Aftermath of yesterday’s busy legislative day

After a busy and tumultuous legislative day on Thursday, here are some of the key results and next steps needed before the session end January 12.

UPDATED 12/18/15  4:00 pm: Additional information regarding PEN/BEN amendment.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BALLOT QUESTIONS

DEDICATES ALL GAS TAX REVENUE TO TRANSPORTATION FUND
Dedicating the revenue is not controversial. The bill does not increase the gas tax.
ACR1: passed the Assembly committee with a bipartisan vote of 6 to 0.
SCR190 (Identical to ACR1): No Senate committee vote yet on this bill; information to follow.

ADDS TWO MORE CASINOS
The Senate and the Assembly at the moment have separate amendment bills which would have to be reconciled by Monday in order to be enacted this session. There are North vs. South NJ points-of-views as some northern legislators are more in favor of adding new casinos whereas some southerners are not. Also the Senate bill provides more revenue to the South than the Assembly bill.
ACR2 The Assembly bill passed the committee along partisan lines with Schepisi (R) (from the North) and Chris A. Brown (R) (from the south) both voting no.
SCR185 The Senate committee approved its different bill with votes reflecting both partisan and north/south Jersey division: YES: Sarlo (D), Bucco (R), O’Toole (R), Ruiz (R), Weinberg (D), Barnes (D), Oroho (R), NOT VOTING: Thompson (R), ABSTAIN: Cunningham (D)

INCREASES STATE CONTRIBUTION TO PEN/BEN AND REQUIRES QUARTERLY PAYMENTS
ACR3 passed in the Assembly committee along strictly partisan lines except that Chris A. Brown (R) abstained. SCR184 (identical bill to ACR3) had been approved by the Senate committee on December 10 along strictly partisan lines. Later on Thursday the Senate in a full voting session passed the bill YES 31, NO 1, NOT VOTING 8. Republicans Christopher  Bateman, Tom Kean, Kevin O’Toole, Robert Singer, James Hopzapfel, and Joe Kyrillos supported the Democratic bill. Gov. Christie does not.

CHANGES IN LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS
ACR 4 passed in the Assembly Committee along strictly partisan lines. SCR188 (identical to ACR4) has not been voted on yet in a Senate committee.

OVERRIDE EFFORTS

S2360/A3593: Would require individuals to notify local authorities when they seek a mental health record expungement for the purpose of obtaining a firearm. The Senate overrode the governor’s veto of this bill in October, but the Assembly in its second effort to override it was short three votes, so it tabled the vote and plans a final effort on January 11. Assembly Speaker Prieto said, “New Jerseyans are smart and they are watching. They know who is doing the right thing and who is not.”  Four Republicans voted with the Democratic majority to support the bill: Jay Webber, Jack Ciattarelli, Chris A. Brown, and  Amy Handlin.

(A4218/S2783 ) intended to strengthen the laws requiring domestic violence offenders to surrender their firearms.The Assembly effort to override garnered 49 votes – five short of what was needed, and there will be no further effort to revive it in this session. The bill was supported by advocates for domestic violence victims, presumed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy (with over 3,000 petitions) and former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

(S1195/A2659) allowing transgender individuals to amend the sex recorded on their birth certificate. Two Republicans, Sens. Diane Allen and Christopher “Kip” Bateman, voted with the 24 Democrats, but a total of 27 was needed to overcome the veto. The bill was withdrawn rather than letting it go down to defeat. That allows the Senate to bring it up again before the current two-year legislative session expires January 12. The bill had been vetoed in the previous session.

A BILL WHICH ENTITLES PAID SICK LEAVE FOR NJ EMPLOYEES

S785/A2354: The bill passed on the Senate floor 22 to 17. The Assembly has not yet passed an identical bill which is necessary soon for it to be enacted this session. Gov Christie speaks of this bill with utter scorn.

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