FIRST GORSUCH OPINION OPENS DOOR TO DEBT COLLECTION ABUSES

Justice Neil Gorsuch, the newest addition to the U.S. Supreme Court, recently authored his first opinion and it is one likely to have negative repercussions for large numbers of people who find themselves unable to pay their bills.

Henson v. Santander Consumer USA, decided on June 12, concerns the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA, a federal law that is meant to protect against abusive, unfair, and deceptive practices in the collection of consumer debt– debt incurred primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.

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Same Day Registration

By Renee Steinhagen

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Since our inception, NJ Appleseed has focused its efforts on legal electoral reform issues. Most recently, we have characterized our efforts in this area as “Empowering Democracy,” including two distinct projects: Enabling the Franchise (improving access to and encouraging participation in elections, campaign finance reform initiatives and promoting alternative forms of voting) and Facilitating Initiative and Referendum. For the past four to five years, NJ Appleseed served as co-counsel with the Rutgers Clinic (representing the Rutgers Student Union Association, NJ Citizen Action, the Latino Action Alliance and several individual voters) in a constitutional challenge to New Jersey’s advanced election registration system. The theory behind the case was that in light of the implementation of the State’s electronic Statewide Voter Registration System (with its capacity to verify voters identifying information within 24 hours) and its employment of provisional ballot affirmation statements, which are effective registration forms, the State had no valid interest justifying the burden imposed by such requirement on an individual’s right to vote under the State Constitution. The litigation went to the Appellate Division twice, before our Petition for Certification before the NJ Supreme Court was denied.

I would like to convert our litigation theories into several mini-white papers that would support and frame a legislative campaign to secure Same-Day Registration through our current provisional ballot system. Such papers would focus on (1) the burden imposed on voters by advanced registration, in particular low-income voters; (2)the administration of same-day registration schemes in other States; (3) the logistics of voting in NJ including the challenge system, the mailing of ballots, the counting of mail and provisional ballots, and other administrative features; and (4) the capacity of the current SVR system to detect in person fraud or double voting.

NJ Appleseed would draft a proposed bill amending the current election code and generate a grass-roots campaign, with its partners, across the State to generate public support for permitting Same-Day registration by employing our current provisional ballot system. Depending on the outcome of the November 2017 election, I anticipate that we could get this change enacted by the middle of 2018 if Democrats prevail in the Legislature and Governor’s office.

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NEW HOPE FOR anti-SLAPP BILL

The New Jersey Assembly has overwhelmingly passed a bill that would protect people who speak out on public issues from baseless lawsuits meant to intimidate them into silence.

The legislation, A-603, targets SLAPP suits, the shorthand for what are known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.

SLAPP suits, which often occur in the context of opposition to real estate development projects, pitting people from the community against a wealthy corporation, are meant to deter opposition because of the high cost of defending them, even if they are eventually thrown out for lack merit or withdrawn once the developer or other SLAPP plaintiff has succeeded in quelling critics.

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WHY IS THE PORT AUTHORITY SO SCREWED UP?

It is hard to believe now but in the decades following its creation in 1921, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was considered a prime example of an effective and efficient public agency that truly operated in the public interest.

That reputation has been sullied in recent years and not just by the Bridgegate lane-closing scandal and the ensuing criminal convictions of some of those involved. There is also former Port Authority chairman David Samson, who was convicted of misusing his position to shake down United Airlines so that it would reinstate direct flights from Newark to his weekend home. On a broader scale are revelations of how New Jersey Governor Chris Christie used the agency’s resources to reward political allies, while tolls at Port Authority crossings and fares hikes on PATH trains have been repeatedly hiked.

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Voting Rights Groups Call for Election Day Registration

Plaintiffs

Rutgers Constitutional Rights Clinic, ACLU-NJ, and New Jersey Appleseed File Appellate Brief Arguing State Cannot Justify 21-Day Registration Blackout Contact: Deborah Howlett, ACLU-NJ Communications Director, 973-854-1728 Allison Peltzman, ACLU-NJ Senior Communications Specialist, 973-854-1711 Professor Frank Askin, Rutgers School of Law-Newark, 973-353-3239 Renee Steinhagen, New Jersey Appleseed, 973-735-0523

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NJ Appleseed scores major victory for fair elections and exposes the practice of “vote harvesting”

Re-post from HudsonReporter.com | Written by Dean DeChiaro

When the Mile Square Taxpayers Association, a group of developers and landlords long opposed to Hoboken’s tenant-friendly rent control codes, withdrew a legal challenge to the results of a November referendum last week, they conceded a victory to tenants who want to keep rent control in place. But it had another effect – it shined a light on a dubious election practice that has plagued Hoboken politics for years.

The court proceedings, in which MSTA attempted to argue that the Hudson County Board of Elections should not have invalidated around 300 vote-by-mail ballots, placed a microscope on those types of ballots, which have long been a source of controversy here.

For years, political organizations have influenced elections in advance by sending workers into senior citizen and low-income housing buildings to encourage residents to fill out absentee ballots. Seven years ago, the state made it easier for people to fill out ballots by mail by allowing people to do so without having to give a reason.

Read more: Hudson Reporter – Hoboken’s legacy of vote by mail schemes Rent control referendum results stand and shed light on dubious election pastime