The last weeks of June are a dizzying time at the Statehouse in Trenton, with some bills crossing the Legislature faster than Danica Patrick takes a curve at the racetrack.
But it’s also a time when many bills are stalled, derailed by community outcry, pushback from behind the scenes, or disinterest from legislative leaders who control what gets to the vote.
Lawmakers could make a rare return to Trenton over the summer recess.
Senator Brian Stack said he would remind the Judiciary Committee he chairs in Trenton to vote on judicial appointments to alleviate a severe shortage of judges, while Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said the lawmakers could reconvene to review gun legislation in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. recent decision weakening New Jersey’s concealed carry regulations.
If they do, both bodies could fill their agendas to move more bills to the governor’s office.
But hundreds of bills introduced since January remain in limbo after they were not put to both bodies for a vote before the summer recess.
Several lawmakers have introduced bills aimed at increasing transparency in school curricula after the state Department of Education passed new health and sex education standards that are expected to be implemented this fall.
Thousands of parents and a few GOP lawmakers objected to the standards as graphic and age-inappropriate and packed legislative and local school board meetings to protest them.
In response, Senator Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) introduced a bill that would have required school boards starting this summer to post such a curriculum online, allow parents to review and ask questions about curricula before board approval and to reiterate the rights of parents, as guaranteed in a 1980 state law, to withdraw their child from school sex education.
But this bill also drew protests, and the bill never received a full vote in both houses.
An unrelated bill that would require schools to provide menstrual hygiene products in bathrooms has drawn outcry from the same critics, who objected to putting products in boys’ bathrooms for students transgender. The bill was part of a legislative package aimed at reducing menstrual poverty and expanding access to menstrual products. None of these bills were put to a full vote.
Overhauling state graduation requirements will also have to wait for lawmakers to return from recess.
A measure that would direct the Department of Education to find an alternative to the test to be taken in Grade 11 passed unanimously by the full Senate but remains stalled in the Assembly’s Education Committee. Bill is looking to find another option from the Class of 2026.
In pandemic news, it will be up to colleges to require a COVID-19 vaccine to attend in-person classes or work on campus. A bill which would have made inoculation compulsory in higher education establishments was presented at the end of June but was not voted on in committee before the summer holidays.
Progressive groups claimed a victory last week when the Senate chose not to vote on a bill that would revamp New Jersey’s campaign finance laws, including dramatically increasing the maximum amount donors can give to political candidates and allowing more political donors to win government contracts.
The bill, introduced just two weeks ago, seemed poised for quick approval by the legislature, but is now in limbo.
Sen. Teresa Ruiz’s bill to compel state governments to translate vital documents and provide translation services in 15 languages still awaits a committee vote in both houses. In the most diverse state in the country, most documents only need to be provided in English.
Protect public safety
Sen. Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) introduced legislation in March to abolish county constables statewide, months after a state watchdog condemned constables as untrained, unsupervised – but often armed – wannabe cops who are not held accountable. The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee pushed the bill forward unanimously in May, but it went nowhere in the Assembly.
Another bill to help state police better investigate missing persons and human trafficking cases passed unanimously in the Senate in May but stalled in the Assembly. The measure would allow investigators to access – without consent – someone’s cell phone records, medical records and other private information. Law enforcement officers who testified in favor of the bill said they could lose investigative leads and evidence when they cannot quickly access those records.
Meanwhile, efforts to diversify policing in New Jersey have largely failed.
A controversial bill that would have allowed law enforcement to spend civil forfeiture funds on officer diversity training, minority recruitment and community outreach passed the Assembly in March but blocked in the Senate. Criminal justice reformers have opposed the bill because they view civil forfeiture as a problematic police practice that disproportionately impacts low-income communities of color.
A bill that would mandate implicit bias training for all police recruits during basic training passed in the Assembly in February but remains stalled in the Senate.
And a proposal to pay people to find more colored cops in the state failed to gain traction in either chamber. Under this bill by Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), the state would create a $1.25 million program that would pay $250 to anyone who recruits a law enforcement candidate who belongs to a minority entering a police training academy.
A bill encouraging companies to hire people recovering from drug addiction failed to pass in both houses.
The measure, sponsored by Gopal, would provide businesses with gross income tax credits of up to $2,000 for each worker recovering from drug addiction, with the amount of the award dependent on the number of hours an eligible employee worked. .
Lawmakers have introduced dozens of bills to improve the state’s unemployment process, which has come under fire repeatedly since a deluge of claims stalled thousands of jobless claims.
A bill that would require an annual labor report from the Department of Labor, including the speed and accuracy with which unemployment claims and appeals are handled, has not been heard by the state labor board. Assembly. It passed the Senate unanimously in mid-June.
A handful of bills aimed at limiting cannabis use for certain employees have not advanced out of committees. Bills that would have banned cannabis use among law enforcement, people who operate heavy machinery and weapons, and firefighters, paramedics and 911 dispatchers were introduced shortly after launch. legal cannabis in the state.
Senate Speaker Nicholas Scutari, a longtime proponent of cannabis legalization, has previously said it would be a “dangerous slippery slope” to regulate what employees do on their off hours. He did not comment specifically on the bills.
It’s a gas, gas, gas
New Jerseyans will have to wait yet again for any hope of pumping their own gasoline, after a bill that would have given them that right — or that drudgery, depending on how you look at it — stalled.
Drivers also won’t get tax cuts, as MK Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson) proposed in May, to offset soaring gas prices, with that bill also falling short of floor. A similar bill sponsored by Senator Ed Durr (R-Gloucester) also failed.
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