ASSEMBLY PANEL TO CONSIDER BILLS TO REVISE ARBITRATION & LIMIT SICK LEAVE PAYOUTS TO COMBAT PROPERTY TAXES

(TRENTON) – The Assembly Budget Committee will meet Monday to consider legislation to combat property taxes by reforming arbitration rules and limiting sick leave payouts for public workers.
The Assembly State Government Committee, meanwhile, will discuss civil service reform.
Other committees will consider bills to protect personal information stored on digital copiers, strip licenses from doctors who illegally dump medical waste and help small businesses.
Assembly panels will also discuss a lack of funding and supply at the New Jersey Cord Blood Bank and the impact of layoffs of public safety officers on New Jersey communities.
The hearing will be streamed live at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/live_audio.asp.
The Assembly Budget Committee will meet at 10 a.m. to consider property tax reform legislation sponsored by Assembly Budget Chairman Lou Greenwald to revise New Jersey’s arbitration system to protect taxpayers against exorbitant judgments.
“Our arbitration system simply isn’t working and needs changing,” said Greenwald (D-Camden). “Time and again we’ve seen what seem to be the same arbitrators award pay increases without consideration of the fiscal reality and what local taxpayers can afford. This has frustrated taxpayers for a long time and it’s time we changed this broken system for the better.”
The bill (A-3393) will be among nearly 20 property tax reform bills advanced by the Assembly this year. It would:
· Establish “fair and final” as the terminal procedure for resolving contractual impasses between public employers and their police and fire departments. Under this process each side in the contract dispute would present their “fair and final” offer to the arbitrator and the arbitrator would select one as the final agreement.
· Change the process for selecting an arbitrator for interest arbitration to ensure a more varied group of arbitrators makes decisions.
· Expressly require arbitrators to consider the new 2 percent property tax levy cap when making decisions.
· Change the process by which judgments are appealed.
“These changes, proposed after much thought and consideration, would curtail the awarding of out of whack judgments, reducing the size of some awards and saving taxpayers’ money,” Greenwald said. “These sensible changes protect local governments and employees but, most importantly, put the emphasis on protecting taxpayers and controlling property taxes.”
The budget committee will also consider legislation (A-3392) sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden) and Nelson Albano (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland) to limit unused sick leave payouts for all school and local government employees to no more than $15,000.
The Assembly State Government Committee, meanwhile, will meet at 10 a.m. to hear testimony about New Jersey’s civil service system with regard to job postings, the creation and duration of eligible lists and employee discipline procedures, with an eye toward developing reform legislation.
The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee will meet at 10 a.m. to consider a bill (A-2975) sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer) to combat identity theft by requiring the hard drives of all digital copy machines to be wiped clean to protect sensitive, personal information. The information is stored on each machine, in some cases in perpetuity, unbeknownst to millions of consumers.
The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee will meet at 10 a.m. to, among other items, hear testimony on funding and supply shortages for the New Jersey Cord Blood Bank.
The Assembly Regulated Professions Committee will consider legislation (A-861) sponsored by Albano, Matt Milam (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland) and Greenwald to strip licenses from doctors who illegally dump medical waste.
The sponsors introduced the measure after several South Jersey beaches were forced to close before 2008 Labor Day weekend after illegally dumped medical waste washed ashore. As many as 225 syringes and other medical waste were found in Avalon – leading borough officials to close beaches four times. Syringes also washed ashore in Berkeley, Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Brigantine and Upper Township.
Thomas McFarland, a Philadelphia dentist who owns a Jersey Shore summer home, was charged with intentionally dumping the waste that caused the Avalon closings. He received probation and was ordered to pay restitution.
The Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee will meet at 2 p.m. to consider legislation (A-916) sponsored by Upendra Chivukula (D-Somerset/Middlesex), Speaker Sheila Oliver and Thomas Giblin (both D-Essex/Passaic) to expand state programs to encourage investments in small technology companies.
It will also consider legislation (A-3195 and A-3196) sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein and Wayne DeAngelo (both D-Middlesex/Mercer) to streamline state assistance for small businesses and provide corporate tax credits for redeveloping distressed shopping centers.
The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee will meet at 2 p.m. to hear testimony concerning the impact of layoffs of public safety officers on New Jersey communities.