It’s not every day that a Princeton plasma physicist surfaces at the Statehouse, let alone one who holds public office, so after studying him for two years and watching him, and puzzling over him, and deciding that indeed he might have a role to play among the attorneys and fast talkers and ham and eggers, the powers that be led by newly crowned Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19), in an early act of spreading Gold Dome wealth to people who backed him in the speaker’s war, awarded a committee chairmanship to Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16).
Appropriately, Coughlin – with a nudge from then-Governor-elect Phil Murphy – gave Zwicker the Assembly Science Committee, formed to take advantage of Zwicker’s expertise.
It was never a given that the Rocky Hill assemblyman was going to get reelected in LD16, so to land the chairmanship particularly gratified Zwicker. Coughlin’s legislative allies shoveled some money at him as he attempted to get back into office in the battleground district, in part a repayment for Zwicker’s loyalty to Coughlin as Coughlin backed Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) off the gangplank.
Murphy’s campaign pledge to attempt to make New Jersey the Silicon Valley of the east dovetailed with Zwicker’s skill set, motivating Murphy to work with Coughlin on shaping a new legislative direction for the Assembly. As yet, the Senate does not have an accompanying Science Committee.
Zwicker’s excited to helm the new lower house committee, which will hold its first hearing on Feb. 1st. He doesn’t intend to move any legislation on that date. He wants to begin setting out the framework of an agenda.
“Job creation and innovation,” Zwicker told InsiderNJ when asked about his priorities. “We’ll tackle issues like internet privacy and net neutrality. If we go after net neutrality I want our legislation to become a model for other states.”