NJ Politics Digest: New Laws and Tax Cuts for the New Year

It’s the start of the first week of the new year, and with the advent of 2017 also comes the implementation of new laws and the tax cuts hammered out as part of the the agreement to boost New Jersey’s gas tax by 23 cents per gallon. But critics say the cuts, which include a .125-percent cut in the state’s 7 percent sales tax doesn’t do enough for low- and middle-class families who are now paying substantially more at the pumps.
The Record, meanwhile, takes a look at the political maneuvering likely to take place as lame-duck Gov. Chris Christie finishes out his final year with near record-low approval ratings and the shadow of Bridgegate hanging over him. Throw in some high-profile departures, an unwelcome bit of notoriety for a respected Bergen County attorney and a New York Times editorial taking the governor to task and it seems the next 12 months will once again be full of interesting stories for the state’s political players.

Quote of the Day: “It’s only noticeable if you are making a large purchase. Generally those who spend that much on consumer goods need the least tax relief.” – New Jersey Policy Perspective Vice President Jon Whiten, on the cut in the state sales tax from 7 percent to 6.875 percent.

Here’s how 8 N.J. laws taking effect Jan. 1 might affect you
New tax breaks, a slight bump in the minimum wage and an opportunity for adopted people to obtain their original birth certificates await New Jerseyans as a plethora of high-impact laws take effect in 2017.
Susan K. Livio, NJ.com Read more

What Tax Cuts Took Effect Jan. 1
Many drivers are still reeling from a 23-cent increase in the state’s gas tax that took effect in November, raising New Jersey’s fuel prices from some of the lowest in the nation to near the middle of the pack.
Nicholas Pugliese, The Record Read more

N.J. politicos prepare for life without Christie in 2017
Welcome to Year Three of the 2017 campaign for governor.
Charles Stile, The Record Read more

N.J.’s federal judicial nominee: Julien Neals waits
Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland waited the longest time in history for a Senate confirmation before his chances likely died when Congress ended its session this month without holding a vote on him or other judicial candidates.
Todd South, The Record Read more

Hudson’s political year began, ends with Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop: Political Insider
As usual 2016 was another Hudson County year about political types struggling with legal headaches, milestones, glimpses of what is in store for everyone in the future and the passing of fellow political travelers.
Agustin C. Torres, The Jersey Journal Read more

Former Christie opponent returns to politics — on the West Coast
Gov. Chris Christie’s one-time rival, former state Sen. Barbara Buono, is making a political return of sorts.
Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Unhappy New Year: After 3 years and millions of bucks we still don’t have answers on Bridgegate
When it comes to the Bridgegate scandal, this year ended like a bad whodunit – one in which the reader never learns who carried out the crime.
Paul Mulshine, The Star Ledger Read more

Islamic Society wins ‘landmark ruling’ in long battle for new mosque
Bernards Township’s insistence that a proposed mosque have more parking spaces than churches or synagogues is unconstitutional, a federal judge said in a ruling filed New Year’s Eve.
Kathleen O’Brien, NJ.com Read more

Morris County GOP Leader Stepping Down
John R. Sette is shedding a second political position this year, stepping down as of Saturday after 15 years of serving as the outspoken chairman of Morris County’s Republican Committee.
Peggy Wright, The Record Read more

County sheriff leaves post after 24 years in office
Outgoing Morris County Sheriff Ed Rochford was in his office for a final time Saturday, with his 24-year stint in office ending at midnight.
Rob Jennings, NJ.com Read more

First Dem majority in East Rutherford in 30 years
At the outset of the borough council’s first meeting of the year, longtime Mayor James Cassella acknowledged the historic power shift with a chuckle.
Todd South, Inquirer Read more

N.J. honors trooper who died from illness linked to 9/11
On a day usually associated with celebration, flags will fly at half-staff on New Year’s Eve at all New Jersey state offices in honor of State Trooper Lt. William Fearon, who died this week in the line of duty.
David O’Reilly, The Record Read more

Suit against Belleville School District claims abuse
A Whippany-based law firm has been hired to defend the Belleville School District in a lawsuit claiming abuse by a district employee.
Matt Kadosh, The Record Read more

Opinion: Chris Christie’s Book of Hubris
After a disastrous showing in the Republican presidential primaries and getting booted from the Trump transition team, Gov. Chris Christie returned home last month to the comfort of his power base in Trenton, only to find old statehouse allies brandishing pitchforks and torches, not the legislative favors he had hoped for.
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