Volume 12 Issue 19 - Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Coughlin backs Murphy’s Gun Reform Agenda, Lipman named Ratepayer Watchdog; Murphy accelerates Plans to Reduce Greenhouse Gas and N.J. to accept Applications for Legal Cannabis Businesses

 Coughlin backs Murphy’s Gun Reform Agenda: Today, at a press conference in Metuchen, Speaker Coughlin stood with Governor Murphy to announce his support of the Governor’s plans to pass a package of gun safety laws in the current lame duck period of the legislative session.

Murphy’s plan includes raising the minimum age to purchase long guns to 21, mandating safe firearms storage, safety training requirements, electronic ammunition sales recordkeeping, and $10 million for community-based violence intervention. The Governor is also seeking a ban on .50 caliber, military-style firearms, closing the loophole for important out-of-state guns and promoting microstamping technology.

“We have to act, and we have to act now. We must make enacting the next wave of common sense gun safety laws one of our top priorities of the remaining days of the current legislative session,” Murphy said Thursday, adding there are 40 days left in the session.

Lipman named Ratepayer Watchdog: Earlier this week, Governor Phil Murphy has named Brian Lipman the state’s new ratepayer watchdog, the Division of Rate Counsel announced Tuesday. 

Lipman was the Division’s was the division’s litigation manager and most recently, the interim director before Murphy made Lipman’s title permanent.

The Division of Rate Counsel is an independent state agency charged with representing ratepayer interests before the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. This means trying to keep down costs on some of Murphy's signature, clean energy infrastructure projects.

Murphy accelerates Plans to Reduce Greenhouse Gas: Last week, Governor Murphy announced plans to fast track New Jersey’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to protect the state from climate change.

Murphy has set a goal of creating a 100% clean-energy economy in the Garden State, with an 80% reduction in state-generated greenhouse gases, by 2050.

Under Executive Order 274, Governor Murphy is accelerating the latter goal to 50% by 2030, the end of this decade. That brings New Jersey’s goals more in line with federal benchmarks set by President Biden’s administration.

 Murphy said, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the state Board of Public Utilities will dedicate more than $13 million to assist communities with air quality issues to buy electric school buses and municipal trucks. The governor also announced the New Jersey Economic Development Authority will put an additional $20 million into its program help small businesses buy electric vehicles.

Those funds, Murphy said, come from the proceeds New Jersey has gotten from re-entering the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state cap-and-trade program aimed at battling climate change. Murphy indicated that the state has received $170 million in carbon credits since rejoining.

N.J. to accept Applications for Legal Cannabis Businesses: The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission announced it will open the application process to marijuana growers, processors and testing labs on Dec. 15. It will open applications for dispensaries on March 15.

There are no deadlines to file applications. The commission will accept them on a rolling basis. Only cultivation licenses have a cap: 37 new licenses can be issued between Feb. 2021 and Feb. 2023.

New Jersey currently has only medical marijuana dispensaries and growers. They will get the first shot at selling to the public once they certify they have enough cannabis to meet patient and public demand and pay fees to expand their licenses to the recreational market.

The state will also license legal marijuana delivery services, distributors and wholesalers at a later date. It has yet to adopt rules that will guide these types of licenses.

Applicants will receive priority review if they are women-, veteran- or minority-owned businesses, or if they come from people who have been arrested for marijuana or live in municipalities with disproportionate rates of marijuana arrests or are economically disadvantaged. Microbusinesses, or those with 10 employees or fewer, will also be prioritized.