Bill to Regulate Hemp Sales Awaits Murphy’s Signature – Lawmakers approved on June 28 S3235, a bill which would place intoxicating hemp products under the regulatory purview of the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission. The legislation aims to restrict minors’ access to hemp products containing enough THC to cause intoxication. However, critics say the bill would affect a de facto ban on commercial hemp while regulators develop rules on licensing for hemp sales. Despite concerns from representatives of the cannabis industry, the proposal awaits approval by Gov. Murphy. 



State Advances Reforms to Reduce Medical Debt Burden – On June 28, both state legislative bodies passed the Louisa Carmen Medical Debt Relief Act. The legislation, which would give patients more time before medical debts are reported to credit agencies and ensure medical debts of under $500 do not appear on credit reports. Despite some contested last-minute amendments, the legislation now awaits signature by Gov. Murphy. Another proposal, A3860, would require healthcare bills to describe procedures and patient financial responsibility in plain language. This proposal has passed the Assembly and awaits review in the Senate. As part of Gov. Murphy’s plan to designate $10 million in state funds for medical debt relief, the state has also signed a contract with Undue Medical Debt, a nonprofit which uses public funds and donations to purchase medical debt.



Bill Advances to Place 1-Year Hold on Mortgage and Foreclosure Payments for Ida Survivors – On June 28, both legislative houses unanimously passed A2294. This bill would place a one-year hold on mortgage payments and foreclosure processes for certain survivors of Hurricane Ida, the destructive September 2021 storm. Many homeowners struggle to pay mortgages on properties damaged by Ida, and some homes now face foreclosure. The proposal recalls a similar one enacted for survivors of Hurricane Sandy and now awaits final approval by Gov. Murphy.


Public Administration

Budget Retains Funding for Community Colleges and Hispanic Women’s Resource Centers – Advocates are celebrating after evading contested budget cuts to education and social programs. Lawmakers found an extra $20 million to keep funding for community colleges at its current level, preventing tuition increases or service cuts. Two centers offering social services to Hispanic women – including mental healthcare, employment, and language – had faced a proposed 75% reduction in state funding, which may have forced the centers to close. In the final budget, the centers retained 75% of their funding, allowing them to continue their work to address wage disparity for Hispanic women. 

New Labor Protections for Domestic Workers Go into Effect – On July 1, the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, a set of labor protections passed in January, went into effect. The legislation requires employers to provide contracts, breaks, and minimum wages to people providing cleaning, childcare, gardening, and other domestic services. It also enables domestic workers to sue over discrimination and harassment by ending a definition of worker in the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, which excluded domestic workers. These protections ensure immigrant workers access the same protections as other workers in the state. Those who believe their rights have been violated may submit a report to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Protection.  

Court Decision Facilitates Removal of Juvenile Offenders from Sex Offender List – In a July 1 ruling, the NJ Supreme Court eased the test for juvenile offenders to be removed from the sex offender registry. Under NJ state law, offenders may petition to be removed from the list if the court finds they are not likely to pose a threat to others and if they have not reoffended in the 15 years following their conviction or release from incarceration. The new decision removes the latter test for those placed on the registry when they were under eighteen. The court ruled that to require this test for minors would require a revision of Megan’s Law, the statute laying out rules for sex offender registration; it follows a precedent which distinguishes children from adult offenders.