January 14 marked the reorganization of the New Jersey Legislature for its next legislative session. But first the post-lame duck session concluded with movement in several areas concerning the life sciences sector. Several legislative initiatives moved forward with either a pro-Patient or life sciences focus:
- A-3040/S974, legislation requiring that newborn infants be screened for spinal muscular atrophy, was sent to the Governor’s desk with all voting legislators supporting the bill. Governor Murphy signed this legislation into law on January 21.
- A-5037, legislation to enhance penalties for counterfeit drugs, was passed unanimously through both houses of the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Murphy. The legislation not only enhances penalties for drug counterfeiting, but also bars individuals and companies convicted of violating the bill’s provisions from doing business with New Jersey State entities.
Meanwhile, the lame duck session concluded with several outstanding issues. An effort to increase vaccination rates among school-age children did not attain the necessary votes for passage. And the State remains without a successor to the Grow NJ program – now expired for more than six months.
The Legislature also held nomination hearings for several Murphy Administration appointees, including Acting Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli. Persichilli began her tenure as acting Commissioner in 2019 and was confirmed by the New Jersey Senate late in the lame duck session. BioNJ looks forward to working with Commissioner Persichilli.
Finally, the Legislature convened for its 219
th session and reorganization. The 219
th session will feature seven new members of the General Assembly with Assemblyman Craig Coughlin continuing to serve as the Speaker of the General Assembly. The General Assembly partisan breakdown is currently 52 Democrats and 28 Republicans. Meanwhile, Senator Mike Testa, the winner of a special election in the LD-1 contest to complete the term of Congressman Jeff Van Drew, was sworn into office on December 5, 2019. New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney will continue his position as Senate President for a record sixth term. 25 Democrats and 15 Republicans serve in the New Jersey Senate.
BioNJ congratulates all members of the New Jersey Legislature, and we look forward to working on behalf of both Patients and innovation during the next two years.