Morning Digest: Nov. 26, 2013


Christie says he won’t support Dream Act in current form, Sweeney accuses him of reneging

Senate President Steve Sweeney is lashing out at Gov. Chris Christie over comments the Republican governor made about the Legislature’s Dream Act proposal.

The top Democratic lawmaker says Christie is reneging on a campaign promise to sign legislation that would give undocumented students a chance at paying in-state tuition rates at state colleges. Christie told residents on a monthly call-in show that he would not support legislation in its current form. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)





Ramos endorses 3 out of 5 Newark Democratic ward chairmen  

NEWARK – In a continued push to demonstrate organizational strength in the face of strong challenges, Newark mayoral candidate and North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr. accepted the endorsement on Monday of three out of five Democratic ward chairmen at his North Ward headquarters. 

North Ward Democratic Chairwoman Frances Adubato, East Ward Democratic Chairman Angelo DiFederico and Central Ward Democratic Chairman Bishop Andre Speight stood behind Ramos as he staked his claim to all of Newark. (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)





Immigration advocates’ last-ditch pitch

Immigration reform forces’ last-ditch pitch for action before the end of the year: individual political self-interest.

They’ve tried appeals to presidential politics, economic and tax calculations, rational argument, Christian and moral values, humanity, the American spirit. They’ve pushed the idea of giving Washington something positive to show for 2013. As President Barack Obama noted Monday in San Francisco, there’s even a group of people camping out on the Mall in a fasting protest that Vice President Joe Biden visited Monday. (Dovere/Politico)






President Barack Obama consistently reminds people he’ll never be on a ballot again, but that’s not stopping him from raising money. Lots of it. 

The president, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have dedicated much of 2013 to filling the campaign coffers of fellow Democrats in a major fundraising push, visiting more than a dozen states for more than 60 events this year. (Tau and Epstein/Politico)




Flood control, distracted driving measure advance in N.J. Assembly

New measures aimed at controlling flooding along the Hackensack River and cutting down on distracted driving passed legislative committees in Trenton on Monday. Broad changes to New Jersey’s alimony law were also up for debate but were not brought to a vote. (Linhorst/The Record) 





All eyes on N.J. as online casino gambling rolls out

Online gambling in the U.S. today takes what industry experts say is the most significant step yet — the rollout of online casino gambling in New Jersey.

Nevada residents and visitors have been able to play state-sanctioned online poker since April, and those in Delaware have had that option since last month. (Brennan/The Record) 





Stiffer penalties sought for drug dealing 

TRENTON — State lawmakers are looking to upgrade the penalties for dealing drugs such as heroin, LSD and methamphetamine by letting prosecutors press charges based on the number of doses, rather than the drug’s weight.

The bill, whose primary sponsors include Assembly members DiAnne Gove and Brian Rumpf, R-Ocean, was advanced Monday by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, sending it to the full Assembly for possible consideration. A companion bill in the Senate hasn’t yet had a hearing.

The bill is intended to increase penalties for drug distribution, not possession. For instance, it would become a first-degree offense to have one ounce or more of heroin with the intent to distribute, rather than the current five ounces, or 500 units of cocaine or heroin. (Symons/Asbury Park Press) 





Should beach fees be set by counties?

TRENTON — Is it time for the counties to take control of beaches — and beach badges — away from Shore towns?

Democrats in the Legislature say yes. Their argument: If Shore towns gave up control of their beaches, it would clear the way for a regional approach to fortifying against storms. There could be a single beach badge issued by the county, good in any town, and local officials would no longer have to worry about maintaining and policing the tourist hot spots.

Bill A-3891 from Democrats was advanced Monday by the Assembly Environment Committee in a party-line vote. A Senate committee approved the bill in April. Next up are votes by the full Assembly and Senate. (Jordan/Asbury Park Press) 




Commissioner Faces Difficult Choice on Coverage Option Offered by Obama

Experts say Kobylowski must balance wishes of NJ consumers with what works best for insurance marketplace

New Jersey Commissioner of Banking and Insurance Kenneth Kobylowski is weighing whether to allow thousands of state residents to keep their recently cancelled health insurance plans.

The decision will have major policy and political implications over the next year. (Kitchenman/NJSpotlight) 





Assembly Committee Advances Bills to Consolidate Coastline Protections

Beyond safeguarding Jersey Shore from extreme weather, one bill would also eliminate separate beach tags, possibly proving a boon to tourism

Using insights gleaned from Hurricane Sandy, state legislators moved yesterday to strengthen and consolidate coastline protections to mitigate damage from future storms.

After a series of afternoon hearings turned up limited opposition, the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee released five bills that would update environmental regulations and shift some decisions away from municipalities and into the hands of higher-level governmental and regional entities. (Nurin/NJSpotlight) 





N.J. lawmaker introduces bill allowing medical marijuana patients to buy from oter state programs

TRENTON — Registered medical marijuana patients in New Jersey would be allowed to buy the drug in another state where it’s legal and consume it here under a bill introduced in the state Assembly today.

The idea came from Meghan and Brian Wilson of Scotch Plains, who earlier this year waged a public battle to loosen the restrictions of the state program for kids on behalf of their 2-1/2-year-old daughter, Vivian, diagnosed with a serious form of drug-resistant epilepsy. The Wilsons had hoped they could buy a rare strain of pot here that is produced in edible form by a Colorado grower that has shown to reduce the severity and frequency of seizures in other children.

But despite changes in New Jersey law that were meant to make a wider variety of marijuana strains and products available, the Wilsons say they are no closer to a remedy. The two operating medical marijuana dispensaries in the state are not producing edible products yet. Meghan Wilson said she and her husband figured out how to cook the product down to an oil, but the state Health Department’s laboratory is not yet capable of testing the product’s potency. (Livio/Star-Ledger) 




Democrats go after Chris Christie for Oklahoma governor fundraiser

TRENTON — Ahead of Gov. Chris Christie’s first fundraising trip as chairman of the Republican Governors Association next week, the Democratic National Convention is launching a campaign to paint his fellow governors’ views as out of step with the mainstream.

Christie will headline a $125-a-head fundraiser for Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallinon Dec. 5.

The DNC called Fallin a “harshly anti-LGBT governor” for ordering the National Guard to move marriage benefits processing services from state-owned facilities to federally-owned facilities. She made the change to keep the spouses of same-sex reservists from accessing their benefits through the state. (Portnoy/Star-Ledger) 





New Jersey’s Debut of Online Betting Marks Test for U.S. Casinos

New Jersey resident Trever Walton has been visiting casinos from Atlantic City to Las Vegas for more than two decades.

Now that the Garden State has legalized online gambling, he can wager from the comfort of his own home as well.

As the most populous state to allow residents to place bets over the Internet, New Jersey will test whether virtual and land-based casinos can thrive side-by-side. Gambling companies in Atlantic City, where revenue has shrunk for almost seven years, and their online partners lobbied for legalization, arguing that Web-based poker, blackjack and slots would bring in fresh revenue and bolster their properties. (Palmeri and Young/Bloomberg) 





Chris Christie Didn’t Commit Support to Rob Astorino

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had a “routine meeting” with potential New York gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino last week, but expressed no commitment of support for his possible challenge to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to a person familiar with the matter.

During a gathering of the Republican Governors Association, in Arizona, Mr. Christie, the new chairman of the organization, had “a pretty routine meeting that he would do with any challenger given his new role with RGA,” this person said of Mr. Christie’s conversation with the Westchester County executive.

“There was no commitment of support,” this person added.

A spokesman for Mr. Astorino, Phil Oliva, said that “this was a private meeting and it was a private conversation, and that’s all we’ll have to say.” (Orden and Haddon/Wall Street Journal) 




From the Back Room


CD 3 Update: The Shelley Adler Cherry Hill Problem for Gary Cobb and Carpenters v. Lonegan  

Don’t rule out a football player running for the CD 3 seat, but at least one source says establishment GOP support won’t likely materialize for another curious former Philadelphia Eagles player.

In recent days, Garry Cobb reached out to the Republican Party to inquire about the availability of the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R-3), the offensive lineman turned federal lawmaker.

One source told that while the party appreciates Cobb, he presents a challenge that could make him a non-starter as a candidate. (PolitickerNJ)







The New Economic Development – Not All of Us Can Be Hipsters

Pushing well-prepared urban students toward higher-education is one way to establish a home-grown creative class

Economic development used to be a fairly simple affair. States and cities would tout their plans for economic development by rolling out tax incentives, land swaps, trade missions (yes, some cities had trade missions), and efforts to improve the local quality of life (parks, neighborhood security).

These people- and capital-attraction policies can be useful tools for economic development. Increasingly, though, experienced practitioners will tell you that developing local economies is becoming a very complicated business. While attraction policies still have influence, the real base of economic development is inviting and nurturing talented residents who can drive the not-so-new information economy. (Anglin/NJSpotlight)  

Morning Digest: Nov. 26, 2013