NJ Politics Digest: Here’s What’s Been Keeping NJ Lobbyists Busy

It’s Thursday, and state political circles are still reeling from Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop’s surprise announcement that he will not run for governor next year. But that wasn’t the only surprise in state politics on Wednesday, as ELEC announced it’s report showing the influence of lobbyist on the state legislature and the areas they have been targeting, another report showing New Jersey has a dismal climate for business and more bad news on the state of the state pension system.
For all this, and more, read on.

Quote of the Day: “I think the one thing that this report shows is that it’s not that easy to get legislation passed. In fact, many lobbyists will tell you that a big part of their job is actually blocking legislation from ever happening,” – Jeff Brindle, executive director of the Election Law Enforcement Commission, when releasing a report detailing lobbyist activities in Trenton.

Report: NJ budget, minimum wage bill among biggest targets for lobbyists this year
The biggest targets for lobbyists so far this year have been the state budget and bills that would affect health care insurance, the minimum wage and paid sick leave, according to a report issued Wednesday by a state watchdog agency.
John Ensslin, The Record Read more

N.J. has worst business climate in U.S, study says
New Jersey has the nation’s worst business climate, according to a study released Wednesday, giving the Garden State a dubious distinction for the third consecutive year.
Michael L. Diamond, Asbury Park Press Read more

Fulop won’t run for N.J. governor, a ‘game-changer’ for 2017 race to succeed Christie
It’s long been expected that the battle for the Democratic nomination for governor next year would boil down to a bruising, three-way race between Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, former banking executive Phil Murphy, and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney.
Brent Johnson, NJ.com Read more

Fulop says it’s about Murphy, and only Murphy
After three years of grueling preparation that included endless travel to political events across the state, meetings with power brokers and fundraising, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop ended his gubernatorial ambitions with little more than a shrug.
Matt Friedman, Politico Read more

Is Fulop’s gubernatorial decision tied to testimony in Bridgegate trial?
The surprising announcement expected Wednesday that Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop had decided he will not be candidate for governor in 2017 comes one day after his name once again surfaced at the Bridgegate trial ongoing in federal court.
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Jersey City residents have mixed reactions to Fulop’s stunning decision
Mayor Steven Fulop’s surprise decision to forgo a run at governor in 2017 and instead focus on re-election was met by a wide range of reactions from locals today.
Corey McDonald, The Jersey Journal Read more

N.J. pension fund lost money on investments last year
The fiscal year that ended in June was a rough one for New Jersey’s public employee pension fund as it lost nearly 1 percent on its investments, state officials reported Wednesday.
Samantha Marcus, NJ.com Read more

Lawmakers propose 3-year degree, other changes to lower college cost
Calling the price of New Jersey colleges a threat to the state’s future, Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday called for income tax deductions on interest paid on student loans, more state financial aid, three-year degrees and a series of other initiatives aimed at saving students money.
Adam Clark, NJ.com Read more

Three hospitals claim NJ’s largest health insurer owes them over $76M
The long simmering dispute over New Jersey’s high charges for out-of-network hospital care spilled into federal court this week, when three Hudson County hospitals known for some of the highest prices in the nation sued the state’s largest health insurer, alleging the company owed them more than $76 million.
Linda Washburn, The Record Read more

Bridgegate trial: Wildstein was still on ‘governor’s team’
Governor Christie’s top spokesman was told early in December 2013 that the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge were political retaliation against Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor, David Wildstein, the former agency executive who devised the plot, said in federal court today.
Dustin Racioppi, The Record Read more

Wildstein: I told Christie’s spokesman, others about Bridgegate plot as scandal grew
As the Bridgegate scandal rapidly spiraled out of control, David Wildstein testified he began telling people in the governor’s inner circle the truth.
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Christie on Trump-Clinton debate: Lester Holt is an ‘idiot’
Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday defended Donald Trump’s performance in his first presidential debate against Hillary Clinton — and added the event’s moderator, Lester Holt, to the list of people he’s called an “idiot.”
Brent Johnson, NJ.com Read more

Bridgegate testimony could cut Christie’s last political lifeline
Testimony by a former ally of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie that the Republican knew about the “Bridgegate” traffic scandal as it was going on could endanger his best chance at a political future: a role in a Trump administration.
Scott Malone, Reuters Read more

N.J. stats show nearly two-thirds of students at one Paterson high school were suspended
More than half the students at two Paterson high schools were suspended during the 2014-2015 academic year, according to statistics compiled by the state education department.
Joe Malinconico, The Record Read more

Congress rejects Obama veto on 9/11 bill; first override of his presidency
The House and Senate Wednesday voted to reject President Obama’s veto of legislation allowing lawsuits against foreign sponsors of terrorism in the first successful override of a presidential veto since Obama took office.
USA Today Read more

N.J. bill would ease reliance on student test scores in teacher reviews
The New Jersey State Assembly is expected to vote on a bill Thursday that would eliminate the use of students’ standardized test scores as a factor in teacher evaluations.
Hannan Adely, The Record Read more

Concern raised over Eatontown mayor’s new job
Mayor Dennis Connelly, who already receives $75,000 in government checks, has landed a $74,000-a-year, unadvertised job as manager of the state Motor Vehicle Commission’s Freehold agency.
Dan Radel, Asbury Park Press Read more

NJ Transit decision key to JCP&L power line fight
In its fight against a proposed $111 million high-voltage transmission line, a group of Monmouth County residents hope NJ Transit will short circuit Jersey Central Power & Light’s plans.
David P. Willis, Asbury Park Press Read more

Homelessness hits Freeholder Kelly’s family
Ocean County Freeholder Director Jack Kelly has reiterated the board’s position that it has no plans to build a homeless shelter, even as the issue has touched his own family.
Erik Larsen, Asbury Park Press Read more

Cops often abuse confidential databases to snoop on romantic partners, journalists and celebrities
Police officers across the country misuse confidential law enforcement databases to get information on romantic partners, business associates, neighbors, journalists and others for reasons that have nothing to do with daily police work, an Associated Press investigation has found.
Associated Press Read more

Morris County Trump office open in Parsippany
One day after Donald Trump’s first debate with Hillary Clinton, a debate of sorts broke out in Morris County about whether the Republican candidate for president had opened a campaign office in Morris County.
William Westhoven, Daily Record Read more

Recall effort against Bayonne mayor fails amid infighting by organizers
A months-long recall effort against Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis has ended after the committee behind the initiative failed to submit a recall petition by the required deadline.
Jonathan Lin, The Jersey Journal Read more

Father of Ahmad Rahami says in interview his son ‘did everything by himself’
The father of Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings, told ABC7 in an interview Wednesday that his son “did everything by himself.”
Craig McCarthy, NJ.com Read more

Opinion: Who’s telling the truth about Bridgegate?
So, who’s lying about whether Gov. Chris Christie knew about the George Washington Bridge lane closings while they were happening?
Asbury Park Press Read more

Washington Post columnist calls for Christie’s impeachment
If you’re going to impeach the governor, don’t wait.
That’s what long-time syndicated columnist Richard Cohen urged New Jersey lawmakers Wednesday in his column — to act fast so they’ll still have time to impeach Gov. Chris Christie before his time in office runs out.
The Auditor, NJ.com Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Here’s What’s Been Keeping NJ Lobbyists Busy