Tagged: New Jersey General Assembly

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...

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...

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...

Governor Murphy Delivers Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Address

Governor Phil Murphy delivered his first budget address to the New Jersey State Legislature on Tuesday, March 13th. The Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Budget totals $37.4 billion, which is a $2.7 billion increase from the $34.7 billion spending plan enacted in Fiscal Year 2018. The Governor stated that the proposed FY 2019 Budget is “realistic and responsible,” affirms New Jersey’s values, and will begin the process of returning New Jersey to being a “good value for good money.” To accomplish this, Governor Murphy is proposing to: Increase public school spending by $341 million in FY 2019 with the goal of reaching full funding in four years; Invest an additional $83 million in pre-K this year and start a four-year expansion of a statewide program; Make community college tuition free for all in three years by investing an additional $50 million this fiscal year; Add 3,500 new Tuition Aid Grant awards; Triple funding for New Jersey Transit with an additional $242 million in investment; Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit from 35 percent to 40 percent over three years; Provide $3.2 billion in payments to the state pension system; Increase the minimum wage to $11 per hour for state...

New Jersey Corporate Reforms Become Law

A package of bills that reform the New Jersey Business Corporation Act (“NJBCA”) were signed into law on January 16, 2018. We previously wrote about this legislation which was modeled upon provisions of the “Delaware Business Corporation Law” and was recommended for enactment by the “New Jersey Corporate and Business Law Study Commission.” These revisions generally benefit corporate boards of directors and modernize provisions of the NJBCA. Inspections of Corporate Books and Records (P.L. 2017, c.364) Assembly Bill 2975 (Diegnan/Pinkin) modifies the NJBCA to allow corporations to impose reasonable limitations or conditions on the use or distribution of requested corporate books and records. While the law does not define such “limitations and conditions,” the legislative statement provides an example of conditioning the receipt of requested materials on the demanding shareholder agreeing to customary confidentiality obligations. The measure preserves the ultimate authority of a court to decide and order relief in actions brought by shareholders for inspection of materials. Derivative Proceedings and Shareholder Class Actions (P.L. 2017, c.362) Assembly Bill 2970 (Diegnan/Pinkin) gives corporations greater flexibility to vary the applicability or effect of commencing and maintaining a derivative proceeding and shareholder class action. This new law deviates from the prior standards and requires that...

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...

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...

New Jersey Legislature Considers Corporate and Business Law Reforms

A series of bills that would reform the New Jersey Business Corporation Act (“NJBCA”) are slowly churning their way through the New Jersey State Legislature. The pending legislation is modeled upon provisions of the “Delaware Business Corporation Law” and the recommendations of the “New Jersey Corporate and Business Law Study Commission.” In sum, the proposed revisions would generally benefit corporate boards of directors and modernize provisions of the NJBCA. Inspections of Corporate Books and Records Assembly Bill 2975 (Pinkin)/Senate Bill 2238 (Diegnan) modifies the NJBCA to allow corporations to impose reasonable limitations or conditions on the use or distribution of requested corporate books and records. While the bill does not define such “limitations and conditions,” the legislative statement accompanying A-2975/S-2238 provides an example of conditioning the receipt of requested materials on the demanding shareholder agreeing to customary confidentiality obligations. The bill preserves the ultimate authority of a court to decide and order relief in actions brought by shareholders for inspection of materials. On January 23, 2017, A-2975 passed the General Assembly by a vote of 69-0. On June 19, 2017, S-2238 passed the Senate Commerce Committee by a vote of 4-0. This bill is now awaiting a vote in the full...