volume 6/Issue 16

  • Senate President Sweeney Calls for Investigation of Teachers' Union
  • Federal Appeals Court Rules Against NJ Sports Betting Law
  • Medical Marijuana Dealt a Setback by Federal Government

Senate President Sweeney Calls for Investigation of Teachers' Union

Citing federal and state law, Senate President Steve Sweeney recently requested that State Attorney General Chris Porrino and U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman investigate recent actions by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) concerning political contributions and legislation.   

The Senate President alleges that the teachers’ union went from “lobbying to attempted bribery and conspiracy,” when it threatened to withhold any political donations until the Senate posted and passed legislation that would amend the Constitution to require the State to make regular payments into the public pension system.  That amendment required legislative passage by August 8 in order to send it to the voters for their approval.

The Senator’s correspondence notes that the “NJEA has diminished advocacy to engage in unprecedented tactics designed to extort public officials into undertaking actions that would benefit the pocketbooks of its members.”  He pointed out that “If a private citizen offered a public official a campaign contribution in exchange for the passage of legislation, the offer would be a clear violation of state and federal law.”

Governor Christie speaking for the first time on the topic yesterday declined to call for an investigation by law enforcement, saying “that the Senate President calling for that was probably loud enough.” He described the NJEA a “destructive force” and stated “That these are people who use the money of their members to reward their friends and to punish their enemies."

The August 8th deadline passed without a vote. Click here and here to view the Senator’s letters.

Federal Appeals Court Rules Against NJ Sports Betting Law

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled against a 2014 State law supported by Governor Christie and the Legislature to bring sports wagering to Atlantic City and the State’s horse tracks. 

The 2014 law represented the State’s latest attempt to comply with the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which prevents all but a handful of states from authorizing betting on sports.  The State law was opposed by the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA, who jointly brought suit, arguing that it violates the PASPA and jeopardizes the integrity of their leagues.  

The Appeals Court ruling essentially leaves the State with only one legal option, favored by Governor Christie.  In a recent Star Ledger article, the Governor stated, "There's only one step left: the United States Supreme Court."

It’s unclear as to whether the nation’s highest court would take the case, as they declined to review a previous version of the State’s sports wagering suit.  However, the Appeals Court noted in its decision that although the latest version of the New Jersey law “is not valid under the PASPA,” it “does not preclude the possibility that other options may pass muster.”

Medical Marijuana Dealt a Setback by Federal Government

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) decided last week to keep marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substance Act (CSA). A drug is classified under Schedule 1 “if it has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision and high potential for abuse.”

The DEA determination reinforces the federal approach to marijuana, which stands in contrast to how many states, including New Jersey, have viewed the drug.  New Jersey passed a law several years ago to legalize medical marijuana for those suffering from chronic and terminal diseases such as cancer, glaucoma, positive HIV/AIDS status or other chronic, debilitating diseases or medical conditions that cause certain conditions.

Legislation has been introduced to completely legalize marijuana though no bill has advanced to date.