Legislature Passes Law Codifying Certification Process for LGBTQ-Owned Businesses – S1313/A3330, which would codify an existing certification process for LGBTQ-owned businesses, passed both houses on March 18, despite debate between Republican lawmakers on the Assembly floor. Gov. Murphy issued an executive order in May 2022 establishing a process for businesses to certify that they are owned by members of the LTBTQ community, making them eligible for state funding, contracts, or other initiatives. 


Committee Considers Bill to Obligate Grocery Stores to Donate Excess Food – On March 14, A2141 was referred to the Assembly Children, Families, and Food Security Committee. The legislation would require certain supermarkets, grocery stores, and food suppliers to donate all food fit for human consumption, which would otherwise be discarded. While some advocates have expressed concerns about food safety and other barriers to donation, others support the legislation, as retail food donations form a large part of food banks’ supply. The bill’s sponsors are open to revising the bill to respond to stakeholder concerns. 


Gov. Murphy Signs into Law Overhaul of Affordable Housing System – On March 20, Gov. Murphy signed into law a series of bills which will overhaul the affordable housing system in New Jersey. The most significant bill, A4/S50 (codified as P.L.2024, c.2.), will abolish the defunct Council on Affordable Housing (COAH); empower the Department of Community Affairs to determine municipalities’ affordable housing obligations – replacing a court-run system in place for the past decade; protect municipalities from exclusionary zoning lawsuits if they timely submit affordable housing development plans; enable municipalities to apply bonus credits to reduce their affordable housing obligations by up to 25%; and extend the amount of time units created under the program must remain at below-market prices to 40 years. The following five companion bills – aimed to facilitate affordable housing development – passed, while two bills from the original package remain pending (S1446; S1430): 

  1. A3365/S1422 (codified as P.L.2024, c.1.) allows affordable housing developers to deduct a portion of their construction costs from their gross income and corporate business tax bills.
  2. A1495/S1484 (codified as P.L.2024, c.3.) exempts builders of 100% affordable housing from the NJ sales tax.
  3. A3337/S2312 (codified as P.L.2024, c.6.) allows affordable housing projects supported by state or municipal housing trust funds to make payments in lieu of taxation. 
  4. A2267/S1415 (codified as P.L.2024, c.4.) allows for-profit and nonprofit affordable housing entities to join joint insurance funds, making insurance more affordable.
  5. A2296/S2309 (codified as P.L.2024, c.5.) allows a municipality to delegate to a municipal clerk the task of writing a statement in support of an affordable housing project in order to streamline the process.

Public Administration

Murphy Plans to Transfer $585 million from Debt Relief Account to General Budget – In addition to $330 million earmarked for capital projects in the 2025 fiscal year, Gov. Murphy plans to transfer $585 million from the state’s debt relief account to the overall budget to increase the state’s surplus. The state’s Debt Defeasance and Prevention Fund, a restricted, “off-budget” funding reserve, was created in 2021 to address the state’s significant bonded debt. Its balance may be used only to retire existing bonded debt or fund capital improvement projects to prevent the state from going into further debt. While the governor plans to appropriate funds from the account to projects such as a State Police Training Center, a juvenile justice facility, the revitalization of Liberty State Park, and updates at state-run veterans’ homes, among others, Republican lawmakers have voiced concern over the governor’s plan to move funds out of the fund for unspecified purposes. 


Both Houses Pass Bill to Hike Gas Tax and Create EV Registration Fee to Fund Transportation – On March 18, A4011/S2931 passed both legislative bodies. The bill would reauthorize the Transportation Trust Fund, which houses funds for highway and transit improvements, until June 2029, as it was set to expire on June 30 of this year. It also would increase gas taxes by 2 cents annually for the next five years, which should generate $2.4 billion in revenue, and establish a new electric vehicle registration fee, which would increase incrementally until reaching $290 in 2028. Supporters of the bill argue it will support job creation and better infrastructure, while opponents have voiced concerns about affordability for NJ residents. Gov. Murphy has indicated he will sign the bill. 

Port Authority Approves Newark Transit Hub to Connect Community to AirTrain Station – The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved on March 21 a $160 million transit hub to connect the community of Newark’s South Ward to the AirTrain Station. The station sits among long-term parking lots, disconnected from bus systems and taxi services, which disadvantages the nearby community. The hub should open in 2026, and the Authority estimates it will generate thousands of jobs and $290 million in economic activity.