- 1 Ways to Resist
- 2 Updates
- 3 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Healthcare
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Benefits / Tax Cuts
- 11 Housing/Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations and Events
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
Ways to Resist
- Contact your elected officials:
- Get involved with local organizations.
- Find organizations with state and local presences working in your area.
- Check out our Tools of Resistance.
- Look for upcoming events and opportunities and state and local events.
There are no recent updates.
To see past updates for New Jersey, click here.
Actions Taken by the State Government
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by New Jersey lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
- S 30007 would require the state to provide funding to sanctuary cities and counties to offset any federal funding cuts due to their sanctuary status.
Harmful bills proposed by New Jersey lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- A 3976 would require the Attorney of the State to assist any school refusing to provide protections for transgender students.
- A 1706 would allow religious organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on religious grounds.
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find out if you're registered to vote. Register to vote here. The deadline is 21 days before Election Day. Bring proof of identification the first time you vote. No document is required to vote.
- Senator Bob Menendez (D) is up for reelection in 2018.
2018 Competitive House Districts
- New Jersey District 5 is a competitive district with the potential to flip to red. Representative Joshua Gottheimer (D) won the 2016 election with 50.5% of the vote. Trump won the district in the 2016 presidential election with 48.8% of the vote.
- New Jersey District 7 is a competitive district with the potential to flip to blue. Representative Leonard Lance (R) won the 2016 election with 54.9% of the vote. Clinton won the district in the 2016 presidential election with 48.6% of the vote.
Governor's Race New Jersey's upcoming 2017 gubernatorial election will take place on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, following primaries on Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Current Governor Chris Christie (R) is term-limited and cannot run for re-election.
Declared Democratic candidates include the following:
- Bill Brennan, activist and former firefighter
- Monica Brinson, pharmaceutical sales representative
- Bob Hoatson, sexual abuse victims' advocate and former Catholic priest
- Jim Johnson, former US Undersecretary of the Treasury for Enforcement
- Raymond Lesniak, State Senator and former Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee
- Lisa McCormick, businesswoman
- Phil Murphy, former United States Ambassador to Germany and former Goldman Sachs executive
- Titus Pierce, businessman and Iraq War veteran
- John Wisniewski, State Assemblyman and former Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee
Declared Republican candidates include the following:
- Jack Ciattarelli, State Assemblyman
- Kim Guadagno, Lieutenant Governor
- Steven Rogers, Nutley Commissioner of Public Affairs
- Joseph Rudy Rullo, businessman and candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012
Declared Green Party Candidate
- Seth Kaper-Dale, Highland Park pastor active in housing and refugee rights
Ballot Initiatives Also on the November 7 ballot is the New Jersey Revenue from Environmental Damage Lawsuits Dedicated to Environmental Projects Amendment. According to Ballotpedia, "a 'yes' vote supports allocating state revenue from legal settlements related to natural resource damages in cases of environmental contamination toward restoring and protecting natural resources and paying the costs of pursuing the settlements." More info can be found here.
Other 2017 State Elections
- The State Senate and State Assembly are both held by the Democratic party currently but will be up for reelection in 2017. Primaries will be held on June 6; the general election is November 7 (filing deadline April 3).
- Jersey City Mayoral elections will be held in 2017, with primary elections on November 7 and general election on December 5 (filing deadline is September 5).
- Jersey City Council elections will be held in 2017, with primary elections on November 7 and general election on December 5 (filing deadline is September 5).
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 739,000 people in New Jersey (or 8.0% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 799,000 people (or 8.9% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/28/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.) This is because with a full repeal, premiums will not increase the way they would under a partial repeal, since insurance companies will be able to discriminate on the basis of preexisting conditions and won't be required to provide essential health benefits. Also, New Jersey partially expanded Medicaid before the ACA with waivers that have now expired. Not covering preexisting conditions will disproportionately affect people with disabilities.
- The number of uninsured people in New Jersey is predicted to be 654,000 by 2021 under the ACA. Without the ACA, that number is expected to rise to 1,355,000, a 107.2% increase.
- Prior to the ACA's ban on gender-rating, women in New Jersey could pay up to 47% more for the same coverage as men; an ACA repeal could bring back that coverage gap.
- New Jersey is among the many states that lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage, because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.
- Given that a repeal of the ACA would also change payment structures and subsidies, 86,000 jobs could be lost in New Jersey in the event of repeal. When federal funding is cut, it creates a ripple effect that affects local and state revenue, thus creating losses in economic activity and employment.
- New Jersey stands to lose $1 billion in their state budget if the ACA is repealed, which could endanger other programs, such as pension funds.
- Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who is up for reelection in 2018, voted to keep the ACA.
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay strategy, young adults in New Jersey could pay $686 more in 2018.
- Between January 2013 and April 2016, police in NJ killed 60 people.
- Of the 60 people killed, 25 were black, making the rate at which black people are killed by police 20.7%, compared with 6.82% for all people in NJ.
- Department of Justice Out of Court Agreement 2016 - Newark
Findings: Pattern of unconstitutional stops, searches, arrests, use of excessive force and theft by officers in violation of the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments.
Out of Court Agreement 2016: Requires community policing, training on use of force, training for stops and searches, video cameras in all patrol cars, and bodycams for most officers.
- Data shows that total hate crimes in New Jersey are trending downward, with 367 reported hate crimes in 2015 (down 2% from the previous year).
- 775 hate crimes in 2010
- 606 hate crimes in 2011
- 553 hate crimes in 2012
- 479 hate crimes in 2013
- 373 hate crimes in 2014
- 367 hate crimes in 2015
- While total hate crimes have been declining, crimes against Jewish and Muslim populations have increased from 2014 to 2015. The largest target of hate crimes in New Jersey are black residents, with 141 reported incidents in 2015 (in comparison, white residents had only 14 reported incidents). The FBI has criticized New Jersey police departments for underreporting hate crimes, dismissing New Jersey statistics, since 385 law enforcement agencies in NJ did not report any hate crimes in 2015, and 105 of those agencies have not reported any hate crimes in the past decade.
Policy and Legislation
In 2007, New Jersey passed legislation revising the definition of hate crimes and bullying and establishing a Commission on Bullying in Schools. New Jersey currently offers hate crime protections for people targeted for their race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, and/or ethnicity. In July, 2016 New Jersey State Senator Joe Kyrillos (Republican) introduced a bill to the state legislature that would classify any attack on police officers as a hate crime.
- As of 2014, immigrants comprised 21.9% of the population in New Jersey—1,960,734 people.
- In 2012, undocumented immigrants comprised 5.8% of the state's population, or 525,000 people.
- Undocumented immigrants contribute $10.7 billion in gross state product (GSP).
- In 2012, undocumented immigrants paid $631.4 million in state and local taxes.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- New Jersey does not allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver's license.
- New Jersey allows undocumented students to attend a public college at the same in-state tuition rate as residents and citizens.
- Undocumented students are ineligible for state scholarships and financial aid.
- In 2013, immigrants comprised 27.4% of the state's workforce, or 1,282,490 workers.
- In 2012, undocumented immigrants comprised 8.2% of the state's workforce, or 400,000 workers.
- In 2007, then State Attorney Anne Milgram issued a Law Enforcement Directive preventing law enforcement officers from asking about a person’s immigration status unless that person is under arrest.
- In New Jersey, the Hudson County Department of Corrections and the Monmouth County Sheriff's office have “287 (g)” agreements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which trains and deputizes officials in those departments to act as immigration officials.
- Union County, Burlington County, Ocean County, and Middlesex County have policies that limit Immigration and Customs Enforcements detainer requests.
- If New Jersey deported all its undocumented immigrants, the state would lose 103,898 jobs and $24,2 billion in economic activity.
- If all undocumented immigrants were given legal residence, they would pay $701.5 million in state and local taxes.
- Newark Police Department was the first New Jersey law enforcement to refuse requests made by ICE to detain people arrested for minor criminal offenses.
- New Jersey “Sanctuary Cities” include:
- Jersey City
- Perth Amboy
- Union City
- Governor Chris Christie has stated that he will be willing to partner with Trump on sanctuary cities.
- Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop signed an executive order on February 3, 2017, strengthening policies around the city’s status as a sanctuary city.
- 641 refugees resettled in New Jersey for FY 2015.
- The New Jersey Department of Human Services offers a Refugee Resettlement Program. The program is funded by the federal government and offers cash assistance and medical benefits to refugees.
- The presidential election saw the largest voter turnout in NJ history, with 3,957,303 ballots. This is 68% voter turnout, 13% higher than the national average.
- Prior to the 2016 election, the New Jersey State Democratic Committee filed a lawsuit to bar the New Jersey Oath Keepers, "described as a militia extremist group," from monitoring polling places on Election Day, a practice the NJ Democratic Committee described as voter intimidation. New Jersey Congressman Scott Garrett (NJ-05, defeated in 2016) attended an Oath Keeper meeting in NJ. The efforts of the New Jersey Oath Keepers were met with resistance, as the Bergen County NAACP recruited volunteers to monitor polling sites for voter suppression.
- The Department of Justice sent staffers to 28 sites around the county, including Middlesex County in New Jersey, to monitor compliance with federal voting rights laws.
Policy and Legislation
In 2007, New Jersey enacted the "Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote" into law, which made New Jersey a member of an 11-state coalition that aims to elect the president by the national popular vote, rather than the electoral college. On December 5, 2016, Republican Senators Steven Oroho (Morris, Sussex, and Warren Counties) and Michael J. Doherty (Hunterdon, Somerset, and Warren Counties) introduced a bill SB 2821, to repeal the 2007 popular vote law.
- While New Jersey has reduced its overall prison population by 38% since 2000, New Jersey maintains the highest black/white incarceration rate disparity in the country, with members of the black community incarcerated at a rate of 12.2 compared to members of the white community.
- Broken down by race, the incarceration rate in New Jersey is as follows (per 100,000):
Policy and Legislation
2.6.2017: Effective January 1, 2017, New Jersey's bail system has changed. Now, in determining bail, judges consider the threat to society and flight risk of the defendant. This change is the result of a ballot measure in which "voters in 2014 supported amending New Jersey’s Constitution to nearly eliminate cash bail, a move that has placed the state in the forefront of a national movement aimed at changing a bail system that critics say discriminates against poor defendants, many of whom are blacks and Latinos."
- The bail measures were supported by Governor Chris Christie.
- "In the 3,382 cases statewide that were processed in the first four weeks of January, judges set bail only three times."
- The Bail Bond industry has opposed the new bail practices.
8.2016: New Jersey capped phone rates on calls from inmates in state and local jails and prisons “at 11 cents per minute and international calls at 25 cents, and bans commissions, or kickbacks, on calls.” Previously, commission rates were reported as high as 70%, and jails in some NJ counties reportedly “charge from nearly $18 to $45 for a 15-minute international call.”
Benefits / Tax Cuts
- New Jersey residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan:
- Households: 215,000
- Adults and children: 633,000
- Children: 378,000
- In 2015, an average of 453,338 households and 905,728 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) in a given month in New Jersey. In 2011, approximately 9% of the population of New Jersey was receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps). The average monthly benefit per New Jersey household was $244 per household and $121 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 41,756 households, including 18,250 families and 31,332 children, received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in a given month. The average monthly benefit for a single parent with three children residing in New Jersey was $424 in 2014. Average benefits in New Jersey have fallen in value by 34.4% since 1996.
- In 2016, an average of 35,908 women received funds from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in a given month.
- In December 2015, there were 36,092 Social Security recipients in the "aged" category receiving $424.83 per person on average, for a total of $15,333,000.
- 313,500 low-income families spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, New Jersey had 31 units of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of area median income.)
- In New Jersey, there were 8,895 homeless people in 2016.
- Of the homeless population, there were 1,123 families, 556 veterans, 499 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 822 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- New Jersey received $1.52 billion in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In New Jersey, more than 161,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all New Jersey households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- New Jersey's infrastructure received a score of D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2015.
- This study gave the state no “good” scores and identified bridges, parks, roads, wastewater, dams, levees, and transit as being in “poor” condition.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 35.5% of New Jersey's bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 66% of New Jersey's roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $601 per motorist per year in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs.
Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- New Jersey has 26 Planned Parenthood centers.
- In 2015, 13 centers were in rural, medically underserved, or health-provider shortage areas.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 66,154 women of reproductive age.
- There were 79 abortion providers in New Jersey in 2015.
- In 2014, 10.4 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in New Jersey had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
New Jersey has no major restrictions on abortion access.
Women and Wages
- In New Jersey, 13.5% of women live in poverty. 33.6% of single mothers live in poverty, as do 9% of women age 65 and older.
- For every dollar made by men, women are paid $0.82, which is two cents above the national average of $0.80.
- African American women are paid $0.58 for every dollar paid to white men, while Latina women make $0.43 for every dollar made by white men.
- In 2012 65,060 domestic violence incidents were reported. Wives were the victims in 16% of cases, and ex-wives in 3%.
- The number of domestic violence complaints that had prior court order issued against the perpetrator decreased by 12% between 2011 and 2012.
Religious freedom law
New Jersey does not have any state religious freedom laws. Religious freedom laws protect people's right to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities. However, after same-sex marriage was legalized, conservative states have attempted to enact similar laws with provisions that allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.
New Jersey lacks nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in jury selection.
New Jersey also lacks nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in parenting laws, including surrogacy, foster parent training, and consent to inseminate, and laws permitting discrimination in adoption/foster placement.
Hate crime laws
New Jersey does include LGBTQ+ people in its hate crime laws as a protected group, and does have required reporting of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people.
New Jersey does not have laws protecting youth, such as anti-bullying laws for alternative discipline, school suicide prevention policies, laws to address LGBTQ+ youth homelessness, or LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education laws. New Jersey does have laws that create inequality in the age of consent for same-sex couples, school laws that criminalize youth, laws that prohibit enumeration in anti-bullying policies, and laws that restrict inclusion of LGBTQ+ topics in schools.
Health and safety laws
New Jersey does not have nondiscrimination laws protecting the health and safety of its LGBTQ+ citizens, including nondiscrimination protections in the ACA exchanges, a ban on insurance exclusions for trans health care, trans-inclusive health benefits for state employees, gender marker changes on birth certificates, health data collection, and gender-neutral single-occupancy restrooms. New Jersey does have laws that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in ensuring their health and safety, such as sodomy laws and laws prohibiting transgender people from receiving appropriate IDs.
- New Jersey is ranked fourth in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $17,572 per student.
- As of 2013, New Jersey ranked sixth in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $68,797 per year.
- 87% of students in New Jersey attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 40% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for 2.4% of total public school enrollment.
- New Jersey's overall graduation rate is 89%, above the national average. By subgroups, four-year graduation rates in New Jersey are as follows:
- White: 94%
- Latino: 81%
- Black: 79%
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 96%
- American Indian: 86%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 80%
- Limited English Proficient: 71%
- Students with Disabilities: 77%
Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- New Jersey has a minimum wage of $8.44.
- New Jersey has no state law for paid sick leave, but there are city ordinances for Jersey City, Newark, Irvington, Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, Trenton, Montclair, Bloomfield, Elizabeth, Plainfield, and Morristown. Employees accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked and can accrue up to 24 or 40 hours, depending on the employer's size, and use up to 40 hours. Employees in certain industries receive up to 40 hours regardless of employer size. Covers sick time for employee or family members’ care, closures due to a public health emergency and care for a family member exposed to a communicable disease. 
- New Jersey has a state law for paid family leave, Family Leave Insurance (FLI). Workers, including public workers, are covered by the state unemployment insurance law. Some domestic workers are covered.
Based on data from 2016 Quarter 1, the New Jersey unemployment rate was 4.4. Broken down by race:
- Asian unemployment—2.6%
- White unemployment—3.9%
- Black unemployment—5.4%
- Hispanic unemployment—6.0%
- New Jersey is a state with no Right-to-Work laws, which means that the state can not prohibit unions that collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers from requiring union fees for the services they provide to all workers they represent. Such laws are designed to reduce unions' income and power.
- New Jersey is a state with an at-will exemption. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
- New Jersey also has a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- New Jersey does allow for implied contract exemptions.. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- New Jersey does support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted this in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- About 90% of New Jersey's electricity generation is from natural gas and nuclear energy. In 2015, for the first time, natural gas generated more electricity than nuclear energy.
- New Jersey has 114 sites on the National Priorities List.
- Approximately 3.08% percent of New Jersey's land is federally owned.
- In 2014, the Latino population had the highest air pollution exposure indices, of 73, and the Black population had an air pollution exposure index of 72—compared to an overall index of 59 and a White index of 50.
- In 2012, Native American adults in New Jersey were most likely to have asthma—13.5%, compared to 8.5% overall.
- The environmental agency in New Jersey is the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
- New Jersey has adopted a renewable portfolio standard that will require nearly one-fourth of net electricity sales to come from renewable energy resources by 2021. Specific solar and offshore wind requirements are included in the standard.
- The Trump Administration's proposed grant freeze for the EPA would have a significant impact on the New Jersey Environment: "'The freeze on funding could be particularly troubling for New Jersey, which has the nation’s largest number of Superfund toxic waste sites—118,' Tittel said. “'Trump's freeze will directly impact our state by putting cleanups on hold,' he said. Other programs likely to be affected by the freeze on grants and contracts will be funding for water-quality testing, climate change, and pollution from stormwater."
- New Jersey has the third-lowest rate of disability in the US: 10.4% of New Jersey's residents are disabled, compared with the national average of 12.6%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- The employment rate among disabled adults in New Jersey is 37.9%, compared to the national average of 34.9%. People without disabilities in New Jersey have a 76.5% employment rate. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Tables R1811 & B18120]
- Approximately 13.8% of eligible voters in New Jersey have one or more disabilities, compared to a national average of 15.7%.
- Of adults with disabilities in New Jersey, 21.1% live in poverty, as opposed to 8.8% of non-disabled adults. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B23024] The poverty rate for disabled children under 5 is 41.0%, as opposed to 17.2% for non-disabled children.[2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B18130]
- In New Jersey, 4.4% of adults between 18 and 64 receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), compared to the national average of 5.4%[2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B19056]
Organizations and Events
Find state/local chapters of national organizations here.
See also Upcoming Events and Opportunities.
- Coffee, Cake and True Islam
- Swing Left events for New Jersey's 5th and 7th districts (helping elect progressives to the House)
State and Local Disability Rights Organizations
- ADRC New Jersey (Aging & Disability Resource Connection)
- The Arc New Jersey
- Brain Injury Alliance New Jersey
- Developmental Disabilities Association of New Jersey
- Disability Rights New Jersey, New Jersey's P&A (Protection and Advocacy) agency
- Learning Disabilities Association of New Jersey
- Money Follows the Person New Jersey (MFP): Helps people move from institutions back into the community
- NAMI New Jersey (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
- New Jersey Statewide Independent Living Council
Local News Sources
New Jersey has a plethora of statewide and local news sources.