Weekly Roundup: Week of Oct. 7

TRENTON – The issue of gay marriage rights in New Jersey keeps moving through successively higher levels of courts.

Late Friday, the N.J. Supreme Court agreed to take up the matter, and it scheduled oral arguments for either Jan. 6 or 7.  Both sides in the case were eager for the Supreme Court to agree to take jurisdiction.

It also said it would take over decision-making on whether the Sept. 27 ruling that said gay marriage licenses could be issued starting Oct. 21 should be stayed.

Earlier this week Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson rejected the state’s request that she delay her order until higher courts weigh in.

The state, as expected, is fighting that, and now the Supreme Court has said it will make the decision.

In her decision on Thursday, Jacobson brushed aside the Christie administration’s contention that the state would suffer irreparable harm if gay weddings are allowed while the courts are still deciding the matter.

Instead, the judge said that couples would suffer real harm – denials of their rights – if they are forced to wait while this matter is argued before appellate courts.

 

PSEG 

The nearly $4 billion program to upgrade PSEG’s infrastructure, Energy Strong, concluded this round of public hearings with a session in Cherry Hill.

The talking points have been set in stone for some time, and they were on display again this week.

Supporters argue that the rate hike is eminently affordable and necessary when considering the benefits.

In addition, the work will mean lots of jobs; union members have made their presence known at the hearings.

However, senior citizens have been just as visible, and argue they are the ones least able to afford a rate hike.

Also in opposition are some environmental groups who argue the PSEG plan does not go far enough in terms of including renewable energy and accounting for climate change.

The Board of Public Utilities could hold evidentiary hearings next year and then render a decision sometime in the first quarter of 2014.

 

Climate change

Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, who chairs the Telecommunications and Utilities Committee, held a hearing to collect testimony from various sources concerning climate change and to once again call upon the Christie administration to have the state rejoin the Northeast collective known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Gov. Chris Christie pulled the state from RGGI two years ago, arguing, among other things, that market forces could better accomplish what RGGI’s cap-and-trade approach could not.

Chivukula also took a ruler to the administration’s knuckles for diverting hundreds of millions of dollars in clean energy funds for other uses.

Weekly Roundup: Week of Oct. 7