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December 9, 2011

RE:      Legislative Alert
I.     Permit Extension Act
II.   Senate Budget Appropriation Hearing on S-2794, Encouraging Shared Services with
        voter penalty
III.  Transitional Aid advances
IV.    EMS Bill Advances

Dear Mayor,

With the end of the current legislative term on January 10 in sight, the “lame duck” legislative session is in full swing, and numerous legislative committees met yesterday advancing several bills of interest to municipalities.   This letter will highlight some major issues of interest.   A subsequent letter will follow, providing a recap on the other bills of interest.

I. A-4422, Extension of Permit Extension Act

Yesterday, the Assembly Housing and Local Government unanimously approved A-4422, which further extends the Permit Extension Act of 2008 an additional 24 months, until December 31, 2014.   This means that most governmental approvals, unless exempted by the 2008 Act would be extended until 2014.   However, this legislation is more than just a simple extension of the current act.      A-4422 adds a definition of “smart growth” area that expands smart growth areas to included Planning Area 3 (PA3) and Planning Area 4A (PA4A) and the entire planning area in the Highlands.    At yesterday’s hearing the League testified and noted its objection to the overly broad definition of smart growth area

Since the League has historically advocated that such approvals should result from a legitimate planning process, not a legislative determination, the League testified and noted its objection to the overly broad definition of smart growth area.   The bill is available online at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/A4500/4422_I1.PDF

The Assembly bill stands at 2nd reading, and can be voted on by the full Assembly at its next voting session.   The Senate companion, S-3165, is assigned to the Senate Budget, where it awaits a hearing.      For more on this bill, please contact Mike Cerra at mcerra@njslom.com or 609-695-3481 x120

II.        Senate Budget Appropriation Hearing on S-2794
Shared Services with voter penalty

Please see our December 8 Dear Mayor letter (http://www.njslom.org/letters/2011-1208-shared services.html) for a summary of the League’s testimony on S-2794, sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney.   The bill still contains provisions that cause great concerns.

In addition, the prepared statement of the Hon. Art Ondish, Mayor of Mount Arlington and President of the League of Municipalities is posted at: www.njslom.org/testimony/S_2794_ondish_statement-2011-1208.pdf

For more on this, please contact Lori Buckelew at lbuckelew@njslom.com, 609-695-3481 x112 or Mike Cerra at mcerra@njslom.com, 609-695-3481 x120. 

III.       Transitional Aid advances
The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved S-3118, which authorizes and funds “transitional aid” and appropriated $140.5 million for this program.  The Assembly companion A-4373, passed the full Assembly last week.   We anticipate that S-3118 will be voted on by the full Senate on December 15. The League supports this funding, which will assist eleven municipalities.  For more on this issue, please see our November 29 Dear Mayor letter.
IV. EMS Bill Advances

The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee advanced S-818/A-2095, which would revise the requirements for emergency medical services delivery.   The bill, in its current form, requires a minimum of one emergency medical technician (EMT) as the standard of care for every ambulance in the state.   The most recent amendments also provide that a member of a volunteer first aid, ambulance or rescue squad, as defined in section 3 of P.L.1987, c.284 (C.27:5F-20), is not required to pay a fee or assume any other cost for licensure as an EMT from the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services; or to assume the cost of a criminal history record background check that is to be conducted on all persons licensed or otherwise authorized to provide patient care in a pre-hospital care or inter-facility care setting.  We thank the sponsors for most of the issues and concerns raised by the League were included addressed in the most recent bill.  However, given the likelihood that some further refinements to the bill may be advance, we have requested consideration of the following issues:

  • Update the definition of “volunteer first aid, ambulance or rescue squad” to avoid unintended, but significant new burdens on our volunteers, and on the taxpaying citizens who they serve.  We would support amending the definition for “volunteer first aid, ambulance or rescue squad” that would require more than half of a squad’s personnel to serve on a true volunteer basis
  • Suggest that bill be further amended that would permit a qualified driver to drive the ambulance to the scene and meet the EMT on-site. 
  • Request the restoration of provisions that allow for local certification of squads, equipment and personnel.

This bill has previously passed the Assembly, and can be scheduled for a vote by the full Senate at its next voting session.  

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

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