Morning News Digest: June 29, 2010

Assembly approves personalized sports plates

The horse is still dead but the beating has finally stopped. After a 90 minute discussion of personalized sports team license plates the assembly approved a bill that would allow the state to sell specialty plates with team logos on them. Teams would collect about half the revenue on the plates. The bill would reportedly raise somewhere between $880,000 and $1 million, a fraction of the overall $29.4 billion budget that will eventually be voted on tonight. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)

Sarlo: Christie’s allegiance with richest residents

Senate lawmakers stand on the floor now and state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) drills Gov. Chris Christie on his budget priorities. “His true allegiance lies with the state’s richest residents,” says the senate budget committee chairman. “The ultimate test of the budget is to the ultimate test of true shared sacrifice, and I believe this budget fails that test.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) Vitale’s heathcare bill clears senate The Senate passes 23-17 a bill authored by state Sen. Joe Vitale (D-Woodbridge) that would allow 39,000 uninsured parents to enroll in FamilyCare, a low cost health care management plan. The bill would dedicate $24.6 million from the general fund and give it to FamilyCare. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Sen. Frank Lautenberg: Lymphoma is ‘gone’ 

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, now the oldest senator after the death of Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia Monday morning, said he is “cancer-free and feels terrific. “The nice, good, intelligent doctors confirmed all the bad cells are gone,” Lautenberg said at a Paterson gathering to celebrate a $4.5 million federal grant awarded for the construction of a new firehouse. (Williams/Jackson, The Record) 

N.J. GOP lawmakers all to vote for budget

 Assembly Republicans say the drama is over: Every member will cast a yes vote for the budget and all of its ancillary bills. “Let me put it this way: The entire caucus is with the governor on this,” said Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Union), the body’s second-highest-ranking Republican. Governor Christie spent part of the day persuading two reluctant conservative Assembly members – Allison Littell McHose (R-Sussex) and Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris) to support the budget. Both took issue with the way the budget distributes cuts to school funding. (Friedman, The Record) 

NJN’s future in lawmakers’ hands 

NJN’s future is in the Legislature’s control today, as it decides whether a commission should study transferring the public television and radio stations’ assets to an independent non-profit. The bill, introduced last week and approved by Senate and Assembly committees, runs counter to a privatization proposal endorsed by Howard Blumenthal, NJN’s interim executive director. Blumenthal wants the state to transfer all of the network’s assets to a non-profit; a union representing network employees estimates the assets to be valued at $200 million. (Young, The Record) 

NJ lawmakers consider delaying medical marijuana 

 Lawmakers are voting Monday on a plan to delay the start of New Jersey’s legal medical marijuana program by three months. Gov. Chris Christie asked for a delay. The Legislature passed a law earlier this year to allow patients with certain conditions to buy pot from alternative treatment centers. It was to go in effect July 1 — but the first legal sales would not have come until at least October. (AP) 

Jon Runyan using a 1994 playbook in District 3 race

 Republican congressional candidate Jon Runyan seems to be tearing a page out of the Contract With America, a 1994 campaign document that helped Republicans gain control of Congress for the first time in 40 years. Since the June 8 primary for the Third Congressional District seat that covers parts of Burlington and Ocean Counties and that includes Cherry Hill in Camden County, the former Eagles tackle has called for term limits and a balanced budget. Both were part of the 1994 campaign and both eventually failed. (Burton, Inquirer) 

Bill capping salaries of leaders of state, local authorities passes 

N.J. Assembly Leaders of independent state and local authorities would not be able to make more than the governor’s $175,000 salary if a bill that passed the state Assembly Monday becomes law. Under the bill (A2505), which passed 77-0, new authority executive directors would not be able to make more than the governor, while other employees would not be able to make more than the $141,000 state cabinet officer salary unless approved by the Local Finance Board or the State Treasurer. (The Record) 

N.J. bill allowing students to attend schools in other districts advances 

A little-known pilot program that allows children to attend school in districts where they are not residents would be made permanent under a bill that cleared the Senate Monday. The bill (A355) makes the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program, which started in 2000 and has continued as a pilot program since expiring in 2005, permanent. It passed 38-0. (Friedman, The Record) 

Ingle: Bobbsey Twins strike again 

Speaker Sheila Oliver and Assembly Democrat Leader Joe “Trough Swiller” Cryan, the Bobbsey Twins of the Assembly, are making sure voters don’t get a chance to vote in November on whether to have a 2.5 percent cap on property tax hikes. Oliver and Cryan, (He’s also a deputy sheriff and former Democratic Party chief, where does he find the time for all this ‘public service’?) said they’ve assigned nearly three dozen property tax reform ideas (including the 2.5 percent cap which was split between two legislators) to 12 Assembly Democrats who will review the concepts over the summer in preparation for legislative action in the fall. (Ingle, Gannett) Morning News Digest: June 29, 2010