LEGISLATIVE ROUNDUP: Governor’s veto prompts angry reaction from Democrats

Gov. Chris Christie Wednesday vetoed a law that would have reduced magazine capacity of firearms to 10 rounds, a decision that drew a rebuke from Democratic legislators.

“The governor’s suggestions are no substitute for real action, no matter what kind of rhetoric he chooses to use,” said state Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester.

“If he really wanted to do something about guns and mental health, he would have signed the bill I sponsored last year creating a system of instant background checks for firearms purchases.

“With his track record of vetoing nearly every gun violence prevention measure, including bills he himself has called for, leaves one to wonder if he is in fact serious,” Sweeney added.

Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, D-Camden, lead sponsor of the gun legislation, accused Christie of brushing aside difficult decisions.

“I would imagine this is a very uncomfortable topic to have with conservative voters in Iowa and New Hampshire,” he said, referring to the governor’s possible presidential aspirations.

“At the end of the day, this was a cowardly decision that lacks leadership. In fact, this is political expediency at its worst.”

Agri-tourism pilot

A bill to promote agricultural tourism in New Jersey became law Wednesday.

Co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Celeste M. Riley, D-Cumberland and Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty, D-Gloucester, the law creates a pilot program permitting special occasion events to be conducted at wineries located on preserved farmland.

Natural disaster legislation

Legislation co-sponsored by Greenwald and Moriarty to improve the state’s ability to respond to large-scale natural disasters passed the Senate Monday.

The bill bolsters safety inspection capacity in the aftermath of disasters such as Superstorm Sandy by shielding licensed architects and professional engineers from liability when they volunteer to help local governments respond to major natural disasters.

The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk.

Rutgers Big 10

Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, released a statement Tuesday as Rutgers University joined the Big 10 Conference.

“It’s easy to forget these days, but there was a time not long ago when Rutgers was nearly ready to punt on 3rd down when it came to playing (Division) 1-A football,” the statement read.

“The Big 10 offers not only athletic excellence, but also academic excellence and partnerships. It will be a great experience for New Jersey.”

Infrastructure bank approved

Legislation to establish a State Transportation Infrastructure Bank to leverage public and private investments for the long-term overhaul of New Jersey’s transportation network received final approval in the Senate on Monday.

The bill, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, expands the trust’s current mission to include transportation and energy projects. If signed into law, the measure would be effective immediately, but will remain inoperative until state, federal, or other private funds are provided to capitalize the banks.

Vet priority law

Legislation co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt, D-Camden, and Assemblyman Gilbert “Whip” Wilson, D-Camden, that requires combat veterans receive priority as candidates for the New Jersey State Police, cleared the Senate Monday and awaits the governor’s signature.

A similar practice is already in place for civil service positions at the state, county and municipal level.

Pension protection

The Senate Monday approved a bill co-sponsored by Singleton that would prevent Gov. Christie and future administrations from using increased pension contributions made by public employees to offset contributions owed by the state.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

Moratorium reinstated

Legislation to reinstate a moratorium on nonresidential construction fees while the state economy continues to rebound passed the Senate Monday.

The bill, co-sponsored by Burzichelli, Singleton and Lampitt and now on its way to the governor, continues the moratorium through Dec. 31.

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