There are more Important Things than Marijuana, says Bergen

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Assemblyman Brian Bergen

MORRIS COUNTY — On Friday, Speaker Craig Coughlin announced the postponement of all Assembly business for 10 days, a move designed to allow the governor and Senate more time to come to an agreement on the details of marijuana legislation.

“An internal political feud is not more important than providing funding to help businesses, keep renters in their homes and guarantee people don’t lose their full earned income tax credit,” said Bergen (R-Morris).

Gov. Phil Murphy has refused to sign legislation regulating the legal sale of marijuana until there are clear punishments for users below the age of 21. The Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee passed a bill on Jan. 29 establishing those penalties, but the Senate remains firm that the legislation on Murphy’s desk achieves their social justice and criminal justice goals.

“Suspending all business because of one bill is completely unnecessary. We have more than 5,000 bills in the queue for consideration addressing a wide breadth of issues in our state. We should meet and do our jobs. To ignore all of the other important issues awaiting action because establishment Democrats have become myopic about everything other than their political needs is ridiculous.”

Bergen has been advocating to provide $300 million to help small-businesses (A5085) that are at risk of going out of business because of Murphy’s executive orders in response to Covid-19.

He also wants to help renters at-risk of eviction by increasing their property tax deduction to 30 percent of rent from 18 percent (A3928) – saving struggling renters thousands to help them keep a roof over their head, and guarantee that EITC recipients don’t receive a lower credit because they aren’t aware of needing to refile 2019 tax information (A5090).

“I hate to admit this, but I think even Congress is less dysfunctional than the state legislature right now,” exclaimed Bergen. “At least they meet in person and conduct their business. We are skipping meetings and having conference calls to vote on bills while letting Governor Murphy make unilateral decisions affecting the entire state without our input. What is going on here?”

The Morris County assemblyman was the first to introduce legislation requiring the legislature to review executive orders within 14 days after they are issued. Both houses would have to approve the orders or they expire on the fifteenth day after enactment.