Tag Archive: NJ Assembly

Under the Dome: 3/12- Assembly Committees

State_house_trentonFollowing the Governor’s budget address on Tuesday, the Assembly committees get back to work today. It’s round two of the economic stimlus hearings:

  • A joint meeting of the Assembly Judiciary and Assembly Law and Public Safety committees: The committees will receive testimony from Attorney General Anne Milgram on the impact of the federal stimulus package on the criminal justice system.

  • The Assembly Labor Committee meeting: The committee will receive testimony from Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development David J. Socolow on the federal stimulus package and its impact on unemployment and job training.

  • The Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee meeting: The committee has invited Commissioner of Transportation Stephen Dilts and NJ Transit Executive Director Richard Sarles to discuss the federal stimulus package and transportation projects.

  • The Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee meeting: The committee has invited Deputy Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Col. (ret.) Stephen G. Abel to discuss the impact of the federal stimulus package on the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard.

  • The Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee meeting: The committee has invited Acting Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Mark Mauriello to discuss agricultural issues and the impact of the federal stimulus package on water reclamation projects.

  • The Assembly Education Committee meeting: The committee will receive testimony from Commissioner of Education Lucille E. Davy and executive county schools superintendents on the impact of the federal stimulus package on K-12 education.

  • The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee meeting: The committee will receive testimony from Mauriello regarding the federal stimulus package and environmental infrastructure projects.

  • The Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee: The committee has invited the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to discuss the impact of the federal stimulus package on the state’s port and airport security.

  • The Assembly Human Services Committee meeting: The committee will receive testimony from Commissioner of Community Affairs Joseph V. Doria Jr. on the federal stimulus package and its impact on Community Services Block Grants. It will also hear from Commissioner of Human Services Jennifer Velez on its impact on the state Medicaid program.

  • The Assembly State Government Committee: The committee has invited John H. Rhodes, New Jersey’s Director of Energy Savings, to discuss initiatives to make the state more energy efficient and on any plans to access energy efficiency and conservation grants authorized under the federal stimulus package.

  • Along with the stimulus testimony, the committees will consider legislation.  The agriculture committee will hear a bill authorizing hunting with a bow and arrow on Sundays. The Environmental committee will talk underground storage tanks and consider penalties that would double fines for illegal medical-waste dumping in New Jersey waters to $100,000-per-day.  The Homeland Security Committee will have vote on legislation to  Implement recommendations of the Assembly Coastal New Jersey Evacuation Task Force.  

    The Labor committee will discuss a bill that would provide surviving spouses of certain fire and police personnel who die in line of duty with workers’ compensation for entire period of survivorship. Law and Public safety has legislation that would  makes the chief of police a contractual municipal employee and require peer review and performance evaluation for contract renewal.   Another bill, A-3160 caught my attention too.  From the statement:

    This bill establishes a ?safe haven? to provide that a person under age 21 would not be prosecuted for offering or serving an alcoholic beverage to another underage person under certain instances.

    Current law specifies, a person who offers or serves an alcoholic beverage to an underage person or entices or encourages that person to drink an alcoholic beverage is a disorderly person.  Under this bill, an underage person would not be prosecuted under that section of law if he or she summoned medical treatment for another underage person who required such treatment because of consuming alcoholic beverages.

    As always, you can follow along live with audio of the committees here.

    Under the Dome 3/9: Assembly and Senate Committees

    State_house_trentonAlong with the regularly scheduled Assembly and Senate committee meetings, we have the meetings that were canceled from the snow last week taking place.  As always, i’ll try to highlight some of the action and put the full agenda below the fold.  You can follow along live here.

    The Assembly committees, along with hearing their regular slate of bills, will begin discussing how to distribute the Federal Stimulus funds.

  • The Assembly Budget Committee:The committee has invited state Comptroller Matthew Boxer to discuss federal requirements for oversight and transparency for money received through the stimulus package and actions the state may take to complement and augment these efforts.

  • The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee: The committee has invited state Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard to discuss efforts by the department to obtain federal stimulus money for, among other things, federally qualified health centers, senior nutrition services, the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants and Children , early intervention services, immunization programs and the adoption and use of health information technology.

  • The Assembly Higher Education Committee: The committee will receive testimony from Jane Oates, executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education, on how the federal package will impact the state?s higher education sector.

  • The Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee: The committee has invited state Community Affairs Commissioner Joseph Doria to discuss the impact of the federal economic stimulus plan on New Jersey as it relates to weatherization. The Committee will also take testimony on infrastructure and energy efficiency initiatives.

  • The Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee: The Committee will receive testimony from Doria concerning the effect of  the stimulus package on New Jersey’s housing market.

  • The Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee: The committee has invited the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to discuss expanded financing opportunities for economic development under the stimulus package and to provide a status update on the InvestNJ and Main Street Programs, as part of the state’s economic stimulus efforts. The New Jersey Business and Industry Association will discuss tax incentive provisions contained in the stimulus package, and the committee will also hear from the Department of the Treasury on the expanded efforts of the Small Business Registration and Women / Minority-Owned Business Certification Programs.
  • The Assembly Financial Institutions Committee will discuss foreclosures with a bill that requires residential mortgage lenders to provide debtors with certain information about curing default prior to initiation of mortgage foreclosure action and another called the “New Jersey Residential Mortgage act”, which bill represents a reform of the licensed lending activities currently regulated under the “New Jersey Licensed Lenders Act,”  covering mortgage loans and consumer loans of $50,000 or less. The budget committee will have up a bill to establish a tax amnesty period. The Appropriations committee will vote on establishing the silver alert system, creating a computer crime prevention fund, and a bill that requires reports and publications produced by the State be primarily available on Internet with the state providing notice of availability of reports and publications. The Higher education committee will consider adding two employees to the boards of trustees of the State colleges and the county colleges.  

    In the Senate Judiciary committee, the confirmation of Jeanie Fox at the BPU will probably get the most news coverage. Senator Sweeney came out in support of her late last week. One bill that still isn’t on the agenda is the pension deferral legislation, which the Governor will probably propose in the budget the next day. The Senate Community and Urban affairs will consider legislation that would give incentives for shared services and provide Disabled veterans a property tax exemption. The Senate Education committee will talk voting education and a bill that Requires school districts to report to DOE certain information on students removed from school pursuant to “Zero Tolerance for Guns Act.”   The Budget committee has fifteen bills up including one that Requires the Director of the Division of Taxation to establish a 45-day State tax amnesty period. The Senate Commerce committee will hear a bill to lift restrictions on non-proft spending.

    Under the Dome 3/5: Assembly in Session

    Update and promoted by Jason:  The session is just about to start and you can follow along with streaming video.

    State_house_trentonThe canceled Senate Committees of this week have been rescheduled for next Monday.

    Today, on the other hand, the Assembly takes Center stage. There aren’t any committees meeting, just a session day.

    I’ll put the full agenda below the fold as usual, buy here are some of the highlights:  

    We’re going to see a vote on mid year budget cuts.

    Here is the statement from the bill:

  • This bill amends the Fiscal Year 2009 appropriation act to implement certain components of the Executive’s plan to offset shortfalls in State revenues.
  • The bill directs the Commissioner of Education to withhold from February 1 through June 30 State aid payments to school districts in an amount equal to the districts’ savings from the proposed pension contribution deferral plan (contained in Senate Bill No. 7 of 2008), capped at a total of $75 million.
  • The bill permits the use of $14.7 million in certain revenue currently appropriated to federally qualified health centers, which are projected to be overfunded, to be used as General Fund revenue.
  • The bill permits $135 million of State general obligation debt service to be paid from the Long Term Obligation and Capital Expenditure Fund.
  • The bill permits transfer of the remaining $365 million in the debt defeasement account and $6 million in capital appropriations in the Long Term Obligation and Capital Expenditure Fund to the Property Tax Relief Fund (PTRF) as revenue to support appropriations from the PTRF.
  • The bill permits transfer of $275 million from Surplus Revenue Fund (often referred to as the rainy day fund) to the PTRF as revenue to support appropriations from the PTRF.
  • The bill permits the transfer of $1,718,000 from the Casino Control Fund to the Casino Revenue Fund as revenue to support appropriations in the Casino Revenue Fund
  • And those are just cuts to balance last years budget after revenues felt short. Other legislation up for consideration includes a package to improve teen driver safety by implementing the top recommendations of the state’s Teen Driver Study Commission.  They will also consider a bill to make a new housing assistance and recovery program effective immediately.

    There are a few energy bills up for a vote. First, a bill to promote energy efficiency through the installation of solar energy panels in new homes. Second, legislation that would promote alternative energy by permitting wind and solar facilities in industrial zones. And finally, a vote on authorizing the Board of Public Utilities to use certain funding to provide grants for energy efficiency projects and programs promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency.

    They’ll consider changing regulations regarding casinos to “cut through the bureaucratic red tape.” Another bill will expand a state program that provides medical-student loan forgiveness to doctors and dentists who work in underserved areas to include physicians who specialize in geriatrics. If passed, a bill would replace specialty license plates with a new license plate decal system to save money. Veterans legislation would help them make the transition from the battlefield to the college classroom.

    Is there anything on the agenda that grabs your attention? You can follow along live as the session is scheduled to start at 1pm.

    Today in Trenton: Assembly in session

    Spotlight on the Assembly today, as there are no committee meetings and there is a full session with 44 bills on the agenda.  

    Probably the largest impact will be felt from legislation that will make cuts to the FY 2009 budget to offset revenue shortfalls.  They will also consider bills to require ATM operators to disclose balance inquiry fees and make landlords keep their complexes bedbug free.  There is a resolution that calls on Congress to support wind energy and quietly, they will vote on suspending the paper trail requirement indefinitely.  They will also extend the date for the Governor’s budget address to March 12.

    A bill is up to extend pension benefits to members of the reserves and another that would prohibit free housing for cabinet members. Changes to the environmental infrastructure finance program will get a vote as well.

    Legislation will be voted on to create a council that would develop a plan to reduce statewide poverty. They’ll also look to bar jewelery made with unsafe materials.  On the health front, they’ll consider informing parents about shaken baby syndrome and also look to reduce errors with prescription drug medications.  For Economic Development, Camden could get over $3 miillion dollars from a 1996 site fund.

    There is plenty more on the agenda and you can take a look. The session is scheduled to begin at 1pm. You can follow the proceedings live by clicking here. We’ll provide an update after the session ends later today.

    Enough With Relief. We Need Reform.

    Tomorrow Governor Jon Corzine will address the New Jersey legislature at the opening of a special session to address the property tax system that is destroying our Garden State.  I’m not going to listen to it, because in my opinion he should just look at the legislators, shake his head and say, “You know, we need to do this as a Constitutional Convention.  Put it on the ballot.  Thanks.”  Then go back to his office.

    Why?  Because the effort to reform the over-burdensome, anti-progressive and unfair tax system in New Jersey should not be left in the hands of people who need to seek reelection. 

    People who want to be reelected must, almost by definition, avoid supporting legislation or solutions that will anger their electorate.  As a result these elected officials tend to back popular band-aid solutions instead of advocating wholesale, radical change.

    This is not any individual legislator’s fault, or either party’s.  Republican (lower case r) systems require that legislators be at least in part responsible to their constituents, and that creates an inability to do great things except under extraordinary pressure.  You cannot find a grand, elegant and complete solution to the problem that will make 50 percent plus one happy.  The result is band-aids.

    Lets Spend the 4th in a Special Session

    I just caught the tail end of a press conference where Governor Corzine signed Executive Order 18, ordering both houses of the Legislature into a Special Session tomorrow morning. You can read his press release here.

    Pursuant to my authority under the New Jersey Constitution, Article V, Section I, Paragraph 12 and Article IV, Section I, Paragraph 4, I am hereby convening Special Sessions of both Houses of the Legislature for Tuesday, July 4, 2006 at 9:00 a.m., and for each day thereafter, until such time as this call shall be revoked, in order to pass a balanced General Appropriations Law for Fiscal Year 2007 and to consider legislation that is related to the State budget. I have determined that the public interest requires these Sessions in order to expedite the enactment of a General Appropriations Law for Fiscal Year 2007 and thereby end the current state of emergency caused by the failure to enact such a law by July 1, 2006.

    State Chairman Joe Cryan acknowledged in a post press conference interview that the Governor has thrown down the gauntlet to the legislature.

    Apparently rather than spending the 4th of July celebrating the birth of our country, our Legislators will join together in Trenton to hear an  address from the Governor while they work to solve the shutdown of our State.

    Earlier in the day, Speaker Roberts stated

    From PoliticsNJ-he will permit a vote on Gov. Jon Corzine’s budget if the Governor can provide him with a list of 21 Senators and 41 Assemblymembers who support it.  “If the Governor can demonstrate that legislative support is there, then I will post his sales tax bill in 24 h

    **Update- You can see what the papers are saying here, here, here here and here.

    Also, you can see the tally of the Democrats and where they stand on the budget for the Senate and Assembly.

    (Digg this story)