any law, rule, or regulation” that loosens the restrictions on any Schedule I drug included in the Controlled Substance Act. One such drug happens to be marijuana. The move, which follows Harris’ failed attempt to block decriminalization in the district earlier this year, was panned by states’ rights rights groups, such as DC Vote, as well as the National Cannabis Industry Association.

“DC voters overwhelmingly chose to take a smarter and safer approach to marijuana policy by allowing for the creation of a responsible, regulated system for production and sales,” NCIA Executive Director Aaron Smith said in a statement. “Apparently, Congress is not interested in being smart, or safe, or democratic.”

The rider led to protests on Wednesday night, with the Heritage Foundation—where Harris spoke this week about his stance on marijuana policy—as the main target.

Other notable Riders

It wasn’t all bad news for the pot movement. One rider  includes language that bars the use of federal funds to prosecute people who grow and dispense marijuana for medical uses in states where doing so is legal—a significant victory for the movement.

Brand USA, a public-private partnership that encourages international travelers to visit the United States, got a five-year renewal as part of the omnibus bill.

White potatoes back in business: The National Potato Council earned a reversal of a ban on white potatoes in the Women, Infants, and Children food voucher program.

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association is welcoming a rider that rolls back part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The rider removes a provision that required derivatives trading to be handled by separate businesses that aren’t guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

And the School Nutrition Association supported a successful effort to ease school lunch rules.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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