Victory! Coalition Stalls Chris Christie's 'Revenge Bill'

Thanks to an overwhelming public outcry, New Jersey lawmakers revolted on Monday against their leadership to stall Gov. Chris Christie’s “revenge bill,” which was designed to decimate New Jersey newspapers.

This bill was viewed as a done deal only a few days ago. It aimed to remove the requirement that municipalities post notices about government meetings in local newspapers. Masked as a “cost-saving measure,” the proposal would have allowed municipalities to confine public notices to their websites — making such information inaccessible to anyone without internet access.

And this legislation would have gutted newspaper revenues, leading to hundreds of layoffs and the closing of many local newsrooms.

Harming media, in fact, was Christie’s primary goal: He wanted to punish journalists and newsrooms throughout the state for their hard-hitting and critical reporting on public officials. Had the bill passed, it would have reduced coverage of New Jersey communities and of important issues like Bridgegate and the upcoming statewide election in 2017. And that’s what Christie wanted — to put journalists out of work and make it harder for the remaining reporters to hold powerful people like him accountable.

But over the last few days, New Jersey residents — including Free Press members — flooded lawmakers’ offices with calls demanding that their state representatives vote NO on this terrible bill. Thanks to advocacy groups, news outlets and members of the public, lawmakers put the brakes on this legislation.

The “revenge bill” was part of a backroom deal that also would have loosened state ethics laws to allow Christie to profit from a book deal while in office. The bill’s defeat shows how a broad coalition can work together to stand up to power and advocate for the public.

But the legislation could come back: Christie’s spokesman said that reviving it will be a “top priority” in 2017.

We’ve got a big fight ahead of us in New Jersey next year: We need to defeat this bill for good, protect press freedom and pass laws that strengthen media and inform communities around the state.

Original photo by Flickr user Gage Skidmore

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good