Governor vetoes five bills from Nov. 20-26



New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed five bills from Nov. 20-26.

Ballotpedia did not identify any responses from the bill sponsors as of Nov. 30. The five bills are below:

Assembly Bill 5179: Would have defined a smoke control system and differentiated between dedicated and non-dedicated smoke control systems, and required routine maintenance and periodic testing of smoke dampers, fire dampers, and smoke control systems in certain buildings by qualified personnel. Murphy said, “I do support creating a system for certifying contractors involved in the installation, testing, and maintenance of fire dampers, smoke dampers, combination fire and smoke dampers, and smoke control systems. My recommended amendments preserve the core component of this bill, while facilitating DFS’s 3 authority to promulgate rules and regulations in this subject area within its current fire protection contractor certification regime. … As mentioned, the fire protection goals embodied by this bill are admirable, and I once again would like to thank the bill’s sponsors for promoting the regular testing and maintenance of fire and smoke dampers and smoke protection systems. I am confident that my recommended amendments will enable DFS to continue to effectively address these issues through the regulatory process and lead to the development of a credentialed, experienced, and well-trained workforce.”The General Assembly voted 74-0 to approve the bill on March 30. The Senate voted 36-0 to approve the bill on June 26. Democratic Assembly members Anthony Verrelli and Carol Murphy introduced the legislation on Feb. 13.

Assembly Bill 5225: Would have provided coverage for community-based palliative care benefits under the Medicaid program, including specialized medical care and emotional and spiritual support for beneficiaries with serious advanced illnesses, relief of symptoms, pain, and stress of serious illness, improvement of quality of life for both the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s family, and appropriate care for any age and for any stage of serious illness, along with curative treatment. Murphy said, “My only concern with this bill is that it takes effect immediately, presupposing that DHS would be able to offer the benefit in a very short time frame. Adding any new form of coverage to Medicaid takes a substantial commitment of time and resources, including investigating and designing the benefit, building out the information technology infrastructure, and, critically, securing the federal approvals and financial participation necessary to reduce State costs. And with respect to this circumstance in particular, studies have revealed racial disparities in who receives quality end-of-life care and shown that New Jersey has room to improve when it comes to transitions between the hospital, rehabilitation centers and other facilities, and home for individuals with serious illnesses. Accordingly, to design a comprehensive, equitable system of coverage, DHS will need to carefully study the current palliative care landscape and engage thoughtfully with our communities. For that reason, I am recommending that Assembly Bill No. 5225 (Second Reprint) be amended to provide DHS with two years to conduct the work necessary to design a quality benefit, and — to optimize reach while protecting State financial resources — make clear that coverage would be contingent on receiving all necessary federal approvals. With these amendments, I am confident that the State will develop the best possible coverage for our Medicaid recipients.”The General Assembly voted 78-0 to approve the bill on June 30. The Senate voted 36-0 to approve the bill on June 30. Democratic Assembly members Angela McKnight, Shanique Speight and Carol Murphy introduced the legislation on Feb. 23.

Assembly Bill 4752: Would have required the Small Business Development Centers, in consultation with the Business Action Center in the Department of State, to establish a program to help small businesses in the state develop an internet presence, including establishing and maintaining websites and social media webpages, providing assistance towards understanding and using technological tools to enhance a business’ internet presence, expanding online sales, implementing digital business processes, and connecting with other business owners.Murphy said, “I commend the bill’s sponsors for exploring ways to help business owners leverage the Internet and social media to their advantage. In an increasingly digital world, a strong online presence is crucial for businesses to establish and promote their brand. I am advised, however, that Assembly Bill No. 4752 (First Reprint) would duplicate existing efforts being undertaken by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (‘EDA’) … The EDA’s efforts required a significant amount of planning and investment, which is only expected to grow in the future. Therefore, it would be an inefficient use of State resources to ask the NJSBDCs, in conjunction with BAC, to replicate that work. For the foregoing reasons, I am recommending amendments to allow BAC to work in consultation with the EDA and NJSBDCs on ensuring the public has access to relevant information about the 2 E-Commerce Program and other existing programs that help businesses develop an online presence. Creating a one-stop information shop for business owners to learn about available opportunities will ensure that as many eligible businesses as possible can obtain the assistance they need.”The General Assembly voted 74-1 to approve the bill on Dec. 15, 2022. The Senate voted 36-0 to approve the bill on May 22. Democratic Assembly members P. Christopher Tully, Daniel Benson and Annette Chaparro introduced the legislation on Oct. 3, 2022.

Assembly Bill 4750: Would have established that the Business Action Center shall create and maintain a publicly available database of vacant commercial space available for purchase or lease by small businesses, including details on any vacant commercial space. Murphy said, “I commend the bill’s sponsors for recognizing the challenges business owners and prospective business owners face in identifying viable commercial real estate opportunities. However, the legislation overlooks the fact that such a database would duplicate the efforts of countless private real estate brokers and related online resources that advertise such information on a more frequent basis. Moreover, BAC lacks the relevant experience and staff needed to create such a platform, and I am concerned that the inordinate amount of time and resources necessary to do so would impede BAC’s ability to establish and maintain such a database effectively. I am therefore recommending amendments to allow BAC to broadly study the impact of vacant commercial properties on small business owners and prospective small business owners, including available programs or services offered by private entities and county and local governments, and whether such existing programs or services have been effective.”The General Assembly voted 73-3 to approve the bill on Dec. 15, 2022. The Senate voted 34-1 to approve the bill on May 22. Democratic Assembly members Sadaf Jaffer, Ralph Caputo and Reginald Atkins introduced the legislation on Oct. 3, 2022.

Assembly Bill 3681: Would have established the New Jersey Educator Scholarship Program and appropriated $3 million.Murphy said, “I applaud the bill’s sponsors for working to attract more teachers to the field by establishing scholarships to reduce the out-of-pocket costs of completing an educator preparation program. I am concerned, however, that this bill also would impose unduly harsh financial penalties on scholarship recipients who do not satisfy certain post-graduate employment and other requirements – including if they fail to satisfy those requirements for reasons beyond their control – by requiring those individuals to repay amounts received as a debt to the State. Many well-intentioned students seeking to become teachers under the program may find themselves on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars. These penalties risk making the bill’s scholarships unattractive to potential recipients and saddling students and recent graduates with unexpected debt at a time when many students are already overburdened with student loan debt. In close collaboration with the bill’s sponsors, I am therefore recommending revisions to address the unintended consequences of the provisions in the bill that provide for the conversion of scholarships and stipends to debts to the State.”The General Assembly voted 72-5 to approve the bill on June 30. The Senate voted 37-0 to approve the bill on June 20. Democratic Assembly member Pamela Lampitt introduced the legislation on March 21, 2022.

Overriding a gubernatorial veto requires a two-thirds vote from both chambers of the Legislature. New Jersey is one of 36 states to require a two-thirds majority.

There are 10 active vetoes in New Jersey in 2023. This count does not include vetoes that have been overturned by the Legislature. During the week of Nov. 20-26, Murphy was the only governor nationwide to veto any bills.

Murphy, a Democrat, has served as governor since Jan. 16, 2018. He successfully vetoed three bills in 2022. There are 740 active vetoes nationwide in 2023. This count does not include vetoes that have been overturned by state legislatures. Democratic governors issued 466, while Republican governors issued 274. New Jersey is a Democratic trifecta, meaning Democrats control the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature.

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