Bill Advances to Regulate Sale of Hemp Products – The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced S3235 on May 16. This bill would regulate the sale of certain intoxicating hemp products with low levels (below 0.5 milligrams) of THC, the chemical which causes intoxication. Federal legislation passed in 2018 enabled the sale of hemp products such as CBD lotion and delta-8 gummies in smoke shops. Because the products are unlicensed and untested and sales unregulated, lawmakers have grown concerned about minors’ easy access to large quantities of hemp products. The legislation would make it so hemp products could only be sold in licensed dispensaries alongside cannabis products and amend the New Jersey Hemp Farming Act to adjust the cap on THC allowed in hemp products. The bill now awaits review in the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. 

Lawmaker Looks to Cap Medical Marijuana Prices – Legislation introduced in March as S2921 would cap the price of medical marijuana if costs become “unreasonable or excessive.” Advocates have voiced concerns that high medical marijuana prices have not fallen with increased competition from the introduction of new businesses, as hoped. The legislation’s sponsor, Sen. Troy Singleton, used a 2016 Pennsylvania statute as a blueprint for this proposal. Still, he stated it could be difficult to advance legislation to improve the cannabis industry.  


Murphy Signs into Law Legislation to Assist School Districts Facing State Aid Cuts – Gov. Murphy signed into law two pieces of legislation on May 14 that will serve as a lifeline for school districts facing steep cuts in state aid. The combination of a new formula for state aid established in 2018 legislation known as S2, inflation, and a hot housing market has led to steep swings in state aid for many districts. However, the Acting Education Commissioner Kevin Dehmer predicts this will abate in future years. Through A4161/S3081, codified as P.L.2024, c.13, the state Department of Education will extend $44.7 million in grants to school districts to cover up to 45% of the state aid they will lose. This law also allows any school districts which will receive less state aid in the upcoming school year than they did in 2020-2021 to raise area property taxes by more than the 2% cap without approval from voters. A4059/S3002, codified as P.L.2024, c.12, extends the budget submission deadline for school districts facing shortfalls, giving them five days after the legislature approves the state budget to submit theirs. This will allow them to plan for aid cuts by retaining critical staff. 

Public Administration

Lawmakers Advance Bill to Protect Workers in Extreme Heat – Committees in both state legislative houses advanced last week A3521/S1323, a bill which would expand protections for workers facing extreme heat conditions in the workplace. Opponents argue lawmakers should wait for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to release new heat standards. However, advocates believe this legislation will provide urgently needed protection for all workers as instances of heat-related medical emergencies rise. In particular, the legislation protects workers from retaliation, an important clause for undocumented workers. The legislation now faces review in both houses’ Budget and Appropriations Committees.

Legislation Introduced to Lower Voting Age in Certain Circumstances – Modeled after a recently passed Newark ordinance, S3240/A4369, introduced on May 13, would allow 16- and 17-year-old NJ residents to vote in school board elections. Gov. Murphy supports the legislation, which aims to promote lifelong civic engagement and allow young people to weigh in on issues which affect them. In January, Gov. Murphy signed legislation allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they turn 18 by the time of the general election. 



Committees Advance Changes to Economic Development Tax Incentive Program Aspire – Last week, Senate and Assembly economic development committees advanced A2076/S1323, legislation which would amend the Aspire tax credit program created in 2021. Aspire aims to encourage development in the state’s most disinvested cities. The proposal would institute a variety of changes to the program, including (1) requiring recipients to cede their awards temporarily if they cannot maintain a 60% yearly average occupancy of commercial properties, and (2) allowing the state Economic Development Authority to issue bridge loans to help development projects meet funding gaps. The legislation faced little opposition, though one testimony cautioned against allowing developers to evade the award’s community benefits obligations. The legislation now faces review in both houses’ Budget and Appropriations Committees.