Christie Vetoes Bill to Ban Smoking at Beaches, Parks

by | September 12, 2014

By Andrew Seidman

Gov. Christie vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have restricted smoking in public parks and beaches, saying he opposes a "one-size-fits-all" approach to such regulation.

Christie acted on several other bills Wednesday evening, signing one measure that requires more police officers to wear video cameras or mount them on their vehicles, and another that changes the state's alimony law.

The Republican governor had until Thursday to act on the bills.

The bill he vetoed would have completely banned smoking in state, county, and municipal parks, and restricted it to designated areas on public beaches.

Indoor smoking is already prohibited in most places in New Jersey, and more than 240 municipalities have adopted ordinances banning it in municipal and county parks, Christie said.

"I do not believe that the state should substitute its judgment for that of our local elected officials or upset the careful balancing of interests that informs the decision-making process at the local level," Christie wrote in a message accompanying the veto.

Among the bills Christie signed was a measure that requires municipal police departments to equip newly purchased vehicles that are primarily involved in traffic stops with video cameras. Alternatively, police officers who use those vehicles can opt to wear recording devices.

Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty (D., Gloucester) introduced the bill after he was wrongly charged with drunken driving in July 2012. Video footage, captured from the patrol car of the policeman who stopped Moriarty, showed that Moriarty had passed field sobriety tests. The footage contradicted the officer's statements, and the charges were dropped.

Christie also signed into law a bill that limits the duration of alimony payments, which supporters say could make divorce fairer. Under the new law, alimony terminates when the payer reaches retirement age, which is 67 under federal law.

For marriages that last less than 20 years, alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage, with some exceptions. The law is not retroactive to existing divorce orders or agreements.

Supporters have said the bill would result in incremental change; the law will not, for example, establish a stricter formula based on such factors as income and duration of the marriage. Some advocates had pushed for such a measure.

(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer