NJ Politics Digest: Lawmakers Argue for Legal Weed Referendum

Two state lawmakers are putting together legislation for a state-wide referendum on whether weed should be sold and taxed legally in the state, according to a report by NJ.com.

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi of Bergen County.
Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi of Bergen County. (Photo: Alyana Alfaro for Observer)

As a plan by New Jersey Democratic leaders to legalize the recreational use of marijuana is moving closer to reality, opponents of the idea want to put the question to you, the voters.

Two state lawmakers—a Republican and a Democrat—are putting together legislation for a state-wide referendum on whether weed should be sold and taxed legally in the state, according to a report by NJ.com.

Holly Schepisi of Bergen and state Sen. Ronald Rice of Essex both oppose the deal reached by Gov. Phil Murphy, State Sen. President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin to legalize recreational marijuana and impose a state tax of $42 per ounce.

They say their plan will will give opponents and supporters the opportunity to educate voters on what they are getting with marijuana legalization, according to the NJ.com report.

With the leaders of both houses of the legislature seeking to move ahead their own proposal, it’s unlikely representatives will be given a chance to vote on whether or not to offer a referendum. And Murphy, who supports legalizing recreational use of pot and placing a state tax on it, is opposed to putting the question to voters, a spokesman told NJ.com.

However, there is a chance Rice and Schepisi could see their plan work. It’s unclear yet if the Democratic leaders can find the support needed to pass their plan, and by introducing their measure, Rice and Schepisi could give legislators on the fence a way to punt the issue to voters.

Quote of the Day: “Right now, they’re just hearing soundbites. Let’s allow the public to become educated before they make a determination of whether or not this is what they really want,” — Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, on her proposal to stage a state-wide referendum on legalizing recreational marijuana use.

Top Trump Officials Meddled With IRS to Make Sure You Wouldn’t Get a Full Property Tax Break, Inspector General Says
When New Jersey and other states sought to set up charitable funds last year to get around the Republican tax law’s cap on deducting state and local taxes, the Internal Revenue Service decided to weigh in.
NJ.com Read more

126 Companies Sold $204M in New Jersey Tax Breaks in 2017, Documents Show
When New Jersey lawmakers and Gov. Chris Christie expanded the state’s corporate tax break programs in late 2013, they stressed the need for the state to remain competitive and grow or retain jobs here.
Politico Read more

Editorial: The Schools Development Authority Is a Patronage Pit
Gov. Murphy says he has been “trying to figure out what’s going on” at the Schools Development Authority, and when his team gets a handle on it, he’ll get back to us.
Star-Ledger Read more

Assembly Drafting New Dark Money Bill
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin on Thursday said his chamber would not back a donor disclosure bill that the Senate passed last week.
New Jersey Globe Read more

Riders on Suspended NJ Transit Lines: When Are Our Trains Coming Back?
NJ Transit delivered welcome news this week to riders on two rail lines that have been out of service for months.
The Record Read more

Pinelands Pipeline in Doubt After BL England Owner Quits Natural Gas Plan
The owners of a South Jersey power plant have abandoned plans to draw fuel from a proposed Pinelands pipeline, handing environmentalists a big win and casting doubt on the pipeline’s viability.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Bridgegate: Re-Sentencing Set for Bridget Anne Kelly in GWB Lane-Closure Plot
A onetime aide to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be re-sentenced next month for her role in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.
The Record Read more

She Freed a Crying Bear Caught in a Trap Meant for ‘Momma Bear.’ Now, She’s Been Sentenced to Jail.
An animal rights activist who admitted to helping free a bear from a trap in Vernon has been sentenced to 15 days in jail.
NJ.com Read more

Ocean Resort Casino Already Seeing Turnaround for New Owners of Troubled Atlantic City Property
The man overseeing Atlantic City’s Ocean Resort Casino until new owners take over says the property is re-stocked with cash and is already starting to turn around its performance.
NJ.com Read more

Lakewood Hires Its First Orthodox Jewish Police Cadet
With an Orthodox Jewish community making up most of Lakewood’s rapidly growing population, the township has hired its first ever Orthodox police cadet, officials said.
NJ.com Read more

‘Runt of the Litter’: Why This Small NJ Borough’s Ten-Year Fight Against Verizon Matters
When Verizon Communications told Hopewell Borough that it no longer had to pay about $40,000 in a local New Jersey business tax because it didn’t meet the market share threshold, Mayor Paul Anzano didn’t believe it.
Inquirer Read more

Jersey City Council Wants Passage of Liberty State Park Protection Act
The City Council is urging state lawmakers to pass the Liberty State Park Protection Act, a bill aimed at halting private development at the 1,200-acre state park located in Jersey City.
Jersey Journal Read more NJ Politics Digest: Lawmakers Argue for Legal Weed Referendum