New Jersey

The budget plan New Jersey Democratic leaders hope to pass tomorrow includes some changes in funding for public schools.

Parent and Chesterfield committeewoman Andrea Katz supports the lawmakers’ plan to limit reductions in state aid to school districts that have received more than required by the school funding formula and increase aid to underfunded districts.

“They lay out a path forward for everyone, for under-aided districts and for over-aided districts. And I just really wish the Governor would support it so we all know where we’re going next year.”

A bill advancing in the New Jersey Assembly would require new school buses in the state to be equipped with lap and shoulder safety belts.

Current New Jersey law requires school buses to have lap-only belts.

Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez says including a shoulder strap would improve student safety.

Legalized sports betting is now underway in New Jersey.

Governor Phil Murphy made the first wager at Monmouth Park in Oceanport.

“I’m betting $20 on Germany to win the World Cup and $20 on the Devils to win Lord Stanley’s Cup. Let’s go.”

Several state lawmakers then joined hundreds of sports fans in placing their wagers.

Spring Lake resident Peter Kizenko was one of them.

“I’ve been looking forward to it for years. When you win now you don’t have to worry about people disappearing to get your money. Always a good thing.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy says he’s optimistic an agreement on a new state budget can be reached by the June 30th deadline even though he and lawmakers disagree on how to pay for it.

Murphy says he’s in deep discussions with legislative leaders and they’re committed to delivering a budget on time.

“I think the discussions have been constructive and they continue to be. They’re farther along on the investment side. But that doesn’t mean that the discussions on the revenue side are not constructive even though they may not be as farther along.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is making New Jersey’s strict gun laws even tougher. He’s signed a package of six new gun bills into law.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg has been trying for years to get new gun safety laws enacted. She was among the lawmakers who joined Murphy at the signing ceremony.

“Really one of the most Important pieces of legislation in this package is that legislation that allows people who know someone is going to do harm to themselves or others, have a path to remove firearms from that person.”

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would require pharmaceutical company sales representatives to be licensed by the State Board of Medical Examiners.

As a condition of getting a license, the drug reps would have to complete training on ethics and alternatives to opioids for managing and treating pain.

Angie Gochenaur with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization says the legislation could prevent valuable interactions between health care professionals and manufacturers.

The Consumer Affairs Committee in the New Jersey Assembly has approved a measure that would ban the sale of candy that was intentionally infused with harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process.

Assemblyman Gary Schaer says some candy and their wrappers that were made in Central and South America have harmful levels of lead, mercury, and cadmium.

New Jersey is considering barring stores from discriminating against customers who want to pay with cash.

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty says his bill would require cash to be accepted for any retail transaction conducted in-person in New Jersey.

“There have been credit card companies and some food chains that have said we want to go cashless. And I believe that this marginalizes people that are poor, people that don’t have access to credit, and also young people that have not established credit yet.”

 

Governor Phil Murphy has signed legislation that allows sports betting at New Jersey casinos and racetracks.

 

Murphy did not have a public ceremony to sign the bill. In a written statement, he said he’s thrilled to sign it because it means Atlantic City casino and racetracks throughout the state can attract new business and new fans.  He said it’s the right move for New Jersey and will strengthen the economy.

 

A day after the New Jersey legislature unanimously approved a bill to legalize sports betting, Governor Phil Murphy says he won’t be rushed into signing it.

Murphy says he’s giving the bill the same level of review as all other legislation that reaches his desk.

Senator Declan O’Scanlon can’t understand the delay.

A bill passed by legislative committees in both houses of the New Jersey legislature would ban smoking at public beaches and parks.

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo says many towns in New Jersey have already enacted such a ban.

“To make it a uniform code or state law I think it’s time has come.  I certainly think that we know the ill effects of smoking, particularly second-hand smoke. The litter part is another problem.”

Mark Anton with the New Jersey Vapor Rights Coalition opposes including vaping products in the ban.

A bill to set the regulations for sports betting in New Jersey is advancing in the legislature and could be ready for the governor’s signature as early as Thursday. 

Bryan Seeley, the head of investigations for Major League Baseball, urged lawmakers to add provisions to the legislation that would enable sports leagues to get information from casinos to help detect possible corruption.

“Part of my job is to protect the fans of baseball in this state and I need tools to do that.”

But he got a chilly response from Assembly Gaming Committee chairman Ralph Caputo.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering whether the voting machines now used in the state should be replaced by a paper ballot system using electronic scanners.

Princeton University computer science professor Andrew Appel says the voting machines are vulnerable to hacking.

“So we should run our elections in a way that can detect and correct for computer hacking without having to put all our trust in computers. Therefore, we cannot use paperless touchscreen voting computers. They’re a fatally flawed technology.”

Some public employees in New Jersey have been getting big payouts for unused sick time when they retire.

State workers have had a $15,000 cap on those payouts for decades. A limit that also applies to county and local employees hired since 2010.

A bill advancing the legislature would put impose some new restrictions.

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt says there would be no cash payout for leave time accrued after the enactment of her bill, but up to $7500 of the amount that was built up could be used for health care expenses for up to five years.

New Jersey lawmakers have ended their public hearings on Governor Murphy’s proposed budget and are now hoping an agreement is reached to get the budget enacted by the June 30th deadline.

Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo does not believe there will be a stalemate in budget talks that lead to a state government shutdown.

“Well I don’t think we’re that far off. I mean we’re making progress. Discussions are continuing and ongoing. I am confident that we’re not going to get to a situation that we had last year.”

A bill advancing in the New Jersey Senate would require that state parks, recreation areas and historic sites remain open to the public for 7 days if a stalemate over enacting a state budget results in a government shutdown.

Drew Tompkins with the Keep It Green Coalition says those public places should not be held hostage to budget negotiations.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would prohibit public schools and universities from selling food and beverages in Styrofoam containers.

Henry Gajda with the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters told lawmakers it takes about 500 years for a Styrofoam cup to biodegrade.

A bill advancing in the New Jersey legislature would expand Medicaid coverage to help smokers quit.

Corrine Orlando with the American Heart Association says about 14 percent of Medicaid recipients in New Jersey smoke.

"It remains the one preventable cause of death and the New Jersey Medicaid program spends over a billion dollars a year just treating smoking related illnesses."

Assembly Health Committee chairman Herb Conaway is also a doctor. He says easier access to tobacco cessation services could decrease hospital admissions.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would prevent your internet service provider from sharing your personal information without first getting your written permission.

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker says it’s a significant issue.

“Not only is our data being sold and used and they’re targeting us for advertisements. But our personal information is used for identity theft so this is a really big thing. This is about our banking. This is about our personal privacy.”

Zwicker says some internet service providers oppose his bill.

Legalized sports betting is coming to New Jersey.

The U-S Supreme Court has ruled in New Jersey's favor, striking down a 1992 federal law restricting sports wagering to Nevada and three other states.

Former state Senator Ray Lesniak has been fighting for years to legalize sports betting in New Jersey and he's thrilled with the court’s decision.

Bob Hennelly

Over forty years ago the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Mount Laurel decision was hailed nationally. It proclaimed it was unconstitutional for local zoning to exclude housing for its poor and working class.

This week Delaware became the first state in the nation to ban marriage for anyone under the age of 18. 

New Jersey lawmakers are making another attempt to pass a similar ban.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora is one of the sponsors of the legislation. He says since 1995 more than 3500 people under the age of 18 did get married in New Jersey.

“There’s probably success stories but I’m sure that there are many that would regret that decision in years to come. We want them to concentrate on school, concentrate on work, and concentrate on their future.”

A bill advanced by the Senate Labor Committee would expand New Jersey’s paid family leave program.

Dena Mottola Jaborska with New Jersey Citizen Action is pleased the legislation would increase the wage replacement rate when workers take family leave.

“Workers who are working at the lower income level will be able to get 90 percent of their salary. And workers who are at the higher earning level will be able to earn the average weekly wage in this state which is about $1200, and that is really what is considered minimally livable in our state.”

18 towns in New Jersey already prohibit smoking on their beaches. A bill advancing in the legislature would ban smoking on all public beaches in the state.

Senate Environment Committee chairman Bob Smith says a statewide ban would prevent beachgoers from being exposed to second-hand smoke and end the litter problem from the tens of thousands of cigarette butts that are left on the beaches every year.

Governor Phil Murphy has signed legislation that allows unauthorized immigrants to apply for state financial aid to attend college.

The legislation will help hundreds of immigrants who grew up in the state and attended high school in New Jersey for at least three years.

Murphy says it’s a matter of fairness.

The first of the quarterly reports on gun crime statistics that Governor Murphy ordered to be made available to the public has been released.

Murphy says 77 percent of the guns used in crimes in New Jersey in the first quarter of this year came from out of state.

“The most, 83, did not travel far. They crossed the Delaware River from Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf is pushing his legislature and taking them to task for their failure to pass common sense gun safety laws and I applaud his efforts.”

The top Republican in the New Jersey Assembly is calling Governor Phil Murphy’s agenda extreme and scary and believes there will be a budget showdown.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick says Murphy’s budget plan that ramps up spending by 8 percent and calls for $1.6 billion in tax increases is dangerous to the vitality of the state.

“He is totally disconnected not only with us as Republicans, I believe he’s totally disconnected with Democrats as well and surely disconnected with the taxpayers.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is appointing Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield vice president Bill Castner as his senior advisor on firearms.

Murphy says Castner will make sure the administration is properly tracking progress in stopping the scourge of gun violence and help identify new innovative partnerships.

“We hope that in having a single point of confluence for all of our gun safety efforts we will be a model for our nation on smart policy and smarter programs.”

A package of bills advancing in the New Jersey legislature would hold companies more accountable when consumers’ personal information gets compromised.

Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Paul Moriarty says one of the bills would allow a parent or guardian to put a freeze on a child’s credit report...preventing new credit cards being opened in their names.

So far this year there have been 336 wildfires in New Jersey, and the spring fire season isn’t over yet.

State Fire Warden Gregory McLaughlin says the risk of woodlands fires is high now because the hot weather and low humidity causes combustible material on the forest floor to dry out quickly.

“People say it rained yesterday, how can it be a fire day? It’s because the soil in the Pinelands particularly is sandy and doesn’t hold much moisture and because the deciduous trees have not leafed out fully and they’re not providing shade yet.”

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