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Bill to Honor N.J. National Guard Members Also on Tap
(TRENTON) – Legislation to convert property tax rebate checks into direct tax relief credits, streamline New Jersey corporate laws, direct an investigation into the agency that tried to overcharge New Jerseyans for high school wrestling tournament tickets and to honor New Jersey National Guard members top Monday’s Assembly voting session.

The Assembly session is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. It will be streamed live at The Assembly will consider legislation Assemblymen John Burzichelli, Matt Milam and Nelson Albano sponsored to allow the state to convert cumbersome and expensive property tax rebate checks into a property tax credit.

The measure (A-1708) aims to mitigate privacy concerns that have slowed efforts to provide property tax relief through a direct credit on the tax bill as opposed to a rebate check. It would allow property tax relief credits to replace the checks as of Jan. 1, 2012.

Burzichelli said the measure would lower tax bills, remove the disconnect between rebate checks and tax bills and provide a more realistic tax bill for residents. For example, he cited a Paulsboro resident he met who was worried about a property tax bill of $3,307 in 2008. Still, she received $2,743 in rebate checks. If the bill had already been in effect, her bill for the entire year would have been $564.

“The truth is the current rebate program is clunky and expensive and needs to be replaced with a simpler, more rational credit system that actually lowers a homeowner’s tax bill,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “We’re giving them enough time to do it, and believe me, it can be done.”

“Giving seniors and working families a direct property tax credit will ensure relief is delivered in a streamlined way that saves the state money and should be done as soon as possible,” said Milam (D-Cumberland/Atlantic/Cape May).

“The current rebate program is inefficient and needs to be replaced with a simpler, more effective system of credits,” said Albano (D-Cumberland/Atlantic/Cape May). “Providing an easier way to deliver property tax relief and protect homeowner privacy is a win-win.”

Also on tap is legislation sponsored by five Assembly Democratic lawmakers to streamline New Jersey’s corporate laws to make the state more attractive to businesses. The bill is sponsored by Assembly members Patrick J. Diegnan Jr, Peter J. Barnes III, Craig J. Coughlin, Bonnie Watson Coleman and Pamela Lampitt and is the final piece of an Assembly Democratic reform package signed into law during the last legislative session.

“For New Jersey to be competitive as a home for industry in the global marketplace, we need laws that will allow them to operate in real time, using 21st century technology,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex), who crafted the bill package.

The bill (A-2420) eliminates the 10-day waiting period for certain shareholder actions not concerning mergers and acquisition activity governed by state law. This 10-day waiting period can create inefficiencies in transactions and delay closings while the notice period runs. As an example, this type of delay can occur when the certificate of incorporation needs to be amended in connection with a private placement of stock to increase the number of authorized shares or to create a new class of stock.

The bill eliminates that type of delay, and makes New Jersey consistent with Delaware General Corporation Law for shareholder approvals that do not involve mergers and acquisitions.

“This is common sense proposal that modernizes our law and puts and makes us even more competitive with nearby states when it comes to luring and attracting businesses that employ our residents,” said Barnes (D-Middlesex).

“We need to always be sure we’re updating our laws and keeping pace with change as we work to enhance New Jersey’s business climate and ensure a strong economy for our workers,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex).

“With continued turbulence in our national economy, we must do everything we can to ensure that New Jersey remains an excellent place to do business,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer).

“Ensuring New Jersey businesses and the workers they employ can emerge strong from this economic meltdown with the momentum they need has been a top priority, and this is yet another step in that direction,” said Lampitt (D-Camden).

Also on the agenda is a bill sponsored by Burzichelli to direct the State Commission of Investigation to look into the finances and operations of the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association. Burzichelli was the sponsor of a 2007 law that recently took effect that bars the NJSIAA from charging more for playoff tickets than it did for tickets during the regular season.

he bill (ACR-116) comes after the NJSIAA initially ignored the new law, until it was directed by acting Education Commissioner Bret Schundler to follow it.

“Neither I nor New Jersey taxpayers want to hear cries of poverty and threats to scale back events from a group that pays six figure salaries and grants generous benefits to multiple executives,” Burzichelli said. “The NJSIAA had three years to get ready for this new law but did nothing but continue excessive spending. It’s time somebody took an in-depth look at their finances and operations. I’m confident the SCI will do just that.”

Burzichelli recently sent a letter to the NJSIAA executive director, Steven J. Timko. In the letter, Burzichelli noted the NJSIAA’s 2009 financial report “indicates you made little effort to achieve significant efficiencies in either your administrative operation or your approach to playoff site management.” He noted the group during a three-year period:

· Increased school membership fees from $850 to $2,150, generating a $549,275 increase in revenues per year;

· Gave raises to NJSIAA directors and employees in the 4 and 5 percent range;

· Collected entry fees from teams totaling $947,205 in 2009; and · Kept ticket prices inflated to generate $1,051,859 in playoff event profits last year alone.

Also set for consideration is legislation sponsored by Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee chair Jack Conners (D-Burlington/Camden) to create a New Jersey Honor Guard Ribbon for the New Jersey National Guard.

“The men and women in uniform who stand guard over those who make the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country are deserving of recognition,” said Conners, a former Army Reservist and Army National Guard member. “This ribbon would be a small nod to the invaluable service they provide to the families, friends and communities of ‘Those Who Served.'”

Under Conners’ bill (A-1945), a New Jersey Honor Guard Ribbon would be created to honor active members of the New Jersey National Guard, Honor Guard Retiree members and Contracted Civilian Buglers who have served as Honor Guard Team Members in the Army National Guard New Jersey Honor Guard Program or who work at Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Cemetery. Eligible individuals would have to have performed a minimum of 30 Honor Guard Service missions for deceased veterans.

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