National News

Law professor explains some of CT's laws

Posted December 15, 2017 11:28 a.m. EST

— In many states, voters get to weigh in and decide whether to have tolls or recreational marijuana.

But here in Connecticut, that's not the case.

Here, it's lawmakers who are the ones who ultimately make that decision.

Connecticut isn't alone. In fact, there are many states that do not have referendums or a way for these issues to go on a ballot.

Some of this has to do with older states versus newer ones.

Connecticut has been debating tolls for a long time as well as recreational marijuana.

Both could generate lots of money for the state but are controversial.

A growing number of people seem to support them but unlike other states, voters are not given the opportunity to decide.

William Dunlap, a law professor at Quinnipiac University, points out most of the states that allow voters to decide are in the western part of the country.

"Western states are newer to the union and by the time they joined the union, the idea of democracy or democratic participation was stronger than when original 13 colonies became states," Dunlap said.

However, there are exceptions. When you look at map, it's pretty much 50/50.

The colored states are those that have either referendums or initiatives which allow people to vote, and the rest do not.

Here in the northeast, Maine and Massachusetts do let people vote, although it's a complicated process involving petitions, and even the legislature plays a role.

Massachusetts voters recently approved recreational marijuana.

If Connecticut wanted to join some of its neighbors, it would require changing the constitution, which is something that's not easy to do.

However, there is one issue that may get a chance, and that's a lock box on transportation, which basically mandates money raised for transportation is only used for transportation.

Voters may get to decide if they want to change the constitution to allow that.

"Many legislatures do not like the idea of referendums or initiatives because it takes power away from them," Dunlap said.