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Greenwald's 'Democracy Act' to Overhaul New Jersey's Outdated Voting Laws Advanced by Assembly Committee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- Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald's sweeping overhaul of New Jersey's outdated voting rights laws - including plans to allow early voting, online and automatic voter registration, increased accessibility and protections and an end to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

NJ.com
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."

New Jersey lawmakers to vet Democrats' $35.3 billion budget

The Associated Press
June 22, 2015
MICHAEL CATALINI
Link to original

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The fate of New Jersey's multi-billion dollar budget is about to come into sharper focus.

The Democrat-led Legislature on Tuesday is set to take up a just-unveiled $35.3 billion budget that contrasts sharply with Gov. Chris Christie's $33.8 billion spending blueprint. During budget committee action, lawmakers are expected to vet the proposal that includes a tax increase on income over $1 million as well as a corporate business tax surcharge of 15 percent. Democrats also are making a $3.1 billion payment to the public pension, compared with Christie's proposed $1.3 billion.

The Democratic proposal comes as Christie considers a run for the White House and as the fiscal year ticks closer to its June 30 expiration. It's also a familiar legislative tug-of-war. Democrats have previously proposed raising taxes, only to see Christie line-item veto them out.

Democrats say their proposals make good on a 2011 obligation to pay into the state's pension fund despite a state Supreme Court ruling that bolstered Christie's proposal for a reduced payment.

Benson, Greenwald, Lagana & Vainieri Huttle Cord Blood Bank Tax Deduction Bill Approved by Assembly Panel

May 11, 2015

An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, Joseph Lagana and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help more families afford the opportunity to bank their child's cord blood in the event of a medical emergency down the road.

The bill (A-1030) would extend New Jersey's gross income tax medical expense deduction to certain cord blood banking services.

"This bill would make cord blood banking more cost-effective for New Jersey residents while encouraging the proliferation of cord blood banks in our state," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Hopefully this change will allow more parents to afford this potentially life-saving service."

Cord blood banking involves collecting blood left in a newborn's umbilical cord and placenta and storing it for future medical use because of the potentially lifesaving stem cells contained in it. Stem cells have the ability to develop into other types of cells, so they can help repair tissues, organs, and blood vessels and can be used to treat a host of diseases, like leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, blood disorders, and immune deficiencies.

"Even though we don't like to think about medical emergencies arising down the road for our children, it's wise to plan for the possibility," said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). "This tax benefit will allow more parents to do so and could ultimately save lives."

Greenwald: It's time to modernize New Jersey's outdated liquor licensing laws

March 18, 2015

It was a very different time in 1962. John F. Kennedy had been president only since the year before. "Lawrence of Arabia" was the top-grossing movie. Future football and baseball all-star Bo Jackson was born. America hadn't yet gone to the moon or explored the deep reaches of the solar system. Computers took up the entire size of massive rooms, rather than fitting in the palm of a hand. Certainly, there was no internet economy or social media bringing the entire world to our fingertips from the comfort of a living room.

As a nation, we've changed a lot since then. Over that time, we've had to adapt to emerging realities to make sure our laws address issues ushered in by technological revolutions and better position an evolving society for continued success.

Unfortunately, when it comes to New Jersey's liquor laws, we continue to be mired in the past. Since 1962, New Jersey law has prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages in the vast majority of supermarkets by imposing an overly strict cap on supermarket liquor licensing. These laws are holdovers from a bygone era, when only "mom and pop" corner stores dotted the landscape. More critically, the outdated cap was created more than 50 years ago to combat price fixing and to fight organized crime -- concerns that are clearly outdated now.