TRENTON – On December 7, more than two dozen New Jersey racial and social justice advocacy organizations will rally at the steps of the New Jersey State House Annex to continue to call for “The People’s Lame Duck Agenda.” The rally follows a post-election day of action where advocates hand-delivered the agenda of 16 long-stalled, critical social justice bills to every New Jersey legislative office.
The Lame Duck agenda includes support for bills that would expand transparency and accountability in policing; make democracy more accessible and inclusive; build a fair and welcoming state for all people regardless of their immigration status; break down barriers to abortion access and ensure the expansion of necessary reproductive health care for LGBTQ+ families; protect trans students’ rights; and more. Additionally, the groups are pushing for legislators to make the Corporate Business Tax permanent to ensure that corporations pay their fair share in tax dollars to support the essential services all New Jerseyans need.
“ACLU-NJ and our allies are calling on the New Jersey State Legislature to pass the People’s Lame Duck Agenda to fulfill long-awaited calls for change. When passed, these bills will improve public safety, increase affordability, foster health, and support a strong democracy,” said ACLU-NJ Policy Director Sarah Fajardo. “New Jerseyans turned out to the polls for legislators who promised to protect and expand abortion access, to strengthen democracy, create real language access, and to create police oversight and transparency. We are rallying together on behalf of New Jerseyans to urge our elected officials to fulfil promises, and to make real change.”
“With just weeks left in this session, we’re calling on the Legislature to prioritize legislation that will foster transparency and make our democracy more accessible,“ said League of Women Voters of New Jersey Senior Organizer, Assatta Mann. “As we prepare for another round of critical elections, now is the time for lawmakers to implement much-needed reforms like same-day voter registration, that will protect voters at the ballot box. The League of Women Voters of New Jersey will continue to stand united with our partners in fighting for the issues New Jersey voters and families care about.”
“New Jersey has a history of championing policies that advance social justice, but we still have vast racial disparities in wealth and within the criminal legal system that lawmakers must address,” said New Jersey Policy Perspective Policy Director, Awinna Martinez. “This lame duck session is an opportunity for the Legislature to finish their work and vote on pending legislation that would put a stop to over-policing and the separation of immigrant families. This is also a chance to make the tax code fairer by ensuring that big corporations like Amazon pay what they owe so we can invest in the public services and programs we all rely on.”
“New Jersey’s elected officials must seize this Lame Duck moment and prioritize making New Jersey a more equitable place for Black and Brown residents,” said New Jersey Institute for Social Justice Senior Counsel of the Criminal Justice Reform Program, Emily Schwartz. “We look forward to the Assembly and Senate passing essential social justice legislation during the coming days, including critical bills fighting discrimination in home appraisals; expanding democracy through same-day voter registration; and restoring the ability of people with convictions to serve on juries, reversing a lifetime ban that bars a staggering 219,000 Black New Jerseyans from serving and undermines the fairness of jury trials."
"New Jersey is in the midst of a housing crisis that is disproportionately impacting low-income families and people of color,” said Fair Share House Center Director of Racial Justice Policy, James Williams. “As housing costs continue to rise, we must do all that we can to increase the availability of affordable housing while also tackling residential segregation. We can't afford to go back to a failed system of enforcement for affordable housing obligations--our only option is to move forward with what we know works."
“The time has come for a united people's strategy to advance our agenda of social justice, reproductive justice, environmental and immigrant justice that is just as bold and unapologetic,” said Newark Communities for Accountable Policing Organizer, Zayid Muhammad. “The people will tell the world and those who hate equality and justice what's good for them, what's good for Jersey and what's good for the world! Let's stand together and act like the future is now because it is."
"Over 2 million immigrants call New Jersey home and one in three households speak a language other than English. We refuse to let a population this large and this diverse to be ignored,” said New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice Policy and Research Associate, Kat Phan. “Our immigrant communities demand a New Jersey for all, and will not stop fighting for language access, data disaggregation, stronger protections from ICE, and more until policymakers finally deliver on their long overdue promises.”
“The Immigrant Trust Directive has made our communities safer and our families more secure,” said Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center’s Plainfield committee leader, Ana Vasquez. “But the sight of vulnerable displaced tenants in Plainfield being threatened with ICE trucks and children being profiled and asked about their citizenship by a city employee, shows we need more protections. That’s what the Values Act does, it expands and makes permanent the Directive and ensures similar protections at other state and local agencies.”
“Three weeks ago, I planned to join fellow Make the Road NJ members to meet with our Assembly person to keep the Corporate Business Tax to fully fund NJ Transit,” said Make the Road New Jersey member, Gladys Rodriguez. “I waited at the bus stop. I waited for an hour and a half. I was going to be late, so I had to take a taxi. It was not easy to make that decision, but I know how important this fight is. We’re talking about equity and access for residents, not wealthy corporations like Amazon. Politicians must understand, we can’t afford further service cuts or fare hikes.”
"Paid Leave for all means job protection for all," said New Jersey Citizen Action Workplace Justice Program Director, Yarrow Willman-Cole. "We're happy that A5166 is advancing, but we need to amend it to ensure that all workers, and in particular low-income workers and workers of color, can take paid leave without risking economic security or their jobs. This bill will still leave more than 200,000 workers without protection. It’s time we eliminate all carve-outs and ensure there is equitable access to Paid Leave for all New Jersey workers."
Organizers include: American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, Cherry Hill Women’s Center, Communications Workers of America of New Jersey, Equal Justice USA, Fair Share Housing Center, Faith in New Jersey, Garden State Equality, Innocence Project, Ironbound Community Corporation, Latino Action Network, League of Women Voters of New Jersey, Make the Road New Jersey, NAACP, Newark Communities for Accountable Policing, New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, New Jersey Black Empowerment Coalition Action Network, New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Consortium for Immigrant Children, New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, New Jersey Policy Perspective, New Jersey Working Families Party, Partners for Women and Justice, People’s Organization for Progress, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Salvation and Social Justice, Unitarian Universalist FaithAction NJ, Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center, 32BJ SEIU.