Nuclear subsidy bill causing infighting among top Democrats

Lawmakers are down to the final days scrambling on last minute votes, and sifting through committee hearings with an ease and efficiency not often associated with Trenton.

The so-called “bomb cyclone” interrupted lame-duck business on Thursday, tightening the remaining schedule. But it was a different bomb dropped that’s causing infighting among top Democrats. A controversial bill to subsidize nuclear power plants was swiftly moving through the legislature, in time for Gov. Chris Christie to sign before leaving office. But in perhaps his final show of force as Assembly speaker, Vincent Prieto decided to postpone the vote.

Senate President Steve Sweeney co-sponsored the measure. PSE&G says without a $320 million a year subsidy through rate increases, two of its South Jersey power plants would close within two years.

“Normally what happens around here if there’s an objection, you let somebody know. We went right up to the finish line and they still haven’t told me what the objection is,” said Sweeney.

“The bill, just to make it official, was never pulled because it was never on,” said Prieto.

But Prieto wouldn’t say if it was Governor-elect Phil Murphy who had his ear on this one. Murphy reportedly wants to rework the measure before it goes for a vote.

“I spoke with many key stakeholders, but at the end of the day the bill was never posted and bills don’t go away. Nothing is held hostage,” said Prieto.

Both the Senate Budget Committee and Assembly Judiciary Committee voted to move a bill that would allow New Jersey to offer Amazon a $5 billion incentive through the Grow NJ program if it sets up a second headquarters here, despite a litany of opposition.

“Listen, we have the opportunity to entice Amazon here and create 30,000 new jobs. We need to send a strong message to them that we’re serious,” said Sen. Paul Sarlo, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee. “We’re serious about them coming to New Jersey and making a significant investment.”

Monday’s session is expected to be even more packed, with more than 120 bills up for vote in the Assembly and the potential for more conflict to strike.