NJ Politics Digest: Trenton Makes … Bills That Stink Sometimes

Used cars. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a used-car industry known for legal chincanery is having tremendous success in the Legislature, which is on the verge of sanctioning its ability to defraud consumers and operate in the dark. Amazingly, the Assembly passed the bill 77-0.

After weeks of seeing Senate President Steve Sweeney come under heavy fire from the NJEA, some of his allies in the Democratic Party and supportive unions are punching back.

And efforts to legalize recreational marijuana use get a public airing today at a hearing in Trenton.

Quote of the Day:This in no way, shape, or form serves the public interest.” – Raymond Martinez, Motor Vehicle Commission administrator.

How a ‘sham’ South Jersey auto business with alleged mob ties is changing policy in Trenton
New Jersey’s used-car industry is a haven for unpaid taxes, suspicious financial transactions, and rampant consumer fraud enabled by “phantom regulation,” an independent state investigative agency reported 18 months ago. What’s the response in Trenton? Legislation that the state’s top motor-vehicle regulator says would make it easier for these bad actors to operate and further erode consumer protections.
Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Read more

3 N.J. Democrats also want to repeal Obamacare. But they have a very different solution.
Not all the calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act are coming from Republicans.
Three N.J. House Democrats are among 113 sponsors of legislation to replace the health care law, which relies on private insurance companies, with a government-run, single-payer plan.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

Christie struggles to recover as disappointment runs deep
Gov. Chris Christie, who fell out of the running for president and then for a position in the Trump administration, has worked to improve his image this year, dedicating himself to the state and nation’s opioid epidemic and opening up again to New Jersey’s press corps.
It hasn’t worked.
Michael Catalini, Associated Press Read more

Marijuana Legalization Effort Gets Hearing on Monday
The lead advocate for legalizing recreational marijuana in New Jersey, state Sen. Nick Scutari, will hold a hearing on Monday on a legislative blueprint he introduced in May.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Sweeney Allies Strike Back at NJEA
“Wall Street”-sized paychecks and support for pro-Trump candidate show union is out of touch, Sweeney’s defenders say.
Salvador Rizzo, Observer Read more

Chris Christie’s wife Mary Pat pulled in $500,000 in deferred pay from old job
Gov. Chris Christie’s run for president ended with a dismal showing in the first nominating contests of 2016 — but it wasn’t a bad year for the Christie family.
Bob Jordan, Asbury Park Press Read more

Regulatory reform: Donald Trump offers hope to commuters Christie ignored
Lost in all the hubbub in Washington last week was a speech that illustrated why Donald Trump is the president and Chris Christie is setting new records in the field of gubernatorial unpopularity.
Paul Mulshine, NJ.com Read more

Trump to Cuba: Return woman convicted in NJ trooper murder
President Donald Trump on Friday demanded that Cuba return a woman convicted of the murder of a New Jersey state trooper as he announced changes to Obama-era policy toward the country.
Associated Press Read more

Fate of ‘dreamers’ in the U.S. remains uncertain
Carimer Andujar went to public schools in Passaic, works part-time jobs as a barista and a union intern, and is studying chemical engineering at Rutgers University.
Hannan Adely, The Record Read more

Winners and Losers: Lawmakers Giveth; Lawmakers Taketh Away
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Senate President Steve Sweeney were able to finally come to an agreement on school funding, but their plan to add $125 million in funding and redistribute $46 million from some districts to others seemed to get a fair share of skepticism from a variety of stakeholders. (Phil Murphy did say the plan was “better than nothing.”)
Observer Read more

What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about who will be the next gov; Comey, Russian probe
The following exchange between former New Jersey governors Brendan T. Byrne and Tom Kean took place via phone last week.
Star-Ledger Read more

DHS Official Defends Medicaid Payment Reform
Just two weeks before dozens more community mental health providers are scheduled to shift to a controversial new Medicaid “fee-for-service” payment system that ties state payments to specific services, New Jersey officials stressed that the transition is on track and glitches discovered earlier will help smooth the process for those still to come.
Lilo H. Stainton, NJSpotlight Read more

Willingboro mayor resigns a week after winning a primary race
Willingboro Township’s beleaguered mayor resigned Friday, just one week after winning a contested primary race for reelection to another term.
Jan Hefler, Inquirer Read more

7-year-old injured in collision involving Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian
Atlantic City police said a 7-year-old girl ran off the sidewalk and into the street — and straight into the side of a car being driven by Mayor Don Guardian on Saturday afternoon.
Samantha Melamed, Inquirer Read more

Lakewood’s SCHI 99 percent white, despite minority school district
A Lakewood special-education school, which has been under fire since its director was indicted earlier this year, caters almost exclusively to white students, despite receiving millions of tax dollars from a mostly minority school district, an Asbury Park Press investigation has found.
Payton Guion, Asbury Park Press Read more

Guadagno Speaks at Muslim American Ramadan Celebration
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, the Republican nominee for governor, stood at the foot of a two-story American flag as she addressed attendees of an interfaith Ramadan dinner sponsored by the American Muslim Council, a group and political action committee dedicated to getting Muslim Americans involved in politics.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Murphy: Democratic School Funding Plan ‘Better Than Nothing’
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy carefully answered a question about reworking school funding in New Jersey, saying Friday that a deal struck by the Legislature’s Democratic leaders this week is “better than nothing.”
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Dominatrix-turned-cop breaks her silence
She’s stomped on her share of sex slaves — but the New Jersey sheriff’s officer who once worked as a dominatrix sobbed like a submissive at the thought of losing her new gig in law ­enforcement.
NY Post Read more

Englewood councilman berated police after car towed
A city councilman who had his car towed from the front of his house in December blasted the city Police Department in an angry phone call, and accused the department of targeting him as the City Council reworked its towing contractor regulations.
Svetlana Shkolnikova, The Record Read more

Opinion: Guadagno had 7 years to prepare for gov, but Murphy shows he knows more
Then there were two.
And though the outcome has been apparent since Phil Murphy succeeded in clearing the top-tier challengers from the Democratic primary field last September, both the campaigns and results of the gubernatorial primaries indicate that Murphy’s path to the governorship is a straight and clear one.
Brigid Callahan Harrison Read more

Editorial: Legislators race to catch up to this modern medical practice
Even as New Jersey lags behind many of its neighbors when it comes to regulating telemedicine – basically, the practice of replacing face-to-face doctor visits with technology – legislators are scurrying to bring the state in line with the rest of the country.
Times of Trenton Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Trenton Makes … Bills That Stink Sometimes