Volume 11 Issue 56 - Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Murphy Picks Allen-McMillan as Education Commissioner; Restaurant Aid Legislation Vetoed; Financial Industry pushes back on Proposed Transaction Tax; Governor Signs Early Release Legislation into Law and Governor Murphy Maintains High Approval Ratings

Murphy Picks Allen-McMillan as Education Commissioner:  Today, Governor Phil Murphy nominated Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillian to serve as New Jersey’s next education commissioner.

A Montclair resident, Allen-McMillan began her career in education as a substitute teacher in Essex County and taught in East Orange Public Schools before she launched the Marion P. Thomas Charter School in Newark. She served as an assistant principal and principal in the South Orange-Maplewood School District, and as an assistant superintendent in both Irvington Public Schools and Newark Public Schools and most recently served as interim Morris County Executive Superintendent of Schools.

Allen-McMillan will begin this week as acting commissioner as she awaits confirmation by the New Jersey State Senate.

Restaurant Aid Legislation Vetoed: This week, Governor Murphy vetoed a bill that would have provided financial aid to restaurants that lost money due to COVID closures.

The bill (S2704) would have provided $30 million in loans or grants to restaurants harmed by the rescinded reopening, funded by the state’s federal CARES Act aid.

The Senate voted for the bill 38-0 and the Assembly 77-0.

Murphy vetoed the bill Monday, noting that he recently announced $100 million in new CARES Act funding for businesses, including at least $35 million for restaurants and bars.

“I applaud the sponsors ... for their proactive efforts to assist New Jersey businesses during this critical time. However, following the recent announcement that an additional $100 million in CARES Act funding will be available to support New Jersey residents and businesses, including $35 million dedicated to food establishments, the goals of this bill have already been achieved,” Murphy said in his veto statement.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, a bill sponsor, criticized the veto, saying “It is unthinkable that the governor would veto bipartisan legislation to help restaurants that passed unanimously in both houses.”

Financial Industry pushes back on Proposed Transaction Tax: On Monday, the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee held a public hearing on A4402 – a controversial bill sponsored by Assemblyman John McKeon that would impose a 100th-of-a-cent tax on online financial transactions made in New Jersey.

Exchanges, trades groups and online brokers told New Jersey lawmakers on Monday that this amended legislation would “backfire” and force major U.S. stock exchanges to relocate their data centers outside of New Jersey.

Under the newly revised proposal, he said, the tax would end after two years, during which the state could collect roughly $1 billion in revenue to help it through these difficult financial times.

“Financial firms with a fiduciary duty to their investor clients will have no choice but to relocate,” said Hope Jarkowski, co-head of government affairs at the New York Stock Exchange. 

“To think that one-one hundredth of a cent could be something that could cause the exchange to move because that made them no longer competitive as it relates to the exchanges taking place, is just extraordinary,” Assemblyman McKeon said. 

Governor Signs Early Release legislation into Law: On Monday, Governor Murphy signed into law a first-in-the-nation bill reducing sentences in New Jersey’s prison system, which has the highest coronavirus death rate in the country. The first wave of early releases will take place on November 4th with approximately 2,088 people expected to be freed. Around 1,000 more will also be released ahead of schedule in the following weeks through January.

“Reducing our prison population will undoubtedly further our mission to combat COVID-19. Although the infection rate has dropped and an earlier plan sent some inmates temporarily to their homes, the new reductions will “allow for even more social distancing,” Governor Murphy said in a statement.

People currently on parole can also have their time reduced, and around 1,388 people will see supervision end Nov. 4, according to the estimate from Murphy’s office.

Governor Murphy Maintains High Approval Ratings: Last week, Fairleigh Dickinson University released the results of its latest poll, reflecting that Governor Murphy continues to earn positive grades from a majority of New Jersey residents.

60% of New Jersey residents approve of Murphy’s overall job performance while just 31% disapprove. This number demonstrates a sizable uptick in public opinion of the Governor’s overall job performance which was measured at 42% back in February.