TRENTON – The sponsor of the pig confinement ban bill – which narrowly missed a successful veto override today but could be brought back at another session – said he was not surprised at the 24-11 tally.
“Sen. Tom Kean told me I didn’t have the votes’’ to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of the confinement ban, Sen. Ray Lesniak said after the session today.
But his strategy now is to attempt another veto override vote at the next Senate voting session and hope that Sen. Barbara Buono – who just lost the gubernatorial race and did not attend today’s session -will be in attendance.
Of the eight GOP senators who originally voted in favor of the pig confinement ban earlier this year, two stood by Lesniak today: Sens. Diane Allen and Christopher Bateman.
Bateman, a sponsor of the bill as well, said his commitment to the bill did not waver. “The practice is inhumane,’’ he said in favor of the bill that would prevent gestating pigs from being confined.
But Kean – fresh off a successful defense of his post as Minority Leader – talked about why he changed his vote from yes to no.
“We still hope to find common ground between advocates and opponents,’’ he said after the session today.
He referenced concerns brought by the Department of Agriculture, but Lesniak had said earlier that in crafting the bill that drew bipartisan support they had compromised as much as possible with the state.
Kean touched on his relationship with Gov. Chris Christie and said only, “We have ongoing meetings. We have a very strong partnership.”
And Lesniak said in regards to the Republicans who switched votes to oppose a veto override: “I just ask them to vote their conscience. I want to profusely thanks Sens. Allen and Bateman for voting their conscience today.”
There will be another chance, Lesniak said, who made an impassioned plea for the bill during the lead-up to the vote and described the cruel conditions under which gestating pigs are kept: “there is no reason for a pregnant sow … they are confined 80 percent of their entire life … they can’t roll over. They can’t stand up. They can’t turn around.”