BILLS TARGETING TOXIC CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS, BANNING UNWANTED TEXT ADS, RESTRUCTURING TICKET SALE LAWS & ELIMINATING INACTIVE STATE COMMISSIONS TOP THURSDAY’S ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE AGENDAS

(TRENTON) – Legislation prohibiting the sale of children’s products containing toxic materials such as cadmium, banning unsolicited advertising by text messaging, restructuring state law regulating ticket sales and streamlining state government by eliminating numerous inactive state commissions tops Thursday’s Assembly agendas.

The hearings will be streamed live at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/live_audio.asp.

The Assembly Consumers Affairs Committee will meet at 10 a.m. to consider legislation (A-2559) sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden) to prohibit the sale of children’s products containing lead, mercury or cadmium. The hearing comes after 12 million Shrek-themed glasses were recalled by McDonald’s because they contained cadmium, which is a known carcinogen that research shows also can cause bone softening and severe kidney problems.

“It’s stunning that in this day and age our children can still come into contact with toxic materials just by using a glass featuring a cartoon character,” said Moriarty. “Manufacturers need to do better than this.”

The panel will also consider legislation (A-633) sponsored by Moriarty to prohibit the unsolicited advertising by text messaging.

The Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee will meet at 10 a.m. to consider legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Connie Wagner (D-Bergen), Joan Voss (D-Bergen) and Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer) to require additional public participation and study of any proposed health insurer conversion from a nonprofit to a for-profit company.

The state’s largest insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, recently considered plans to convert into a for-profit company. It was also recently revealed that William J. Marino, president and CEO of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, was paid $8.7 million last year, a 59 percent increase from 2008, while other company executives also enjoyed huge pay hikes.

The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee will hear testimony at 10 a.m. from Health and Senior Services Commissioner Poonam Alaigh on her priorities for the department. It will also discuss a bill (A-1982) on medical malpractice concerns.

The Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee will meet at 10 a.m. to hear testimony from invited guests on telecommunications deregulation. It will also consider legislation (A-2491) sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) and Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-Hudson) to ban cable and utility companies from charging customers before the actual billing due date.

The Assembly Regulated Professions Committee will meet at 1 p.m. to consider legislation (A-373) sponsored by Assemblymen Gary Schaer and Fred Scalera (D-Bergen/Essex/Passaic) that would restructure the state’s ticket sales laws. The bill comes after concerns last year about how sales for Bruce Springsteen concerts were handled by Ticketmaster.

The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee will meet at 2 p.m. to consider legislation sponsored by Moriarty and Assemblyman Nelson Albano (D-Atlantic/Cumberland/Salem) to require breath or blood samples to be obtained from drivers involved in accidents that result in death or serious injury.

The legislation (A-651) was crafted in response to the death of Anthony J. Farrace, 17, who was killed when the car in which he was a passenger hit a tree off Route 70 in Southampton Township in July 2007. Following the accident, the Evesham teen’s body was tested for the presence of alcohol or drugs. However, the driver of the vehicle – a 17-year-old girl – was not required to submit to any test and eventually was cited for careless driving, an offense which only carried a $200 ticket and six-month license suspension.

The Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee will meet at 2 p.m. to consider legislation sponsored by Burzichelli (A-2581) to eliminate inactive boards, commissions, committees, councils and task forces. The move is among Burzichelli’s initiatives to streamline state government and make it more efficient for taxpayers and businesses.

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