Legal weed is dead for now, top N.J. Democrats say. Voters to decide instead in November 2020.

Updated May 15, 2019

New Jersey’s top state lawmaker announced Wednesday he’s dropping efforts to have the state Legislature pass a bill that would legalize marijuana in New Jersey.

Instead, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney said, lawmakers will ask the state’s voters in November 2020 to decide whether to make weed legal here.

In the meantime, Sweeney added, lawmakers will move forward with two related bills that would “dramatically” expand the Garden State’s medical marijuana program and expunge the records of residents with past convictions of possessing small amounts of pot.

The announcement is a major blow in the more than year-long, ever-changing battle to make New Jersey the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana — a signature campaign promise of Gov. Phil Murphy.

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N.J. income taxes rolling in like never before. Now Dems will fight over what to do with all that extra cash.

Posted May 14, 2019

New Jersey’s income tax collections came roaring back in April, surprising state leaders and cracking open a debate over how the state should spend its extra cash.

The mid-year recovery led Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration to announce Tuesday it is boosting its revenue forecast for the state budget year that ends June 30 by $377 million and plans to deposit all but $60 million of that money into a depleted “rainy day” fund to cushion the blow of a future downturn.

But the state Legislature may have other plans.

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Newark deserves civilian review of police misconduct, with teeth | Editorial

Posted May 13, 2019

Newark cops have a sordid history of burying complaints of police abuse or brutality.

In 2014, the Department of Justice found after a three-year investigation that excessive force was a problem concentrated in a small number of officers, who had an outsized effect because they stayed on the street.

Residents who complained were treated like criminals and given Miranda warnings. Yet even if an officer faced multiple accusations, there was no meaningful investigation by internal affairs.

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Booker, trailing in polls, says early front runners usually don’t cross the finish line 1st

Posted May 12, 2019

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, an also-ran in early opinion polls, says the candidates who start off in front usually don’t cross the finish line first.

“This is a race I feel very confident about, not just here in South Carolina, but New Hampshire, Iowa and Nevada as well,” Booker, D-N.J., said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “Because to me, these are races where you’re gonna have to earn people’s votes. We know historically the front runners at this far out are often not the people that end up winning those early primaries.”

Booker is seventh in the Real Clear Politics polling average of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates with 2.6 percent. Former Vice President Joe Biden leads with 41.4 percent, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with 14.6 percent.

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Gov. Gaslight refuses to address the NJ Transit funding fiasco responsibly | Editorial

Posted May 12, 2019

It’s getting harder to discern whether Gov. Murphy is delusional or just believes that the rest of us can’t understand basic math.

He has decided that 1.1 percent is an adequate funding boost for NJ Transit in the next fiscal year, and with his budget due in six weeks, this doesn’t exactly conform with the overwhelming consensus that the agency is already past its break-glass moment.

Lest anyone forget, Murphy promised transportation would be the greatest priority of his administration and that he would get NJT turned around “if it kills me.”

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NJ MAKES MOVE TO RECRUIT MORE MEN OF COLOR AS TEACHERS

COLLEEN O'DEA | MAY 13, 2019

NJ Spotlight

 

On any single day, some 160,000 New Jersey public school students do not see even one teacher of color. The state is taking a small step toward trying to change that with a new program to recruit men of color into the profession.

Gov. Phil Murphy last Friday signed a bill (S-703) creating a pilot project meant to increase access to teaching for minority and disadvantaged males and to bring more teacher role models into underperforming schools.

“Diversity is one of our greatest strengths as a state and reflecting that diversity in the teaching staff of our schools will go a long way in ensuring success for our students,” said Murphy in a statement. “This program will create new pathways for aspiring teachers that come from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds, while providing positive male role models for many of our underserved youth.”

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SOME QUESTIONS AS STATE EXPANDS FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE PROGRAM

CARLY SITRIN | MAY 10, 2019

NJ Spotlight

 

Lawmakers have a lot of questions about Gov. Phil Murphy’s free community college plan and they raised many of them at a budget hearing on higher education yesterday.

Despite waiting on detailed data from a pilot program to come in, the administration is expanding community college opportunity grants (CCOG) to students at all county colleges across the state; last week Gov. Phil Murphy announced that the expansion would start with this spring 2019 semester.

The program was piloted in August at 13 schools. Counting that pilot a success, the governor is allocating $58.5 million to CCOG for the 2019-2020 academic year and is allowing students at all community colleges to use the grant funding to pay off their spring 2019 tuition bills retroactively. Until that announcement, only students at the 13 pilot schools could access the CCOG money for the spring semester (which began in January).

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Parsing the blood feud as Norcross sinks teeth into Murphy | Moran

Updated May 9, 2019

George Norcross was furious when he called to say he was ready to drop all restraint and go public with his scathing personal views on Gov. Phil Murphy after two years of holding back. This time it was personal.

But I didn’t expect it to be this personal?

Here are some of the choice words he used to describe Murphy’s behavior, during a 90-minute interview on Wednesday: Stupid, Dishonest, Reckless. Incompetent.

“I’ve never seen an individual who is despised as much within his own party,” said Norcross, the overlord of politics in South Jersey. “He thinks he’s the King of England. And Mrs. thinks she’s the Queen of England!”

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DARK-MONEY DISCLOSURE BILL FACING CONDITIONAL VETO BY MURPHY?

COLLEEN O'DEA | MAY 10, 2019

NJ Spotlight

 

Campaign-finance reform advocates launched an 11th-hour effort Thursday to try to persuade Gov. Phil Murphy not to conditionally veto a bill that would require politically active nonprofits to reveal their funders and give New Jersey among the broadest disclosure requirements in the nation.

Murphy has said he backs requiring disclosure by so-called dark money organizations. But sources within the administration say that the governor plans to conditionally veto the legislation (S-1500). Monday is his deadline for taking action on the bill.

Jeffrey Brindle, executive director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, has been asking lawmakers for years to require issue-advocacy organizations that engage in electioneering to report who gave them money. He hopes a CV does not derail that effort.

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Powerful Democrat blasts Gov. Murphy and his wife. ‘He thinks he’s the King of England and Mrs. thinks she’s the Queen of England.’

Updated May 8, 2019

George Norcross III, the South Jersey Democratic power broker long at odds with the governor, has declared all-out war on Phil Murphy, calling him a “liar” and “politically incompetent.”

After enduring a steady drumbeat of criticism over how his company and other entities tied to him allegedly benefitted from lucrative tax incentives meant to help revive the city of Camden, Norcross went on the attack. He lambasted a special governor’s task force deployed to investigate the New Jersey Economic Development Authority in connection with those tax incentives, as well as the governor.

At issue are millions of dollars in state funding that was earmarked for one of the state’s poorest cities, and questions over whether Norcross and his companies profited, or at least tipped the scales to funnel that funding behind the scenes by threatening to move jobs out of state that were never in danger of being shifted.

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