TRENTON – With the election mostly out of the way – recounts were necessary in some districts – lawmakers got back to doing what they are supposed to do: work on laws.
The tuition equality movement got the two-minute drill treatment all week long before it was passed – as expected – in committee.
If the bill is eventually signed into law, undocumented students will have access to the lower, in-state tuition rates.
The press releases, emails and press conferences came fast and furious throughout the week. Support came from Democrats, religious leaders, academics, minority groups, student groups.
Gov. Chris Christie publically supported the concept a few weeks ago before the election took place. The main issue then became not so much would it pass the Senate on this coming Monday, but what version would be voted on by the time the Assembly takes it up in coming weeks.
The Senate bill has provisions for financial aid, which is not in the Assembly version – not yet. But Speaker-to-be Vincent Prieto and sponsor Assemblyman Gordon Johnson indicated some support for that compromise on Thursday.
The Senate version cleared the Budget Committee Thursday along party lines.
The Economic Opportunity Act II began its legislative path by clearing the Senate Economic Growth Committee.
This bill from Sen. Ray Lesniak seeks to enact material left out of the first EOA.
For example, there was support for the film production tax credit, especially from Jersey City, whose Mayor Steve Fulop said his waterfront town across from New York City could benefit greatly if this became law.
Among other things, the proposal includes provisions for affordable housing and reusing old hospital sites.
The original bill, a voluminous proposal, underwent numerous amendments and votes before obtaining the governor’s signature.
This version contains some of the things pulled from that first bill, things that probably would not draw gubernatorial approval this time, either, but Lesniak is pursuing them as causes he believes are worth fighting for.
Speaking of Lesniak and causes the governor has opposed, the Senate scheduled this week a vote next Monday on trying to override Christie’s veto of a bill that would ban confinement of gestating pigs.
The Humane Society reported it’s confident this vote will produce the first successful override of a Christie veto, but it will be interesting.
The bill, sponsored by Lesniak, passed 29-4 earlier this year. Seven senators – four Republicans and three Democrats – did not vote.
So as things stand, the Senate has the votes in hand – so long as aye votes don’t become no votes on Monday.
Lawmakers set their sights on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey this week.
First Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop announced the city would sue, seeking $400 million in missed tax payments and other alleged economic harms to the city.
Then Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg intensified her pursuit of answers from the Authority on why George Washington Bridge lanes were closed in September. The resulting traffic nightmare has gone unexplained, she said, and she went to the Authority meeting on Wednesday seeking answers but suspecting, in her words, a “cover-up.”
She is pushing a resolution to give subpoena power to a Senate committee in order to get to the heart of the matter.