PolitickerNJ News Digest: Jan. 8th

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Good morning. It’s Friday and we’re all likely ready to rest up after a busy first week of politics, 2016-style. But first let’s review what happened yesterday, when the legislature convened, argued and actually got a few things accomplished.

Quote of the Day: “We have power brokers, money men and others who are pushing for their own interests, as opposed to truly the interests of the citizens of New Jersey.” – Assemblyman Chris Brown, on proposals to locate casinos in northern New Jersey.

Brown, Schepisi and McKeon Trade Barbs Over Constitutional Amendments
In a hearing of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, legislators heard public testimony on a suite of Democratically backed constitutional amendments. With no action to be taken Thursday, the hearing quickly became an opportunity for members of the committee to attack each other.
JT Aregood, PolitickerNJ Read more

Cops Body Cameras Bill Fails to Get Out of Senate Committee
The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee this afternoon failed to pass Senate Bill No. 2399, which would require all state, county and municipal law enforcement officers to wear body cameras that electronically record audio and video while acting in the performance of official duties.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Sarlo: Casino Debates Have Been a ‘Rollercoaster’
The debate about North Jersey casinos rages on.
Following the first 2016 meeting of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, a public hearing was held about the proposed senate legislation (SCR185) to allow casinos outside of the bounds of Atlantic City. The legislation—which is sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Budget Committee Chair Paul Sarlo (D-36)—is at odds with a similar Assembly bill supported by Speaker Vincent Prieto (ACR2).
Alyana Alfaro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Transportation Committee Speeds out Two Garcia-Sponsored Transit Bills
Aiming to increase the transparency and accessibility of the New Jersey Transit Corporation and protect vulnerable populations from unreasonable transit fare hikes, the Assembly Transportation Committee today passed A-4755 and A-4756, both sponsored by departing Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia (D-33).
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

New Bergen Freeholder Chairman Supports Prieto’s Casino Bill
If either of the casino bills currently making their way through the New Jersey State Senate or the Assembly were to pass, Bergen County would most likely see a casino open within its borders. For newly sworn in Bergen County Freeholder Chairman Steve Tanelli, the bill that passes needs to align with the interests his county.
Alyana Alfaro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Alex Law Responds to Wisniewski’s Norcross Endorsement
Following Assemblyman John Wisniewski’s announcement that he supports U.S. Representative Donald Norcross (D-NJ) despite his common cause with challenger Alex Law in supporting independent Bernie Sanders for president, Law says he is disappointed in the progressive Democrat’s decision. Law is running an upstart grassroots campaign in New Jersey’s first congressional district, in the heart of George Norcross III’s sphere of political influence.
JT Aregood, PolitickerNJ Read more

Q&A: New Cape May GOP Chairman Marcus Karavan
The Cape May County Republicans named a new party chairman this week, announcing that Wildwood attorney Marcus Karavan will be taking over for former chairman Mike Donohue after Donohue’s appointment to the state Superior Court.
JT Aregood, PolitickerNJ Read more

Source: Bathelus Poised to Become Prez of Elizabeth BOE
The Elizabeth Board of Education is scheduled to meet this evening, at which time the governing body will formally transition to a new era.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Best Takes the Director’s Helm of Passaic County Freeholder Board
The Passaic County Freeholders on Wednesday evening affirmed TJ Best as freeholder director.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Tanelli Becomes New Bergen Freeholders Chair
The Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders on Wednesday held its Annual Reorganization Meeting, swearing in Freeholders Steven A. Tanelli (D- North Arlington) and Tracy Silna Zur (D- Franklin Lakes) for their second three-year terms. Freeholder Thomas J. Sullivan (D- Montvale) was also sworn in for the remaining one-year term left vacant by Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco.
Politicker Staff, PolitickerNJ Read more

Despite setbacks, Democratic leaders upbeat about North Jersey casino referendum’s chances next session
The stalemate between two leading Democratic lawmakers on the details of a North Jersey casino referendum appears unlikely to end before the conclusion of the lame-duck legislative session on Monday.
John Brennan, The Record Read more

Atlantic City aid package approved, heads back to Christie
An aid package for Atlantic City and its struggling casinos has been approved by the New Jersey state Senate.
Wayne Parry, Associated Press Read more

Could a longer school day fix ‘state of emergency’? Lawmakers think so
The statistics are alarming, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora said.
In some urban school districts, including Newark and Trenton, more than 70 percent of students in certain schools failed to reach proficiency on the state’s language arts exams in 2013-14.
Adam Clark, NJ.com Read more
N.J. lawmakers approve private-sector retirement plan
People who work for a small business and do not have a retirement account would be able to make contributions to a retirement savings plan under legislation that won final passage in the legislature Thursday.
Susan K. Livio, NJ.com Read more

Christie concedes ‘I’ve changed my mind’ on guns
Gov. Chris Christie conceded Wednesday night he’s changed his mind on guns since supporting New Jersey’s semiautomatic weapons ban in the mid-1990s.
Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Paterson’s Speziale says he will take Hazleton, Pa., police job for max of 120 days
Police Director Jerry Speziale announced on Thursday that he would serve as interim chief in Hazleton, Pa. for a maximum of 120 days while the new mayor in that city looks for someone to take the job permanently.
Joe Malinconico, Paterson Press Read more

Editorial: Christie works for NJ every day, not counting 261 of them
Gov. Christie deigned to sit down with MSNBC Tuesday, and he concluded with 10 words that were used as the subject line for his campaign’s daily email: “I work every day for the people of New Jersey.”
Star-Ledger Editorial Board Read more

N.J. GOP leaders: Democrats’ redistricting plan an ‘abuse of power’
One opponent likened the plan to something Adolph Hitler would do. Another cried that King George III may as well be involved.
Brent Johnson, NJ.com Read more

N.J. lawmakers vote to raise age to buy cigarettes from 19 to 21
Forgoing sales tax revenue for public health, a state Assembly panel Thursday approved a bill that raises the age to buy tobacco and electronic cigarettes from 19 top 21.
Susan K. Livio, NJ.com Read more

With Adele singing, Christie tells Rubio: You used to like me
What a difference a campaign can make.
Gov. Chris Christie 2016 rival Sen. Marco Rubio and a campaign adviser for the senator were Christie supporters before turning anti-Christie in the Republican presidential primary.
Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Christie political travels costing taxpayers
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has spent more time than any other presidential candidate in New Hampshire, but it’s not clear how much of his campaign travel costs are being passed on to Garden State taxpayers.
Bob Jordan, Asbury Park Press Read more

N.J. pol DeMarco finally feels free to share his whole story
“You should try the Garfield Salad,” says J. Garfield DeMarco, retired cranberry magnate, former Republican Party chieftain in Burlington County, and originator of the fresh seafood-and-greens combo on the menu at Maplewood.
Kevin Riordan, Inquirer Read more

Atlantic City casino deed restriction bill goes to Assembly
A bill that would void the current deed restrictions on the former Showboat Casino Hotel was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee Thursday and now goes to the full Assembly for approval.
Diane D’Amico, The Press of Atlantic City Read more

PolitickerNJ News Digest: Jan. 8th