Earned Sick Leave & Port Authority Reform Top Monday Assembly Committee MeetingsImproved Suicide Prevention, Help for Farmers, Apartment Building Generators, Regulating Drone Usage & Controlling Invasive Bamboo Also on Tap
Discussions Also Set on Improving Teacher Readiness & NJ Transit and MVC Budgets
Two bills to reform the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and legislation to require businesses to provide earned sick leave to workers highlight Monday's Assembly hearings.
Also up are bills to improve suicide prevention training in schools, help farmers fight nuisance complaints, regulate drone usage, require generators for multiple-dwelling buildings and regulate the planting and sale of invasive and destructive running bamboo...
Democratic Bill to Promote Cost-Cutting Small Business Improvements Gets Panel OKLegislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Herb Conaway Jr., Paul Moriarty, Jerry Green, Pamela Lampitt and Vincent Mazzeo sponsored to facilitate cost-effective environmentally friendly improvements for small businesses was advanced Thursday by an Assembly panel.
"Making their locations more energy efficient has the potential to save small businesses thousands of dollars each year," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "This legislation will go a long way toward helping to keep the costs of lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and other similar expenses at a minimum and increasing overall profitability for small businesses in New Jersey."
Burzichelli Bill Prohibiting Rental and Sale of Motor Vehicles Subject to Safety Recalls Advances in the Assembly(TRENTON) - Legislation Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli sponsored to make it illegal for rental companies to rent, lease or sell unrepaired motor vehicles that are subject to safety recall was recently approved by an Assembly panel.
"Consumers have certain expectations when they rent a car - that it's safe and in good operating condition," said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). "Unfortunately, since rental companies aren't required to pull recalled cars from their active fleets until the vehicles are fixed, consumers can instead be unwittingly subjected to a dangerous game of rental car Russian roulette."
Current federal law prohibits car dealers from both selling and leasing vehicles subject to a recall unless and until they are repaired.
Garcia, Coughlin, Green, McKeon, Andrzejczak & Fuentes Look to Speed Process for Maintaining Foreclosed Vacant PropertiesLegislation Assembly Democrats Carmelo Garcia, Craig Coughlin, Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green, John McKeon, Bob Andrzejczak and Angel Fuentes sponsored to provide an expedited process for foreclosing vacant and abandoned residential properties in uncontested actions was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
"We've seen vacant properties throughout New Jersey destabilize neighborhoods and hurt property values," said Garcia (D-Hudson). "I view this as common sense - if a property is vacant and abandoned in an uncontested situation, then let's speed the process by which somebody will become responsible for it..."
Singleton, Schaer, Benson, Eustace & Mosquera Bill to Improve Reporting and Disclosure of State Tax Expenditures Clears Senate(TRENTON) - Legislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Gary Schaer, Daniel R. Benson, Timothy Eustace and Gabriela Mosquera sponsored to improve reporting and disclosure requirements on state tax expenditures and impose a seven-year limit on the duration of new state tax expenditure enactments was approved 24-14 on Thursday by the full Senate.
State tax expenditures and preferences are special or selective tax relief or benefits authorized by law designed to accomplish public goals. The relief provided through expenditures typically is intended to encourage investment, create jobs and facilitate economic development, or to relieve the tax on products, services or financial decisions.
"The state does not authorize these tax expenditures lightly," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "They're authorized for specific goals such as creating jobs or boosting economic growth, so we need to make certain these benefits are working as intended. It's common sense to examine whether these expenditures are working. It's what the taxpayers deserve."
Wisniewski Introduces Comprehensive Port Authority Reform Legislation
Measure to Address Systemic Failures of Port Authority; Create a Top-to-Bottom Overhaul of the Beleaguered Bi-State AgencyAssembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee Chairman John S. Wisniewski on Thursday unveiled top-to-bottom reform legislation meant to address the numerous and systemic failures of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), which culminated in the weeklong, unexplained closure of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge a little over a year ago.
"The Port Authority is, unfortunately, a classic modern example of an out-of-control government agency operating completely unchecked," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), a co-chair of the special legislative investigative body that is examining the chain of events that led up to the September 2013 lane closures.
Mukherji, Quijano & Pinkin Bill to Promote Public Awareness and Education About Parkinson's Disease Clears Both Houses(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly members Raj Mukherji, Annette Quijano and Nancy Pinkin that would create a public awareness and education program about Parkinson's disease received final legislative approval in the Senate on Thursday.
According to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, as many as one million Americans live with Parkinson's disease, which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig's disease. Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year, and this number does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected. An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson's disease. Incidence of Parkinson's increases with age, but an estimated four percent of people with PD are diagnosed before the age of 50. Men are one and a half times more likely to have Parkinson's than women.
"An estimated 1.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease," said Mukherji (D-Hudson). "This is a disease that affects too many New Jersey families. The more we know about Parkinson's, the more we can help residents identify symptoms and find the resources they need to help themselves and their loved ones."
Assembly Panel Green-Lights Democratic Legislation to Expand NJ Film Tax Credit
Johnson, Garcia, Vainieri Huttle, Lagana & Mukherji Bill Would Restore Christie Cuts to Help Reinvigorate Industry in New JerseyAn Assembly panel on Thursday gave the green light to legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson, Carmelo G. Garcia, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joseph Lagana and Raj Mukherji that would expand New Jersey's film and digital media production tax credit program in order to generate jobs, revenue and a slew of other ancillary benefits.
"The expansion of this tax credit will give New Jersey the shot in the arm it needs to once again attract film and digital media productions that have added so much to our economy in past years," said Johnson (D-Bergen). "We need to fix the mistake that was made when this credit was suspended and create an even more powerful economic development tool for our state."
Pinkin, Lagana, Riley, Mazzeo & Mukherji Bill to Help Homeowners More Clearly Know Property Assessments Appeal Deadline Released By Assembly CommitteeLegislation Assembly Democrats Nancy Pinkin, Joseph Lagana, Celeste Riley, Vince Mazzeo and Raj Mukherji sponsored to make it easier for homeowners to understand when property assessment appeals are due was released Thursday by an Assembly panel. The bill would require the statutory notice of annual assessment to contain the deadline to file an appeal in boldface type.
"The consequences of the notice of assessment on the amount of subsequent tax bills often passes largely unnoticed until well after the appeal deadline of April 1," said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). "The bolded notice is intended to remind property taxpayers of the quickly approaching filing deadline for appeals."
Singleton, Vainieri Huttle, Benson, Conaway, Garcia, Riley, Mosquera & Caputo Legislation to Promote Donations to ALS Association Gets Final Legislative OKLegislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel R. Benson, Herb Conaway Jr., Carmelo Garcia, Celeste Riley, Gabriela Mosquera and Ralph Caputo to make it easier for taxpayers to donate to the ALS Association was approved Thursday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.
"The mission of the ALS Association is to lead the fight to treat and cure ALS through global research and nationwide advocacy, while also empowering people with Lou Gehrig's Disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support through a nationwide network of chapters," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "Making it easier for New Jerseyans to support this cause is the right thing to do..."
Diegnan, Moriarty, Eustace & Stender Bill to Ban Production and Sale of Microbead Cosmetic Products in N.J. Gets Final Legislative ApprovalLegislation Assembly Democrats Patrick Diegnan, Paul Moriarty, Tim Eustace and Linda Stender sponsored to address the growing environmental concerns over beauty products containing microbeads was approved Thursday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.
"I applaud the companies who have recognized the ill effects that polyethylene microspheres have on the environment and stand with us as we take steps to curb its use," said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). "By banning these products, we are preserving New Jersey's environmental heritage and protecting marine life..."
Additional Prieto-led Vocational Education Improvement Bills Get Final Legislative OKTwo Bills Also Sponsored by Jasey, Johnson, Caride, Mosquera, Diegnan, Watson Coleman, Fuentes & Benson
Two additional bills that were part of a sweeping vocational education improvement package sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto were approved Thursday by the Senate, meaning all seven bills of the bills have received final legislative approval.
"We cannot rest idle while businesses and jobs change and the global economy becomes more competitive," Prieto said. "In the end, this is all about jobs and a stronger economy, so we need to take steps such as these to ensure our state is at the cutting edge of educational offerings…"
Assembly Panel Advances McKeon & Lagana Bill to Declare Invalid Christie's Attempt to Change Rules to Allow N.J. to Leave Effort to Cut Reduce Greenhouse GasesLegislation Assembly Democrats John McKeon and Joseph Lagana sponsored to declare invalid the Christie administration's bid to change regulations requiring the state to participate in a regional effort to reduce greenhouse gases was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
"Gov. Christie can try every which way he can to pry New Jersey from participating in this effort to keep our air and water clean and promote renewable energy, and while he has some authority to act on his own, he cannot ignore state regulations and just change them to suit his anti-environmental agenda," said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris)...
Conaway, Lampitt, Pinkin & Benson Bill to Expand Life-Saving "Overdose Prevention Act" Clears Assembly PanelLegislation Would Extend Immunity Provisions of Opioid Antidote Law
An Assembly panel on Thursday advanced bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway Jr., Pamela Lampitt, Nancy Pinkin and Daniel Benson to help save more lives by granting immunity to emergency responders and other critical frontline professionals who administer overdose antidotes.
"When seconds count, a well-meaning individual should not have to think twice about helping someone in need due to a fear that it ultimately may result in being held culpable for wrongdoing," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "This legislation is about making sure that more men and women who are willing and able to assist an individual during an emergency can do so without hesitation."
Conaway, Benson & Mukherji Legislation to Advance Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention Clears PanelLegislation Assemblymen Herb Conaway Jr., Daniel Benson and Raj Mukherji sponsored to prevent overdoses by employing a combination of community education and increased analysis of data on drug abuse in New Jersey was approved Thursday by an Assembly panel.
"Along with recent legislative efforts to increase outpatient care and expand insurance coverage for those battling addiction, this bill addresses substance abuse by acknowledging that the state's poison control and drug information program is an appropriate vehicle for gathering data about overdoses and decreasing their frequency in our state," said Conaway (D-Burlington).
Singleton, Caputo, Jasey, Lagana, Quijano Bill to Strengthen Consumer Protections against Security Breaches Clears First Legislative Hurdle(TRENTON) - An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Ralph Caputo, Mila Jasey, Joseph Lagana and Annette Quijano to ensure that consumers are informed of security breaches made to their account.
Between 2005 and 2014, there have been 4,695 breaches exposing 633 million records, according to the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center. The average cost of a breach to an organization is estimated at $3.5 million.
"Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "What we have learned from the recent security breaches at major retailers is that they can happen to anywhere and to virtually any company, large or small. It is essential for consumers to be kept informed of data breaches so that they can take the necessary steps to protect their information."
Gusciora, Lagana Legislation to Exempt Businesses from Courts Fees in Fraudulent Lawsuits Advances in Assembly(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora and Joseph Lagana to eliminate the award of attorney's fees, filing fees, and costs of suit in cases of technical violations under the Consumer Fraud Act was released by an Assembly panel on Thursday.
"Right now, companies must still pay counsel fees and all costs of a lawsuit against them even if they won the case," said Gusciora (D- Mercer, Hunterdon). "The legislation provides relief for first time violations where every intention was made to follow the rules of the Consumer Fraud Act and this effort is recognized by the court."
Assembly Panel Advances 7 More Bills Aimed at Making College More Affordable and Attainable in NJ
Comprehensive Package is Sponsored by Riley, Cryan, Benson, Garcia, Giblin, Eustace, Pinkin, Mazzeo, Burzichelli, Lagana & StenderAn Assembly panel on Thursday approved seven more bills that are part of a larger 20-bill package aimed at addressing the systemic factors pushing more and more New Jersey students into the real world saddled with debt and without a college degree.
The bills approved today are sponsored by Assembly Democrats Celeste Riley, Joseph Cryan, Daniel Benson, Carmelo Garcia, Thomas Giblin, Tim Eustace, Nancy Pinkin, Vince Mazzeo, John Burzichelli, Joseph Lagana and Linda Stender.
Schaer, Garcia & Lagana Bill to Better Secure Personal Health Information Released by Assembly PanelLegislation Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Carmelo Garcia and Joseph Lagana sponsored to better secure personal health information was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
"We've seen far too many examples of personal information being stolen from retailers and other invasions of privacy, so some common sense is needed when it comes to securing health information, which is for many people as personal as it gets," said Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen). "This bill is a reasonable requirement to protect personal privacy in this digital age..."
Gusciora Bill to Extend Drug Treatment to State Correctional Inmates Ineligible for Treatment Approved by Assembly PanelAn Assembly panel on Thursday released legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) requiring state correctional facilities to allow inmates who are currently ineligible for drug treatment programs to receive treatment.
The bill (A-3159) provides that an inmate in a state correctional facility who is otherwise eligible for drug treatment cannot be denied access to a drug treatment program operating in a state correctional facility based solely on that inmate having any detainer or open charge issued against him.
Assembly Panel Releases Mainor, Quijano, Giblin, Wimberly, Pintor-Marin & Spencer Bill to Dissolve the Waterfront Commission of New York HarborLegislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Charles Mainor, Annette Quijano, Thomas Giblin, Benjie Wimberly, Eliana Pinto-Marin and L. Grace Spencer to abolish the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor was released Thursday by an Assembly committee.
The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor was created through a compact between the states of New Jersey and New York (and approved by Congress in 1953) to ensure fair hiring and employment practices and investigate, deter, and combat criminal activity and influence in the Port of New York and New Jersey. However, the commission has been tainted by corruption in recent years, and has been accused of compromising port operations by exercising powers it does not have.
Riley on Legislative Package to Reform Higher Ed & Enhance College Affordability in NJ
Wisniewski, Prieto & Caride on Special Hearings on New Jersey's Transportation Funding Crisis
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