Weekly Roundup: Week of Aug. 6

TRENTON –While the mobile gaming devices bill that will allow visitors to gamble on the go became law, the state suffered a setback in its quest for legalized gambling, as sports leagues filed a lawsuit earlier this week.

The teacher tenure bill that aims to greatly reduce the amount of time it takes for hearings to take place, was signed, but other key ingredients of Gov. Chris Christie’s education reform plan remain unfulfilled.

These mixed results as well as other bill signings and vetoes made for a busier-than-usual summer week.

If Christie was afraid about the gambling lawsuit, he sure didn’t show it when asked about it at a press conference. He even questioned the federal government’s power of determining which states get to have legalized gaming 

“I don’t believe the federal government has the right to decide that only four states can have sports gambling.”

Medical marijuana

The state’s medical marijuana program took one step forward toward full implementation when the state Department of Health announced it will set up a program for patients to apply for identification cards.

Patients can also find registered physicians who can prescribe medicinal marijuana by county on the Health Department’s website.

The registration fee for patients and caregivers is $200 and is valid for two years. Patients and caregivers who qualify for certain state and federal assistance programs can pay a reduced registration fee of $20.

Bonds

In addition to the teacher tenure reform bill, the state’s colleges and universities could soon see reforms. At least their buildings will. Christie signed the $750 million bond referendum for higher education infrastructure projects. Now, it will be left to the voters to decide. The bill enjoyed near-unanimous support in the Legislature.

Gestation agreements

Christie vetoed legislation that would authorize certain gestational carrier agreements, saying the bill unquestionably raises serious and significant issues.

“While some will applaud the freedom to explore these new, and sometimes necessary, arranged births, others will note the profound change in the traditional beginnings of a family that this bill would enact,” Christie said in his veto message.

But one of the bill’s primary sponsors, Sen. Joseph Vitale, (D-19), of Woodbridge, wasn’t convinced with the governor’s reasoning, calling the veto “a major setback for parents who wish to create life and give a baby a loving home.”

Affordable housing

Affordable housing advocates made yet another plea to save the municipal housing trust funds that the state plans to take control of.

This time, they came before the Assembly Housing Committee, where during a Wednesday hearing, they said some towns who made a concerted effort to build such housing were being treated the same way as those that never intended to build such housing. Committee Chairman Jerry Green, (D-22), Plainfield, agreed, saying both sides were being painted with the same brush.

Christie vetoed the bill in late June that called for extending the deadline by which towns could commit the funds, despite strong biprtisan support.

 

 

Weekly Roundup: Week of Aug. 6