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Gov. Phil Murphy. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe

Murphy, legislature actively discussing deal to avert override

Sources say a new bill could be passed that is largely identical to the first one — and that Murphy would sign it

By David Wildstein, June 09 2019 11:33 pm

Sources connected to negotiations between Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders – some more optimistic than others – say there has been some movement over the last twelve hours to forestall an override vote tomorrow, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

Democratic leaders in the Senate and Assembly had scheduled a vote for tomorrow to override Murphy’s veto of legislation that would force so-called dark-money political advocacy groups  to disclose their donors and details of their expenditures.

The Globe was first to report that a vote was planned for Monday.

A deal to stop the veto has not yet been solidified.  Several sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations told the Globe that many of the details are still being worked out, and any formal agreement may not come until legislators meet in party caucus tomorrow.

It is possible that as an alternative to an override, the Legislature may simply bass a bill that is largely identical to the one Murphy vetoed.  That could give Murphy an opportunity to sign it without being overridden – a technicality that governors often wear as a symbolic badge of honor.

Legislators can effectively set the reset button on the dark-money disclosure issue by expediting a new bill through both houses tomorrow.  An emergency consideration requires 30 votes in the Senate and 60 in the Assembly and would need the support of some Republicans.

The current relationship between Murphy and Democratic legislators is toxic on a good day, more than two dozen lawmakers, party leaders and Democratic strategists have told the Globe over the last five days.

It is also possible that the override could be tabled until one of several other scheduled legislative sessions this month.

Some Democratic legislators told the Globe this weekend that despite their strong support for the measure, there was some reluctance within the caucus to have Democrats override a Democratic governor – and some concern that Murphy is personally popular with Democratic primary voters.

Still, any deal that has Murphy signing a bill that closely – or even identically – mirrors the one he vetoed with extraordinarily vitriolic language, could be perceived as a public display of weakness for a governor who has struggled to build a rapport with a heavily-Democratic state legislature, several insiders said today.

A deal on the override – if it happens – comes just three weeks before state government would shut down if Murphy and legislators can’t agree on a budget package.  Last week, several legislators who had already endorsed the governor’s proposed tax on millionaires backed away from the plan and said they were willing to vote for a budget that did not include the millionaire’s tax.

State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Delran) and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) sponsored legislation to force dark-money groups to disclose their donors after New Direction New Jersey, a non-profit closely allied with Murphy, announced that they would not reveal the identities of their donors after initially pledging that they would.

There was little opposition to the legislation, which sailed through both houses in March.  Murphy conditionally vetoed the bill in May with a message that skewered the proposal clearly unconstitutional.

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