Up for votes: medical marijuana, tuition equality, more

TRENTON – The Legislature will hold concurrent voting sessions Thursday, taking up before the holidays a number of bills, including ones dealing with controversial topics such as open space, medical marijuana, and tuition equality.

The tuition equality act, A4225, will be up for a vote and may be the day’s most controversial bill.

It not only will allow undocumented students to pay the lower, in-state tuition, it would make them eligible for financial aid.

Gov. Chris Christie, before the election, said he supported the DREAM Act, but after the election, he said he opposed the specific bill winding its way through the Legislature.

Democrats and bill supporters accused him of flip-flopping, but Christie said his stance has been consistent.

The bill facing a vote on Thursday in the Assembly would make New Jersey an outlier, as Christie termed it, and he won’t support it.

But Democrats seem on course to make this an issue for the governor who has possible presidential aspirations down the road.

Tickets, please

A ticket transparency bill awaits an Assembly vote Thursday.

This legislation, in various forms, has been around since 2011, and seeks to protect consumers.

Among other things, A2258 will require sellers to post on websites the number of tickets being sold to the public as well as the number of tickets held back.

The proposal would bring some transparency to an issue that has occurred at some concerts in which artists essentially ‘scalp’ their own tickets without the public being aware of what is going on.

The bill also would allow use of paperless tickets but also allow the purchaser the option of reselling them.

If the original seller wants to keep paperless tickets nontransferable then the purchaser has to be given the option of buying a regular ticket that can be transferred.

The bill addresses the growing issues of the so-called secondary market and the right of buyers to resell their tickets.

The Senate passed 30-0 its version earlier.

Breast milk

Bills that would provide for licensing of so-called human milk banks and establishing a public awareness campaign regarding the sharing of breast milk will be up for final Assembly votes.

A3703 and A3702 address the growing practice of the storage of breast milk for mothers unable to nurse.

The practice is largely unregulated nationwide and thus the state has no idea how many such banks are operating nor under what conditions milk might be stored.

Sex offenders

Megan’s Law, the sex offender registry, will be up for modifications when A3886 is voted on in the Assembly.

In addition to upgrading from second- to first-degree assaults against impaired victims, the bill also would establish circumstances so that youths guilty of “sexting” would not necessarily be registered as sex offenders.

Also, the bill would require offenders to pay a fee toward their monthly monitoring.

The Senate had passed a version earlier this year, but the Assembly has since amended the bill.

Medical marijuana

The attempt to expand medical marijuana will be up for a vote. A4537 would permit access for out-of-state patients and would allow state residents to use medical marijuana obtained from other jurisdictions.

Gov. Chris Christie has been adamant about not allowing the state’s program to balloon to proportions he says are out of control as has occurred in some Western states.

The Senate version is still in the committee stage.

Open space

A bill to provide $200 million through bonds to develop a new source of dependable funding to preserve open space and farmland will be up for a vote in the Assembly.

A4541 is one of two proposals afloat. 

The other, a proposed constitutional amendment, would use $200 million in sales tax money, or 2.4 percent, whichever is lower, in a given year. That one is not up for a vote yet.

There is disagreement on which avenue is the better of the two.  Gov. Chris Christie opposes the sales tax route, and has warned that if that ever becomes law, then he will be the one to make the tough decisions about which other programs will lose funding in order to pay for the sales tax revenue that would be diverted.

Pig confinement

Originally posted on the board list this week in the Senate, the bill S1921 was not on the list today.

The vetoed bill that would ban confinement of gestating pigs went up for a veto override attempt earlier but when it was clear there were not enough votes it was pulled back to await another attempt.

Democratic Sen. and failed gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono was not present at the first veto override vote, and sponsor Sen. Ray Lesniak said then he would bring it back when Buono was able to attend a voting session.



Up for votes: medical marijuana, tuition equality, more