Murphy announces net neutrality lawsuit, endorses Jim Tedesco

Gov. Phil Murphy likes to talk about the innovation economy. Monday, he came to a hub of innovation in a warehouse in the Ironbound section of Newark to support net neutrality.

In December, the Federal Communications Commission voted to end the the principle of equal treatment for all internet service providers. The new standard allows for competition and faster internet in return for payment.

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“We may not agree, and I know we don’t, with everything that we see online, but that does not give us a justifiable reason to block the free, uninterrupted and indiscriminate flow of information. And it certainly doesn’t give certain well-heeled companies or individuals a right to pay their way to get to the front of the line,” said Murphy.

The governor signed an executive order requiring any internet service provider, or ISP, that deals with state government to follow the net neutrality rule.

“We are simply going to use our market power and market share to protect our choice that the ISPs we deal with adhere to net neutrality, and in doing so we hope to protect the broader concerns of consumers throughout our state,” said Murphy.

New Jersey, he said, will join 21 other states in a lawsuit to reverse the FCC policy. Tech leaders welcomed the move.

“If it wasn’t for net neutrality, we wouldn’t be able to reach our customers. Also, it helps with marketing, advertising and so forth so it’s really important to have a free and open internet,” said Jessica Gonzales, CEO of InCharged.

“Net neutrality is important because I believe that a lot of companies may not have surfaced if there were restrictions on open and fair internet. Imagine if some of the startup applications, perhaps that you even have on your own device, if they were restricted and not included perhaps in a data plan on a carrier and maybe they never would have been given the oxygen to breath, may not have had a chance to be successful,” said Aaron Price, founder of NJ Tech Meetup.

Earlier in the day, Murphy joined a bevy of North Jersey Democrats at the re-election announcement of Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco. There’s a Tedesco fundraiser this Saturday night.

“Let the record show, I’m beginning my week in Bergen County and I’m ending it in Bergen County. I’ll be at that gala with you Saturday night. In fact, after this I’m having a meeting with a whole group of mayors from Bergen County. This is, in so many respects, as Bergen County goes, so goes the state of New Jersey,” said Murphy.

Over the weekend, Murphy told The Associated Press he is sticking with his plan to hike the millionaire’s tax.

“Folks should assume we still are committed to both on the revenue side and on the investment side, the things we talked about throughout the campaign,” said Murphy.

Other top Democrats are urging a rethinking.

“Everybody across the state is going to be punished right now by this Donald Trump tax plan, so I think that’s going to make us all recalibrate how we deal with our own state’s fiscal problems. I think the governor’s got probably some of the worst hand of cards that’s been dealt and I know he’s going to have to try and figure out some way out of this,” said Sen. Cory Booker.

This was Murphy’s ninth executive order in 20 days as governor. He would say he is delivering on campaign promises, but the heavy lifting still lies ahead.