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PATNODE: Beyond Biden’s War on Cars: Analyzing New Jersey’s Electric Vehicles Mandate

States have been enacting extreme policies to limit the availability of gas-powered vehicles, surpassing even the Biden administration’s efforts at the national level.

New Jersey recently joined the band of states following California’s lead to ban the sale of new diesel and gas-powered vehicles. The state’s “Advanced Clean Cars II” rule (ACCII), which was adopted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), requires that any new cars and light-duty trucks sold be electric vehicles by 2035.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy pledged in his announcement to “utilize every tool at our disposal to combat the intensifying climate crisis.” The problem, aside from his dubious “crisis” claim, is the practical problems of such a rushed, nine-year phase-in.

For one thing, electric vehicles are far from ready for prime time. As we have seen this winter, electric vehicles have a charging problem when temperatures drop, which could cause major problems for one-car households if that car is electric. According to a Manhattan Institute report on electric vehicles, their mileage is about 30 percent worse when the weather is 20°F versus 80°F, because battery electrochemical reactions are slow at lower temperatures. There’s only a 5 percent drop in fuel efficiency for internal combustion cars over the same temperature range.

Another problem is the uncertain ability of electric grids to support an increased number of electric vehicles. Requiring the automotive industry to start selling more electric cars and encouraging people to buy the cars with government subsidies before the electric grid can reliably handle the increased demand is an obvious recipe for disaster.

A 2023 report co-authored by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) warns of the potential for grid disruptions if electric vehicle charging equipment does not play well with the bulk power system. Tellingly, during a 2022 heat wave, the California government asked electric vehicle owners to not charge their cars to reduce stress on the grid.

Business interests in the state already see the government mandate as a major problem. Ray Cantor of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association objected in a statement that the ban on the sale of new gas-powered cars does not take into account costs or feasibility, lack of local and highway infrastructure, grid capacity, or consumer choice.

In fact, a study commissioned by the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers found that electric vehicle sales were just 1.1 percent of all sales in 2021 and just 3.9 percent in 2022 of new vehicle sales for franchised dealerships. As of June 2023, electric vehicles accounted for a measly 1.88 percent of light-duty vehicles on the road in New Jersey.

It’s no wonder that over 100 business and labor groups asked the legislature to intervene to stop the ban. According to the New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s annual Business Outlook Survey, 91 percent of businesses that have company cars said their existing fleet is all gas-powered (compared to only 2 percent that were all-electric vehicles).

Making matters worse, New Jersey has also signed onto the Accelerating to Zero Coalition’s Declaration, which is a global agreement launched at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties. Just like the Biden administration’s rule seeking to limit the availability of gas-powered cars and California’s gas-powered car ban, the New Jersey DEP seeks to restrict consumer freedom by centrally planning the car market.

According to the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, the state legislature has a potential path to unilaterally repeal this regulation – without needing the governor to sign off – if they are able to pass a concurrent resolution finding the rule inconsistent with legislative intent.

Legislatures should intervene when agencies like the California Air and Resources Board or New Jersey DEP attempt to take the extreme action of banning the cars that Americans rely upon and want to drive. Legislatures are the lawmaking bodies of their states and should not sit idly by as government bureaucrats take unprecedented and restrictive actions that go well beyond what legislatures ever intended.

Americans must do their part to pay attention to what’s happening in their states and on the federal level to help ensure that they are free to drive the cars that they want, or else they may find themselves without a reliable, affordable ride.

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‘An Apple Isn’t Enough:’ Camden Dispensary Gives Teachers Discount on Pot

The Camden Apothecary Dispensary & Wellness shop is offering a 10 percent discount for teachers who buy marijuana there.

“Because sometimes an apple just isn’t enough,” its Facebook ad says.

While the line is meant to be funny and grab attention, pharmacist and owner Tony Minniti, 54, seriously wants to help people. Minniti started working in his grandfather’s drug store at 14. When his family’s business bought Bell Pharmacy in 1997, he found an old bottle of prescription marijuana from the 1930s.

So when New Jersey legalized marijuana for adults over 21 in 2021, he was happy to add a marijuana dispensary next to his pharmacy.

Minniti’s parents were teachers, and his wife is an assistant superintendent, so he knows firsthand how much anxiety the job can bring.

“Obviously, we wouldn’t want teachers to be under the influence of anything while they’re teaching,” Minniti said. However, many of his patients are taking strong prescription medications for anxiety, depression, or insomnia. And those patients might be able to benefit from using marijuana, with their doctor’s permission, instead of more potent pharmaceuticals, he said.

And while other marijuana dispensaries offer discounts for first responders and veterans, he thought teachers should also have a discount.

“Those in the education field have an extremely stressful environment,” Minniti said. The discount “makes it more affordable for them to avail themselves of something that may help.” Over the years, he’s seen teachers “wrestle with and cope with stress.”

Marijuana is not covered by health insurance and remains an illegal drug under federal law. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) joined 10 other Democratic senators in a letter to the Biden administration Tuesday asking that it be legalized. Fellow Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, who is up for re-election this year, did not sign the letter.

“Thus, the DEA should deschedule marijuana altogether. Marijuana’s placement in the CSA (Controlled Substances Act) has had a devastating impact on our communities and is increasingly out of step with state law and public opinion,” according to the letter which Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also signed.

Minniti said marijuana can be used to treat pain for cancer patients and others with chronic pain conditions instead of opioids, which can be very addictive. And people feel comfortable talking to pharmacists about whether they should try marijuana for their conditions.

Some of the other pharmaceuticals commonly prescribed for anxiety can change people’s brain chemistry, he noted. Many, like Xanax, are recommended for short-term use, yet people often stay on the drugs for much longer. Patients using Ambien for insomnia often stay on it for lengthy periods, he said. But marijuana might help them instead with fewer side effects.

“Why not have that conversation?” asked Minniti. Marijuana can also treat opioid and alcohol addiction, he said.

Minniti acknowledged that “a lot” of his customers come over the bridge from Pennsylvania to buy marijuana. But he noted that Pennsylvanians also cross over to New Jersey to buy liquor and cigarettes, which they’re not supposed to. And, by New Jersey law, they don’t keep their marijuana clients’ contact information.

“I’d ask if the discount would be larger if a bunch of us got together and bought in bulk,” said retired teacher Carol Bassetti, a Cheltenham resident. “I definitely agree with their motto.”

Older people are more comfortable going to a dispensary that is part of a pharmacy rather than a freestanding marijuana store.

“What we try to bring is a health-related focus,” said Minniti. “More so than clerks in the liquor store (for those who are self-medicating with alcohol). We bring a serious medical approach. It’s not Cheech and Chong. There is the potential to help a lot of people.”

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FLOWERS: NJ Better Than PA? No Way!

First, let’s get this out of the way: I am not a New Jersey hater.

Keep your “what exit” and “which mob boss” jokes to yourself. Some of my happiest childhood memories are centered at the shore. (“Downashore,” as we say in Philly.)

I loved Chris Christie before he became the CNN Avenger against Trump, and forgave him that unfortunate affection for the Dallas Cowboys because he was a true maverick — long before John McCain ever coined the term.

Jersey tomatoes are the best in the world. Bruce Springsteen rocks (literally). And Miss New Jersey, Suzette Charles, deserved to be named Miss America even before she took the crown from a disqualified Vanessa Williams forty-some years ago.

But how on God’s earth did WalletHub rank New Jersey the second best state to live in, after Massachusetts, but Pennsylvania ranks only number 14?

I say this, not as a lifelong Philadelphian who is fully aware of our blemishes (over 500 homicides a year, huge potholes, Mayor Jim Kenney), but as someone who has traveled throughout our beautiful commonwealth and knows that anything Jersey can do, Pennsylvania can do better.

Leaving aside our politicians, who at this moment are about as mediocre as Jersey luminaries like Love Guv Jim McGreavey and several indicted South Jersey mayors, Pennsylvania has given the country a lot to appreciate, including: Mario Lanza, Mr. Rogers, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Chuck Bednarik, several Super Bowls, Shirley Jones, Jimmy Stewart, Sharon Stone, Ed Bradley, Tammi Terrell, Patty LaBelle, and Bill Cosby (he still rates major props for this writer).

And the most important thing other than Scrapple: Independence.

Were it not for this commonwealth, there would essentially be no United States. Our spirit was set ablaze at Independence Hall, our character was strengthened and molded at Valley Forge, and a century later, the ultimate sacrifice was made to preserve our union at Gettysburg. No other single state has given as much to this country as my beloved Pennsylvania.

While this may not make us “livable” enough for the jaded folks at WalletHub, it should at least give us some consideration in the Top 10.

Not everyone agrees with me, of course, and some are showing it with their feet. According to the U.S. Census, New Jersey’s population grew by 5.2 percent from 2010 to 2020, while Pennsylvania grew by just 2.4 percent. While both are well below the national 7.4 percent average, our growth was so anemic it cost us a congressional seat. That’s a problem.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, the debate rages.

Frank Clayton, a Hamilton, N.J. resident, said there, “Pennsylvania’s roads and signage should place Pennsylvania in last place.” On the other hand, Clayton said, “I can’t wait to get out of N.J.” He eventually hopes to relocate to Sarasota, Fla.

Also, on Facebook, Jenkintown resident Allison Durkin said, “I can’t imagine living in New Jersey. The roads, etc. But I hear it’s the greatest state to hike the Appalachian Trail in.”

Bryn Mawr resident Jim Yannopoulos also responded on Facebook.

“New Jersey is flat and ugly. And taxes are ridiculously high. I guess Pennsylvania, but since Massachusetts is ranked No. 1, can I choose that? Actually, I think No. 3, New Hampshire is nicer.

“All these rankings are dependent on the factors chosen and how they are weighted. I’ve seen other rankings with Utah and Montana as the best,” he added.

Cherry Hill resident Mike Mathis took issue with Yannopoulos.

“Guess you’ve never been to the northwestern part of New Jersey or the Pinelands,” Mathis said.

And Cheltenham denizen Alan Fels added, “Pennsylvania rules! Jersey is just Jersey!”

Amen, Brother Fels.

Besides the history and this debt that can never be repaid, Pennsylvania is the entire American experience in one state. We have the blue-collar heart of Baltimore, the street savvy of Brooklyn, the institutional knowledge of Washington, the horrific accent “one diphthong removed” of Boston, the natural beauty of any western state (just travel the Pennsylvania Turnpike in October and look up), and are still one of the key industrial hubs of this nation.

It’s true that we have lost some population to warmer climates, but what we lose in retirees, we gain in the young people who come to our amazing colleges and then stay, making this an even more amazing place to live.

So, to the people at WalletHub, I wish you luck on that cataract surgery you’ll need in the future. Clearly, you can’t see a thing.

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SOLOMON: Why Did New Jersey Invoke Sovereign Immunity?

New Jersey Transit, a state-owned transportation system, has been ruled to be shielded from a negligence lawsuit in Pennsylvania due to sovereign immunity.

Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine that protects government entities from being sued without their consent.

The concept of sovereign immunity was derived from British common law doctrine based on the idea that the king could do no wrong. In the United States, sovereign immunity typically applies to the federal government and state government, but not to municipalities.

Federal and state governments, however, have the ability to waive their sovereign immunity. The federal government did this when it passed the Federal Tort Claims Act, which waived federal immunity for numerous types of torts claims.

However, this rule was later superseded by the 11th Amendment, which states that “the Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.”

As such, a citizen of State A can no longer sue State B. Sovereign immunity is used as a means of protecting the government from having to alter its policies any time a person takes issue with them

Last Friday, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled that New Jersey Transit’s sovereign immunity extends across the Delaware River and prevents the agency from being sued in Pennsylvania. This decision sparked controversy and raised several concerns.

First, the decision limits the ability of Pennsylvania residents to seek justice for injuries caused by New Jersey Transit’s negligence. This is particularly concerning given that New Jersey Transit operates trains and buses that travel across state lines, and therefore, accidents and injuries can occur in Pennsylvania. The ruling effectively means that Pennsylvania residents cannot hold New Jersey Transit accountable for any harm caused by their actions.

Second, and perhaps more important, the decision sets a precedent that could be used to shield other out-of-state government entities from lawsuits in Pennsylvania. This could have far-reaching implications for Pennsylvania residents who may be injured by government entities from other states.

This decision can be appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which has the authority to review and make final judgments in cases heard by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

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