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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | 'Congestion pricing' coming to New York City ... Reconsidering allowing homeless people to live in cars ... Cracking down on child care fraud.
As Democratic governors began legislative sessions earlier this year, a handful came out in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana—often describing the move as a necessary part of criminal justice reform, as well as bringing in tax revenue. But that movement faltered in New Jersey on Monday, with state lawmakers canceling a planned vote on a bill that would have made it made it legal for adults 21 and older to purchase and possess pot. NJ Advance Media reported the bill could have passed the state Assembly, but didn’t have enough support in the Senate. The legislation had been a priority for Gov. Phil Murphy, as well as civil rights activists who pushed for expungement provisions that would have cleared criminal records for people convicted of minor drug violations. Before the vote was canceled, the Rev. Al Sharpton told the New York Times the New Jersey bill was a “national model,” saying his concern about legalizing marijuana efforts is that they had “not dealt with the damage that has been disproportionately suffered by blacks and other people of color” and instead were “just setting up people to make a lot of money.” But the Times also reported that some African-American lawmakers didn’t support the bill, expressing concern about the effects of recreational marijuana in their communities. One lobbyist who supports the bill told NJ Advance Media that the process was too rushed, while some backers expressed hope it could be revitalized this spring. “Certainly, I’m disappointed, but we are not defeated,” Murphy said. Meanwhile, a plan to legalize marijuana in Connecticut passed a legislative committee 10-8. [NJ.com; New York Times; Hartford Courant]
MANHATTAN TRAFFIC | New York state leaders said they have worked out a deal on “congestion pricing,” which would charge drivers through electronic tolls to enter busy stretches of streets in New York City. The money from this plan would go toward a much-needed revamp of the city’s subway system. [New York Times]
CALIFORNIA LEAVING | Forty-four percent of respondents to a new poll said the quality of life in the Bay Area has deteriorated so much that they are “likely” to move in the next few years. [San Jose Mercury News]
HOMELESSNESS | San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer wants the city to reinstate a law that made it illegal for people to live in their cars. The city council overturned that law just a month ago and Faulconer said too many people are living in their vehicles on residential streets. Instead, the mayor advocated designating certain parking lots as places where people could sleep in their cars. [KNSD-TV]
CHILD CARE | Republican state lawmakers in Minnesota proposed a measure they say will allow the state to crack down on fraud in the state’s child care assistance program. An auditor report earlier this year identified problems, such as parents getting “kickbacks” from daycare providers for enrolling their children. [Star Tribune]
Laura Maggi is Managing Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.