Garden State has been stamped on New Jersey license plates for more than six decades after first becoming a popular nickname in 1876, and on Monday it became the state’s official slogan.
The measure was one of 50 bills Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican in his final five months in office, signed into law. The bonanza stemmed from June voting sessions in which the Democratic-led Legislature sent the governor dozens of bills.
He also conditionally vetoed one bill, suggesting changes to legislation aimed at improving transparency about tuition and fees and colleges and universities.
A closer look at New Jersey’s new laws:
The new law setting the state’s well-known nickname, which was also the title of a 2004 film starring Zach Braff and Natalie Portman, was initially introduced in 2014. But it didn’t advance at the time. This year, it passed unanimously.
The legislation points out that the name first became popularly associated with New Jersey in 1876, when Camden attorney Abraham Browning called New Jersey the Garden State while speaking at a centennial celebration in Philadelphia.
In 1954, a state law required the motto be printed on the state’s license plates.
Christie also signed a bill that gives towns the ability to treat smoking violations as civil, not criminal offenses.
Democratic state Sen. Bob Gordon sponsored the bill and says the criminal penalties can unduly punish violators.
The bill gives towns the ability to set civil penalties of up to $200 for smoking in prohibited public places.
Christie also enacted a new law that makes it a violation to leave a cat, dog or other domestic animal unattended outdoors without proper shelter or under certain conditions.
Those conditions include if it’s 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) or less, or when the temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) or more.
The law also makes it a violation to cruelly restrain a dog, including leaving it without water for an extended time and tethering it overnight with a line shorter than 15 feet.
Another new law erases a statute on the books since at least 1877 that regulated what millers could charge for grain grinding. The new law calls the 19th-centure statutes “archaic and anachronistic,” but doesn’t specify why the change was needed now. A message seeking comment from lawmakers wasn’t immediately returned.