NJ Politics Digest: With Cabinet Hopes Waning, Fiscal Woes Home to Roost For Christie

It’s Wednesday, and Bloomberg is the latest news outlet to take a look at the state of the state and conclude that, now that his hopes for a Washington appointment are shrinking, Gov. Chris Christie faces some stiff problems trying to correct the New Jersey issues he’d ignored while hoping to land a spot in the capital.
Meanwhile, a judge will decide by the end of the week if a special prosecutor should be appointed to handle a Bridgegate-related complaint against the governor, and the state’s affordable housing efforts are once again before a court.
The governor’s opposition to relaxing marijuana laws is also being challenged in the courts, where attorneys argue that now the drug is allowed for medical uses, should residents still be serving hard time on pot charges. The state’s fiscal woes are also figuring into efforts to reform the criminal justice system, with local governments balking, claiming they will likely have to bear more of the financial burden.

Quote of the Day: “It’s not for me to be grading the governor, but objectively there are problems of a magnitude that I’m just not sure how you cope with.” – Former Gov. Jim Florio, on the financial problems facing the state under Gov. Chris Christie.

N.J. attorneys ask the court to ‘reclassify’ pot as a less dangerous drug
Now that New Jersey has had a medical marijuana program in place for nearly seven years, shouldn’t the state change the decades-old classification of marijuana as one of the most dangerous and reviled drugs, one without any medicinal benefit?
Jan Hefler, Inquirer Read more

Cabinet Hopes Fizzling, Christie Faces State in Fiscal Crisis
Governor Chris Christie, scorned by New Jersey voters, seemingly had a political future working for Donald Trump. Now, with doubts he’ll join the president-elect’s administration, he’s pledged to finish his second term amid an unprecedented statewide financial crisis.
Elise Young and Terrence Dopp, Bloomberg Read more

Is Criminal Justice About To Become An Unfunded Mandate?
As New Jersey prepares to implement a major overhaul of its criminal justice system in January, county governments will attempt to block the effort, claiming they will be forced to pay millions of dollars for new prosecutors, sheriff’s officers, and capital improvements with no help from the state.
Caren Chesler, NJSpotlight Read more

Please Donald, offer Christie a job. A small one.
Every time Gov. Chris Christie invites speculation about his future, a tidal wave of hope washes across the state.
Tom Moran, Star-Ledger Read more

High court hears case that could change face of towns across NJ
In a case that could reshape the look and feel of many New Jersey towns, the state Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on whether municipalities must zone for the many thousands of affordable housing units that they did not zone for during the past 16 years.

David O’Reilly, Inquirer Read more

N.J. Supreme Court may ramp up affordable-housing requirements
During a tense hearing Wednesday, the state Supreme Court appeared ready to reject an argument by several towns seeking to tamp down their affordable-housing obligations.
Salvador Rizzo, The Record Read more

Just like Donald Trump: No Chris Christie tax returns yet
President-elect Donald Trump still hasn’t released his latest tax returns but he has high-level company in New Jersey.
Bob Jordan, Asbury Park Press Read more

Christie’s State House — and career — makeover
As Governor Christie sketched out plans on Tuesday to restore the State House to its Gilded Age grandeur, he slipped in perhaps his final pitch for a top post in Donald J. Trump’s administration.
Charles Stile, The Record Read more

N.J. relaxes rule barring convicted drug users from getting welfare
A drug possession conviction is no longer a barrier to receiving welfare benefits in New Jersey under a compromise bill Gov. Chris Christie signed into law Wednesday.
Susan K. Livio, NJ.com Read more

Christie signs school security, welfare bills into law
Governor Christie on Wednesday signed two bills he had previously rejected into law. One creates a special class of law enforcement officers to provide security at schools and another eases requirements for convicted drug offenders to receive welfare reform benefits.
Dustin Racioppi, The Record Read more

Judge to rule on special prosecutor in Christie case
A Superior Court Judge said she will rule by the end of the week on a motion asking that a special prosecutor be appointed in the official misconduct case against Governor Christie for his role in the Bridgegate scandal.
The Record Read more

Tom Byrne says he’s unlikely to run for governor, citing ‘uphill’ primary
The possibility of another Brendan Byrne becoming governor appears to be fading, at least for now.
Ryan Hutchins, Politico Read more

JCP&L Files With Feds, Seeking to Boost Transmission Rates
Jersey Central Power & Light is seeking to boost its transmission rates in a filing before a federal agency, sparking opposition from state regulators, the U.S. Department of Defense, and others.
Tom Johnson, NJSpotlight Read more

Police lieutenant fired for taking off during Sandy won’t get job back
A former city police officer suspended and then fired for taking off two days during Hurricane Sandy reportedly will not be reinstated to her job.
Anthony G. Attrino, NJ.com Read more

Here’s what lawmakers want from Obama to protect first responders from anthrax
Legislation to provide first responders with vaccines to protect against anthrax is on its way to President Barack Obama after clearing the U.S. House Tuesday.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

N.J. wins $17.5M grant to continue adding pre-K seats
The federal government will give New Jersey another $17.5 million to continue a preschool expansion program that has already added pre-K seats and improved programs in 17 communities, education officials said Wednesday.
Kelly Heyboer, NJ.com Read more

N.J. mayor’s kickback trial delays similar case against Jersey City doctor
The trial of a Jersey City doctor charged with taking $500,000 in kickbacks has been pushed back because the prosecutors handling the case are busy with the kickback trial of West New York Mayor Dr. Felix Roque.
Michaelangelo Conte, The Jersey Journal Read more

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