Elections and Public Administration:

Early voting in New Jersey runs this week from October 28 to November 5. NJ residents will consider a variety of policy questions, including abortion rights, finance for NJ Transit, property taxes and cost of living, and the culture war around gender identity in public education

  • Implementing the Elections Transparency Act – As the state gears up for elections on November 7, candidates must make sure to comply with the new Elections Transparency Act (ETA) adopted on February 23, 2023. The legislation requires reporting of campaign contributions over $200 and increases contribution limits. Additionally, the ETA requires public disclosure of activities after the October 15 third quarter report to the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), enabling public awareness of campaign contributions made between October 15 and election day. The ETA also requires political organizations, 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, and 501(c)(6) trade associations to register as Independent Expenditure Committees that must report to ELEC all spending over $7,500 in one election period on supporting or opposing candidates. Specifically, these committees must publicly disclose their donor list and all independent expenditures. (Source: Insider NJ)
  • Mercer County revamps voting system to leave a paper trail – In response to machine coding errors that significantly slowed ballot counting on election day in 2022, Mercer County has revamped its ballot system to increase privacy and offer a paper back-up system. The new system limits the number of people who actually touch the ballots: poll workers hand voters a card with a chip, which they insert into the voting machine. Once they have made their selections, they print their ballot to be scanned in by the tabulating machine. (Source: NJ Spotlight News; NJ.com)


  • New legislation launches online portal for reproductive health information – Governor Murphy signed S-3275/A-4829 on October 26 creating an online resource hub for people seeking information on reproductive healthcare. The website offers information on access to emergency and preventative health care services, contraception, and medication. It arms NJ residents with information to help make decisions about their reproductive health as well as insurance coverage and complaint processes if their rights are violated. (Source: NJ.gov) 
  • NJ nurses testify that understaffing harms patients in U.S. Senate Committee hearing – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders came to Rutgers University in New Brunswick on October 27 to lead a senate committee hearing on the nurses’ strike at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Union nurses, 1,700 of whom walked off the job three months ago, testified that they are asking for basic necessities to properly care for patients, such as increasing nurse-to-patient ratios, improving retention by offering higher wages, and responding to the fatigue that causes nurses to abandon their profession. They assert that understaffing causes safety concerns for patients. Sen. Sanders called out hospital executives Mark Manigan and Alan Lee, who opted to skip the hearing and submit their testimony in writing ahead of time. Hospital officials expressed frustration that the Senator has inserted himself into the negotiations process, which remains heated. (Source: New Jersey Monitor)


Transportation and the Environment
  • A proposed toll hike faces opposition from all sides – Gov. Murphy said he would veto a proposal to raise tolls by 3% on the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. The Governor has signed off on three other toll hikes over the past three years to support capital improvements on roads and bridges. Democrat and Republic lawmakers alike have opposed the Authority’s plan, which was released this week. (Source: CBS News)
  • As public comment period concludes, varying responses to proposed new EV mandate – Gov. Murphy proposed the Advanced Clean Cars II rule earlier this year that would require one hundred percent of new cars sold in the state to be electric starting in 2035. The required public comment period concluded on October 20, yielding a variety of responses. Some NJ residents expressed concerns about vehicle cost, charger access, and safety; others voiced their support for the initiative as a response to the urgent need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection received over a thousand pages of comments. The plan was slated to be adopted by the end of 2023, but the Governor has not offered an updated timeline. If adopted this year, the rule would require manufacturers to start selling zero-emissions, light-duty vehicles starting in 2026. (Source: NJ.com; NJ.gov)
  • Opponents challenge Environmental Impact Statement analysis saying no harm caused by Turnpike expansion – Environmentalists, public transit advocates, and community organizations have voiced opposition to a draft environmental impact statement on a proposed expansion to the NJ Turnpike. The draft statement, released on October 11 by the NJ Turnpike Authority, concludes that the plan to widen the Turnpike extension to the Holland Tunnel would cause no significant harm – social, environmental, or otherwise – that should prevent its implementation. The project would be the Authority’s largest project to date, costing an estimated $10.7 billion to expand elevated portions of the highway and replace 29 bridges, including the Newark Bay Bridge, with construction continuing until 2040. The Authority argues the growing population of the area necessitates the expansion. Opponents argue that the state should focus on getting cars off the road, not on reducing traffic density. Opponents also point out the hypocrisy in opposing New York’s congestion pricing policy based on the argument that increased traffic density in NJ would have a negative environmental impact on NJ residents, as they argue the turnpike expansion will affect the same harm. (Source: NJ Spotlight News; NorthJersey.com)