Legislature

A group of academics and analysts have recommended changes to how New Jersey draws its legislative maps.

The report comes about seven months after top lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled legislature abandoned a plan to rewrite the rules around legislative mapmaking in response to overwhelming opposition.

In the latest attempt to battle the state’s ongoing foreclosure crisis, New Jersey will set up a statewide database of all homes under foreclosure.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law last week ordering the Department of Community Affairs to create the tracking system so state officials can observe larger trends and target services to those in need.

Flanked by state and federal labor leaders, Gov. Phil Murphy held an event in Trenton on Tuesday to call on lawmakers to include the so-called millionaire’s tax in this year’s budget.

Budget bills passed by state Senate and Assembly committees on Monday did not include the tax hike on earners making more than $1 million.

Democratic lawmakers in New Jersey introduced a state budget proposal Monday that does not include a tax hike on millionaires proposed by their fellow Democrat, Gov. Phil Murphy.

Legislative leaders openly rejected the idea in favor of belt-tightening measures. And over the past few weeks, lawmakers in the Democratically-controlled Legislature have released a slow drip of statements claiming they would vote for a budget without the tax increase on the state’s top earners. But they insist their spending plan still invests in Murphy’s priorities.

New Jersey lawmakers voted Thursday to extend the lives of two controversial tax credit programs that have roiled Trenton in recent months.

The programs, started under former Gov. Chris Christie, have awarded billions of dollars in incentives to companies that agreed to move to or expand in New Jersey, and business insiders testified that allowing the programs to expire on July 1 would risk missing out on future opportunities.

New Jersey lawmakers are moving ahead with legislation to make it easier for people with marijuana convictions to expunge their criminal records.

The bill, which was approved by both houses of the state Legislature on Tuesday, now awaits the signature of Gov. Phil Murphy.

What is not on Murphy’s desk is the companion legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, which failed to win enough support among lawmakers and was eventually abandoned by top Democrats in favor of putting the question before voters on the November 2020 election ballot.

A bill that would require more nonprofit groups in New Jersey to publicize their donors is on its way to becoming law, after Gov. Phil Murphy avoided what would have been an embarrassing veto override.

Murphy at first conditionally vetoed the so-called dark money bill, saying he believed it had legal issues. But after top Democrats in the state Legislature threatened to override his veto, Murphy agreed to sign the original bill.

A blistering report by a bipartisan committee of the New Jersey Legislature says the administration of Gov. Phil Murphy “mishandled” an employee’s rape claim and suggested that top officials should be “embarrassed” by their testimony.

The report caps off a legislative investigation that has dogged Murphy’s tenure in office and raised questions about the state’s hiring practices as well as policies for investigating claims of sexual harassment and assault.

Hotel workers in New Jersey may soon be equipped with panic buttons to notify security personnel of an emergency.

Under a bill passed unanimously by both houses of the state Legislature, hotels with more than 100 guest rooms would be required to provide the devices to room service and housekeeping staff.

“I sort of tell it like it’s a medical alert device. You wear it around you, and if there’s a problem you push the button,” said Assemblyman John Armato, D-Atlantic, who sponsored the bill. “That will send the signal to your security office and they can get you help.” 

A bill to greatly expand New Jersey’s medical marijuana program cleared the state Senate Thursday. It now heads to the full Assembly for a vote.

The proposal would increase the maximum number of medical marijuana dispensaries, allow patients to buy larger quantities of the drug, and slowly phase out the sales tax on medical cannabis.

Although the bill passed easily, some lawmakers still raised doubts about the state’s medical marijuana program, which has been growing rapidly under Gov. Phil Murphy.

New Jersey could become the first state in the country to require warning labels on prescription opioid medication that identifies it as an opioid and cautions against the risk of addiction.

The legislation’s sponsor hopes that the latest attempt to stem the state’s ongoing opioid crisis will save lives.

“We have to be aware of what this is. We have to be aware of what this is doing to our country. It is truly an epidemic,” said Assemblyman John Armato, D-Atlantic.

The chief of staff to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy testified at the State House Tuesday that he told an employee accused of rape to leave state government in late March, but the man did not resign until October.

Pete Cammarano testified that he told accused rapist Al Alvarez on March 26, 2018, that he should step down as chief of staff in the New Jersey Schools Development Authority, a post he got after Murphy took office.

But Alvarez remained on the job until October, when he quit after being called by a Wall Street Journal reporter. Alvarez denies the sexual assault.

The Garden State has moved one step closer to legalizing the personal use of marijuana, following votes by two key legislative committees.

The Senate and Assembly Judiciary committees voted Monday to approve a bill that would legalize the adult use of one ounce or less of marijuana.

State Sen. President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said the bills would be posted for a full vote after top Democratic lawmakers worked out the details with Gov. Phil Murphy, who supports legalization.

Nearly 300 candidates are competing for a chance to run for the New Jersey legislature in the June Primary.

The 192 Assembly candidates are the most since 2001. The 88 seeking a Senate seat is the highest since 2003.

Seton Hall political science professor Matthew Hale says five Senators are retiring or seeking higher office.

"So you're seeing a lot of people want to take that shot because they're not sure when it's going to come around again."

Chris Christie
Phil Gregory

Despite some setbacks this week, political analysts say don't count out Governor Christie when it comes to getting some priorities enacted in the final year of his term.

Christie couldn't get lawmakers to pass a bill allowing towns to put legal notices on their websites instead of paying to publish them in newspapers. And a measure that would have allowed him to profit from a book deal was declared dead.

Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor Peter Woolley says Christie's lame duck status and his low 18 percent voter approval rating erode his political leverage.