NJ Politics Digest: With Christie Gone, Democrats Advance Their Agenda

Gov. Phil Murphy (left) and Senate President Steve Sweeney

Phil Murphy (left) and Steve Sweeney. Christian Hetrick for Observer

With former Republican Gov. Chris Christie out of office, state Democrats under Gov. Phil Murphy are busy moving on legislation stymied for the past eight years.

In a legislative session on Monday lawmakers moved forward bills on gun control, equal pay for women and tuition assistance for immigrants in the country illegally. While Christie blocked many of the measures during his tenure, Murphy has signaled that he will sign them.

That’s bad news for gun enthusiasts, who rallied in Trenton on Monday to oppose state efforts to tighten gun laws.

In coming weeks, the legislature is expected to take up measures to expand voting privileges and make it easier to for residents to register to vote. Among the proposals being considered is a plan to allow people serving time in prison or on parole or probation to vote.

Murphy on Monday also took the time to slam Christie during an appearance before a group of unionized public workers in Atlantic City, thanking them for their work and saying the “era of disrespect” toward them in Trenton had ended, according to a report on NJ.com.

Quote of the Day: “Some schools are teaching teachers and kids to throw stuff at the assailant… What are they going to do? Throw stuffed animals at the gunman?” — Congressional candidate Steve Lonegan, arguing against more gun laws and advocating arming teachers instead.

New Jersey Assembly Approves Sweeping Gun Control Legislation
Two days after hundreds of thousands of people rallied across the world for more gun control, the New Jersey Assembly passed six bills to further toughen the state’s strict gun laws.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

New Jersey Lawmakers Overwhelmingly Pass Pay Equity Bill
New Jersey lawmakers overwhelmingly voted Monday to strengthen the state’s pay-equity law, sending the bill to Gov. Phil Murphy, who is expected to sign it.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Murphy trashes Christie and these public workers cheer him
Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday told a more than 100 public workers in Atlantic City after eight years of near-constant battle with former Gov. Chris Christie, they now have a governor who will show them respect.
NJ.com Read more

NJ Democrats Ramp Up Efforts To Move State Left
With Democrats now in total control of Trenton — there’s a new governor, Phil Murphy, plus large majorities in both houses of the Legislature — efforts are underway to enact liberal laws previously blocked by former Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
NJSpotlight Read more

Equal pay for women, sick time for all workers on the way to being law in NJ
Working women in New Jersey could finally have a shot at pay equity after lawmakers moved Monday to pass a measure that would ban employers from paying women less than men for “substantially similar work.”
The Record Read more

Get ready for massive expansion of NJ’s medical marijuana program. Here’s the scoop.
An audit of New Jersey’s limited medical marijuana program will recommend that Gov. Phil Murphy launch a massive expansion of the program, NJ Advance Media has learned.
NJ.com Read more

Tuition-free community college in New Jersey? Details of Phil Murphy’s plan remain murky
Gov. Phil Murphy pledged during his campaign to eliminate tuition at New Jersey’s community colleges. And in his budget, he proposed $50 million in additional tuition assistance for low-income students, the first step toward making the colleges entirely tuition-free by 2021.
The Record Read more

NJ treasurer: Two months in, Phil Murphy’s budget boss passes committee test as tax hikes loom
More than two months into Phil Murphy’s term as governor, a Senate committee has interviewed and advanced his nominee to lead the Treasury Department.
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NJ Senate passes financial aid bill for unauthorized immigrant students
New Jersey Senate on Monday approved a bill expanding financial aid eligibility to college students without legal status.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Murphy Wants $2.1 Million to Help Immigrants Avoid Deportation
Poor immigrants facing deportation in New Jersey could get access to legal aid under a $2.1 million cash infusion in Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget.
NJ101.5 Read more

New Jersey lawmakers advance bills to tighten gun laws
New Jersey’s Democrat-led Assembly on Monday passed a half-dozen bills aimed at strengthening the state’s already-strict gun laws, including a measure to permit the seizure of weapons upon a court order.
Associated Press Read more

School shootings: New NJ rules require immediate reporting of threats of violence to FBI
Law enforcement must immediately report threats of violence against schools to state Homeland Security officials, who, in turn, must report those immediately to the FBI, according to new rules issued Monday.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Gun Owners Demand Rights
As the legislature considers six of what Gov. Phil Murphy has called “common sense” gun safety proposals, several hundred gun owners and supporters rallied at the Statehouse on Monday.
NJ101.5 Read more

State’s Bonded Debt Soars to Nosebleed Heights
The results of New Jersey’s latest big-picture fiscal checkup are in, and they reveal a state that continues to be saddled with a staggering amount debt — despite recent efforts to wind down Trenton’s time-worn borrowing habit.
NJSpotlight Read more

Murphy Says He Expects Changes to School Aid Formula
Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget puts almost as much additional money into the school-funding formula as the last five budgets combined – yet still has a healthy share of critics, anyway, and seems bound to a topic this week as public hearings on the spending plan begin.
NJ101.5 Read more

NJ Education: Repollet grilled on school funding at confirmation hearing
Acting Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet received the unanimous backing of the Senate Judiciary Committee at a confirmation hearing Monday, after facing sharp questioning about fairness in school funding.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Former FBI Director James Comey to kick off FDU’s NJ Speaker Series
Former FBI Director James Comey, whose public conflict with President Donald Trump has played out on social media, tops the list of voices to be heard in the 2018-19 New Jersey Speaker Series.
Daily Record Read more

Phil Murphy’s budget has no cash for fellow Democrat Jim McGreevey’s prisoner program
A prisoner reentry program championed by former Gov. Jim McGreevey would lose all of its funding under Gov. Phil Murphy’s first budget proposal, NJ Advance Media has learned.
NJ.com Read more

2018 NJ Biz Power 100
Putting together a Power 100 list can be a daunting task because “power” can be defined in many different ways. And having been editor of NJBIZ for only a matter of months meant the learning curve for me was somewhat steep. We used previous lists as a guide but also challenged the staff to take a fresh look at the people they cover and make a compelling case for who should make the cut.
NJBiz Read more

Here’s what NJ lawmakers want to know about the Russian diplomats Trump expelled
President Trump ordered Monday the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats living in the U.S. in response to their country’s alleged use of a nerve agent to kill a former Russian spy in the U.K.
NJ.com Read more

GOP finds candidates against Pascrell, Sires
Republicans are expected to run former Kearny Board of Education member Paul Castelli for Congress in the 9th district against Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), and Rev. John Muniz of Jersey City against Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) in the 8th.
New Jersey Globe Read more

Will Booker Run in 2020? Why This List Says He’s A Contender
With two years to go before the next presidential election, Cory Booker is near the top of at least one list of potential Democratic candidates.
NJ101.5 Read more

Here’s where cops get arrested in NJ and some recently charged with a crime
New Jersey has 550-plus police departments employing more than 33,000 officers. And while there are plenty of good cops in the state, others have been accused of violating the laws they have sworn to uphold.
NJ.com Read more

Why is it getting harder to find handicapped parking in NJ?
Scott Chesney just needed a few things from Walgreens.
But with snow plowed into the store’s only two handicapped-accessible spaces, the Verona resident, who is paralyzed and uses a wheelchair, had nowhere to park.
The Record Read more

NJ may soon be a better place to die. Here’s why
The state Senate on Monday passed legislation overhauling the state medical examiner system, three months after an NJ Advance Media investigation revealed that decades of neglect and dysfunction had undermined suspicious death inquiries.
NJ.com Read more

Offshore Wind Farm Gets Closer to Cranking Out Megawatts
A legislative panel has advanced a bill to allow a small pilot offshore wind farm off Atlantic City to move forward despite concerns from a couple of organizations that usually back such efforts.
NJSpotlight Read more

After latest suicide, Hudson County takes steps to terminate jail’s medical provider
Hudson County officials have taken steps to end a contract with the jail’s medical and mental health provider, two freeholders said Monday, a day after a 26-year-old man was found hanging in his cell. It was the sixth death of an inmate held at the facility since June.
The Record Read more

Alex Cruz allowed to run in Paterson mayoral election, judge rules
Alex Cruz on Monday fended off an attempt to disqualify him from running in the May 8 election for mayor, a legal challenge that stemmed from questions over his residency.
The Record Read more

Atlantic Highlands longshoreman’s lavish life replaced with prison for no-show job
A longshoreman from Atlantic Highlands used to spend his workdays on the beach at Sandy Hook, on his yacht out of Atlantic Highlands, at the movies in Elizabeth and at the Loop Inn motel in Woodbridge, all the while collecting an annual salary approaching $500,000.
Asbury Park Press Read more

NJ Politics Digest: With Christie Gone, Democrats Advance Their Agenda