Bill to allow direct Tesla sales in NJ makes progress

Star Ledger
June 16, 2014
Matt Friedman
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The state Assembly today easily passed a bill that would allow electric car manufacturer Tesla to once again sell its cars at its New Jersey showrooms, and even open two more.

But the bill’s fate in the state Senate is unknown.

Without any debate, the Assembly approved the measure (A3216) by a vote of 77-0 with 1 abstention. It would allow Tesla, or any company that sells zero-emission vehicles directly to consumers, to open up to four stores in the Garden State — up from Tesla's current two showrooms. The company would also be required to have at least one facility that services the vehicles.

Although the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission had previously allowed Tesla to sell cars at its showrooms in Paramus and Short Hills, it halted the sales in April. The commission justified the decision on a state law from the 1970s that requires cars to be sold through dealerships.

The New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers supported the MVC's rule change.

Tesla officials said the old sales model does not work for their product because dealerships make much of their money from maintenance, and Teslas — which currently start at around $70,000 — require far less maintenance than traditional cars.

Greenwald Op-Ed: On Tesla, driving solutions for New Jersey

Burlington County Times
June 8, 2014
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In New Jersey, we pride ourselves on supporting innovation and entrepreneurship—two values that have been fundamental building blocks in the history of our state. Leading minds like Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein have made the Garden State their home, contributing significant advances to our society from within our own state’s borders. That tradition continues today, as New Jersey is home to top-flight institutions of higher education, a thriving pharmaceutical and biotechnology research sector, health care institutions doing cutting-edge research and trials in cancer treatments, and one of the most highly educated workforces in the country. That is why I was alarmed several months ago when I learned that the Motor Vehicle Commission had issued a decision that undermined this competitive, innovative, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Tesla Automotive, Inc., is an innovative company that produces purely electric, plug-in vehicles—representing the cutting edge of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in automobiles. The engineering, style, and safety ratings of Tesla’s Model S have drawn rave reviews from consumers and industry-watchers alike. Indeed, when Consumer Reports turned its scrutiny on this vehicle, it won 99 points out of a possible 100, ranking as the top car for 2014.

Greenwald, Moriarty & Chivukula Bill to Help Improve Natural Disaster Response Gets Final Legislative OK

July 1, 2014

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty and Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula to improve the state's ability to respond to large-scale natural disasters was passed 35-0 by the Senate on Monday, giving it final legislative approval.

The bill (A-2025) would bolster safety inspection capacity in the aftermath of disasters like Superstorm Sandy - the scale of which can easily overwhelm local governments - by shielding licensed architects and professional engineers from liability when they volunteer to help local governments respond to major natural disasters.

"Whether it's tornadoes in Alabama, earthquakes in California or hurricanes in New Jersey, Good Samaritan laws are critical in ensuring a safe, effective and speedy response to major natural disasters," said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). "By passing a Good Samaritan law in New Jersey, we will better prepare our state to respond rapidly and efficiently to the next Superstorm Sandy."

"Not having this protection deters many of these professionals from volunteering their services in times of critical need, which unduly restricts our ability to quickly and effectively provide safety inspections after a large-scale disaster," said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). "We cannot afford to go without such valuable assistance when the next big storm hits."

Assembly Approves Singleton, Conaway, Greenwald & Lampitt Bill Urging Feds to Keep Joint Base McGuire & Picatinny Arsenal Open

June 26, 2014

The General Assembly on Thursday approved bipartisan legislation sponsored on the Democratic side by Assemblymen Troy Singleton and Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt urging Congress to exclude Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Picatinny Arsenal when considering future defense department budget cuts.

The measure (AR-110), approved by a vote of 78-0, comes in response to a recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Defense that it will propose reductions in the size of U.S. Armed Forces to pre-World War II levels, as well as in the bases that support military operations.

"The joint base is a huge economic engine for the surrounding area and any reductions or closures could have a devastating effect on the military and civilian personnel who have staked their livelihoods around these operations," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "I hope Congress will take these families and communities into consideration when deciding on future reductions or closures."

"Any reduction in the personnel or operations of either the joint base or the arsenal could have a catastrophic effect on the communities and businesses that surround them," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "For my district, in particular, the base is a huge employer, one that we simply can't afford to see shut down."

Bill to End Tax Break for Millionaires, Restore Earned Income Tax Credit for Working Poor Gets Assembly Approval

June 26, 2014

Measure Will Also Help Fund Critical Programs for Middle & Working Class Families

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Majority Leader Louis Greenwald to eliminate the Christie tax break enjoyed by millionaires, restore the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for the working poor and fund critical programs for middle- and working-class families was approved 48-31 by the General Assembly.

"This legislation will restore shared sacrifice, a notion that has been extinct since the first budget of the Christie administration," said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). "This is a responsible plan that meets our legally-mandated fiscal obligations and provides much-needed relief for those struggling the most by asking just a little more from the most fortunate among us."

"This plan enables us to live up to our responsibilities and do right by New Jersey's struggling working and middle-class families," said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). "We cannot afford to continue the governor's manic approach to protecting the mega-rich while praying that the economy improves. We have too many mounting financial obligations to continue praying the budget will blindly fix itself on its own."

The bill (A-3485) would change New Jersey's gross income tax rate from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent for the wealthiest roughly 16,000 taxpayers with taxable incomes exceeding $1 million, restoring it to its 2009 level for a temporary three-year period over taxable years 2014, 2015 and 2016.