What’s Happening Today Thu. 12/19/2013

  Four former governors say “No” to a gas pipeline through the Pinelands: Two Democrats, Brendan Byrne and Jim Florio, and two Republicans, Thomas Kean and Christie Whitman, sent a letter this month to the chairman of the state Pinelands Commission saying the proposal would compromise the integrity of Pinelands. The administration, however, supports building the gas line, but has had no assurance the commission would approve it. In a surprising turn of events last week Philly.com reported, Pinelands Commission member Edward Lloyd, who had raised concerns about the approval process, announced that the state Attorney General’s Office had instructed him to recuse himself from further deliberations because of a possible conflict of interest. Lloyd, a professor of environmental law at Columbia University, responded, “I don’t  think I have a conflict.” Sierra Club Executive Director Jeff Tittle says, “This feels shady. It just looks like bullying and strong-arm tactics from the governor.” The mission of the commission is straightforward: “Protect the Pine Lands.” Like the four Governors, the Commission should just say “No.”

Help for the Uninsured: The enrollment deadline under the Affordable Care Act is Monday, December 23, for people to obtain insurance coverage effective January 1, 2014. To get health insurance marketplace enrollment assistance in New Jersey go here.  NJ for Health Care reminds us that the last opportunity to enroll in coverage on the New Jersey Marketplace will be March 31st, but consumers eligible for the NJ Family care expansion can enroll anytime.

The State Senate and Assembly will hold voting sessions this afternoon starting around 1:00pm. They have a lot on their plate. The Senate bills are listed here. The Assembly bills are listed here.

The “Dream Act” (S2479) which allows both in-state tuition rates and financial aid to students who grew up in New Jersey but whose parents brought them to the country illegally will likely pass the Assembly today and be sent to the Governor who will likely conditionally or even absolutely veto it. Chris Christie some time ago signaled his support for tuition equality knowing the Senate bill included State financial aid. Our equivocating governor more recently explained he is opposed to the State financial aid component. Chris “Have It Both Ways” Christie (appealing to moderates and the base simultaneously) agrees that Dreamers are worthy of tuition equality rates but not the financial aid which they need and which others receive.

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