Lawmakers face stack of bills as session draws to a close

Whether it was from opponents of ending the religious exemptions to vaccines or from those opposed to a ban on flavored vapes, Senate President Steve Sweeney was a popular target Thursday, the penultimate voting session of the state Senate.

On vaccines Sweeney said, “It’s not listed for today. We’ll see. I feel very strongly that the vaccination bill is the right thing to do. Every medical association organization in New Jersey supports it. They’re not all wrong, and I think that what’s happened here is the religious exemption go abused,”

He continued, speaking about the vaping legislation, “I feel for the vaping industry, but I also worry about kids’ health and we have a crisis in vaping. Sometimes there’s no easy split it down the middle, you know what I mean?”

“I took my money and my wife’s money and invested it in this. I just extended another lease in the building for three years. I have four little kids at home under the age of 10. I’m also a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. I’ve been clean for over six years all with this process. If this happens to me, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Michael Delia, owner of Sweet Cloudz Vape Shop.

Arguments pro and con aside, one wonders why a year-long session has to be so packed with often more than 100 bills left for the final voting session, leaving some senators frustrated.

“They have all the votes in the Assembly, the Senate and they have the Governor’s Office. There’s no reason why they can’t put through major policy changes, which will impact the school aid to towns and property taxes to towns. There’s no question, but they have to get together. Right now they’re not working together, the governor and the Senate president and the speaker, and they’ve been in control for 20 years,” said Sen. Kip Bateman.

“All due respect, I don’t think the press has done a good job of covering it because the differences between the legislative leaders, the Governor’s Office are always played up. But we’ve passed lots of progressive legislation; legislation that had been vetoed constantly over the prior eight years,” said Sen. Loretta Weinberg. “But if I has to say, I think this lame-duck session is less chaotic than some others I’ve seen. Now I say that without having seen the board list for Monday. Hopefully it’s not going to be a board list with 700 bills on it.”

Late Thursday afternoon, an amendment to the vaccination bill was passed by the Senate. The amendment carves out exceptions for private schools and private day cares. That bill, and dozens of others, will see a final vote during the session on Monday.