We recently polled the members of the NJ Libertarian State Board on the ballot questions. Here are our thoughts.
Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called “cannabis”?
Only adults at least 21 years of age could use cannabis. The State commission created to oversee the State’s medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market.
Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products.
Your legislators are often easy to contact. They can be contacted via phone, email, or snail mail. If an issue is important enough you may be able to call and ask for an appointment with them to discuss an issue. Several assembly people can be found on social media as well.
The best way I have found to determine your legislative district is to enter your nine digit zip code or address and press Submit below.
In New Jersey if you want to practice hair braiding you need to complete a 1,200 hour cosmetology course where you learn lots of things – except for how to braid hair. The practice of hair braiding requires no chemicals and is perfectly safe. Last year, a mother of four was fined $1,200 for braiding hair without a license. Anita Yeboah can’t afford the up to $17,000 to obtain this license. She faced the prospect of either going on welfare, or starting a business to support her and her four children. As an immigrant from Ghana, she grew up learning to braid hair as part of her culture.
Brigitte Nzali was slapped with a fine for braiding hair from her shop in Blackwood, NJ. She and other hair braiders have joined forces to form the Hair Braiding Freedom Coalition. They have worked to get a bill through the Assembly that would get rid of burdensome licensing requirements.
On August 27th, Governor Phil Murphy heartlessly vetoed their bill. The bill had bi-partisan support in the legislature, but Murphy thought it went too far and wanted hair braiders to have at least 50 hours of training or three years of experience.
Story Updated 8/12 and 8/17 - Correspondence Added
Rutgers has been billing students to support the legislative lobbying group, NJ Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG). Each semester an item is added to each student's bill with the description "NJPIRG". To not pay this fee the student (or the parent paying the bill) needs take action to have this fee removed. Not only is this action unethical, it is also illegal.
State law (18A:62-22) requires that any fee for organizations "which employ legislative agents or attempt to influence legislation" is only authorized by having "the student add the charge to the total amount due." This requires a positive check off for the fee. The law also requires specific language to be included on the bill.
Optional fees shall be accompanied by a statement as to the nature of the item, and that the item is not a charge required to be paid by the student but rather the student may add the charge to the total amount due, and that the item appears on the bill at the request of the student body, and does not necessarily reflect the endorsement of the governing body. - N.J.S.A. 18A:62-22
Rutgers is in violation of the law. They have a negative check off and do not include the required language.
NJPIRG, along with other state PIRG chapters have lobbied public institutions to automatically bill students a fee that is forwarded to the state chapter of PIRG. In my case the fee was $11.20 for the Fall 2015 semester. The fee can be removed - but only if it is noticed and the appropriate boxes are checked when paying the tuition balance.
Currently, fees for organizations which attempt to influence legislation are included on tuition bills at some institutions as "negative check-off" fees. This means the person paying the tuition bill must elect not to include the organization fee with the tuition bill. This bill would change that procedure to a positive check-off, so that the person paying the tuition bill must elect to include the fee with the tuition payment.
Rutgers University is breaking the law with their current billing practice. According to the Rutgers Tuition and Fees page, the fee is categorized as one of their "Optional Fees". The required language is nowhere to be found and those paying the bill have to take an action to have the fee removed.
The NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission is proposing making miniscule changes to the way some reports are filed. They are seeking comments on these changes by February 17th. Below is the letter I sent them.
Michelle R. Levy, Esq., Associate Legal Director
Election Law Enforcement Commission
PO Box 185
Trenton, NJ 08625-0185
Dear members of the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission:
On Thursday, January 15, 2015, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee will discuss Senate Bill No. 1236 which seeks to establish a two-year pilot program placing the Edison Township (Middlesex County) Police Department's internal affairs function under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey Attorney General. Important for transparency advocates are amendments proposed by the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG) that would require the Attorney General to "publicly disclose the internal affairs complaints, investigative reports and internal affairs dispositions for each internal affairs matter that was processed during the two year pilot program." NJFOG's proposal is fully supported by the bill's sponsor, Senator Peter J. Barnes, III (D-18), who has previously served on Edison's municipal council.
Haven't our legislators learned anything? The State Assembly has unanimously passed A783, a bill that increases penalties for possession of various drugs. The goal is to go after distributors however it uses weight of material possessed as the only factor in determining seriousness of the offense. The bill decreases threshold offenses for many drugs.
Of note is the estimated financial impact: "Costs would total $3,393,164, in the third year following enactment, increase to $5,552,214 in the fourth year, and $7,711,264 during the fifth and succeeding years following enactment." The total financial impact is stated as being "higher than the amount estimated by the DOC by an undetermined amount."
The New Jersey Libertarian Party urges the passage of A2270 - the "Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill" bill. The NJ Libertarian Party platform calls for "the repeal of all laws interfering with the right to commit suicide as infringement of the ultimate right of an individual to his or her own life."
New Jersey Libertarian Party
PO Box 56
Tennent, NJ 07763
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll
146 Speedwell Avenue
Morris Plains, NJ 07950
Dear Assemblyman Carroll:
We are writing to you today to convey our strong support for the “Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill” Act (A2270). This legislation affirms the right of a qualified, terminally ill adult patient to obtain a prescription from his or her physician for medication that the patient may choose to self-administer for a humane and dignified death.