Lawmakers vote on 205 bills in last-ditch lame-duck session

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

For the fourth time in the past few weeks thousands of people opposed to mandatory vaccination demonstrated on the State House grounds for hours.

As it turned out, the Senate was one or two votes short of being able to pass the pro-vaccination bill. Senate President Steve Sweeney said they’ll try again in the next legislative session.

“It’s going to get done at some point, whether it’s today or next session,” Sweeney said.

Assemblyman Herb Conaway, a physician, was prime sponsor in the Assembly.

“It was important to prevent vaccine-preventable disease. We’re seeing outbreaks all over the world — 6,000 people are dead in the Congo right now from measles. More people die from measles there than die of Ebola. This is a serious disease. [There’s] a big outbreak in California that spread to a number of states, including Mexico. We’ve had outbreaks here in our own state and these diseases are preventable,” Conaway said.

An attempt to make the vaccine bill more palatable by excluding private and parochial schools only drew more opposition by people who felt that was discriminatory against those that can’t afford private school.

Also on Monday, both houses passed a bill that bans flavored vaping products, to the dismay of 225 vape shop owners.

A statewide ban on single-use plastics was passed in the Senate but wasn’t voted on in the Assembly. The same happened to a bill that would bar development in Liberty State Park.