TRENTON – Unclear if you are still following the marijuana legalization bill; it seems that political insiders are even a little hazy about the details. But this legislation – which has been stretched out longer than most daytime soap plotlines – has a new chapter, sort of. It looks like Gov. Phil Murphy will eventually sign what is put in front of him, as lawmakers debate penalties for kids under 18 busted with a joint. New Jersey Globe reports on the very latest nitty-gritty: it appears that juveniles under 18 would get written warnings and eventually graduate to community service or a fine up to 50 bucks. Then, those adults under 21 caught with pot would get fined. But, this may all be in flux, as we are urged to stay tuned for tomorrow’s thrilling episode of “As the Legislature Turns.”

STATEWIDE – Despite the fact that 2.7 million voters in New Jersey said that weed should be legalized back in November, all this delay in Trenton has been of particular interest to 6,000 people. They are the ones who have been busted for marijuana between Election Day and now, as some cops are still following statutes that dictate the recreational variety is illegal. That included 2,378 people just last month, as the hand-wringing and negotiating continued among lawmakers. Luckily, the state is adjourning minor marijuana cases until at least April and then – when this law is finally signed – the charges vanish. This whole process begs the question: Why can’t these cops let a joint go?

TRENTON – Just a few short months ago, such an “office” would be useless. But now with “Green Joe” in the White House, Gov. Phil Murphy believes he has a much fairer shot of pursuing his lofty progressive, environmental initiatives that helped get him elected. And that’s why he is announcing today the “Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy,” Politico reports. The office is to oversee all the governor’s clean energy hopes and dreams, as well as to coordinate New Jersey’s fight against climate change. Based on talking points, it all sounds great: a central hub to pursue a green economy, working in concert with efforts on the federal level. The added bonus: a hyper-focus on creating green jobs, as New Jersey plans for a future where we can all breathe deeply.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

Money torn in half is still legal tender. Damaged cash can be replaced at the bank.

LONG BRANCH – For Jersey-based environmentalists, the news gets even better. Once the governor launches his new office, likely the first call will be to Rep. Frank Pallone, who chairs the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. NJ.com describes that committee as “ground zero” for President Biden’s aspirations of saving the planet from climate change and other environmental catastrophes that have been conveniently ignored for years. The congressman will be charged with helping deliver an economy that is supposed to create net-zero emissions by 2050, moving the nation beyond the fossil fuels that clog our air. Expect the “Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy” to be on speed dial.

STATEWIDE – There’s been plenty written about poor people who can’t afford the rent and are bracing for eviction. Sad stories, indeed, and they’ve been fortunate to have rent moratorium programs so they are not on the streets this winter. But lost in the sauce has been the perspective of landlords, paying property taxes month after month, but not seeing a rent check since last spring. There’s an op-ed on NJ.com that shares the plight of the landlord, watching their investment evaporate, as they are still responsible to be good stewards of their properties and have exhausted mortgage forbearance programs. Evictions are difficult: Landlord proponents say a “blanket policy” treats low-income individuals struggling to pay their rent the same as someone who makes $150,000, hasn’t lost their job and just doesn’t feel like paying rent. The solution: Getting rental assistance to those who need it and having everyone else pay up.

STATEWIDE – When this lingering pandemic is finally, finally behind us, returning to a “normal” workforce in New Jersey needs to be a priority. Case in point: The feds announced that the nation lost 140,000 jobs in December – all possessed by women. Meanwhile, men gained 15,000 jobs over that same time, NJ Spotlight reports. Of course, stats don’t tell the whole story. But those latest figures mixed with the anecdotal stories across New Jersey show that many, many women have put their careers on the back burner to take care of kids learning remotely at home. Juggling Zoom calls while finding your kid’s lost notebook for the nth time is not a mixture for career growth. Getting women back to work is critical; workplaces are begging for efficiency and order.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

AT THE DRIVE-THRU – Wendy’s ratcheted up the fast food wars, proclaiming a fake holiday called “National Roast Day” via social media. And that prompted a whole bunch of insults from the fast food giant on Twitter. Some gems: telling the Sun-Maid raisin brand to "stop ruining cookies," calling Velveeta "not even verified cheese," and claiming Wheat-Thins are "stale flavored chips." And then Wendy’s went after obnoxious celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, saying “Creating a food empire off of insulting people to stay relevant? Real original, Gordon.” And, to conclude National Roast Day, Wendy’s wrote: “If we didn’t get to you, maybe that’s the biggest burn of all. Either way, (small) Free Frosty-ccino in the Wendy’s app all week long.” 

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Nylon became a must-have on this day in 1937, as DuPont patents it. Good timing, as the synthetic is quickly used for parachutes, flak vests, combat uniforms, Jeep tires and those lovely stockings.

WORD OF THE DAY

Prothalamion – [proh-thuh-LAY-mee-un] – noun

Definition: A song in celebration of marriage

Example: Rarely can you download a catchy prothalamion on iTunes.

WIT OF THE DAY

“I should be a postage stamp. That’s the only way I’ll ever get licked.”

-Muhammad Ali

BIDEN BLURB

“The one thing I want my kids to remember about me is that I was an athlete. The hell with the rest of this stuff.”

-Joe Biden

WEATHER IN A WORD

Mild!