Government & Regulatory Affairs Alert Blog

Governor Murphy Takes the Oath of Office, Executive Action on Pay Equity

Phil Murphy was sworn in as New Jersey’s 56th Governor on January 16, 2018. Also assuming office was New Jersey’s second Lt. Governor, Sheila Oliver. In his Inaugural Address, Governor Murphy’s theme was one of inclusiveness and making New Jersey fairer and stronger for all residents. He spoke of restoring confidence in state government, leading through progressive policies based on common sense, and enacting a State Budget that was both fiscally and morally responsible. He specifically challenged the Legislature to send him legislation to restore funding for women’s healthcare and Planned Parenthood; raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour; provide equal pay for women; require employers to provide earned sick leave; expand voting rights; and enact new gun safety laws. The Governor noted that each of these bills would be met with a signing ceremony upon its passage. The Governor also took action and signed an Executive Order barring state workers from asking job applicants seeking positions with the state about their previous salaries. At the signing ceremony, the Governor publicly stated he would sign a bill that extended these same provisions to private sector employers. As Governor Murphy takes office, he has already nominated most of his Cabinet and...

Committee Assignments for State Senate and General Assembly Announced

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin announced the committee chairpersons and committee members for the 218th Legislative Session. While most committee chairs remained the same, several important committees will see new leaders in both the Assembly and Senate. Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-28) became Chairwoman of the Assembly Budget Committee, succeeding Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-36) who had chaired the committee for the past several sessions. Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-37) returned to his chairmanship of the Assembly Commerce Committee after having relinquished that role last session, and Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27) assumed the Chairmanship of the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. A new committee, the Assembly Science and Technology Committee, was formed and will be chaired by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16). Lastly, Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin (D-18) will chair the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee. Senator Bob Gordon (D-38) took over the chairmanship of the Senate Transportation Committee, a position previously held by Senator Nick Sacco (D-32). By becoming Chair of Senate Transportation, Senator Gordon relinquished his Chairmanship of the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee, which will now be led by Senator Brian Stack (D-33). Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D-5) is the new Chairwoman of the Senate Economic Growth...

New Jersey Legislature Reorganizes and Governor Christie Delivers His Final State of the State Address

The 218th Session of the New Jersey Legislature began on January 9, 2018 with the swearing-in of new members, remarks from Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) and newly elected Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19), and the final State of the State Address from Governor Chris Christie. Senate Reorganization Senate President Stephen Sweeney retained his role as leader of the Senate. Democrats control the chamber by a 25 to 15 margin, a one seat gain from the prior session. The Senate has five new members: Chris Brown (R-2); Troy Singleton (D-7); Vin Gopal (D-11); Declan O’Scanlon (R-13); and Joe Cryan (D-20). Senate President Sweeney outlined his priorities for the 218th Session. The Senate will convene a joint panel on taxation, led by Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36) and Senator Steve Oroho (R-24). The Senate will also focus on equalizing the school funding formula among towns, expanding pre-K education and focusing on higher education affordability. The Senate President called for a new round of higher education investment and for expanding the progress made on vocational employment. Transportation infrastructure will be a focus for the Senate. Specifically, the Senate President spoke of expanding light rail service along the Hudson-Bergen Rail and the creation of the...

Key Business Provisions in the Tax Reform Law

On December 22, 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law H.R. 1 (the “Tax Act”), that enacted sweeping changes to the United States tax code. Below are some of the key sections of the Tax Act impacting businesses. These provisions are effective January 1, 2018, unless otherwise noted. Corporate Tax Rate and Alternative Minimum Tax (“AMT”) Currently, corporations are taxed at rates that range up to 35% and are additionally subject to the AMT. Corporations do not benefit from lower long-term capital gain rates. The Tax Act lowers the corporate tax rate to a flat 21% and eliminates the corporate AMT, both effective beginning in 2018 and on a permanent basis. In connection with the corporate rate cut, the Section 199 domestic manufacturing deduction is repealed going forward. The dividends received deduction is reduced from 80% to 65% and 70% to 50%, depending on ownership percentage. Increased Cost Recovery (Bonus Depreciation) Currently, taxpayers can immediately write off 50% of the cost of “qualified property” (generally, tangible personal property with a recovery period of 20 years or less). This ratio drops to 40% in 2018, 30% in 2019, and phases out after that. The Tax Act initially allows full current expensing...

What’s a “Pocket Veto” Anyway? – A Guide to the End of New Jersey’s 217th Legislative Session

At noon on January 9, 2017, the New Jersey Legislature’s 217th session comes to a close. That means any bill not presented to the Governor for his consideration before then will become moot and must be reintroduced in the 218th session. But certain constitutional rules also apply to bills passed by the Legislature and presented to the Governor in the last days of the session. During the two year legislative cycle, the New Jersey Constitution (Art. V, §1, ¶14(b) and (c)) allows the Governor 45 days to either sign the bill or veto it, with the veto being either absolute or conditional. This time frame can be extended if the house of origin (the Senate or General Assembly) is not in session on the 45th day. If the Governor takes no action within the allotted time, the bill becomes law. Any bill presented to the Governor on or after November 25, 2017, cannot receive 45 days of consideration before the end of the session on January 9, 2018. The New Jersey Constitution (Art. V, §1, ¶¶14 (c) and (d)) provides special procedures for this situation: Any bills presented on November 25, 2017, must be signed by noon on January 9, 2018, or...

NJEDA Proposes Readoption and Changes to Administrative Rules

Notwithstanding recent headlines about attempts to “kill” off the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), reports of the NJEDA’s death are greatly exaggerated. On November 20, 2017, the NJEDA proposed for readoption with amendments the administrative rules for its assistance programs. This includes changes to the Grow NJ Assistance Program (the “Grow NJ Program”) that implement the recently enacted law creating incentive areas around colleges and universities; modifications to the submission dates for the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Program (the “ERG Program”); and revisions to the Angel Investor Tax Credit Program (the “Angel Investor Program”). Interested parties may submit written comments by January 19, 2018. The NJEDA is an independent State agency that finances small and mid-sized businesses, administers tax incentives to retain and grow jobs, revitalizes communities through redevelopment initiatives and supports entrepreneurial development by providing access to training and mentoring programs. We have previously written about some of the NJEDA’s programs, and the most important proposed changes to the NJEDA’s program rules are listed below. Grow NJ Grow NJ encourages economic development and job creation by offering tax credits to businesses looking to relocate to the State, or that are currently located in New Jersey but are in danger of...

James R. Zazzali Named Ethics Counsel to Gubernatorial Transition

Governor-elect Phil Murphy today announced his appointment of James R. Zazzali, Of Counsel at Gibbons P.C. and former Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, to serve as ethics counsel to Transition2018. In this role, Mr. Zazzali will ensure transparency in the transitional campaign’s operations and compliance with state ethics laws on the part of all gubernatorial transition staff, committees, and volunteers. Gary Stein, a former Associate Justice on the New Jersey Supreme Court, was also appointed as ethics counsel to Transition2018. “James Zazzali has a lengthy and highly regarded history of civic engagement and dedicated service to the state of New Jersey,” says Patrick C. Dunican Jr., Chairman and Managing Director of Gibbons. “Those of us at the firm are well aware of the exceptional qualifications that Governor-elect Murphy clearly recognized in appointing him to the transition team.” “I am honored that Justices Zazzali and Stein will be ensuring that my transition lives up to the highest standards of ethics and transparency, and will set the tone for my administration,” said Murphy. “They are giants in the law community and are respected statewide. Their leadership and guidance will be invaluable.” Mr. Zazzali joined Gibbons in 2007, after retiring...

Murphy Announces Transition Team Chairs and Co-Chairs

This morning, Governor-elect Murphy released his transition committees and the committees’ chairs and co-chairs. In announcing the specific policy committees and their leadership, the Governor-elect stated that the “co-chairs boast a rich diversity of both background and experiences, of valuable government experience and unique outside perspectives.” The Governor-elect’s full press release with the list of transition leaders can be found here.

Murphy Wins Governor’s Race, Democrats Pick Up Seats in the Legislature

On Tuesday, November 7th, New Jersey voters elected Democrat Phil Murphy as the next Governor of New Jersey. Mr. Murphy defeated the State’s Republican Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guadagno, by a margin of 56% to 42%. All 120 seats in the State Legislature were also on the ballot, and the Democrats retained their majority in both houses. Democrats will pick up one Senate seat and two Assembly seats, bringing their control to 25 seats in the Senate, and 54 seats in the Assembly. Lastly, voters approved two ballot questions related to borrowing for library improvements and the dedication of funds for environmental cleanups. Governor’s Race Phil Murphy was the favored candidate from the start of the general election, having outpolled Lieutenant Governor Guadagno by as much as 20 percent in some surveys. This campaign marked Governor-Elect Murphy’s first time running for public office. He is a former Goldman Sachs executive, and the former Finance Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Murphy also served as Ambassador to Germany during President Obama’s first term. The Murphy campaign focused on three main issues: growing the economy, economic fairness, and investing in New Jersey. Governor-Elect Murphy’s platform included raising new tax revenues through closing...

Gibbons Ranked Best Law Firm and Best Lobbying Firm in Inaugural NJBIZ Reader Rankings

Gibbons P.C. has been selected as the best law firm and the best lobbying firm in New Jersey in the inaugural NJBIZ Reader Ranking Awards. The Reader Rankings were compiled through an online survey seeking the best of the best in a wide range of categories and subcategories. According to NJBIZ, “The publication of the 2017 Reader Rankings by NJBIZ is our way of recognizing the regard our readers have for the businesses in their communities. What makes the companies listed here distinct is the devotion they inspire among our region’s business leaders.” Gibbons has been recognized by numerous organizations and publications for the firm’s work on behalf of clients, including being named among the New Jersey Law Journal’s Litigation Departments of the Year, earning the top overall honors in 2014, as well as recognition for the practice areas of class actions (2017), products liability (2016), and commercial litigation (2013). The Gibbons Government Affairs Department has ranked as the #1 lawyer-lobbying firm in New Jersey for nine consecutive years, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission In addition, the firm and Gibbons attorneys are also consistently recognized in annual client-review publications such as the Chambers USA Guide to...