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LETTER: Science key to revitalizing New Jersey jobs

Americans who recently thronged the Washington D.C. and Trenton Marches for Science weren’t just calling attention to the need to protect our health and safety and preserve the planet. Their presence also was a statement about the economic value of science and technology.

There is a strong connection between jobs and science and it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. For that, we pay a price.

Those who deny climate change and denigrate science threaten the nation’s economic wellbeing because history shows good jobs come from innovation and invention, not from ignoring realities our world faces.

Clean energy technology offers tremendous potential to promote prosperity in New Jersey. Today, 32,000 New Jerseyans work in what is broadly defined as energy efficiency, according to a recent analysis by Environmental Entrepreneurs, a national group of business leaders, investors, and advocates for policies that help the economy and the environment.

Most of these energy efficiency jobs are in the construction trades — easing fears that moving to clean, affordable energy sources is a job killer in that area. We’re talking about jobs manufacturing EnergyStar appliances, making and distributing LED lighting, and building and installing more cost-effective heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

And, nearly 10,000 New Jerseyans work in solar and wind electricity generation — more than the number that gets their paychecks through fossil fuel generation. These are not just jobs for “eggheads.” For every Ph.D. in a laboratory designing new opportunities for renewable energy, there will be many more people installing the results of that work in our neighborhoods and business centers.

Clean-vehicle technology offers even more opportunities. Nationwide, 259,000 people work on the design and manufacture of hybrid and plug-in cars to driverless vehicles. With a little effort to date, 4,000 New Jerseyans work with alternative fuel vehicles and fuel efficiency. As a major transportation hub and a repository for unwanted diesel and other automobile emissions, New Jersey is an ideal place to be the hub of innovation for transportation. Our state would benefit from cleaner air, improved health, and an explosion of new clean-vehicle jobs.

Other common sense initiatives would make New Jersey’s clean energy job future even brighter.

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Zwicker Introduces Legislation to Protect Internet Privacy

Measure Follows Trump Repeal of Federal Broadband Confidentiality Rules

(Trenton, NJ) -- Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker has introduced legislation to prohibit Internet service providers from selling or otherwise disclosing a subscriber’s online browsing history and personal information.

“In today’s world, using the Internet is essential to everyday life, which means that Internet service providers have unparalleled access to a great deal of information about their subscribers’ highly personal habits, preferences, even medical issues,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “That private data should not be up for sale to the highest bidder without subscribers’ knowledge or consent.”

The bill (A-4800) would require ISPs like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T to keep their subscribers’ personally identifiable information confidential unless a subscriber expressly authorizes the ISP to disclose the information. The legislation comes after President Donald Trump signed legislation last month rescinding Federal Communications Commission protections intended to prohibit ISPs from selling their subscribers’ personal data.

“Technology is advancing, but the fundamental principle that consumers have a right to privacy over their information remains unchanged,” said Zwicker.  “It is more important than ever to ensure that consumers can be sure that their personal information is confidential and that they are protected from the potential harm caused by unpermitted disclosure.” 

With the introduction of A-4800, New Jersey joins more than a dozen other states that have introduced similar bills since the federal privacy protections rollback in early April. 

“This is not a political issue. It’s a consumer protection issue,” Zwicker explained, noting that data suggests that a vast majority of Americans across party lines are very concerned about their data privacy and support Internet user privacy protections. 

The measure defines “personally identifiable information” as any information that personally identifies, describes or is able to be associated with a subscriber or users of a subscriber’s account, including, but not limited to:

  • name, address, precise geolocation, Social Security number or telephone number;
  • requests for specific materials or services from an ISP;
  • Internet protocol (IP) addresses or information concerning the access or use of online services;
  • information identifying a device used primarily or exclusively by the subscriber or users of the subscriber’s account; financial or billing information;
  • demographic data;
  • medical information;
  • browser cache or history;
  • the contents of a subscriber’s communications or data-storage devices; or
  • any information pertaining to children.

 

Under the legislation, subscribers who wish to disclose their information must declare so using a form separate from their contract for Internet service. An ISP would be required to provide written notice of this requirement to each subscriber upon his or her first applying for service and when the subscriber renews a contract for service. The subscriber may revoke, in writing, the authorization at any time.

The measure states that there shall be no penalty, either financially or in the quality or speed of delivery of service, for a subscriber prohibiting an ISP from disclosing his or her information. 


Zwicker Bill to Fund Open Space Preservation Now Law

Appropriates $59.5M in Funds to Protect Land, Prevent Damage in Flood-Prone Areas

(Trenton, NJ) -- A bipartisan bill, sponsored by Assembly Andrew Zwicker, among others, to fund open space preservation is now law. The appropriation is the result of a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2014 to allow the state to use corporation business taxes to establish a stable source of financial support for open space preservation.

“The people of New Jersey cast their vote in 2014 and overwhelmingly supported open space preservation,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “By appropriating nearly $60 million in funding to protect land and water, the state is making sure that today’s residents, as well as future generations, can fully enjoy the character and beauty of New Jersey.”  

The new law (A-4597) appropriates $59.5 million to the Department of Environmental Protection to fund state acquisition of land for recreation and conservation purposes, including for Blue Acres projects, and for capital projects and park development on lands administered by the Division of Parks and Forestry and the Division of Fish and Wildlife pursuant to the “Preserve New Jersey Act.”

In addition to funds for outdoor recreation and protection of flood-prone areas, the measure provides funding for preservation endeavors. Projects within the 16th Legislative District that received funding under the new law include:

  • Crossroads of the American Revolution sites in Delaware, Flemington, Raritan, Readington, and Stockton in Hunterdon County, Princeton Borough in Mercer County and Branchburg, Hillsborough, Manville, Millstone, Montgomery, Rocky Hill and Somerville  in Somerset County;
  • the Delaware and Raritan Canal Greenway;
  • the Delaware River Bluffs;
  • the Nishisakawick Greenway;
  • the Lincoln Grove Preserve;
  • the Sourland Mountains; and
  • the Princeton Battlefield

The “Preserve New Jersey Act,” implements for fiscal years 2017 through 2019 the constitutional dedication of CBT revenues for open space, farmland and historic preservation.  The act dictates that of the 60 percent of dedicated CBT revenues allocated each year for the Green Acres program: 

  • 55 percent would be used for open space acquisition and development projects divided equally between open space and development projects
  • 38 percent would be used for grants and loans to fund local government open space acquisition and development projects and
  • 7 percent would be used for grants to fund open space acquisition and development projects undertaken by qualifying tax-exempt nonprofit organizations. 

All projects and appropriations have been approved by the DEP and the Garden State Preservation Trust. The measure was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie on Monday.


Bill to Encourage Investments in Green Technology Companies Signed into Law

New Law Allows Tax Credits for Investments in Businesses Working to Fight Climate Change

(Trenton, NJ) -- Legislation that Assembly Democrats  Annette Quijano, Gary Schear, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Andrew Zwicker, Raj Mukherji, Joseph Danielsen and Eliana Pintor Marin sponsored to encourage innovation among New Jersey small and mid-size businesses working to fight climate change was signed into law by the Governer on Monday. 

The new law (A-3631) amends the “New Jersey Angel Investor Tax Credit Act” to include investments in businesses that conduct technology commercialization in carbon footprint reduction technology. The act allows a tax credit equal to 10 percent of the qualified investment against the corporation business tax and the gross income tax for qualified investments in a New Jersey emerging technology business.

“Our state can – and should – take advantage of opportunities to grow our economy and stem the tide of climate change at the same time,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Incentivizing investments in carbon footprint reduction technology ultimately will allow New Jersey to reduce emissions and create green jobs.”

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority defines a “New Jersey emerging technology business" as a company with fewer than 225 employees that is doing business, employing or owning capital or property, or maintaining an office in this state and has qualified research expenses paid or incurred for research conducted in New Jersey, conducts pilot scale manufacturing in New Jersey, or conducts technology commercialization in New Jersey in the fields of advanced computing, advanced materials, biotechnology, electronic device technology, information technology, life sciences, medical device technology, mobile communications technology, renewable energy technology or, as of the enactment of the new law, carbon footprint reduction technology.

The new law also expands eligibility for tax credits to include investors in the holding company of an emerging technology business, thus allowing indirect investment in a qualified business through the holding company that controls it. Previously, investments by holding companies did not qualify for the program.  

“Regardless of whether an investment goes directly to a business or first goes to a holding company that then transfers funds to the business, it’s supporting economic growth and job creation in New Jersey,” said Zwicker. “Eliminating this distinction will encourage investors who may not otherwise put money into an emerging technology business to consider funding these ventures.”


Zwicker Statement on Amtrak, NJ Transit Hearing

(Trenton, NJ) -- Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker issued the following statement Monday afternoon after receiving testimony from Amtrak and New Jersey Transit executives during a joint legislative hearing on rail maintenance, repairs, contingency planning and commuter delays on Friday:

“Our infrastructure, which is our roads, buses and of course our trains are crucial to our economic vitality. We know that every dollar invested in public transportation yields four dollars in economic returns. Investing in making the Northeast Corridor a safer, reliable option for commuters, is of paramount importance to our state’s economy and the livelihood of our residents.

“Over the long term, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature in urging New Jersey’s congressional delegation to secure funds for the Gateway Project as soon as possible. The last month has been a wake-up call for those who have underestimated the amount of stress put on just two antiquated rail tunnels every single day. The current system simply is unsustainable, and New Jersey residents deserve a continued effort to hold Amtrak, NJ Transit, the governor and federal officials accountable.” 


Legislative Leaders and Activists Join Forces to Protect New Jersey Residents from Trump Agenda

Unprecedented "Resistance Coalition" to counter federal attacks on women, immigrants, the environment; other Trump targets

(Trenton, NJ) -- Activists and community leaders joined Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver as well as Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Assemblywoman Liz Muoio, and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker to launch the statewide "Resistance Coalition" to protect New Jersey residents from the Trump agenda, which is putting women, immigrants, and working families at risk. 

The coalition -- which is unprecedented in New Jersey politics -- will champion a legislative and policy agenda to counter the Trump administration. The legislators in the Resistance Coalition will introduce state legislative measures to protect rights that New Jersey's working families need to live and prosper, including funding health care, upholding fair labor standards, and proactively protecting our immigrant communities.

For months, activists have employed town halls, vigils, protests and public forums to push against Trump administration initiatives, including immigration bans, mass deportations, repeal of the Affordable Care Act, roll backs of environmental protections, and other attacks on our democracy. Hundreds of activists and dozens of local organizations have now enlisted state legislators to play a key role in the resistance movement.

"The policies and pronouncements coming out of the Trump Administration are dangerous. From the president's inhumane attack on immigrants and refugees to his commitment to repeal the landmark healthcare law, he has put forth policies that are contrary to New Jersey values and the values of this country," said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg . "We have a responsibility to fight on behalf of our residents and protect them from the impact of the harmful actions that are taken in Washington. We are committed to doing that through legislation and advocacy that will resist the Trump agenda and help to protect our state."

Initial legislation will include measures to ensure voting rights; ban the use of dangerous pesticides; protect online privacy; advance workers' rights; and divest pension investments from companies that help build Donald Trump's border wall.

"I am proud to stand with the Working Families Alliance and allies, and to join with Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg in locking arms and exerting legislative muscle to our Resistance Movement," said Assembly Speaker Emeritus Oliver (D-Essex, Passaic)." When I think about all the sacrifices made by New Jerseyans as well as people throughout the country to ensure that there is liberty and justice for all, I know that as a legislator, civic leader and grassroots representative, I must be in the line of defense against the horror being perpetrated by Trump and his" Billionaires Boys Club" that has invaded our nation's capital. As the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm proclaimed many decades ago, " You can't stand on the sidelines whimpering and complaining, if you don't have a seat at the table, then bring a folding chair! Today we proclaim that we are ready, armed with our folding chairs?"

"We need to be here. We need to call this administration out every time it attacks our values and our safety. And we need to take action on the state level to make up for the lack of moral leadership coming from Washington. I'm proud of my colleagues here today and know that together we will do everything we can to right this president's wrongs where we can," said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union). 

The coalition is organized by the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, a nonpartisan organization that has spearheaded a progressive policy agenda in the state, in collaboration with grassroots partners and allies.