New Jersey's 9.9 percent unemployment rate is the highest since 1977. Almost 10 percent of homeowners are 90 days or more behind on their mortgage payments, the second-worst delinquency rate in the nation. So far this fiscal year, state revenue trails Governor Chris Christie's projections by $100 million. Oh, and pets are wantonly riding around in cars without wearing seat belts.
Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer, a Newark Democrat who owns five felines and a Pomeranian, has introduced a bill that would require drivers to secure dogs and cats with a harness if they're not riding in crates. Violators would get a $25 ticket that could escalate to an animal cruelty charge and a fine of as much as $1,000 in extreme cases—say, letting a pet ride in the bed of a pickup. Drivers in Arizona and Connecticut already may be cited for distracted driving if an unleashed pet interferes, and pets are banned from operators' laps in Hawaii. But if Spencer's bill passes, New Jersey will be the first state to mandate pet restraints, according to AAA.