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This Week In New Jersey: April 6th, 2023


Governors Hold Meeting with President Zelenskyy

The nation’s Governors met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy via video conference to receive an update on Ukraine’s humanitarian and security situation and to express bipartisan support for the Ukrainian people in their fight against the Russian invasion. National Governors Association (NGA) Chair Governor Phil Murphy and Vice Chair Utah Governor Spencer Cox reaffirmed Governors’ commitment to Ukraine’s freedom and sovereignty.
“As the Russian invasion of Ukraine reaches its second year, it is critical that the United States and our allies remain unwavering in our support of the Ukrainian people,” said NGA Chair Governor Phil Murphy. “Ukraine is fighting not just for its own freedom and sovereignty, but also fighting to defend peace and democracy worldwide, and the defense of their homeland has been nothing short of inspiring. As Governors, we recommitted to President Zelenskyy that our states will come together under this common purpose and support the freedom-loving people of Ukraine in their time of need.”

“The courage and patriotism of the Ukrainian people in the face of a brutal, unprovoked attack is awe-inspiring,” said NGA Vice Chair Governor Spencer Cox. “The United States has a proud history of standing for freedom and speaking out against oppression. Supporting Ukraine’s defense is both the right thing to do and a U.S. national security priority. Utah stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.”


Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order Protecting Gender-Affirming Health Care in New Jersey

Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 326 establishing New Jersey as a safe haven for gender-affirming health care by directing all state departments and agencies to protect all persons, including health care professionals and patients, against potential repercussions resulting from providing, receiving, assisting in providing or receiving, seeking, or traveling to New Jersey to obtain gender-affirming health care services. As access to gender-affirming health care is threatened across the country, this executive order reflects the Murphy Administration’s commitment to fostering a safe and affirming health care environment in New Jersey.

“Across the nation, we are witnessing attacks led by certain states that seek to undermine the equality, dignity, and safety of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially transgender and non-binary youth,” said Governor Murphy.  “As leaders, our greatest responsibility is ensuring that every person we represent, regardless of their gender identity or gender expression, is entitled to respect, fairness, and freedom. We will continue to uphold these principles in New Jersey and support every person’s right to live freely and authentically by making our state a safe haven for those seeking or providing gender-affirming health care.”


Governor Murphy Signs Bill to Support Districts Seeing Reductions in School Aid in FY24 Budget Under S-2 Funding Formula

Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill to offer additional funding to school districts that will see a reduction in school aid from the State in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget as a result of the S-2 funding formula. The legislation will make a total of $103,023,579 available to nearly 170 eligible districts.

“Providing our students with the first-rate education they deserve remains a critical priority of my Administration,” said Governor Murphy. “This additional funding was introduced in partnership with the Legislature to support our schools in continuing to offer high-quality instruction to students as the state adjusts to incremental changes in the statutorily-established school funding formula each year. I look forward to continuing to work alongside educational stakeholders and legislative partners towards our shared goal of ensuring every New Jersey child receives an education that will set them up for a bright future.”

The bill (S-3732) was created in partnership with the Legislature. The bill’s sponsors are Senators Vin Gopal and Andrew Zwicker, and Assembly members Roy Freiman, Paul Moriarty, Lisa Swain, and Raj Mukherji.


Governor Murphy Announces Over 70,000 Total Awards Through College Promise Initiative, Highlights Higher Education Investments in Fiscal Year 2024 Budget

At a roundtable discussion with students and higher education stakeholders at Rutgers University—Newark, Governor Phil Murphy announced that over 70,000 awards have already been given out through the New Jersey College Promise initiative and highlighted higher education investments in his Fiscal Year 2024 (FY2024) budget proposal – including additional funding to expand College Promise. The Governor also announced the signing of a bill this week to provide additional Tuition Aid Grants (TAG) for eligible students to take summer courses this year.

“Ensuring equitable access to a high-quality education remains a key priority of my Administration – and making college more affordable is a critical component of those efforts,” said Governor Murphy. “By expanding the New Jersey College Promise, we can build on the success of this initiative to help more students like those we heard from achieve their educational goals. Continuing to invest in higher education in the FY2024 budget and beyond will benefit thousands of students and their families throughout our state.”


Governor Murphy Signs Bill Prohibiting Water and Wastewater Service Providers That Fail to Participate in Low Income Assistance Program from Shutting Off Service to Customers

Governor Phil Murphy signed S3333/A5020, prohibiting water utility providers that have not signed up to participate in the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) from taking certain collection actions against customers with arrearages. Specifically, the bill prohibits public utilities, local authorities, and municipal utilities that provide water or wastewater services from assessing interest on arrearages, discontinuing services, or placing, selling, or enforcing a lien for unpaid balances if the utility provider has not signed the vendor contract required to receive LIHWAP payments.

“The residents of our state deserve to have access to essential utility services in their households no matter their income,” said Governor Murphy. “This Administration will continue to work in collaboration with the Legislature to prioritize the needs of hard-working New Jerseyans who should live without fear of these utilities being shut off.”

“The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs continues to urge utilities not yet participating in LIHWAP to get involved in the program so that their customers can take advantage of the available assistance,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of DCA, which administers the LIHWAP program. “For those utility companies that fail to participate in LIHWAP for whatever reason, the bill signed into law today protects their customers from having their water and sewer service turned off because of inability to pay. We thank Governor Murphy and those in the State Legislature who supported this bill for recognizing that people facing financial hardship shouldn’t suffer the indignity of having their water shut off.”