N.J. Democrats say they'll make good on $3.1 billion pension promise with budget
June 21, 2015
Samantha Marcus
Link to original

TRENTON — Democratic lawmakers on Monday are expected to reveal their plan for a state budget they say would bridge the gap between the $1.3 billion Gov. Chris Christie wants to spend on public worker pensions next year and the $3.1 billion unions are demanding.

That plan likely relies on the controversial millionaires' tax and a surcharge on corporation business taxes, and will resemble Democrats' efforts last year to restore $1.57 billion to pensions cut by Christie, sources with knowledge of budget talks say.

The last time Democrats proposed the millionaires' and business tax hikes, they were redlined by Christie. He's given no indication that he's budged from his opposition to the income tax increase, which all told he's vetoed four times.

Most observers expect that fate looms again as the state Assembly and Senate put the final touches on a budget that could spend $1.8 billion more on pensions than Christie's $33.8 billion spending plan.

The state Senate and Assembly budget committees are scheduled to take up the budget Tuesday in prelude to the full Senate and Assembly on Thursday. The fiscal year begins July 1.

While legislative leaders and the governor have met to negotiate on the upcoming spending plan, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) declared June 9 that there was no chance of a compromise budget.

Bill to Help More New Jersey Workers Save for Retirement Advanced by Assembly Panel

New Jersey Secure Choice Savings Program Act' Would Offer Security & Peace of Mind for Employees without a Current Retirement Plan

(TRENTON) - Legislation Assembly Democrats Speaker Vincent Prieto, Tim Eustace, Joe Lagana, Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Annette Quijano, Joseph Danielsen and Raj Mukherji sponsored to create a unique, new program to help more New Jersey workers plan for retirement was advanced Thursday by the Assembly Labor Committee.
The bill (A-4275), which is modeled after the first-in-the-nation plan recently signed into law in Illinois, would create individual retirement accounts for employees of firms with at least 25 workers who do not presently have access to an employer-provided retirement plan.
"This truly is a win-win for employees and employers," said Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson). "The vast majority of today's retirees rely primarily on social security payments for income. Meanwhile, retirement savings are a mounting anxiety for more and more workers. Under this program, employees who would otherwise have no private retirement plan will now have access to one. And smaller companies will now have a great incentive tool to help recruit and retain employees without any financial burden."

Greenwald's 'Democracy Act' to Overhaul New Jersey's Outdated Voting Laws Advanced by Assembly Committee

Measure Calls for Early Voting, Online & Automatic Voter Registration, Increased Accessibility & Protections & End of Wasteful Special Elections

(TRENTON) - Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald's sweeping overhaul of New Jersey's outdated voting rights laws - including plans to allow early voting, online and automatic voter registration, increased accessibility and protections and an end to wasteful special elections - was advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.
"New Jersey's election laws date back to the early 1900s, which has led to confusion, litigation, wasteful special elections and a process that quite simply has not kept up with modern technology," said Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). "Superstorm Sandy demonstrated how ill-prepared our election system is for emergencies and how ill-equipped we are for any modern voting. We must do better if we're going to truly protect voting rights for New Jerseyans from every community across our state."
The leaders noted New Jersey is 39th in the United States in the percentage of eligible voters who are registered at 64.3 percent, compared to 82.8 percent for the top state. And, New Jersey is 39th in the country on average voter turnout at 54.5 percent, compared to the top state at 73.3 percent.

Greenwald and Lampitt push bill allowing sick kids to use medical marijuana oil in school
June 22, 2015
Susan K. Livio
Link to original

TRENTON — As the family of a severely ill teenage girl in south Jersey sues for her right to consume medical marijuana oil at school, two state lawmakers Monday introduced a bill that would require school boards to set policies that would allow it to be used in schools across the state.

Parents or a person they designate would be required to come to the school and administer the medical marijuana dose in the form of an edible oil, according to the legislation. No one would be allowed to smoke marijuana on school grounds.

State Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt said she and Assembly Lou Greenwald (both D-Camden) were moved by the Barbours' plight. They also understand the challenge for school officials who fear they may violate federal drug laws by allowing cannabis use on school property.

"We both feel it's going to be a heavy lift," getting the bill passed, Lampitt said. "But when you put a face behind an issue like this, people realize there is a strong need. It's not arbitrary, it's real."