The state’s budget, the corporate business tax increase and marijuana legalization were among the hottest items advocates lobbied on in 2018, according to a Thursday analysis by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
And of the hundreds of activist and lobbying groups that descended onto the Trenton statehouse, the three most active were the New Jersey Education Association, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, and the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, according to the report.
Lobbying is an essential part of government. Special interest groups have a legitimate and integral role in helping to shape policies that affect the people of New Jersey.
The NJEA made the most reach-out attempts and contacts to lawmakers at 764, followed by the NJBIA at 487 contacts and the NJLM at 412 contacts.
But the report notes that a “contact” could range from official meetings with lawmakers, all the way down to mass emails that a lobbying group might send out to all 120 state legislators.
“The bigger the stakes, the more vigorous the lobbying,” said Jeff Brindle, executive director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, which prepared the report. “Lobbying is an essential part of government. Special interest groups have a legitimate and integral role in helping to shape policies that affect the people of New Jersey.”
The $36.5 billion spending plan for 2019 was the most lobbied for issue, with 112 entities making 296 contacts to individuals and groups.
Following the budget was the legalization of recreational marijuana, where 68 separate entities made 201 contacts to lawmakers, according to the report.
With the increase of the corporate business tax – which passed last year and increased the surtax by 2.5 percent for two years and 1.5 percent for another two years, before sinking back to 9 percent – 65 organizations made 211 contacts to lawmakers.
“Groups ranging from funeral directors to libraries to Uber drivers were among those weighing in on the state’s annual spending plan,” reads the report.
“The state budget touches every citizen’s life in one way or another,” added Brindle.
Other major issues were the enactment of a $15 minimum wage where 48 groups made 218 contacts to lawmakers, earned sick leave where 57 groups made 197 contacts to lawmakers and medical marijuana where 44 groups made 129 contacts to lawmakers.