Gov. Christie signs 72 bills, surprising some Democrats

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TRENTON -

Gov. Christie signed 72 bills into law last week, including some that were a surprise to the state’s Democrats and liberal activists.

Two of those bills help to protect transgender people from discrimination.

“It’s a happy surprise,” says Dena Jaborska, associate director of New Jersey Citizen Action.

One of the new bills prevents health care companies from discriminating against people who are transgender. The other one issues guidelines to schools about how to handle transgender students.

“He didn’t veto anything out of it,” Jaborska says. “All the protections that the transgender community have really expressed the need for are in that bill, so that was great to see.”

The governor also issued a number of vetoes, including against the expansion of the paid family leave program. Jaborska says Christie is always varied on the political spectrum.

"Quite frankly, he's not running for president now so I think he can let his conscience dictate a little bit more,” she says.

Christie also signed a bill to raise the legal smoking age in the state from 19 to 21.

Conservative critics slammed the governor for signing what they call “hard left” bills. But others say that Christie is falling in line with public opinion.

“Whether it’s a liberal stance or whether it’s a Republican, I think he’s doing a good thing,” says New Brunswick resident Ricky Kamdem.

Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno are currently out of the state attending a governors conference in Colorado. Senate President Steve Sweeney is acting-governor while they are gone.

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