Public Administration

Lawmakers Fast-Track Pay Raises for Public Officials and Employees – Democrat lawmakers are fast-tracking a bill which would raise salaries for public officials and employees in all three branches of government. Legislators introduced S4266 and A5910 on Jan. 3, and the bills passed committees in both houses on Jan. 4 with Democrat support. The bill would raise legislators’ salaries 67% by 2026 – the first raise in 24 years. Other top lawmakers including the Senate President, Assembly Speaker, Governor, members of the Governor’s cabinet, judges, and staffers would also see raises. The bill was introduced by a retiring Senator, Richard Codey, who argues that the low salaries exclude lower-income people from running for office. (

Breweries May See Some Relief from Impending Restrictions in New Bill – The implementation of restrictions to curb the business activity of breweries – including limiting food sales, requiring patrons to receive a tour before consuming alcohol, and caps on event-hosting – has been delayed until Jan. 16, the final day Gov. Murphy may take action on bills this legislative session. Gov. Murphy conditionally vetoed S4625, a measure introduced to ease these new restrictions, calling for the bill to include broader liquor licensing reform. A revised version of the bill addresses the issue of inactive liquor license holders who limit the number of licenses available in the market, though it does not make licenses more affordable. Though many argue the change is not sufficient to resolve liquor licensing problems in the state, others are hopeful the revision will invite the governor’s support. (NJ Spotlight News; NJ Spotlight News)

Gov. Murphy Signs Law Allowing 17-Year-Olds to Vote in Primaries – On Jan. 4, Gov. Murphy signed into law the New Voter Empowerment Act (A3690), which allows 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by the succeeding general election to vote in the primary election. The new law will go into effect in 2026, after the 2024 presidential and 2025 U.S. senate elections but in time to vote on Sen. Booker’s U.S. senate seat. Supporters of the reform argue it will engage young people in democracy and make them more likely to become lifelong voters. Though former Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation to allow 17-year-olds to register to vote in 2015, he vetoed legislation similar to the new Act in 2016. Nineteen other states and Washington, D.C. hold similar laws. (



Senate Confirms First Murphy NJ Board of Education Nominee – At the end of December, the Senate confirmed Mary Bennett, a teaching and learning mentor at Montclair State University, to the State Board of Education, which establishes an administrative code to implement education policy. Bennet may be sworn in as soon as Jan. 10, which would make her the first person nominated by Gov. Murphy to join the body. The seats of all current members of the Board have expired, and the board comprises prior administrations’ picks. Gov. Murphy has nominated six people to the Board since Sept. 2022, but the Senate has been slow to confirm Murphy’s nominees. The Judiciary Committee imposed robust questioning on Bennett prior to her confirmation before releasing her nomination to the full Senate without recommendation, which some lawmakers attest is not customary. Another nominee, Jeanette Pena, a bilingual school psychologist from Jersey City, received the recommendation of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 4, after intense questioning. (NJ Spotlight News; NJ Spotlight News; Insider NJ)



Murphy Signs Law to Expand Access to Solar Energy – On Jan. 4, Gov. Murphy signed into law S3123, codified as P.L.2023, c.200, which expands community solar in NJ. The new legislation follows a successful two-year pilot program which enrolled over 6,000 households, offering them 15-20% monthly in savings on electric bills by using solar energy, even if they cannot install panels on their own homes. Panels on large structures such as warehouse roofs, parking lots, or brownfields generate the energy for community solar. The new bill increases capacity for community solar development across the state, aiming to enroll a total of 30,000 households, and streamlines application and billing processes. Critics have voiced concerns that community solar will exacerbate the existing challenge of connecting solar systems to the state’s aging power grid. (NJ Spotlight News;



Lawmakers to Vote on Measure to Curb Toll Evaders – Toll evaders cost NJ toll agencies $117 million in 2022, and new legislation would allow the agencies to request the Motor Vehicle Commission to suspend the licenses of those with at least $500 in unpaid tolls and fees – a power only afforded to the NJ Turnpike Authority currently. The problem may increase with the expansion of cashless toll systems. A5799 passed the Assembly on Dec. 21 and now awaits a vote in the Senate. (



Legislators to Vote on Temporary Licensing for Mental Health Professionals – The proposed legislation would allow graduates of accredited master’s programs and mental health professionals from out-of-state to receive a temporary license to practice. The measure would bridge the gap between graduation and licensure for recent graduates, who cannot work in their field for four to six months after graduating and may be forced to abandon clients they are already serving through internships. It would also allow workers licensed in other states to treat patients while their applications are being processed. The measure aims to address the growing mental health crisis in the state as well as the shortage of mental health professionals. (NJ Spotlight News)

Nurses Pack Statehouse Hearing to Demand Safe Staffing Ratios – To end the 120-day nurse strike, the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and the nurses’ union signed an agreement in December which will limit the number of patients assigned to each nurse in the hospital. Nurses say that high patient-to-nurse ratios reduce patient safety and lead to nurses exiting the profession too soon. On Jan. 4, union leaders and hundreds of nurses packed the capitol’s largest hearing room to urge a Senate panel to pass S304, which would expand these safe staffing standards statewide. Though the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee did not vote on the bill that day, Sen. Joseph Vitale stated he would rewrite and reintroduce the measure in the next session. (


Final Legislative Actions

Action Bill No. Bill Title


Pass A3690 “New Voter Empowerment Act”; permits 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if they turn 18 years old before the next succeeding general election. 1/4/23
Pass S3123 Revises the goal for annual capacity of solar energy projects to be approved under Community Solar Energy Program; allows certain customers to self-attest to income for program participation; allows information disclosure of customers participating in the program. 1/4/23
Pass S3330 Requires school districts to provide instruction on grief as part of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education. 1/4/23

Enroll = passed by both houses, sent to the governor for signature.
Pass = signed into law by Governor Murphy.