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July 1, 2011

Re:      Legislative Re-cap

Dear Mayor:

It has been a busy week in Trenton.  The Governor signed the landmark pensions and health benefits reform bill and the legislature feverishly worked before the summer recess. 

In addition to sending the FY12 budget to the Governor, the following bills have now passed both houses and are now awaiting Governor’s action:

A-3777, which would eliminate separate presidential primary election and provides for delegates and alternates to political party national conventions to be elected at regular June primary.  We support this bill.  We believe that having one less election during presidential primary years will save money and time on behalf of municipalities.

A-359, The “Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Prevention Act”.  We support this bill as this legislation will benefit and protect the public from unscrupulous individuals who set out to take advantage of unfortunate situations.

S-483, which expands availability of general development plan approvals and long-term vesting of preliminary and final site plan approvals in Smart Growth areas.  As conditionally vetoed by the Governor, we support this bill.

S-1807, which authorizes credit unions to serve a public depositories of public funds and requires credit unions to provide certain funds for financial literacy education.  We support this bill as it will increase the number of financial institutions eligible to receive public funds and expands options for municipal finance officials.  In addition, it will increase competition among all providers of government banking services and save taxpayers dollars.

S-1924, “Anti-Snow Dumping Act”, which prohibits commercial snowplow operators on private property from depositing snow in public roads, streets and highways or on public lands.  We oppose this bill.  Currently, municipalities can impose such prohibitions by ordinance.  We prefer that to the approach taken by this bill, which could be overly-broad.  Residents in urban settings, for example, may have no place to put accumulated snow, pursuant to such a statewide prohibition.  A municipal ordinance can recognize and account for, such differences caused by unique local circumstances.

S-2974, which extends moratorium on the imposition of Statewide non-residential development fees and requires the return of unspent fees paid subsequent to June 30, 2010.  We appreciate the sponsors addressing our concerns through amendments.  Please see our June 28 Dear Mayor letter on this legislation.

The following bills have now passed the Senate and head to the Assembly for consideration:

S-2557, which authorizes sale of certain property interests in public roads by local governments to connect certain electric generating facilities with customers and provides for net metering, virtual net metering and connections by public utility.  We support this bill as it will assist municipalities in promoting clean, renewable energy and thus becomes a tool for economic development.

S-2565, which requires the State Comptroller to perform compliance audit to verify municipal implementation of corrective action plan following performance audit.  We oppose this bill as it is unnecessary since the State Comptroller currently has the authority to conduct such an audit.  In addition, the bill would impose new costs on municipalities that is contrary to N.J.S.A. 52:15C-8(e), which states “in carrying out the duties, functions and responsibilities of the Office of the State Comptroller under this act, the State Comptroller shall not charge any costs incurred by the office against a unit of local government or board of education.”

S-2795, which re-aligns enforcement responsibility of State Housing Code concerning multiple dwellings from municipalities to the State under the “Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law.”  We oppose this bill as it would result in these inspections being conducted solely by the State, unless a municipality opts to conduct such inspections pursuant to a contract with the State.  The bill would also prohibit the ability of municipalities to mandate registration requirements for landlords and property owners with three or more rental units. 

The following bills have now passed the Assembly and head to the Senate for consideration:

A-1463, which requires designated fire command structure in municipal emergency operations plans involving mutual aid responses to fires.  We oppose this bill as we believe that a sufficient structure is already in place in these situations.  There is a further concern with the new mandate to include, by title, “deputy chiefs and battalion chiefs” in the chain of command.  As we are unaware of any deficiencies under current mutual aid arrangements, we are concern that the new mandate could disrupt effective procedures.

A-1471, which makes sundry changes to taxicab laws including the ability for municipalities to auction taxi licenses to the highest bidder and require cabs to post the taxi license number and the name of the licensing municipality on the exterior of the vehicle.  We support this bill as the process includes appropriate notice and publication requirements and it allows the municipality to establish qualifications, consistent with State laws and regulations, in order to ensure public safety and consumer protections.

A-3633, which requires plans, specifications and bid proposal documents for certain local public contracts to address soil contamination.  We oppose this bill as we are concerned about the unintended consequence of standardizing the process, which would result in small projects to require site remediation.  In addition, we are also concerned that A-3633 will force municipalities to conduct soil testing, unnecessarily at times, thereby increasing the cost of the project.  As municipalities continue to pinch every penny possible, adding another mandate to the local public contracting process will just drive cost up.

A-3908, which requires State, regional and local authorities, boards and commissions to establish an Internet website and post information related to each entity’s mission, finances, meetings and employees.  We oppose this bill.  After originally opposing the bill we were able to work out remedial amendments, thanks to the sponsor of the companion bill (S-2765), Senator Jennifer Beck.  However, we remain concerned with one of the amendments that was added to this bill in the Assembly.

If you have any questions or need additional information please do not hesitate to contact Jon Moran at jmoran@njslom.com, Mike Cerra at mcerra@njslom.com, Lori Buckelew at lbuckelew@njslom.com or Matt Weng at mweng@njslom.com

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

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