The New Jersey Assembly voted on dozens of bills yesterday, but it was the inclusion of one piece of legislation that had Republicans blasting their Democratic colleagues.

Statehouse (
Statehouse (

On the list of bills to be voted on was a measure to regulate the trapping of snapping turtles. Legislation to enact a tax cut was not on the list.

"They (Democrats) have putting snapping turtle legislation ahead of tax relief," says Assembly GOP Leader Jon Bramnick. "You've got choices in the world. You can post a bi-partisan tax relief bill or you can regulate snapping turtles."

Assembly Republicans have introduced a bill that would provide:

  • The 10 percent credit Is capped at $10,000 of property taxes paid and all New Jersey homeowners with up to $400,000 in income will be eligible for relief, phased-in over four taxable years.
  • A refundable gross income tax credit for homeowners with $400,000 or less of taxable income, which would lead to an average savings of $775 per household.
  • A phase-in over four taxable years.
  • An increase in the "renter's credit" from $50 to $100 for tax year 2013, rising to $200 by tax year 2015.

"Anybody who puts snapping turtle regulation ahead of tax relief deserves to have a whole swarm of snapping turtles bite them," says Republican Assemblywoman Amy Handlin who co-sponsors the tax cut bill."

"Why in the world the (Assembly) Speaker (Sheila Oliver) or any of our Democratic colleagues would have a problem with this (tax cut) bill is impossible for me to understand unless they've been bitten so many times by the snapping turtles that they can't think straight anymore."

Democrats Respond

Assembly Democratic Leader Lou Greenwald says the republicans are engaging in political theater in an election and they are not being honest with the people of New Jersey. He says Democrats have already passed a bill that gives more tax relief to more people, but it's dead because Republicans won't support a millionaires' tax increase.

"The Republican Party continues to side with the wealthiest one percent hoping that trickle down economics will work and it hasn't," explains Greenwald. "When we talk to people they are not clamoring for the Governor's proposal. They want real relief that's funded (and) that's sustainable. They're tired of the old-fashioned shell game."

Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski is also responding to Republican calls to support Governor Chris Christie's tax cut proposal.

"Gov. Christie's tax cut proposal is a sham," claims Wisniewski. "It's nothing more than a cynical ploy to divert attention from the tax increases he has already foisted on New Jersey's poor, senior citizens and middle class families and a Trojan horse to provide another tax cut for New Jersey's wealthiest families."

Turtle Bill

It seems the snapping turtle legislation is getting the short end of the stick so you should probably know what it actually does so you can decide its level of importance. In particular, the bill would:

  1. Specify the means by which snapping turtles may be taken in this state - i.e., by hand, hook, spear, dip net of no more than 24 inches in diameter, or turtle trap.
  2. Require a person trapping snapping turtles to be in possession of a snapping turtle trapping permit issued by the Division of Fish and Wildlife.
  3. Establish specific recordkeeping and reporting requirements for snapping turtle trappers, the satisfaction of which would be required prior to the reissuance by the division of any snapping turtle trapping permit.
  4. Establish specific requirements for the construction, placement, and inspection of turtle traps, in order to ensure that they are constructed and set in a manner that avoids endangering non-target, non-game turtle species.
  5. Require the State's conservation officers to regularly conduct periodic, random investigations of the bodies of water in which turtle trapping has been authorized by the division, in order to determine compliance with, and enforce, the bill's provisions.
  6. Establish an agency notification and preliminary response system designed to facilitate prompt and effective enforcement of the bill's provisions, particularly those related to the proper construction and placement of turtle traps.