June 30, 2010
Re: Re-cap of Assembly and Senate Actions
The Assembly and Senate held voting sessions on June 28th, which was slated to be the final session day before the summer break. However, yesterday Governor Christie ordered the Legislature to return to Trenton on July 1st for a special session. Yesterday, we provided you a summary of the State budget, updates on the two “cap” proposals and a summary of bills now on the Governor’s desk. Below is a summary of other bills of interest in which were acted upon recently.
A-3055, Commercial Fee Moratorium
The Assembly passed A-3055, which would extend the suspension of the 2.5% fee on non-residential development to October 30. The fee suspension will otherwise expire on July 1. The League submitted a statement in opposition to the bill since it is a band-aid solution and the Assembly should instead immediately prioritize comprehensive reform to the Fair Housing Act. The bill was received in the Senate and referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee. The Senate President has indicated that he does not support the bill, and the Governor has stated that he wants a comprehensive housing solution, and will veto this bill if it comes to him. For more information on A-3055 please see our Dear Mayor letter of June 25th.
A-1471, Sundry changes to taxicab law
The Assembly passed A-1471, which makes sundry changes to taxicab laws. It has been received in the Senate and referred to the Senate Transportation Committee. The League supports this bill.
A-2505, Limit the compensation of Officers, Employees and Authorities
A-2505, which would limit the compensation of officers, employees and members of local authorities, unanimously passed the Assembly. The bill has been received in the Senate and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.
S-341, Authorities permitted to join county or municipal insurance fund
The Senate unanimously passed S-341, which would permit a municipal authority to participate in a county or municipal insurance fund. The bill has been received in the Assembly and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee. The League supports this bill.
S-1141, Amending Fire District budgets after adoption
The Senate unanimously passed S-1141, which would permit boards of fire commissioners to amend fire district budgets after adoption to insert special items of revenue similar to the municipalities’ Chapter 159 process. The bill has been received in the Assembly and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee. The League supports this bill.
S-1248, Reporting of law suits to the Division of Local Government Services prior to budget approval
S-1248, would require a municipality or local authority to provide the Director of the Division of Local Government Services with a report regarding law suits to which it is a party, and in which the municipality expects to spend $50,000 or more in legal fees or settlement, prior to budget approval. The League submitted a letter of opposition to this bill since this requirement would add cost and effort but no value to the budgeting process and represents yet another burden on municipalities at a time when they are least able to afford it. In addition it will only delay the budget process and require towns to spend valuable time and money. In this time of fiscal uncertainty and decreased municipal property tax relief funding, it is highly inadvisable to place yet another mandate on any aspect of government. The bill has been received in the Assembly and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.
S-2006, Regulating Solar Panels
The Senate passed S-2006 which prohibits municipal zoning ordinances from regulating solar panels under certain circumstances, and which limits fees for certain renewable energy installations. Even with the exceptions in the bill, we find this legislation objectionable and simply unnecessary. This legislation follows on the heels of other legislation which hinders a municipality’s ability to safeguard the public interest. While the sponsors seek to promote a worthy cause, we find it unnecessary to limit a municipality’s discretion in this regard. History has demonstrated that intrusions on local zoning usually result in unintended consequences, and that the local discretion of policy makers closest to the issues is the best. The bill has been received in the Assembly and referred to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.
S-2068, Free Public Library Dedicated Line Item
S-2068, would require property tax bills to include a line for the free public library/joint municipal library taxes, in addition to county, local, school district and county library taxes. The bill would also require the municipal disbursing officer to transmit payment to the library at the same time the annual appropriations for other municipal departments are “paid over”. The bill has been received in the Assembly and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee. The League expressed general support for this bill, but recommends that it be amended to take effect in the next tax year.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.