Today begins the four week mail-in voting process that replaced Election Day this year. It will end on 8pm of Tuesday, November 3, 2020. You should have received your mail-in ballot, together with two envelopes and instructions. You will NOT be able to vote by machine at your regular polling place.
We recommend that you make sure your vote counts by voting as soon as you decide which candidates to vote for, and whether to vote “Yes” or “No” on the three proposed Amendments to the NJ Constitution.
We also recommend that you “Track Your Vote” soon after you mail it. You can do this online or through a phone call to your County Board of Elections. Click here to visit the Blog Post on our website for details. https://libertyandprosperity.com/nj-will-be-vote-by-mail-whether-we-like-it-or-not-we-can-make-that-a-good-thing-heres-how/
This will make sure your mail-in ballot was received and that the flap on the inner envelope was properly completed and attached. This inner envelope with the flap is very important. It makes sure that your vote is recognized and accepted, while maintaining the secrecy of your vote. If the inner envelope is not properly sealed, or the outer flap not attached, completed and signed, your vote will NOT count.
There are three Public Questions on the back side of your ballot. All three propose changes, or amendments, to New Jersey’s State Constitution. Public Question #2 is VERY Expensive!
Unlike California and most western states, New Jersey does NOT permit voters to propose or initiate changes to our State Constitution. We can only vote on changes that have been proposed by a majority of both the 80 member State Assembly, and 40 member State Senate.
Changing our State Constitution is a very serious matter. Once our Constitution is changed, it is almost impossible to undo the change if it turns out to be bad.
Also, Ballot Questions and Interpretive Statements often leave out very important important details. For example, most voters thought a 2016 Constitutional Amendment creating a “lockbox” for tolls and gas tax receipts would control reckless spending, and stop future toll and gas tax hikes. However, it did just the opposite. It allowed state politicians to use money in that “lockbox” to secure even bigger loans and cause even bigger hikes in tolls and the gas tax. Voter approval of “Bail Reform” changes to our State Constitution put many dangerous criminals back on our streets. Because that “Bail Reform” is now part of our State Constitution, it is now almost impossible to fix this problem. Please think carefully, before you vote to amend our State Constitution!
PUBLIC QUESTION #1: NJ CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO LEGALIZE, REGULATE, AND TAX MARIJUANA. (SCR 183 of 2018-2019)
- A “Yes” Vote on Public Question #1 legalizes certain marijuana in New Jersey for people over age 21. It does it by adding this new Paragraph 13 to Article IV, Section VII of New Jersey’s State Constitution.
- But why do we need a Constitutional Amend to permanently permit , regulate, and tax marijuana in a certain way? We needed a Constitutional Amendment to legalize Atlantic City casinos in 1976 because the old State Constitution did not permit casino gambling. However, there is nothing in our current State Constitution that prevents the Legislature from passing a simple law to permit legal marijuana. If the Legislature did that, they could easily change the law if they ran into any unexpected problems.
- However, legalizing marijuana through a Constitutional Amendment makes it very difficult to make changes if there are unexpected problems. Here is the exact language of the proposed new Constitutional Amendment if it is approved by New Jersey voters:
NJ Constitution, Article IV, Section VII, Paragraph 13: The growth, cultivation, processing, manufacturing, preparing, packaging, transferring, and retail purchasing and consumption of cannabis, or products created from or which include cannabis, by persons 21 years of age or older, and not by persons under 21 years of age, shall be lawful and subject to regulation by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission created by P.L.2019, c.153 (C.24:6I-5.1 et al.), or any successor to that commission.
(1) The commission’s or successor’s regulatory authority concerning legalized cannabis shall be authorized by law enacted by the Legislature.
(2) The receipts from retail purchases of cannabis or products created from or which include cannabis shall only be subject to the tax imposed under the “Sales and Use Tax Act,” P.L.1966, c.30 (C.54:32B-1 et. seq.), as amended and supplemented, or any other subsequent law of similar effect; provided, however, that a municipality, subject to authorization by law enacted by the Legislature, may adopt an ordinance to impose an additional municipal tax on the sale, or any other form of transfer, of cannabis or products created from or which include cannabis by an authorized party located in a municipality. The municipal tax rate shall not exceed two percent of the receipts from each sale of cannabis or products created from or which include cannabis by an authorized party or the equivalent value from any other form of transfer by an authorized party.
As used in this paragraph:
“Cannabis” means all parts of the plant Genus Cannabis L., whether growing or not, the seeds thereof, and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds. “Cannabis” does not include: cannabis dispensed and consumed for medical purposes pursuant to any law enacted by the Legislature; hemp or hemp products subject to regulation under the “New Jersey Hemp Farming Act,” P.L.2019, c.238 (C.4:28-6 et al.), or any successor enactment thereto; or unregulated cannabis, referred to as marijuana, and products created from or which include marijuana.
PUBLIC QUESTION #2: (ACR 253 of 2018-2019)
This is a VERY difficult issue. The current NJ State Constitution permits only veterans from “wars or declared emergencies” to receive these two kinds of benefits. One is a $250 benefit for all honorably discharged veterans. The other is a total property tax exemption for veterans who are “totally” disabled. (The NJ Department of Veterans Affairs has ruled that veterans found 50% disabled by the VA are deemed 100% disabled to receive this New Jersey property tax benefit. A “Yes” vote would amend the New Jersey Constitution to allow all peacetime veterans and their surviving spouses to collect. It also allows nursing homes to receive standard, non-disabled benefit if a veteran leaves his home to live there.
This is a very complicated and expensive plan. Governor Murphy’s office refused to provide the Legislature with estimates of how much this new plan will cost. The NJ Office of Legislative Services (OLS) tried to do a cost estimate with incomplete information. It estimates that this will add 53,000 non-disabled peacetime veterans and cost roughly $13 million more per year. These funds will come out of the State Income Tax which currently funds school aid and property tax relief. The OLS was not able to estimate how much additional money would be paid to surviving spouses. Because this will be a State Constitutional Amendment if approved, the State will be unable to change the plan if there are unexpected drops in state income or increases in costs.
The OLS estimates that a “yes” vote would give benefits to another 4,340 new disabled peacetime veterans and cost another $38 million per year. This extra money will be paid from property tax increases in each town where peacetime disabled veterans reside.
PUBLIC QUESTION #3: (ACR 188)
- A “Yes” Vote on Public Question #3 would also amend the New Jersey State Constitution.
Our State Constitution divides our State into 40 Legislative Districts. Each District is represented by two Assembly Member and one State Senator. Each District is required to have the same number of people based on the most recent 10 year national census. We are now finishing the Census for 2020. The Census results are normally released by January 1. However, because of coronavirus, the Census figures for 2020 may be late. Our current NJ State Constitution states that all 40 legislative districts must be redrawn to have equal population based on the new census every 10 years. The districts must be redrawn within 30 days after the census figures are released.
A “Yes” Vote will amend our State Constitution to delay drawing the new districts for two years, if the new 2020 Census figures are not released before February 1. That means districts that have lost people during the past ten years will have less representation until 2023. Districts that gained people will be underrepresented for the next two years.
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Seth Grossman, Executive Director