Legislative Update 4/6/10
Tuesday, 06 April 2010
April 6, 2010 - Tracking Legislation and Other Items Important to the NJ Business Community
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
Cabinet nominations reported from the Senate
The Senate confirmed Dr. Poonam Alaigh to be Commissioner of Health and Senior Services and Bob Martin to be Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection. Both were sworn in Friday, March 26.
Dr. Alaigh is an internist who specializes in vascular diseases, and has served as an executive for insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Most recently, she was the executive medical director of Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey. She will continue as a practicing physician on a volunteer basis.
Martin retired in 2008 from his position as a partner at Accenture LLP, the business and technology consulting firm with more than 140,000 employees around the globe. Commissioner Martin also has extensive international experience. While living in England from 1991 to 1995, he worked with several large United Kingdom water and electric utilities as the companies privatized and the markets deregulated.
Governor Christie announced that Dona DeLeon will serve as the Director of the Governor's Washington D.C. Office for the State of New Jersey. Previously, DeLeon was with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where she served in numerous capacities including: counselor for the Office of Air and Regulation, acting director of the Office of Children's Health Protection, and acting associate Administrator for the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs.
Improving NJ’s Corporate Governance - S-895 (Diegnan/D-18; Barnes/D-18; Coughlin/D-19; Watson Coleman/D-15; Lampitt/D-6; Gill/D-34; Sarlo/D-36): Assembly passed 77-0, sent to Governor. This bill eliminates the 10-day waiting period for certain shareholder actions. This waiting period can create inefficiencies and delays in transactions. This bill was modeled on Delaware General Corporation Law and will make it easier for corporations to conduct business. Contact: Mary Ellen Peppard
Land Use/Time of Application – S-82 (Rice/D-28; Van Drew/D-1; Green/D-22; McHose/R-24; Vandervalk/R-39): Assembly passed 51-14, sent to Governor. This legislation states that regulations in effect on the date a development application is submitted will govern the review and decision made on the application. Current law allows zoning and land use regulations to be changed during the application process, adding instability to the process. The State Chamber supports this legislation because it brings predictability for economic development. It would bolster our business attraction and retention efforts and make New Jersey more competitive with neighboring states. Contact: Mary Ellen Peppard
Interdistrict Public School Choice Program – A-355 (Jasey/D-27; Voss/D-38; Moriarty/D-4): Assembly passed 75-0. Creates a permanent inter-district public school choice program. A five-year inter-district public school choice pilot program was established in 2000 and expired in 2005. As under the original choice program, the permanent program would allow students to enroll across district lines in designated schools within a district. The permanent program doesn’t limit the number of districts that can participate in the choice program. Contact: Michael Egenton
Energy Incentives - A-906 (Chivukula/D-17; Greenstein/D-14; Vainieri Huttle/D-37): Assembly passed 76-0. Provides an equal opportunity for businesses that pay the societal benefits charges to apply for certain energy-related incentives and funding. Businesses that pay the societal benefits charge should be able to utilize financial incentive programs that encourage clean energy and energy efficiency. Contact: Michael Egenton
Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee
Exempting Solar Panels From Impervious Cover Designation – S-921 (Smith/D-17; Beck/R-12; Beach/D-6; Bateman/R-16; Chivukula/D-17; Quijano/D-20; McKeon/D-27): Committee passed, Assembly passed 75-0, sent to Governor. Exempts solar panels from being designated as an impervious surface or impervious cover. This legislation would apply to laws relating to municipal land use, agricultural development, storm water management and the Highlands. Removing this impediment will help expedite solar projects around the state and demonstrate that New Jersey is serious about promoting the “green economy.” Contact: Michael Egenton
Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee A-2289 Vote: Chivukula, Upendra (Chair) - Yes; DeAngelo, Wayne (Vice Chair) - Yes; Egan, Joseph - Yes; Mainor, Charles - Yes; Quijano, Annette - Yes; Bucco, Anthony - Yes; Rible, David - Yes
Pension Reform - S-2 (Scutari/D-22; O’Toole/R-40; Bateman/R-16; Oliver/D-34; DeCroce/R-26); S-3 (Doherty/R-23; Whelan/D-2; Oliver/D-34; DeCroce/R-26); S-4 (O’Toole/R-40; Buono/D-18; DeCroce/R-26; Oliver/D-34): Signed by the Governor. This package of bills reforms various components of the public employee pension and benefits system including limiting the enrollment in the defined benefit pension program to full-time (32 hours per week) employees who earn more than $5,000; requiring workers to pay at least 1.5 percent of their salary toward health benefits and changing the formula for determining sick leave payout by capping the amount to $15,000. These bills recognize the state’s serious fiscal situation and will begin to stem the sharp growth of benefit and pension costs. Contact: Mary Ellen Peppard
Joint Hearing of the Senate Labor Committee and Assembly Labor Committees Unemployment Insurance Fund – State Chamber Vice President Michael Egenton joined New Jersey Business & Industry Association Senior Vice President Melanie Willoughby and National Federation of Independent Businesses State Director Laurie Ehlbeck to urge the State Legislature to act quickly to prevent a $1 billion tax hike on private-sector jobs through an automatic Unemployment Insurance (UI) payroll tax increase scheduled for July 1. Doug Holmes, President of UWC – Strategic Services on Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation, also testified and provided information on how New Jersey’s UI benefits compare with other states.
Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee Regulatory Reform: Exceeding Federal Standards – A-2486 (Burzichelli/D-3): Committee passed. Prohibits a state agency from filing with the Office of Administrative Law a notice of proposal or notice of adoption for any new rule that would exceed federal standards or requirements unless specifically authorized by state law. There is an exception for rules that are necessary to protect public health, safety or welfare. The State Chamber believes regulatory reform will make New Jersey a more attractive place to operate a business and bring us more in line with other states. Contact: Michael Egenton
Assembly Appropriations Committee A-2486 Vote: Burzichelli, John (Chair) - Yes; Quijano, Annette, (Vice Chair) - Yes; Caputo, Ralph - Yes; Casagrande, Caroline - Yes; Polistina, Vincent - Yes
The Assembly Budget Committee is scheduled to hear from State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff on Wednesday, April 7. The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear from the Treasurer on Thursday, April 8. State Chamber members will have an opportunity to attend a presentation and Q&A with the State Treasurer at the next Breakfast Roundtable Session on Friday, April 30 at Forsgate Country Club.
Senate Transportation Committee Fixing the Bayonne Bridge – SR-47 (Sacco/D-32; Cunningham/D-31): Committee passed. This resolution urges the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to formulate an engineering and funding solution regarding the Bayonne Bridge, which is too low for certain cargo ships to travel under. Shipping companies make long-term agreements and need to know years in advance whether there will be a solution. If this is not addressed, cargo will be delivered elsewhere and New Jersey will lose billions of dollars in port revenue. Additionally, it is critical to find and implement a solution before the newly widened Panama Canal opens at the end of 2014. Contact: Michael Egenton
Call the State Chamber Government Relations department at (609) 989-7888 with questions, comments or to receive extra copies. For an electronic version visit our web site at www.njchamber.com.
***Information provided by the NJ State Chamber of Commerce