News

Judge Block’s NJ’s New Dark-Money Law, Citing Concerns About Constitutionality

A federal judge on Wednesday stopped — at least temporarily — New Jersey’s new law requiring disclosure by dark-money issue-advocacy groups from taking effect later this month. His reason: legal arguments thus far indicate the likelihood of the law being declared unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti gave a significant win to Americans for Prosperity, the prominent national conservative organization that was first to challenge the law. It also buoyed a host of more liberal-leaning groups — including the American Civil Liberties Union-NJ, which filed its own lawsuit, and the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters — that have been vehement about the requirement they report big donors when the groups work to influence an election, legislation or regulation

 

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SINGLETON & ZWICKER DECRY ATTEMPT BY KOCH INDUSTRIES TO DENY ‘DARK MONEY’ REFORM

Senator Troy Singleton and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker released the following statement today decrying the attempts by Koch Industries and the group it has bankrolled, Americans for Prosperity, for their attempts to prevent implementation of the “dark money” reform law:

“Charles Koch and his late brother David used Americans for Prosperity as a tool to deny our attempts to bring transparency to the political process and accountability by the big money donors who work to influence elections, legislation and regulations. It was their lawsuit that triggered the temporary injunction delaying implementation of the law that would require disclosure of dark money interests.

“Make no mistake about the motives of Koch and AFP – they will go to any length so that big money interests can continue to operate in the dark. The Koch brothers gained an infamous reputation for using their wealth and influence as arch-conservatives to support policies that favor the most privileged at the expense of environmental action on climate change, reducing income inequality, and protecting workers’ rights. This is the antitheses to the principles of accountability that we believe in. The Koch organization is attempting to impose its will on New Jersey.

“While we are disappointed that the judge’s ruling is temporarily delaying implementation of the law, we remain hopeful that the court will allow the law to go into effect when it rules on its merits. This is too important to allow Koch Industries to stymie our attempts to bring big money interests out of the dark.”

“Allowing big money groups to continue to hide the origins of enormous amounts of money from the voting public is an affront to the Democratic process.”


New Jersey Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker Talks about Ways to Fuel Economic Growth on State of Affairs with Steve Aduba

NEW JERSEY -- Andrew Zwicker, Chair of the Science, Innovation & Technology Committee in the New Jersey State Assembly, appeared on State of Affairs with Steve Adubato to discuss ways his committee can foster innovation and job growth in the state. 

Zwicker is also a physicist from Princeton University, and Head of Communications and Public Outreach for the university’s Plasma Physics Laboratory, and who is also the only physicist to ever serve in the state legislature. 

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TWO MODEST STEPS TOWARD DEVELOPING MURPHY’S CUTTING-EDGE ECONOMY IN NJ

Gov. Phil Murphy underscored his push to reposition the Garden State as a center for innovation and the development of cutting-edge technologies yesterday, announcing the enactment of two new related laws. The first, a law establishing an “innovation district” program means that, at the local level, municipalities can now receive that designation if they meet certain criteria, such as hosting higher-education institutions and providing access to mass-transportation facilities. The second establishes a new task force to conduct an in-depth study of blockchain, the sophisticated technology perhaps best known as the underpinnings of the digital currency Bitcoin.

 

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Incentive to innovate: Zwicker says new legislation will boost N.J. economy, help it keep up with rival states

In the aftermath of two major incentive programs for businesses expiring in New Jersey, there are a few ideas emerging of what the future of Garden State incentives might look like.

The state Economic Development Authority’s Grow New Jersey and Economic Redevelopment & Growth programs expired at the end of last month, which was in many ways the culmination of a drama-embroiled disagreement among politicians in the State House.

Gov. Phil Murphy didn’t sign an extension that passed the state Legislature that would have averted the discontinuation of the tax credit-driven programs. But, even as he let those long-existing business benefits expire, he signed another bill that offers a different path to tax credits.

The bill bolstered a tax credit for angel investors putting money into an emerging Garden State technology firm. The tax credit was raised from 10% to 20% of qualified investments, with additional benefits for investments in Opportunity Zones, low-income communities or in businesses certified as minority- or women-owned. 

 

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Zwicker food drive benefits South Brunswick Food Bank

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset) held a food drive across the 16th Legislative District to benefit the South Brunswick Food Bank, the Flemington Area Food Pantry and the Food Bank Network of Somerset County.

 

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ZWICKER DRIVE TO ASSIST FOOD INSECURE FAMILIES SEES OVERWHELMING SUCCESS WITH OVER 1,500 POUNDS OF DONATIONS

Recognizing that 41 million Americans are food insecure, with 900,000 residing right here in New Jersey, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset) is working to help these families and individuals who face food insecurity. For nearly two months, his district office hosted a food drive across the 16th legislative district.

“For families who suffer from food insecurity, the summer can prove to be the most difficult, because children in those families no longer have access to school meals,” said Zwicker. “Choosing to host a drive leading into the summer not only highlights the need for charitable donations outside of the holiday season but provides much needed relief to those in need.”

The drive, held from May 1 to June 28, 2019, saw the donation of over 1,500 pounds of food and personal items to help those served by the South Brunswick Food Bank, The Flemington Area Food Pantry and the Food Bank Network of Somerset County.

“I am incredibly thankful for the generous support we received,” said Zwicker. “Without our individual and corporate donors, this drive could not have seen the success it did. It is truly a testament to the power of neighbors coming together to make an impact in their community.”

A special thank you is extended to McCaffrey’s Food Market of Princeton, Whole Foods Market of Princeton, Trader Joe’s of Princeton, Target of Monmouth Junction, Weis Markets of Hillsborough, ShopRite of Somerville, ShopRite of Branchburg, ShopRite of Flemington, Walmart Supercenter of Flemington, Stop & Shop of Flemington, Bishop’s Market of Whitehouse Station and the generous people who live in the 16th district for their kind support and donations.


KENNEDY, HOLLEY & ZWICKER BILL TO AID 9/11 FIRST RESPONDERS SIGNED INTO LAW

Legislation to assist first responders who voluntarily participated in 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts was signed into law Monday by Governor Phil Murphy.

The new law, sponsored by Assemblymen James Kennedy, Jamel Holley and Andrew Zwicker, expands eligibility for accidental disability allowance to include members or retirees of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) and the State Police Retirement System (SPRS) who voluntarily responded to the attack.

“When police and firefighters in New Jersey, received word that two planes had struck the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, many of them didn’t hesitate before responding to the scene, even though they were not specifically ordered to go,” said Kennedy (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union). “Unfortunately, some suffered permanent or total disability. Due to the fact that they responded as volunteers, they are not entitled to the same compensation as their counterparts who were considered to be ‘on the job that day. It’s time to change that.”

The law (A-4882) provides that a member or retirant of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) and the State Police Retirement System (SPRS) is eligible to receive an accidental disability retirement allowance for a permanent and total disability resulting from participation in 9/11 World Trade Center rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations, whether or not they are instructed by an employer to participate. If a member participated in World Trade Center rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations for a minimum of eight hours, a disability resulting from a qualifying condition or impairment of health would be presumed to have occurred during and as a result of a member’s regular or assigned duties and not the result of the member’s willful negligence, unless the contrary can be proved by competent evidence. The presumption is available whether or not the member was assigned to participate.

A member who did not participate in those operations for a minimum of eight hours would be eligible for the presumption provided that:

  • the member participated in the rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations at the World Trade Center site between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2001;
  • the member sustained a documented physical injury at the World Trade Center site between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2001 that is a qualifying condition or impairment of health resulting in a disability that prevented the member from continuing to participate for a minimum of eight hours; and the injury that resulted in a disability that prevented the member from doing so is the qualifying condition or impairment of health for which the member is seeking a presumption.

“All of the heroic men and women who responded to Ground Zero deserve our utmost respect and admiration, regardless of whether they were on the clock,” said Holley (D-Holley). “They all saw the same terror, took the same risks, and worked towards the same goal. If their health has been affected in the time since, they all should be eligible for the same disability allowance. “

“Our country is still feeling the effects of 9/11 today. The impact on those who were there – particularly our first responders – remains even more prevalent,” said Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex and Hunterdon). “We can go further to honor our first responders by ensuring they are recognized and compensated for their service on 9/11, voluntary or otherwise. They deserve nothing less.”

The law also provides for a reclassification of a service retirement or an ordinary disability retirement as an accidental disability retirement if the retirant, while a member of the retirement system, participated in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations a minimum of eight hours and incurred a disability in retirement caused by a qualifying condition or impairment of health which the medical board determines to be caused by the member’s participation in World Trade Center rescue, recovery or cleanup operations. The board of trustees is required to promulgate rules and regulations and to notify members and retirants in the retirement system of the enactment of the bill within 30 days of enactment.

Additionally, the measure delineates the diseases recognized as qualifying conditions or impairments of health, and defines “World Trade Center rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations” to mean the rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations at the World Trade Center site between September 11, 2001 and October 11, 2001. The law also defines “World Trade Center site” to mean any location below a line starting from the Hudson River and Canal Street, east on Canal Street to Pike Street, south on Pike Street to the East River, and extending to the lower tip of Manhattan.

The law was approved in June by the full Assembly, 76-0, and the full Senate, 37-0.


New Law Co-Authored by Zwicker Benefits Volunteer 9/11 First Responders

TRENTON, NJ – Legislation to assist first responders who voluntarily participated in 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts was signed into law Monday by Governor Phil Murphy.

 The new law, sponsored by Assemblymen James Kennedy, Jamel Holley and Andrew Zwicker, expands eligibility for accidental disability allowance to include members or retirees of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) and the State Police Retirement System (SPRS) who voluntarily responded to the attack.

“When police and firefighters in New Jersey, received word that two planes had struck the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, many of them didn’t hesitate before responding to the scene, even though they were not specifically ordered to go,” said Kennedy (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union). “Unfortunately, some suffered permanent or total disability. Due to the fact that they responded as volunteers, they are not entitled to the same compensation as their counterparts who were considered to be ‘on the job that day. It’s time to change that.”

 

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NOW LAW: FREIMAN, PINKIN, MILAM, ZWICKER, LAND MEASURE TO RAISE TAX CREDIT AMOUNT PROVIDED UNDER “NEW JERSEY ANGEL INVESTOR TAX CREDIT ACT”

Looking to encourage investment into women and minority owned businesses, a bill to increase the Angel Investor Tax credit percentage by a taxpayer into a New Jersey emerging technology business from 10 to 20 percent of the qualified investment was signed into law Sunday by Governor Phil Murphy.

The measure (A-5604), sponsored by Assembly Democrats Roy Freiman, Nancy Pinkin, Matthew Milam, Andrew Zwicker and R. Bruce Land, also allows for the increased credit percentage when the qualified investment is made into a New Jersey emerging technology business holding company making a verified transfer of funds into a New Jersey emerging technology business for all applicants.

The law also stipulates that a taxpayer may be allowed a tax credit of 25 percent of the qualified investment if the emerging technology business is located in a qualified opportunity zone, low-income community, or is a certified minority or women-owned business.

The measure passed the full Assembly last month by a vote of 75-2, and the Senate 37-0.

“This new law is a win for investors who are truly committed to seeing innovation technology businesses grow and thrive in New Jersey,” said Freiman (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset). “It serves as an incentive for doing what is right.”

“There are so many businesses that have the potential to be successful and to thrive,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “They just lack sufficient financial backing. This law is designed to help them in their efforts.”

“Women and minority owned businesses can provide first-class, top-tier goods and services just as any other business,” said Milam (D-Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland).  “They just need to be given a chance, and financial backing helps to ensure that they are given a solid opportunity.”

“New Jersey is striving to have an innovation economy,” said Zwicker (D- Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset). “A key component of that economy is financial backing, especially for new businesses looking to be a part of that economy. This law will help make that possible.”

“Investing into women and minority-owned companies is a wise business decision that has been a long time in the making,” said R. Bruce Land (D-Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland). “It is proving to be rewarding financially and socially.”

The Angel Investor Tax Credit Program was approved by the Legislature in 2013. The program, which is jointly administered by the Economic Development Authority and the New Jersey Department of Taxation, provides refundable tax credits against New Jersey corporation business or gross income tax for 10 percent of a qualified investment in an emerging technology business with a physical presence in New Jersey that conducts research, manufacturing, or technology commercialization.

Currently, the Angel Investor Tax Credit Program provides an angel investor with a tax credit of 10 percent of the qualified investment made in a New Jersey emerging technology business, up to a maximum allowed credit of $500,000 for each qualified investment per tax year. While this is and continues to be an attractive incentive for the angel investor, a common critique among the life sciences and technology community is that the program could go further in providing a benefit to the business receiving the angel investment, as well as the investor.

In 2016, the Legislature created the “New Jersey Biotechnology Task Force” for the purpose of communicating with the biotechnology industry to develop recommendations for steps that the Legislature and State could take to retain and attract new biotechnology companies to New Jersey. On June 13, 2018, the New Jersey Biotechnology Task Force released a final report of policy recommendations to retain and attract biotechnology companies to New Jersey.  One of the legislative recommendations was to enhance the Angel Investor Tax Credit Program.

Effectively immediately, the law applies to qualified investments made during privilege periods and taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2020.