MAPLEWOOD, NJ – It was a busy day at the NJ Transit General Office Building in Maplewood on Tuesday.
Workers in the agency’s Emergency Operations Center were monitoring information in real-time, including everything from the agency’s bus terminals to its rail stations when Gov. Phil Murphy toured the facility.
Murphy then spoke during a press conference about increasing the investment in NJ Transit’s budget by $167 million, legalizing marijuana and potential train delays this summer.
Murphy also met with Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca and Township Committeeman Dean Dafis that morning at the True Salvage Café as he visited the township and discussed legalizing marijuana, which the state is working toward but hasn’t yet approved.
“We’re still short,” said DeLuca during Tuesday night’s committee meeting.
Dafis said one of the concerns about the potential legalization of marijuana is the expungement of offenders with marijuana convictions.
“There aren’t any current instructions in place to have an automatic expungement right away,” Dafis said, noting that Murphy explained that individuals’ records could be automatically expunged if the bill passed.
The options, according to Murphy, are to have an automatic expungement which would be to have a conviction eliminated immediately and virtual expungement which would prohibit an individual with a prior conviction that hasn’t yet been expunged from being denied employment, housing education, credit and jury services.
Murphy promised during Tuesday’s press conference that a section about affirmative action for expungement will be added to the bill within nine months, but he’s pushing for sooner.
“I’m hoping we can beat that,” Murphy said.
The Senate and Assembly are expected to vote on the bill on Monday.
Murphy also discussed possible train delays this summer and noted that the eight train engineers who will be graduating in May will not be enough to fill the staffing shortages at NJ Transit.
He also spoke about the state increasing its investment in NJ Transit by $167 million that will be used toward restoring the agency’s safety and service.
“From a centralized location, we can monitor the entire bus, rail and light rail network statewide during planned and unplanned events to provide better and more timely information to our customers through alerts, push notifications and social media interaction,” said NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett in a news release.
In the governor’s proposed budget, NJ Transit could receive a $100 million general fund increase from 2019, bringing the total from the general fund to $407 million.