NEW JERSEY – Gov. Phil Murphy has signed 153 bills into law, including one that makes New Jersey the first state in the nation to impose a permanent ban on flavored vape products. He also declined to sign 33 bills into law, otherwise known as "pocket vetoing" them.
Other bills signed into law on Monday and Tuesday by the Murphy administration, which provided an updated list Tuesday afternoon, will create new safeguards for police officers, including the new "Move Over Law" law; improve hospital transparency; and work to reform the juvenile justice system (see bills below).
The vaping legislation, S3265, prohibits the sale and distribution of flavored vape products, including menthol. The law, which Murphy signed Tuesday, comes as the state is dealing with a skyrocketing number of vaping illnesses, including one death. Read more: Startling Details, Cases Skyrocket In Deadly NJ Vaping Outbreak
Flavored vape products appear to target teens, Murphy says, and a number of children and young adults have reportedly suffered from the negative impacts of e-cigarettes.
The governor also vetoed legislation (S-4223/S-4224) that would have strengthened regulations of vape shops, capped the nicotine content in vaping liquids and prohibited the sale of all tobacco products, including vape products, in pharmacies and retail facilities with on-site pharmacies.
The legislation would have also established a tracking system for vaping products, and increased the penalties for retailers caught selling tobacco and vaping products to anyone under age 21.
Sen. Joe Vitale, chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, issued the following statement expressing his disappointment in the pocket veto of legislation to counter the vaping crisis and protect against the dangers of e-cigarettes and other electronic smoking devices and products:
"I am disappointed that the governor decided not to sign this legislation into law. It is a lost opportunity to take constructive action to counter the vaping crisis and to protect against the dangerous health effects of e-cigarettes and other vaping products," he said. "The bill contained common-sense measures to keep these products out of the hands of young people by cracking down on illicit, underage sales by bad actors who exploit their vulnerability to the allure of e-cigarettes and other vaping products. Many of the action items derived from the governor's own task force on vaping."
Murphy said in a statement that he appreciates the Legislature's effort "to implement many of the Task Force's recommendations, particularly provisions that would help curb sales to children and young adults." But he "cannot support a piecemeal approach to a problem that requires a comprehensive solution."
"In its original form, the bill — then two separate bills — would have required an overhaul and expansion of the current limited licensing system for vapor businesses and increased the tax on vapor products," he said. "My office strongly suggested that the Legislature consider reworking the current tax scheme, which is unnecessarily complicated and favors certain players in the marketplace, and conveyed our concerns to the Legislature about the bill's inconsistent treatment of different vaping retailers and manufacturers."
He said the bill's final form "did not address these concerns" and he hopes lawmakers and his administration "can reach a result that treats all affected entities fairly, protects the health of New Jersey residents and penalizes the bad actors in the vaping marketplace."
The state Legislature passed the flavored-vaping products ban bill, meanwhile, based on a recommendation from Murphy's Electric Smoking Device Task Force, which was created by Executive Order No. 84 and directed to formulate a strategy to protect New Jerseyans from the hazards of electronic cigarettes, the governor said.
"As governor, I am first and foremost charged with protecting the health and safety of our people," Murphy said. "Research shows that flavored electronic smoking devices and products, such as mint, candy, fruit and chocolate, are extremely appealing, especially to children. I commend my partners in the Legislature for reacting swiftly to the Task Force's recommendations to pass legislation that will protect both youth and adults from the hazards of flavored electronic smoking device use."
Primary sponsors of the legislation included Sens. Shirley Turney, Richard Codey and Joseph Vitale and Assembly members Herb Conaway Jr., Carol Murphy and Valerie Vainieri Huttle.
Murphy signed a legislative package into law Monday to create and establish protections for law enforcement. The series of bills provide resources and safeguards for New Jersey's police officers, lawmakers say.
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said the legislation will address and deal with suicides in law enforcement, noting that the safeguards were signed as the state continues to mourn the death of Patrolman Edward Nortrup of the Roselle Park Police Department this past weekend. Read more: 'Friend And A Brother:' Tears Over NJ Cop's Death After Crash
Col. Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police said there are no two things more preventable than officers being unintentionally struck by motorists and suicide.
Another piece of legislation signed into law was the "Move Over Law," which strengthens the penalties for motorists who fail to move out of the way of law enforcement. Read more: Howell Trooper's Mom Wins Fight To Strengthen Move Over Law
"New Jersey's law enforcement officers are the finest in the nation, and we will take every step necessary to ensure their safety both in the line of duty and off-duty," Murphy said. "I am proud to sign legislation that will support the officers who dedicate every day to us."
Murphy signed A1796 into law Tuesday to prohibit the use of "gay or trans panic" defenses for charges of criminal homicide. The signing of this bill builds on the governor's commitment to expand rights and protections for New Jersey's LGBTQ+ community, lawmakers say.
Defendants have successfully argued that gay or trans panic constitutes heat-of-passion provocation in order to reduce charges of murder to manslaughter, authorities said.
Under this law, a defendant would be prohibited from using a victim's actual or perceived gender identity or expression or affectional or sexual orientation as a heat-of-passion defense to murder charges in New Jersey courts.
"We will always stand with our LGBTQ+ community and promote full equality for all our residents," Murphy said. "Gay and trans panic defenses are rooted in homophobia and abhorrent excuses that should never be used to justify violence against vulnerable populations. With this new law, we are enacting critical measures to protect our friends and neighbors in the LGBTQ+ community."
Murphy signed legislation (A5916 and A5918) Tuesday to improve hospital transparency and expand reporting requirements.
The bills, which will provide more financial and operational insight into New Jersey's hospitals, will ensure that these facilities will not abruptly discontinue services and leave communities without access to care, lawmakers say.
"New Jersey is home to some of the nation's leading hospitals, health care facilities and treatment centers," Murphy said. "By requiring these institutions to disclose financial distress and expand their reporting obligations, we will enhance operational transparency and ensure that our communities have access to high-quality, affordable health care."
Murphy signed a legislative package Monday combatting what he calls "worker misclassification and exploitation."
The bills will crack down on employee misclassification in businesses by allowing stop-work orders against employers violating state wage, benefit and tax laws; providing assessment of penalties for violations in connection with misclassification of employees; and requiring employers to post a notice for their employees regarding employee misclassification, among others.
"We cannot build a stronger and fairer economy without strong workplace protections that ensure fairness for employees," Murphy said. "I am proud to sign these bills today to curb this unethical and illegal practice that hurts our working families and exploits New Jersey's workers."
Murphy signed three pieces of legislation into law Tuesday to "expand and strengthen democracy in New Jersey," officials said.
The bills will provide protections and security for online voter registration while expanding access to the ballot for New Jerseyans, lawmakers said.
"We are stronger and fairer when more New Jerseyans are represented in our democracy," Murphy said. "Expanding access to voting is one of many ways we can work to enfranchise more voters and ensure that all eligible voters are able to participate in the democratic process."
Murphy signed a bill into law that will expand the New Jersey Film & Digital Media Tax Credit Program, originally signed into law in July 2018.
The bill, A5580, extends the program's tenure by an additional five years so it will remain in place until July 1, 2028; and adds $25 million to the annual cap on qualified film production expenses, bringing it to $100 million per year. The current digital tax credit's cap of $10 million per year will remain unchanged.
"New Jersey has a rich history of film production and has been the backdrop for a host of iconic productions," Murphy said. "Expanding our popular film and digital media tax credit program will ensure that studios will continue to seek out New Jersey as a filming location, bringing skilled jobs and economic activity with them."
The program was previously allowed to expire under the Gov. Chris Christie administration but was reinstated by Murphy in July 2018. Since the reinstatement of the credit last year, New Jersey has seen a major uptick in spending by film productions and has been host to several major motion pictures including "Joker" and "West Side Story," lawmakers say.
Murphy signed legislation (A2431) to help limit out-of-pocket prescription drug expenses for New Jersey families. The bill, which requires health insurers to provide plans that limit patient cost-sharing concerning prescription drug coverage, will improve affordability and access for those who require necessary medication, lawmakers say.
"Few issues have a greater financial impact on New Jersey families than the unpredictable and ever-increasing cost of prescription drugs," Murphy said. "Cost-sharing too often presents a barrier to a patient's ability to access medically necessary treatments. This legislation will improve the affordability of medical care for many residents who, unfortunately, must make sacrifices in order to pay for their required medications."
Murphy signed legislation Monday to reform New Jersey's juvenile justice system. This legislation marks an accomplishment in the governor's efforts to ensure a more humane, just and equitable criminal justice system, lawmakers say.
S48 integrates several reforms to New Jersey's juvenile justice system concerning incarceration and parole by:
Murphy signed S2555, allowing New Jersey students who are children of H-1B visa holders to qualify for in-state tuition at public institutions of higher education.
S2555 exempts dependent students whose parents or guardians hold H-1B visas from paying out-of-state tuition provided they meet certain criteria, including having graduated from a New Jersey high school and having attended a New Jersey high school for at least three years.
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"New Jerseyans deserve equal access to higher education, and today we are taking another step toward making that possible," Murphy said. "I'm proud to sign the legislation to help our students achieve their education goals, pursue a successful future and live their dreams here in their home state."
Murphy signed S4264, which designates Route 19 as "William J. Pascrell Jr. Highway" in honor of the 9th District's long-serving congressman, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-Passaic).
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