Eustace, Zwicker, Vainieri Huttle, Gusciora, Kennedy & Benson Bill to Require NJ's Full Participation in RGGI Clears Assembly
(Trenton, NJ) -- Legislation Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Andrew Zwicker, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Reed Gusciora, James Kennedy and Daniel Benson sponsored to require New Jersey's full participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative gained General Assembly approval on Monday.
The bill (A-4701) would require the state's full participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cooperative effort among nine states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Gov. Chris Christie withdrew from the program early in his first term.
"From the very beginning, we believed that entering into agreements with other states would further the purposes of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Global Warming Response Act," said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). "The governor's withdrawal from RGGI blatantly disregarded the importance of our participation in RGGI to reducing greenhouse gas emission in our state. A return to the RGGI pact with full participation will get New Jersey back on the right environmental track."
"There are many benefits to our full participation in RGGI," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/ Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). "New Jersey would benefit, as other states have, from a carbon dioxide emissions allowance trading program with incentives that will reduce emissions at their sources and the generation and emission of greenhouse gases. Reducing carbon emissions translates to less pollution and cleaner air for future generations."
"Backing out of the RGGI almost eight years ago was not the best path to take for New Jersey," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Funding consumer benefit purposes would have resulted in reduced costs to New Jersey consumers, decreased energy use, decreased greenhouse gas emissions, and substantial and tangible benefits to the energy-using business sector. Other states have benefitted from their participation. Why shouldn't New Jersey?"
"New Jersey's participation in RGGI was a manifestation of a larger commitment to a clean energy economy and an effort to stem the tide of climate change," said Gusciora (D-Mercer). "In order for our state to live up to its values regarding the environment, New Jersey must rejoin RGGI."
"Beyond the intrinsic value of participating in RGGI being good for the environment, the efficiency programs put in place to reduce carbon emissions ultimately reduce energy costs, which is helpful for household budgets," said Kennedy (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). "Returning to RGGI only would stand to benefit the state of New Jersey."
"While neighboring states collectively are taking action to limit their carbon footprints and introduce green jobs to their economies, New Jersey is on the sidelines," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "A cleaner, more efficient, more competitive New Jersey is possible with a return to RGGI."
The RGGI-implementing law was enacted to further the purposes of the "Global Warming Response Act" (GWRA). The law partially implements the policies of the GWRA by creating an emissions auction and trading mechanism to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide. Current New Jersey law recognizes the state's participation in RGGI by setting forth the parameters to be followed for allowance auctions, creating the "Global Warming Solutions Fund," and dedicating all proceeds received from the sale, exchange or other conveyance of allowances through a greenhouse gas emissions allowance trading program to the fund.
The measure, which the Assembly approved 46-27-1, now awaits further Senate consideration.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
(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.”
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.
(Branchburg, NJ) – Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker joined Raritan Valley Community College President Michael J. McDonough on Thursday, April 27th in hosting a roundtable discussion on fostering the growth of advanced manufacturing and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) businesses in New Jersey.
“In order for New Jersey to thrive and meet the demands of the 21st-century global economy, we must take advantage of the many new opportunities that breakthroughs in the STEM fields have made available. This requires our state to recognize and understand the needs of the modern workforce and make investments that prepare our residents for high-quality, high-paying jobs,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Innovation has spurred a revitalization in the manufacturing sector that New Jersey must celebrate and support in its effort to remain competitive.”
During the roundtable, representatives from Betar Inc., CompuSecure, McIntosh Industries Inc., Symrise Inc., and UTC Aerospace discussed the importance of workforce development as well as ways to strengthen and support local manufacturing in the state.
“Trained machinists are difficult to find, as we have a 30-year skills gap of training workers. It is great to have community colleges and the state working together and involving manufacturing companies to develop training programs,” said John M. Lohse, president at Betar Inc. “Every company has immediate openings, and trained people can enter the workforce making a sustainable wage in an exciting career.”
“McIntosh Industries has been a proud and grateful employer-partner of the state of New Jersey since the inception of the Community College Consortium and the Advanced Manufacturing Program,” said Sonia Frontera, McIntosh Industries co-owner. “These partnerships result in win-win situations for employers and job seekers and have been a lead source of talent in our competitive market.”
Somerset County Business Partnership President and CEO Michael Kerwin and representatives from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the New Jersey Business Action Center also provided insights on how New Jersey can prosper in an innovation economy.
Prior to the roundtable, Zwicker and the other participants were given a tour of RVCC’s workforce training center. The center, which opened last summer, partners with local industry leaders to design a curriculum that prepares students for careers in various sectors, including advanced manufacturing, automotive technology and heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology.
“Community colleges in our state are doing their part to train students for success in the new economy, but the extraordinary work happening on their campuses is just one piece of the puzzle,” said Zwicker. “Government has the capacity to invest in research and development, foster public-private partnerships and attract capital investment that will drive long-term economic growth. By cooperating with, and building upon the efforts of, New Jersey’s community colleges, our state can be a pioneer in the innovation economy while also increasing the availability of good jobs that allow people to put food on the table and keep a roof over their families’ heads.”
(Asm. Andrew Zwicker pictured speaking with local veterans)
(Skillman, NJ) -- On Tuesday, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs and other veterans organizations to host a claims clinic for local veterans at his Skillman legislative office.
“Both my father and uncle were Army veterans who served during World War II, so veterans’ issues hold a personal significance for me,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Making sure that our local veterans are receiving the services they both need and deserve is a priority and that is why events like this one are so important.”
The claims clinic gave veterans, service members, and their dependents the opportunity to meet one-on-one with representatives from the Newark regional office of the VA and receive information about VA benefits and entitlements, submitting claims for benefits and providing information about the status of a pending VA claim. The Somerset and Montgomery Veterans Service Organizations, Raritan Valley Community College, Rolling Thunder Inc., and Jewish Veteran’s Association were in attendance to provide information and community support.
By the end of the half-day long event, over a dozen veterans were able to start a claim or get updates on pending claims. “Our state has a duty to respect and care for its veterans, and I appreciate any opportunity I have to assist these honorable men and women,” said Zwicker. “All that this country holds dear – freedom, democracy and equal opportunity – is preserved through the courage and dedication of its veterans. The very least we can do is help ensure that they receive what they earned.”
Zwicker Bill Package to Fund Farmland & Historic Preservation Projects in NJ Clears General Assembly
(Trenton, NJ) -- A three-bill bipartisan legislative package Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker sponsored aimed at funding historic land and farmland preservation and state acquisitions of land for recreation and conservation use gained General Assembly approval on Thursday. The legislation follows the 2014 constitutional amendment to dedicate six percent of corporation business tax (CBT) revenue each year for the preservation of open space, farmland and historic sites.
The first bill (A-4583) would appropriate $3 million from the 2009 Historic Preservation Fund and constitutionally-dedicated CBT revenues to fund certain historic preservation projects. The list of 25 eligible projects includes Case-Dvoor Farmstead in Raritan Township and the Daniel Robert House in Somerville.
“The Daniel Robert House, which houses Borough Hall and the borough’s library, is a center of civic life in Somerville,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Historic sites like this are all over our state, these sites bind us, not just to each other, but to our state's rich past. We must invest in preserving them.”
The second bill (A-4584) would appropriate $7.5 million to the State Agriculture Development Committee from CBT revenues for planning incentive grants to municipalities for farmland preservation purposes. The legislation would provide grants in amounts ranging from $250,000 to $500,000 to 19 municipalities, including Delaware Township in Hunterdon County.
“Farmland is the foundation of the agriculture industry. It’s what gives New Jersey its identity as the ‘Garden State,’” said Zwicker. “In addition to providing direct economic benefits to the entire state, investing in farmland preservation can help limit sprawl and create stability for New Jersey’s farmers.”
Both measures, which received unanimous Assembly approval, now await further Senate consideration.
The third bill (A-4597), known as the “Preserve New Jersey Act, would appropriate $59.5 million to the Department of Environmental Protection from CBT revenues for the acquisition of land for recreation and conservation purposes. The measure would fund capital and park development projects, and the appropriations include allocations of funds for projects for all 14 towns of the 16th legislative district.
“The people of New Jersey want to ensure that we preserve our open space,” said Zwicker. “This appropriation will provide funding to protect our water, preserve wildlife habitats and improve the quality of life in New Jersey overall.”
The bill, which received unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature, now goes to the governor.