New Jersey Lobbyist and Marijuana Industry Spending Breaks Record

New Jersey’s largest teacher union, an issue advocacy group, and a health insurance firm has helped break the record of lobbyist spending above $100 million in 2019. According to the annual report filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), overall lobbying expenditures grew $8.4 million from the previous year (a 9.1 percent jump). The top three spending groups consisted of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), New Direction NJ Corporation, and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey – combined these three spent $10.2 million more in 2019 than the previous year. 

NJEA represents about 200,000 teachers and other school works and it increased it’s spending in 2019 by 1,187 percent. In 2018, they spent $484,740 and in 2019, they spend $6.2 million. During the last legislative session, they showed an interest in 350 different bills, which included school funding, pension and health benefits, arbitration, school meals, sick leave, and programs to help deaf students.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey spent $1.4 million in 2019, a 234 percent jump from the previous year. Part of these funds supported Move Health Care Forward NJ Inc.’s campaign seeking support for legislation that would let the state’s largest health insurer modernize its corporate structure. 

Another player among the top spenders was the marijuana industry. 2019 was a big year for cannabis legislation in New Jersey. Several marijuana issues were pending before the Legislature last year, resulting in lobbying expenses shooting up 32 percent from $1.4 million to $1.9 million. Since marijuana interests have come to fruition in New Jersey over the past few years, about $3.8 million has been spent on issues including medical marijuana expansion, decriminalization of marijuana use, and legalization of recreational marijuana use. Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s Executive Director, predicts even higher spending this year due to the referendum – lawmaker’s decision to allow voters to decide on the issue of recreational marijuana legalization this fall. Brindle projects upwards of $10 million in spending.

A big reason why overall expenditures grew so much in 2019 was due to $13.6 million spent on communications – the third biggest total ever for this category. Lobbyists today are allotting more resources on the airwaves and the Internet to spread their message and mobilize grassroots support.

Find out how New Jersey lobbyists can benefit your organization. See what Public Strategies Impact in Trenton, New Jersey has to offer.

Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Address Recap

On Tuesday, February 25, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy delivered his third budget address at the statehouse in Trenton. Fiscal year 2021’s budget was built around the slogan: “Building On Our Progress”, to highlight the plans for continuing the progress that the Administration has made for the past two years. The budget features plans for maintaining fiscal responsibility, improving affordability and stabilizing property taxes, growing the economy, and investing in New Jersey’s future. Here’s a recap of what you need to know about Governor Murphy’s budget for each of these subjects:

Maintaining fiscal responsibility

In 2021’s budget plan, maintaining fiscal responsibility involves building up New Jersey’s surplus, doing more for the pension system, pursuing savings opportunities, and reducing non-recurring revenues. 

  • The budget includes a deposit into the Surplus Revenue Fund, with projected surplus totaling $1.6 billion. 
  • Governor Murphy also proposed making a $4.6 billion pension payment, a nearly 13 percent increase over 2020’s budget. 
  • Murphy included nearly $400 million in departmental savings and $174 million in health benefits savings.
  • The plan reduces non-recurring resources to 0.8 percent of the budget.

Improving affordability and stabilizing property taxes

The new budget plans to continue to tackle New Jersey’s property taxes by providing additional funding for public education, lowering the cost of health care, and applying the millionaire’s tax.

  • Strengthening public education, expanding pre-K education, and transforming higher education are all featured in 2021’s budget. It includes an additional $336.5 million for K-12 education formula aid and $50 million in Stabilization Aid. Murphy proposes an additional $83 million in new spending to expand pre-K education. As for higher education, the Garden State Guarantee is introduced in this budget. This would add over $50 million of new funds to the outcomes-based funding formula so that four-year public colleges and universities can provide two years of free tuition to students with household incomes of less than $65,000
  • The budget funds the Governor’s new Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency, which is aimed to help consumers and create health care savings. Murphy also proposed creating a state-level health insurer assessment to reclaim revenue previously sent to the federal government. 
  • The Governor proposes applying the millionaire’s tax enacted in FY2019 to all income above $1 million, not just income over $5 million.

Growing the economy

The Governor’s budget makes new investments in workforce development, NJ TRANSIT, and water infrastructure.

  • The Department of Labor and Workforce Development will allocate over $20 million to advance Murphy’s Jobs NJ plan. This plan is aimed at both expanding opportunities for career seekers and ensuring that employers have access to the talent they require.
  • The plan will fast track NJ TRANSIT improvements with a General Fund subsidy of approximately $600 million. This will support the agency’s daily operations and allow for enhancements, new hiring, and a Battery Electric Bus program to advance clean energy goals. 
  • The budget proposes an $80 million appropriation to the Drinking Water Program to ensure safe and modern water infrastructure.

Investing in New Jersey’s future

The budget plans to invest in New Jersey’s future by supporting working families, continuing to fight the opioid epidemic, and criminal justice reform.

  • The budget proposes nearly $20 million for family planning services and advances the First Lady’s Nurture NJ program to reduce maternal mortality rate and ensure equitable maternal and infant care.
  • The Governor is staying consistent with a $100 million commitment to fighting the opioid epidemic through carefully designed programs and data-driven analysis.
  • The budget aims to reform New Jersey’s criminal justice system. It includes almost $30 million in implementation funds for Earn Your Way Out and Hepatitis C treatment. It also includes funds for transitional housing and job training 

Stay up-to-date with important New Jersey legislation and government news by signing up for our email alerts!

Team Member Spotlight: Roger Bodman

Roger Bodman

Roger Bodman

Roger Bodman is the founder and managing partner at Public Strategies Impact. With over 35 years of experience and knowledge in politics and government, Roger is widely respected in New Jersey. Throughout his career, Roger has been a frequent political commentator for NJTV and News 12 NJ.

Roger grew up in Bernardsville, New Jersey and graduated cum laude from Ohio University in 1974 with a degree in political science.

After graduation, Roger first got involved in New Jersey politics when he was hired as a driver for Millicent Fenwick’s campaign for Congress. He then went on to serve as district office manager for Fenwick and as chief of staff for former New Jersey Congressman James Courter. 

In 1981, Roger was selected as manager of Tom Kean’s campaign for governor. After Governor Kean’s victory, Roger was named to two cabinet posts. As the State Commissioner of Labor, he implemented extensive legislative reforms of the unemployment insurance program. At 29 years old, he was the youngest New Jersey Department of Labor Commissioner. As Commissioner, Roger was responsible for, among other things, maintaining safety standards at working places and administering unemployment insurance and vocational training programs. Later, as the State Commissioner of Transportation, he was the chief advisor to the governor on transportation matters. 

In 1987, Roger was appointed by Governor Tom Kean to chair the Study Commission on Regulatory Efficiency, where he received an Eagle Award from the Alliance for Action. Roger is also a visiting professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. He co-taught an undergraduate political campaigning course for 20 years. 

Most recently, Roger has co-chaired a super PAC to help Tom Kean, Jr. win a congressional seat in New Jersey’s 7th district. He formed the Perfect Together PAC based on Kean’s catchphrase “New Jersey and You: Perfect Together” to promote tourism in the state.

In his free time, Roger enjoys golf, boating, and restoring old vehicles. 

Learn more about Roger Bodman and the Public Strategies Impact team here.

2020 New Jersey Legislative Calendar

The legislative branch in New Jersey consists of two houses: the Senate and the General Assembly. It is the job of these legislators to enact laws by passing bills through both houses and obtaining approval by the governor. The legislature may also propose amendments to the New Jersey Constitution to be voted on by each house and appear on the ballot in November for public vote. The legislature typically meets every Monday and Thursday. During these sessions, bills are introduced and the president of the Senate or the speaker of the General Assembly refers the bill to a committee for review. Throughout the rest of the week, committee meetings and public hearings are held to consider the bill or report the bill with amendments. The bill is eventually read a second and third time before going through both house votes and governor approval before becoming law. 

In the upcoming legislative sessions, there are designated days for voting sessions (see below). These voting sessions and any committee meetings are open to the public with no advance arrangements necessary to gain admission. If you are passionate about an issue, plan your visit to a voting session. Every house committee has a schedule for when their bills will be up for vote. Find the committee schedules here. While a member of the public is unable to contribute their opinion at this time, it’s still a great opportunity to see New Jersey legislation in action and stay up-to-date on the issues you’re passionate about.

Upcoming legislative sessions

January 23, 2020
New Jersey Law Revision Commission Meeting 10:00 a.m.
Commission Offices, 153 Halsey St., 7th Floor, Newark, NJ

January 27, 2020
Senate Quorum 12:00 p.m. Senate Chambers
Assembly Quorum Assembly Chambers

January 30, 2020
Senate Quorum 12:00 p.m. Senate Chambers

February 3, 2020
Senate Quorum Senate Chambers
Assembly Quorum Assembly Chambers

February 10, 2020
Senate Session 2:00 p.m. Senate Chambers
Voting Session

February 13, 2020
Senate Quorum 12:00 p.m. Senate Chambers
Assembly Quorum Assembly Chambers

February 24, 2020
Senate Quorum 12:00 p.m. Senate Chambers
Assembly Session Assembly Chambers
Voting Session

March 5, 2020
Senate Session 2:00 p.m. Senate Chambers
Voting Session
Assembly Quorum Assembly Chambers

March 16, 2020
Senate Quorum 12:00 p.m. Senate Chambers
Assembly Quorum Assembly Chambers

March 19, 2020
Senate Quorum 12:00 p.m. Senate Chambers
Assembly Quorum Assembly Chambers

March 26, 2020
Senate Session 2:00 p.m. Senate Chambers
Voting Session
Assembly Session Assembly Chambers
Voting Session

At Public Strategies Impact, we offer legislative advocacy services to help our clients reach their objectives and goals, whether that’s seeking new legislation, stopping harmful legislation, or amending existing legislation. We develop the best possible strategy to raise awareness of our client’s agenda in the government. Learn more about how Public Strategies Impact can help you here.

2020 Laws Impacting New Jersey Families

With 2020 being an election year, the New Jersey legislature has a busy year ahead. Many of the issues they will be voting on this year won’t take effect until 2021 or later. During that time, it is easy to forget what our lawmakers have decided and how it will impact us and our communities. Here are a few of the laws taking effect in 2020. 

Paid Family Leave

One of the laws passed that will take effect in 2020 is an expansion of paid family leave for everyone in the state. This law will increase the length of consecutive weeks of leave from six to 12, as well as increase the benefits individuals can receive, increase the total amount of days for intermittent leave, protect employees from retaliation, and expand leave to cover the fallout of domestic or sexual violence. The aim of the law is to strengthen and support working families, and it works in partnership with increasing the earned sick leave and minimum wage. 

Marijuana

Medical marijuana also became more accessible for patients across the state. The A-20 bill expands the list of medical conditions eligible for medical marijuana, raises the monthly limit to three ounces, protects patients from employer retaliation, introduces reciprocity with other states, eliminates sales tax over three years, as well as other enhancements.

The legalization of recreational marijana was one of Murphy’s campaign promises, but iti struggled to make it to the floor in 2019. The legislature did come to an agreement to include the issue on the ballot in November of 2020. This will allow the public to weigh in on the decision and allow the legislature to make a decision they know is backed by their constituency. 

Right-to-die Law

The “right-to-die” law allows patients who have a terminal illness that will result in their death within six months to petition their doctor for medication that will end their life peacefully. Patients will need to meet specific requirements, including proving they are making the decision of sound mind, and must be able to administer the drugs to themselves if permitted. This law aims to give dignity and the choice to avoid the often painful palliative or hospice care. 

Supporting Diversity

There are a number of laws going into effect in 2020 that help support minorities and marginalized individuals. This includes expanding discrimination laws to include natural hair or protective hairstyles, including the contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals in history curriculums, and allowing transgener individuals to change their gender on their birth certificate. 

Many of these laws mentioned are going to directly impact your life or the life of someone you may know. To learn more about the laws passed in 2019, read our breakdown of the election results

PSI Team Featured in Top 100 Power Lists

This year has been a productive one for the team at Public Strategies Impact. We are proud to announce multiple members have been selected to be featured in New Jersey’s top 100 power lists including: the New Jersey Globe Power List, Insider NJ’s Insider 100, Senator Weinberg’s Women Power List, and Insider NJ’s Insider 100 LGBT Power List. See our featured team members below.

Roger Bodman
Roger Bodman
Roger Bodman, managing partner at PSI, was selected for the New Jersey Globe Power List. He has served in gubernatorial cabinet posts, guided presidential campaigns in New Jersey, and appeared as a political commentator on NJTV for more than 35 years. Early in his career, Roger was named to two cabinet posts: State Commissioner of Labor and later State Commissioner of Transportation. Roger is widely respected in the State of New Jersey for his depth of knowledge of state government and politics.

 

bill maer
Bill Maer
Bill Maer, senior partner, was selected for the New Jersey Globe Power List and Insider NJ’s Insider 100. As a top democratic strategist, he is a well-respected lobbyist and political operative with a career spanning more than 25 years. Over the years, he has served in several government positions and been a leading Democratic political consultant, having worked on dozens of campaigns at virtually every level of New Jersey politics.

 

joe simonetta
Joe Simonetta
Joe Simonetta was selected for Insider NJ’s Insider 100 LGBT. As a senior partner at PSI, Joe has specialized in association management, healthcare, professional services, arts, hospitality, and tourism for nearly 40 years. He is considered an expert in public policy and legislation and has earned the designation of Certified Association Executive, the highest certification in the association management field. Joe is well regarded and respected throughout Trenton and Washington, D.C.

 

brendan gill
Brendan Gill
Brendan Gill, PSI affiliate and president of the BGill Group, was selected for the New Jersey Globe Power List. Gill has more than 20 years of experience in campaign management, government, and public affairs. Most notably, he served as campaign manager for Governor Phil Murphy. He also ran two successful U.S. Senate campaigns for Senator Frank Lautenberg and Cory Booker.

 

tracie desarno
Tracie DeSarno
Tracie DeSarno was selected for Senator Weinberg’s Women Power List. As a partner at Public Strategies Impact, Tracie has spent more than 25 years specializing in healthcare, hospitals, utilities, and banking. She has more than 30 years of experience representing major corporations, institutions, associations, and multiple levels of government in Trenton and Washington.

Congratulations to our team! In the new year, we will continue to use our skills and knowledge spanning government, public and community relations, media, business, and more to serve our clients in the best possible way. Learn more about what our team has to offer.

How Association Management Companies can Help You

Whether your association is all volunteers or paid staff, association management companies supplement your internal efforts to ensure current and future members get the information they need to join your association and stick around. Hiring an association management company is great for associations who are looking to grow or looking for new ways to promote their association. You can hire a company long-term or on a project basis based on what your needs are. Here are the top five reasons you should consider working with an association management company:

Increase manpower 

Regardless of what size association you work with, it always seems like there’s a never ending list of things that need to get done. Association management companies provide you with an entire staff who can help you with whatever you need. From event planning to marketing to staffing events, you’ll have more hands on deck to tackle that to-do list faster than ever before.

Save money

A common misconception is that association management companies cost too much money. However, you can often negotiate your retainer to make sure it includes all services you need. By combining all of the services provide by association management companies, you will end up saving more money in the long-run compared to outsourcing these services individually.

Gain connections

Remember, association management companies are experts in the association space. Regardless of industry, these companies have built connections for all types of resources an association may need. And because they work with associations of all sizes, they will have vendor options at different price points to accommodate your needs.

Benefit from expertise

A well-rounded association management company has experience working with a huge portfolio of different association types, so they will already have experience working with an association of your size or industry. These companies often draw upon past experiences with other associations to navigate through your specific pain points and find creative solutions.

Latest technology

The newest technology available is often too expensive for smaller associations. One of the perks of working with an association management company is they often have multiple licenses or accounts for the platforms you need to run your association. These costs, whether as part of or separate from your retainer, will be much lower than if you purchased it yourself.

While you might be hesitant about outsourcing, Public Strategies Impact has the experience to help your association function at its very best. Learn more about our association management services here.

2019 New Jersey Election Results Breakdown

New Jersey’s 2019 election day featured a race for 80 state Assembly seats, one state Senate seat, a statewide public question pertaining to veterans, and a question for Jersey City voters about Airbnb regulations. 

What voters were most closely watching, though, was the state Assembly race in the 1st, 2nd, 8th, 11th, 16th, 21st and 25th legislative districts. Democrats held on to a majority of the seats here, defending the trifecta of governorship and state legislature. However, Republic candidates did end up taking seats in the 8th district, which had turned increasingly blue in the last few years. Among the other districts, there were many tight races, where calling was delayed due to a large surge in mail-in ballots. About 240,000 ballots were sent by mail, which is about 150% higher than it was in 2015. In the days leading up to the race, Governor Murphy and his wife visited those districts where Democrats would have a more difficult chance of winning. In the end, those visits did not cause any upset in the races, but did gain some traction for the candidates he was fighting for.

Only one seat in the state Senate was up for grabs this election day in the first legislative district (parts of Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties). Democrat Jeff Van Drew was elected last year to move up to the U.S. House of Representatives and Democratic Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak was a temporary fill in, expecting to be elected for the final two years of the term. District 1 is a notoriously purple district and Republic Mike Testa came out on top 27,163 votes to 23,636. 

As for the statewide question about whether New Jersey should extend property tax deductions to military veterans who live continuing care retirement communities, the vote was 75.6% yes. This new extension will cost New Jersey taxpayers less than $1 million a year, which seems minimal compared to the $38.6 million state budget.

Overall, not too much has changed post-election day. The results features many close races and Republican victories over previously Democratic seats. However, Democrats continue to hold a majority in the state legislature. 

As we move toward our next election on June 2, 2020, stay informed on the important issues in New Jersey and candidates in the races. For more election and New Jersey political updates, stay up-to-date on our blog.

New Jersey Political Hot Topics

With less than a week until the general election day, New Jersey lawmakers are addressing key issues affecting the state. See the latest hot topics in New Jersey political news.

NJ election: Voters will decide to expand veterans property tax deduction
northjersey.com
On this year’s ballot, New Jersey voters will notice a question about a property tax deduction for veterans. It’s up to the New Jersey voters to decide if the state’s existing $250 property tax deduction for some veterans should be extended to include those that live in retirement communities.

N.J. leaders to make another big push to legalize recreational weed. Odds are 50/50, top official says.
NJ.com
The push to legalize marijuana is back. The goal for Governor Murphy and his team is to get the bill passed in the Senate. According to state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, the odds are at a 50/50. Post-election day, the plan is to start convincing lawmakers to support the bill.

New Jersey bill would allow college athletes to earn endorsement money
POLITICO
New Jersey is now becoming a part of the national debate over whether college athletes should be allowed to earn endorsement money. The New Jersey Fair Play Act would allow collegiate athletes in New Jersey to earn compensation for use of their names, images, etc. Student athletes would also have the ability to hire professional representation, like lawyers and agents. 

Will N.J. consider banning menthol-flavored cigarettes? Murphy seems open to it.
NJ.com
In the wake of the push for the ban of flavored e-cigarettes, including those with menthol flavor, New Jersey may consider banning traditional menthol cigarettes as well. While most other flavored cigarettes have already been banned, menthol still remains. Before Governor Murphy can make any decision on this topic, both houses of the state Legislature will need to pass a bill. 

With a week Left, Murphy Jumps Feet First into LD21 and LD25
INSIDER NJ
In the coming week, Governor Murphy may be seen campaigning up and down the state for Democratic Assembly candidates. In this article, Murphy hints he will probably be hitting the 20s. Meaning, he’ll most likely be campaigning in the legislative districts where the Democratic party needs the most help.

Don’t forget to vote on the upcoming election day! Let your voice be heard on November 5 and in the election days to come.

How Government Relations and Public Affairs Work Together

Government relations and public affairs are very similar. They have many overlapping characteristics but also offer some different services that could help your organization. These two services working together can create impactful results on your organization as a whole. 

Government Relations Overview

Government relations is the process of influencing public policy on a local, state, national, and even global scale. The goal of government relations is to persuade government officials to change or maintain a policy, usually one that fits the needs of your organization. An organization can hire government relations experts to use their relationships with key decision makers to push the organization’s agenda forward.

Public Affairs Overview

Public affairs involves more than just the government. It’s a service that helps an organization interact with legislators, interest groups, and the media. Public affairs is more external than government relations. It deals more broadly with public policy issues and works to find solutions to problems. Public affairs specialists act as a liaison between an organization and the media, community, and government. 

Government relations and public affairs working together

Government relations and public affairs services can often come from the same team. One of the core pillars in public affairs is government relations. A team of experts can craft an effective strategy, which defines your organization’s issues, identifies important legislation, and uses the relationships with decision makers and the community to achieve positive results for an organization. Think of government relations and public affairs like a two-step process. When legislation is impacting an organization, government relations may be a necessary aid and then public affairs would be needed to communicate with stakeholders, the media, and the public on the issue. On the reverse side, if a community presents an issue, a public affairs team must find a solution and may interact with government to persuade a decision in favor of the organization’s agenda.

The team of experts at Public Strategies Impact in Trenton, New Jersey can benefit your organization on all fronts. Government relations and public affairs are just a few of the ways that Public Strategies Impact can achieve results for your organization. If you could benefit from these services, we’d love to discuss the possibilities with you. Reach out to us via email at info@njpsi.com or by calling 609-393-7799.

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414 River View Plaza
Trenton, New Jersey
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