- Associated Press - Monday, January 11, 2016

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The latest on the final day of the New Jersey legislative session. All times local.

10:30 p.m.

New Jersey’s Legislature has approved a bill to restore public beach access rules that were struck down by a court last month.

The state Senate and Assembly passed a bill giving the state Department of Environmental Protection the authority to impose the rules.

The bill would restore - but not strengthen - rules that were in place on Dec. 22 when the appeals court invalidated them.



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10 p.m.

New Jersey voters would decide whether the state must make quarterly payments to the state’s public pension system under a proposal that has advanced in the Legislature.

Lawmakers approved a proposed constitutional amendment that mandates the treasury pay into the public pension four times per year - rather than annually.

The measure has the backing of the state’s influential public labor unions, but has been vocally opposed by Republicans including Gov. Chris Christie.

The measure passed both chambers Monday.

If the proposed constitutional amendment passes both chambers in the next session, it could go on the 2016 ballot for voters to decide.

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8:30 p.m.

New Jersey voters will be weighing in on the November ballot over whether every cent of the state’s fuel taxes should go toward transportation projects.

The Legislature passed a proposed constitutional amendment by wide margins on Monday. The Senate voted 35-2 and the Assembly passed the proposal, 75-0.

Currently, the state’s 10.5-cent gas tax is required to be used for transportation. But there is no mandate on how to use revenue from a separate 4-cent tax on petroleum products.

The proposal also would require that the full 13.5-cent diesel tax is used only for transportation as well. Three cents of it currently is not specifically required to go toward transportation.

The proposal comes as the Democrat-controlled Legislature and Republican governor and presidential candidate Chris Christie wrangle over how to shore up the state’s transportation trust fund. Democrats say they back raising the state’s gas tax, but Christie has said Republicans should oppose such a hike unless other taxes are cut.

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5:30 p.m.

The Assembly has unanimously approved a proposed constitutional amendment calling for every cent of fuel tax money to be spent on transportation infrastructure.

Lawmakers voted 75-0 on Monday, the last day of the legislative session.

The measure now heads to the state Senate, where if it passes with a majority of three-fifths or above it would appear on the November ballot for voters to consider.

The measure doesn’t solve a problem with the state’s going-broke transportation trust fund. But if approved it assures that any money from a possible gas tax hike would go to roads and bridges.

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5 p.m.

The Assembly is sending legislation to Gov. Chris Christie that it hopes will lead to increased sales of so-called smart guns, which can only be fired by authorized users.

The Assembly passed the bill Monday. It would require firearms dealers to keep an inventory of one or more types of personalized handguns on their premises.

Lawmakers say a 2002 law had the unintended consequence of delaying the sale of personalized handguns because opponents of the measure pressured gun retailers not to sell the weapons.

The New Jersey law has never taken effect because the guns have not earned the attorney general’s certification. Activists protested that the prototypes were being developed, pressuring retailers not to offer them.

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4:45 p.m.

The state Senate has passed a bill restoring New Jersey’s beach access regulations that were struck down by an appeals court last month.

The bill explicitly gives the state Department of Environmental Protection the legal authority to issue the access rules.

The court ruled on Dec. 22 that the DEP did not have such authority, and invalidated the rules governing how and where the public can access the ocean, bays and rivers.

The bill, which still needs approval by the state Assembly, would restore the rules that were in effect before the court struck them down.

It would not make them any stronger.

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3:30 p.m.

New Jersey voters will decide whether the state must make quarterly payments to the state’s public pension system under a proposal that has advanced in the state Senate.

Lawmakers approved a proposed constitutional amendment that mandates the treasury pay into the public pension four times per year - rather than annually.

The measure has the backing of the state’s influential public labor unions, but has been vocally opposed by Republicans including Gov. Chris Christie.

The measure is expected to get a vote later Monday in the Assembly.

If the proposed constitutional amendment passes the Assembly and both chambers in the next session, it could go on the 2016 ballot for voters to decide.

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2 p.m.

A Democratic plan to change how legislative districts are drawn has stalled in the New Jersey state Senate.

The Democratic-controlled chamber postponed a vote Monday on the measure that sought to create a system with competitive races in at least 25 percent of legislative districts.

Republicans said the measure amounted to a Democratic attempt at cementing their control on the Legislature.

Democrats had hoped to get the measure on the ballot in 2016 and say there’s still time. Constitutional amendments like this propose must go before the voters before they take effect.

Republicans say they want to start on a new bill that has bipartisan support.

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