Amid industry warnings of significant rate increases for over 1 million New Jersey drivers, final approval is expected for a bill that increases the amount of minimum liability coverage you must carry on your auto insurance policy.

As the bill was being debated in the New Jersey Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, an angry Senate President Nick Scutari, D-Union, stormed into the hearing to whip votes from committee members and rebuke critics of the bill.

Calling opposition "insane," Scutari then proclaimed. "The people of New Jersey need this Legislature to protect them from themselves."

The senate president essentially told critics to shut-up because he knew better. "We tell them what they need to get, and that's what they get," Scutari said.

Scutari is prime sponsor on the bill (S481) along with Sen. Jon Bramnick, R-Union, who is also an attorney.

"The people of New Jersey need this Legislature to protect them from themselves.  We tell them what they need to get, and that's what they get."

Prior to Scutari's appearance at the hearing, some lawmakers were wavering on approving the bill after the CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce testified that Black and brown residents would be adversely impacted by the change.

The Insurance Council of New Jersey estimates rates will go up for 1.1 million drivers by an average of $130 per year if they raise the minimum liability threshold from $15,000 to $25,000.

Scutari called that nonsense, and vowed the Department of Banking and Insurance would never approve such a rate increase. He did not, however, say how he knew that or if he had spoken to the commissioner.

All rate increases are submitted to the state for review, and approved on a case-by-case basis.

Ultimately, the bill did pass out of committee along party lines with all eight Democrats voting "yes", and the four Republican members voting "no."

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

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