Christie’s Vacation Vetoes

Matt Katz | August 11, 2014 | Katz on Christie

Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a wide range of bills on Friday — or at least he announced the vetoes at that time.

At 4:24 pm on Friday, while Christie was vacationing in California with his family — taking in an Angels’ game and touring the Reagan Library — his press office announced that he vetoed various controversial bills. This seemed to be an example of a classic Friday-in-August news dump — dropping controversial news at the height of vacation season, in time for the Saturday newspapers (the least-read paper of the week) but little else.

Yet it gets more complicated. Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said the governor actually vetoed the bills (and signed some others) a full week before. He said the announcement only came out on Friday because the actions won’t be formalized until today, when the Legislature convenes for the first time after a break.

Regardless, the delay served to keep headlines focused on Christie’s last big announcement — a new commission to study reforming the pension system — for an extra week. 

Here are a few of the consequential vetoes that got little attention over the weekend:

  • A ban on the dumping and storing of fracking waste in New Jersey. The gas extraction method of hydraulic fracking isn’t happening in New Jersey, but waste from out of state has been dumped in the state, which environmentalists say can contaminate drinking water. In his veto message, Christie said the ban would have violated the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.
  • A bill intended to cushion the poor from new federal cuts in food assistance. Part of the recent congressional cuts in food stamps, known as SNAP, eliminated eligibility for some poor families who receive benefits on the basis of the amount they qualify for in heat subsidies. This bill would have therefore increased those heating subsidies, making them again eligible for SNAP benefits. Christie said the proposal was illegal under federal law.
  • Two bills that were said to address gender wage equity. Christie said one of the bills should have had a statute of limitations on when when an employee could sue over gender-based salary discrimination, while the other would have imposed unreasonable obligations on businesses to report employee information. 
  • A bill that could have legalized sports betting at casinos and race tracks, promising much needed revenue for the state and Atlantic City. Christie had supported this effort, even unsuccessfully suing the federal government to clear the way for it, but he vetoed the bill saying that federal law is “sacrosanct.”