By Susan K. Livio | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
on November 30, 2016 at 1:18 PM, updated December 01, 2016 at 2:16 AM
TRENTON — A drug possession conviction is no longer a barrier to receiving welfare benefits in New Jersey under a compromise bill Gov. Chris Christie signed into law Wednesday.
Childless adults who undergo outpatient drug treatment may qualify for public assistance, despite a conviction for drug possession in their backgrounds. Previously, inpatient treatment was the requirement.
The bill’s sponsors say the old restrictions inhibited a person’s ability to become self-sufficient. The legislation is among others aimed at reducing poverty in the state, which has remained stubbornly high in the post-recession era.
“It can be tremendously hard to turn one’s life around after a drug conviction because of all the doors that close in their face due to legal constraints, especially for those who don’t have family or friends to rely on for assistance,” said state Assemblywoman Liz Muoio (D-Mercer), one of the bill’s prime sponsors. “Financial assistance, job training, and education — all of these things provide hope and a chance at a new start.”
JOHN REITMEYER | NOVEMBER 22, 2016
Christie gets bipartisan plan that he calls ‘more fair than the previous proposals,’ but it offers no constitutional guarantee enforcing payments
After failing to find any common ground for the past several years over the best way to address New Jersey’s grossly underfunded public-employee pension system, state lawmakers reached a rare, bipartisan agreement yesterday, voting in favor of legislation requiring quarterly instead of yearly state pension contributions.
The measure — which legislative leaders say they are confident Gov. Chris Christie will eventually sign — would help the $73 billion pension system by breaking up the annual state pension contribution into smaller installments that the sponsors hope will be easier for the state to afford than the lump sum that administrations typically try to make at the end of each fiscal year.
Depositing the payments on a quarterly basis would also protect more of the pension contribution from end-of-the-year budget cuts and allow the pension system, which is professionally managed, to generate bigger investment returns by getting more money into the system earlier in the fiscal year.
file photo by Boyd Loving
JOHN REITMEYER | OCTOBER 4, 2016
Christie’s executive order idled some 3,000 construction workers during the warm weather. Can it be lifted in time to make a dent in outstanding projects?
With the political impasse over transportation funding that has gripped Trenton for the past three months now settled, New Jersey lawmakers are scheduled to vote tomorrow on the legislation that will hike the state’s gas tax by 23 cents. The proposed increase already has Gov. Chris Christie’s endorsement and is expected to pass with bipartisan support.
But still uncertain is exactly when Christie will be willing to lift a hold on state-funded road, bridge, and rail projects that’s been in effect since July and how much that shutdown, which sidelined an estimated 3,000 construction workers, has impacted New Jersey’s economy and its residents. In some places, local officials simply ignored the construction freeze since the state money had already been promised, but others were concerned about possible fines and are now anxious to see the road crews return to work.
Christie, a Republican, announced on Friday that he is ready to sign off on the gas-tax increase needed to renew the state Transportation Trust Fund since Democrats who control the Legislature say they will authorize more than $1 billion in new tax cuts. If approved and signed into law this week, the gas tax increase isn’t expected to go into effect immediately, but officials say it would likely be in place by the beginning of November at the latest.
Still, the construction freeze remains in effect and Christie’s office offered no clear idea yesterday of when it will be rescinded.
September 1, 2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Trenton, NJ , Governor Chris Christie demanded today that the Senate “do its job” and act on seven judicial vacancies that are jeopardizing the efficient delivery of justice to citizens in Mercer County, where the reassignment of a Superior Court judge this week underscored the emergent need for a full complement of judges in the vicinage.
In May, Governor Christie nominated seven qualified candidates, both Democrats and Republicans, to fill the Mercer County vacancies, but the Democrat-controlled Senate has failed to schedule them for a review and confirmation.
Now, Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez, a Middlesex County judge who has been assisting Mercer County in its criminal courts for the past seven years, is being reassigned back to his home county. Mercer County, which normally has a complement of 24 judges, has had one vacancy on the bench since March 2012 and six other vacancies since the departure of six judges in the fall of 2014.
“This is a complete disservice to the public and it falls firmly at the feet of Senate Democrats. They continue to fail in their constitutional responsibility to review and act on nominees to many key government posts in New Jersey, including the courts. Just as Senate Democrats created problems in Essex County a couple of years ago by blocking appointments, their inaction now in Mercer County is impeding the effective delivery of justice there,” said Governor Christie. “These judicial vacancies not only threaten our efforts to enact bail reform, but also leave the short-staffed Mercer County judicial system juggling to resolve serious matters, such as issuing restraining orders for victims of domestic violence and providing people accused of crimes a swift adjudication of their cases.”
Beyond Mercer County, the Senate also has failed to act on six other Superior Court nominees waiting to fill judicial vacancies elsewhere in the state and they are holding up 76 other nominations made by Governor Christie to various boards and commissions that serve the public.
How Christie’s school funding plan could affect your property taxes
Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed school funding overhaul could produce property tax relief from as much as $4,500 for the average homeowner in Glen Ridge to a little as $5 on average in Mount Ephraim, according to state data. Stephen Stirling and Adam Clark, NJ.com Read more
Christie won’t withhold funding over PARCC opt-outs
A new state law prohibits New Jersey from punishing schools financially for having a high percentage of students refuse to take state exams. Adam Clark, NJ.comRead more
Gov. Chris Christie Panel Proposes Overhaul of New Jersey’s Pension System
Gov. Chris Christie’s committee to study New Jersey’s troubled pension system wants to overhaul the retirement program for public employees, freezing the current setup and replacing it with a “cash balance” plan.
The plan would spread out the current pension system’s unfunded liability over many years, and would more closely reflect benefits in the private sector, according to members of the commission. Mr. Christie endorsed the report conclusions Tuesday in a speech to the Legislature. (Dawsey/The Wall Street Journal)
Schar Report:A Whole lot of Nothing
Committee cannot conclude what Christie knew about GWB lane closures
Prepared and submitted to the NJ Legislative Committee yesterday by attorney Reid J. Schar from Jenner and Block, a report regarding the George Washington Bridge lane closures asserts that the committee is not currently in a position to conclude what Governor Chris Christie “himself knew about the lane closures or when and how his knowledge of these events developed.” (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)
AARP applauds Gov. Chris Christie and legislative sponsors for the recent enactment of, a new law establishing strong consumer protections
N.J. law protects consumers from misleading energy supplier calls
When temperatures plummet well below zero and we are faced with the risk of home pipes freezing and people who own them not far behind — the list of things to worry about is long. The last thing we need to concern ourselves with is the truthfulness of the stories we were told (often repeatedly) by third-party energy suppliers about how switching to them would result in lower energy rates. But as demonstrated by the soaring bills that have been hitting the mailboxes of many New Jerseyans this winter, it seems that indeed, many consumers were misled straight into massive energy bills at a time when they could least afford it.
This is why AARP applauds Gov. Chris Christie and legislative sponsors for the recent enactment of A3422, a new law establishing strong consumer protections on a variety of fronts, including the emerging energy market. The bill prohibits certain energy suppliers from making false and misleading claims to potential customers and prohibits suppliers’ repeated cold calls.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Mercer) and Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex) passed the Legislature with near-unanimous bipartisan support. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Christie in January.
New Jersey deregulated its energy supply market more than a decade ago, but it is only recently that a third-party energy market has emerged with the drop in natural gas prices. Reports of aggressive marketing tactics and confusing and/or misleading information raised concerns at AARP and with members of the state Legislature. (Abramo/New York Times)