The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce is tracking legislation and other items important to the business community:
FISCAL 2013 STATE BUDGET
Governor Christie has until Saturday, June 30, to decide which items to line-item veto in the $31.7 billion state budget bill, S-2013, passed by the Assembly and Senate. The appropriations bill is substantially similar to the Governor's initial budget plan, except for the absence of an immediate tax cut. The Democratic majority budget sets aside $183 million in property tax relief to be allocated to residents contingent on improved revenue collections.
Permit Extension Act - A-1338
(Greenwald/D-6; DeCroce/R-26; Green/D-22; Milam/D-1; Moriarty/D-4; Bramnick/R-21):
Assembly passed 66-7-6. Senate passed 35-1 and sent to Governor. This bill pushes back the expiration date of permit approvals to December 31, 2014. It also establishes a new definition of "extension area" to ensure that approvals in these areas remain valid. The State Chamber supports this legislation as a necessary continuation of the Permit Extension Act of 2008 and its successor legislation that was enacted in 2010. The poor economic climate has severely affected the state's banking, real estate and construction sectors. Businesses cannot easily obtain financing under existing economic conditions and in some cases are forced to delay scheduled projects that have already been approved by a government entity and granted permits. Such delays result in some of these permits expiring before the projects are completed. Given that the permit application process is extremely time consuming and expensive, it makes sense to allow additional time for stalled projects to be completed.
Higher education land use parity - S-1534
Senate passed 25-8. This bill provides private nonprofit colleges with the same status as state colleges under the Municipal Land Use Law. Currently, only private institutions are subject to local zoning controls by the municipalities in which they are located and must obtain approval from those local authorities for campus development. This bill provides for parity between the public and independent institutions of higher education, in recognition of the public mission served by both public and private institutions.
Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit - S-1562
(Cunningham; Lesniak; Buono):
Assembly passed 70-8-1. Senate passed 34-1 and sent to Governor. This bill increases the amount of tax credits authorized under the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program by $250 million and pushes back the application deadline to July 1, 2014.
Building Our Future Bond Act - S-2500
(Sweeney/D-3; Kean; R-21; Vitale/D-19):
Senate passed 38-1. Assembly passed 77-1-0 and sent to Governor. This bill authorizes the issuance of $750 million in state general obligation bonds to fund higher education capital projects. Increased investment in higher education, specifically in programs consistent with growing industry sectors such as bio sciences, medical and engineering, are important to maintain New Jersey's highly skilled workforce.
Tenure Reform - S-1455
Assembly passed 79-0. Senate passed 40-0 and sent to Governor. This bill revises evaluation and tenure procedures for New Jersey educators. The bill requires that a teacher, principal, assistant principal or vice principal receive tenure after the employee receives a rating of "effective" or "highly effective" in each of three consecutive annual evaluations. The bill creates a mentorship program for first-year teachers. Additionally, the legislation streamlines the tenure removal process, utilizes data to evaluate educators and provides teachers with an opportunity to improve.
Hydraulic Fracturing - A-575
(Wagner/D-38; Gusciora/D-15; Vainieri Huttle/D-37; Ramos/D-33):
Assembly passed 56-19-4. Senate passed 30-5 and sent to Governor. This bill prohibits any wastewater resulting from hydraulic fracturing to be shipped or transported from any other state or treated in New Jersey. This bill would set a bad precedent for New Jersey as the state seeks to benefit from a needed domestic supply of natural gas to meet the goals of the Energy Master Plan.
Shared Services - S-533
Senate passed 36-2. This bill revises current law to ensure that certain, statutorily-required municipal officials who earn tenure in their positions do not impede local shared service agreements.
Health Insurance Mandate - S-792
Senate passed 39-0. This bill requires insurers to cover comprehensive ultrasound breast screening under certain circumstances. The State Chamber is concerned that this mandate will increase health care costs for employers who are already struggling to afford their health insurance premiums. Premiums in the small employer market have increased significantly in recent years, and employers have had to make difficult decisions, such as increasing employee costs or reducing benefits, in order to continue offering health insurance coverage. In some cases employers have been unable to continue offering coverage. An additional concern is this legislation will not be referred to the Mandated Health Benefits Advisory Commission, so it will not benefit from a comprehensive review of the social and financial impact of the legislation.
False Claims Act - A-2165
Assembly passed 44-33-2. This bill clarifies the effective date of the New Jersey False Claims Act, which imposes civil penalties on any person who submits a claim to the state that he knows or should know is false. This bill would clarify that the False Claims Act was intended to apply to any act which occurred prior to, on, or subsequent to the effective date of March 13, 2008 subject to the statute of limitations set forth in the False Claims Act.
Small Business Regulatory Relief - A-2315
(Chivukula/D-17; McHose/R-24; Singleton/D-7; Chiusano/R-24; Ramos/D-33):
Assembly passed 77-0-2. This bill requires an agency to conduct a review of rules that are up for re-adoption, ensuring that they have minimal impact on small businesses. The bill updates the New Jersey Regulatory Flexibility Act so that it is consistent with the provisions of a model bill endorsed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Transportation Trust Fund - A-3205
(Wisniewski/D-19; Giblin/D-34; Singleton/D-7; Amodeo/R-2; Coughlin/D-19; Rumana/R-40):
Assembly 71-7-1. Senate passed 37-3 and sent to Governor. This bill amends the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund Authority Act of 1984 to make necessary changes to support the State's Capital Transportation Program for Fiscal Years 2012 through 2016. The Transportation Trust Fund pays for significant road, bridge and transit infrastructure investments, which is vital to enhancing New Jersey's economic stability.
Thumbs up and down indicates the Chamber's support or opposition to issues. Call the New Jersey Chamber Government Relations Department at (609) 989-7888 with questions or comments.