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Gov. Phil Murphy at the St. James A.M.E. Church in Newark on December 19, 2018 (YOUTUBE)

Murphy takes victory lap at Newark Church

Touts accomplishments of first 11 months, pushes for minimum wage hike and legal pot

By Nikita Biryukov, December 19 2018 2:02 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy took a short victory lap Wednesday morning when he touted a number of the accomplishments his administration has made in his first 11 months in office.

“I promised that I would be your governor, not the governor of special interests,” Murphy said.

The governor’s speech at the St. James A.M.E. Church in Newark touched on a fairly-wide range of policies he and legislative Democrats have pushed through since January, though particular attention was paid to progressive efforts like the state’s new equal-pay provision and Murphy’s free community college program, among others.

“We gave every worker in our state the peace of mind that they can take a day off when they are sick or need to tend to a sick family member without fear of losing a day’s pay,” Murphy said. “A paid sick day shouldn’t just be a benefit given to some workers but to everyone.”

It’s not clear that Murphy’s stumping will make any difference with the holidays fast approaching, but his priorities moving into the new year are looking fairly transparent. It remains to be seen, however, how well he’ll be able to push those issues come 2019.

The governor also took the opportunity to stump for a number of measures, like minimum wage and marijuana, that have run into roadblocks on their way to legalization.

Specific provisions of those bills have caused some disagreement between Murphy and Democratic leaders in the legislature, or, as is the case with the suite of marijuana legalization bills, with specific legislators.

“Marijuana-related arrest rates are tilted three-to-one against African-Americans even though rates of marijuana use are similar among races. This has led us to have the widest black-white disparity in incarceration in the entire united states of America, A staggering 12-to-one,” Murphy said. “And I get to this by the way singularly because of the social injustices. That’s why I got behind this.”

Lawmakers had aimed to get marijuana done this year, with a goal first set for the summer, but that date was pushed back multiple times, and the legislature is now out of session until after the holidays.

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