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Legislative Session Review:  New Jersey

By Matt McBride | January 2, 2019

NJ 2018 Legislature

New Jersey has a full-time legislature whose 2018 session runs from Jan. 9, 2018, to Jan. 8, 2019. However, the legislature held its last voting day on Dec. 17.

Legislative Highlights

Last year marked Governor Phil Murphy’s (D) first session after being elected in November 2017. The governor proposed a budget that would have raised taxes by $1.6 billion, which led to a prolonged fight with the legislature that nearly caused a government shutdown. The governor and legislature reached a budget deal on June 30, narrowly avoiding a shutdown that was set to begin the next day. The $37.4 billion budget increases taxes on individuals making over $5 million annually, increases taxes on corporations, and revamps the school funding formula to more fairly distribute the funds.

Murphy also signed a bill legalizing sports gambling in the state in June. The legislation establishes a framework for licensing and operating sports betting at the state’s casinos and racetracks and sets tax rates for bets placed in-person and online. New Jersey was the lead plaintiff in the case that resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the federal ban on sports betting.

In October, Murphy signed a bill requiring online retailers to collect sales taxes in New Jersey. Under the new law, a seller without a physical presence in New Jersey must collect sales taxes if it conducts transactions worth more than $100,000 there in a year or conducts more than 200 separate transactions. The new tax is expected to bring in an additional $188 million in revenue.

New Jersey enacted a package of gun control measures in the wake of the deadly Parkland school shooting. State law now requires the seizure of firearms when a mental health professional determines someone poses a threat; allows for an extreme risk protective order if a court deems someone poses a significant danger to themselves or others; requires background checks for private gun sales; lowers the magazine capacity from 15 rounds to 10, with an exception for a popular .22-caliber rifle; requires residents to show a "justifiable need" to get a carry permit; and prohibits body-armor-penetrating ammunition.

One issue that will likely linger into the next year will be an investigation into allegations that a senior staffer landed a six-figure job with the administration after he was accused of raping a campaign supporter last year. State lawmakers voted to create a special committee to investigate the claims.

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