Weekly Roundup: Week of Dec. 16

TRENTON – It is often called the DREAM Act, but by the time it gained final passage on Thursday, it was not exactly what some people envisioned.

Gov. Chris Christie won this tug of war, having made it clear he would not sign a bill offering undocumented students lower in-state tuition if it also offered them financial aid.

The tuition equality bill was passed in the Assembly, CV’d by the governor, concurred with by the Senate, and then voted on again in the Assembly, before being shipped to the governor’s office for his anticipated signature.

The deal that was brokered left backers claiming victory, even if they had to buckle on earlier stances about including access to financial aid.

It left some students displeased and feeling a bit betrayed, even. They said that while they are grateful students now have access to the lower tuition, this bill still delays true equality.

It left those out of the compromise discussions, such as the Assembly Republicans and some of the lower chamber Democrats, feeling marginalized.

Now, Christie has a bill that one pundit said lets him attempt to do two things at once: tell the Tea Party he prevented an unfair bill from becoming law, and tell minorities he signed a bill that will help them.


Christie said on Thursday the media is obsessed with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and that he personally is not all that concerned.

He said that a mistake was made by his appointees and they both quit.  Case closed.

Not quite.

On the same day, subpoenaed documents from some Authority honchos were due in the hands of the Assembly Transportation Committee, and Chair John Wisniewski said they will begin the process of scrutinizing the material.

He granted the former N.J. appointees – who just got lawyered up – an extension, but not as long as the one they sought.

And West Virginia Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, the chair of the Transportation Committee, launched a federal probe into the lane closures debacle.

This matter is not going away anytime soon.


Among bills advancing in end-of-year, lame-duck committees was one to prohibit an employer from inquiring into an applicant’s criminal history until a conditional offer of employment is made.

The ‘Ban the box’ bill has a ways to go before full chambers would vote on it, but the battles lines are clear.

Business groups decry this intrusion into the ability of employers to assess prospective employees.

Supporters of the measure say it actually will help businesses save money: Rather than conducting many criminal history checks at the beginning of the job-interviewing process, they only would have to conduct one or two as offers of employment are made.


Also working their way through the Statehouse are open space preservation measures that are at odds.

The Senate is pushing a proposed constitutional amendment to use sales tax proceeds to fund preservation. The Assembly touts a bill to use a bond issue.

Each proposal has its backers and detractors, and as Sen. Bob Smith said on Thursday, it does not appear as if a compromise is possible.

Assemblyman Nelson Albano, who already lost election in November, lost in front of the state Ethics committee this week.

It ruled he violated the public trust and fined him $500 over how he conducted himself during a traffic stop back in February 2012.







Weekly Roundup: Week of Dec. 16