Tagged: Governor Murphy

Governor Murphy Proposes the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget

Governor Phil Murphy presented the outline of his spending plan for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 to the State Legislature on February 25, 2020. The FY 2021 Budget proposes total revenues exceeding $42.7 billion (a 4.3 percent increase from FY 2020), and $40.8 billion in total appropriations (a 2.2 percent increase from FY 2020). An additional $1.6 billion is dedicated for surplus and $300 million is directed into the State’s “rainy day” fund. If enacted as proposed, this would be the largest budget in New Jersey history. One of the biggest expenses is the annual payment to the State’s pension system; a proposed total of $4.9 billion for FY 2021. If funded at this level by the Legislature, the contribution to state pension system would consume 12 percent of all state appropriations. This contribution is still only about 80 percent of what is actuarially required. Additional priorities for the Governor include increases to the state education funding formula by $336 million; another $132 million for NJ Transit; creating the Garden State Guarantee to provide two years of tuition free higher education; funding for lead service line replacements; and expanding eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit Program and the Pharmaceutical Assistance...

Highlights from the Swearing-In of the 219th Legislature and Governor’s State of the State Address

The 219th Session of the New Jersey Legislature started on January 14, 2020 with the reorganization of the Legislature and the Governor’s State of the State Address. Legislative Reorganization The General Assembly welcomed seven new members, with Democrats still retaining a significant 52-28 majority. Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) retained his post for another two-year term, as did Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-6) and Minority Leader John Bramnick (R-21). The State Senate is also controlled by the Democratic Party with a 25-15 majority. Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) became the longest-serving Senate President in New Jersey history, starting his sixth term as leader of the Senate. Senator Tom Kean (R-21) returns as Senate Minority Leader for another term. In their respective speeches, legislative leaders struck similar messages of unity, compromise, and improving the quality of life for all residents. Senate President Sweeney focused on school funding, higher education, water quality, and the need for improvements to New Jersey Transit. Speaker Coughlin and Majority Leader Greenwald highlighted their priorities which included water quality, as well as tax reform and affordability, behavioral health, and food insecurity. Assembly Republican Leader Bramnick took a different approach and specifically addressed cooperation, and condemned hate and violence...

2019 Election Results Bring Little Change to State Legislature

Democrats billed the 2019 elections as a referendum on President Trump. Republicans dubbed the off-year contests as the “Murphy Mid-Term” and a chance to stall Democratic attempts to build on the “blue wave” of 2018. Who was right? It looks like both sides can declare victory. With the 80 seats of New Jersey General Assembly up for election, along with a Special Election for the Senate seat in the First Legislative District (Cumberland, Cape May and Atlantic Counties), the election returns produced mostly a status quo result. Democrats will continue to control both the General Assembly and State Senate, but with majorities slightly smaller than in the past session. All three Democratic incumbents in the First Legislative District lost to their respective Republican challengers. The race for the two Assembly seats in the Second Legislative District was extremely close, but it appears the Democratic incumbents will be victorious. Even with the loss in the First Legislative District, Democrats still retain a wide majority in the Assembly (52-28) and the Senate (25-15). Republican incumbents were able to hang onto victory in District 8 (Burlington County), District 21 (Morris, Somerset, and Union Counties), and District 25 (Morris and Somerset), where Democrats ran...

NJ Department of Health Issues Alternative Treatment Center Request for Applications

The New Jersey Department of Health issued a Request for Applications today that would license up to 108 Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) for the cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing of medical marijuana. Unlike the currently licensed ATCs, this call for applications does not require a licensee to be vertically integrated. The Department will, instead, issue endorsements for the various functions: cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensary. In total, the Department will seek up to 24 cultivation endorsements, up to 30 manufacturing endorsements, and up to 54 dispensary endorsements. Licenses will still be issued regionally, with up to 38 licenses available in the northern and central region, and 32 licenses in the southern region. The number of endorsements by region is as follows: Northern Region Cultivation endorsements: 8 Manufacturing endorsements: 10 Dispensary endorsements: 20 Central Region Cultivation endorsements: 8 Manufacturing endorsements: 10 Dispensary endorsements: 20 Southern Region Cultivation endorsements: 8 Manufacturing endorsements: 10 Dispensary endorsements: 14 Applications will become available on July 1, 2019 and will be due on August 15, 2019. A pre-submission webinar will be hosted by the Department on July 16, 2019. Please contact us should you have any questions about the endorsement and application process.

Four Things to Watch After Legislature Cancels Votes on Marijuana

To the dismay of advocates and the cheers of opponents, the New Jersey Legislature canceled its scheduled votes on a three-bill package to legalize marijuana for adult use, expand the State’s medical marijuana program, and expunge the records of certain marijuana offenders. For the time being, New Jersey will not become the eleventh state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. But with legislators still committed to moving the issue in the future, here are four things to watch in the coming months. Will the Governor Take Action to Expand the State’s Existing Medical Marijuana Program? Marijuana is legal for medical use in New Jersey, and the State’s medical program has seen a rapid expansion under the Murphy Administration. Under the current framework of the “Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act,” the Governor has the authority to permit more alternative treatment centers (ATCs) in the State, and to continue to expand the list of qualifying medical conditions that marijuana can be prescribed for. Governor Murphy and his Department of Health did a call for applicants in August 2018, and issued permits for six new vertically-integrated ATCs. The Governor expressed his desire to expand the medical marijuana program aggressively if legislation did...

Governor Murphy Presents FY 2020 State Budget

Governor Murphy presented his proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget to a joint session of the New Jersey Legislature on March 5, 2019. His spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year totals $38.6 billion, which is a $1.3 billion increase from last year’s appropriations bill. The Governor’s budget message continued his theme of a “fairer and stronger economy” to make the middle class more secure. He highlighted the recent enactment of a $15 minimum wage, expansion of paid family leave, and the implementation of the state’s paid sick leave law. The Governor also continued his call for greater K-12 education funding and making community college tuition free. The Governor’s proposal for FY 2020, which he described as a “blueprint for the middle class,” is built upon four pillars: Realizing sustainable savings; Stabilizing revenues and increasing creditworthiness; Maintaining and growing investment in education, infrastructure, and innovation; and Addressing affordability. To accomplish these goals, the Governor proposed: Achieving $1.1 billion in savings from public employee health benefit reforms and other departmental savings identified by the Treasury; Increasing the State’s surplus to $1.2 billion; Funding the State’s pension system at $3.8 billion; Reducing the diversion of funds from dedicated sources like the Affordable...

Murphy Announces George Helmy as Chief of Staff

Governor Murphy announced this morning that George Helmy, current State Director for Senator Cory Booker, will become his new Chief of Staff effective February 4, 2019. Mr. Helmy takes over for Pete Cammarano, who served as Chief of Staff during Governor Murphy’s first year in office. The Gibbons Government & Regulatory Affairs Department congratulates Mr. Helmy and looks forward to continuing to work with him in his new position. George brings both public and private sector experience to the Governor’s Office and has been a great advocate for New Jersey while working on Senator Booker’s staff. You can read the Governor’s full announcement here.

Update: U.S. Treasury Approves New Jersey’s Opportunity Zones

As we had previously written, the Murphy Administration recently recommended 169 census tracts within 75 New Jersey towns to the U.S. Department of Treasury for inclusion in the newly-created federal Opportunity Zones Program. The Treasury Department has now approved Governor Murphy’s recommendations. A list of the Opportunity Zones and an interactive map showing the Zones can be found through the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Championed by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC), the 2017 tax reform law incorporated the Opportunity Zones Program to provide federal community development tax incentives and encourage long-term investment in eligible census tracts. The Program allows investors to temporarily defer payment of federal income tax on realized gains if the gains are invested in a qualified Opportunity Fund within 180 days of the date of the particular taxable sale or exchange. In addition, when a taxpayer disposes of an investment in a qualified Opportunity Zone held by the taxpayer for at least 10 years, the taxpayer can elect to exclude from gross income the capital gain on the investment in the Opportunity Zone Fund. A qualified Opportunity Fund is an investment vehicle that is organized as a partnership or a corporation for...

Medical Marijuana Reforms on the Horizon

Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature are taking actions towards expanding the medical marijuana program. The Governor announced new rules and regulations to reduce barriers to access for medical marijuana. These include expanding the list of debilitating medical conditions eligible for treatment with cannabis, permitting currently licensed Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) to dispense at satellite locations, eliminating the physician registry for doctors who prescribe marijuana, and soliciting new applicants for ATC permits. These actions stem from the Administration’s report on ways to expand access to marijuana for medical purposes. The New Jersey General Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee also recently approved legislation that would vastly expand the State’s existing medical marijuana program. The bill, A-3740, would allow medical marijuana to be prescribed for any condition and give greater flexibility for patients and caregivers to purchase and transport medical marijuana. Most importantly, and unlike the current medical marijuana distribution system where ATCs both cultivate and dispense medical marijuana, A-3740 creates a separate manufacturing and licensure system. The bill allows for the licensure of 34 medical marijuana dispensaries that would be authorized to dispense marijuana and marijuana products to patients. The legislation would also permit licensure of six medical marijuana cultivator-processors...

New Jersey Picks Its Opportunity Zones

The Murphy Administration announced it has recommended census tracts within 75 New Jersey towns to the U.S. Department of Treasury for inclusion in the newly-created federal Opportunity Zones Program. Championed by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC), the 2017 tax reform law incorporated the Opportunity Zones Program to provide federal community development tax incentives and encourage long-term investment in eligible census tracts. The Program allows investors to temporarily defer payment of federal income tax on realized gains if the gains are invested in a qualified Opportunity Fund within 180 days of the date of the particular taxable sale or exchange. In addition, when a taxpayer disposes of an investment in a qualified Opportunity Zone held by the taxpayer for at least 10 years, the taxpayer can elect to exclude from gross income the capital gain on the investment in the Opportunity Zone Fund. A qualified Opportunity Fund is an investment vehicle that is organized as a partnership or a corporation for the purpose of investing in Opportunity Zone Property. Eligible Opportunity Zone Property generally includes (i) stock in a domestic corporation; (ii) any capital or profits interest in a domestic partnership; and (iii) tangible property used in a trade...