January 6, 2012
Re: Legislative Recap for January 5, 2012
Thursday was the last day of legislative committee hearings for the 214th legislature, and both the General Assembly and State Senate will hold their final voting sessions on Monday, January 9 before this legislative session ends. The 215th Legislature will organize and convene starting on Tuesday, January 10.
On Thursday, a number of bills of interest to municipalities were scheduled for action by various legislative committees. This letter provides a brief recap of these bills.
Permit Extension Bill Held
The bill to amend and expand the Permit Extension Act, A-4422, was scheduled for consideration by the Assembly Budget Committee but was instead held by the Assembly sponsor, Committee Chair Louis Greenwald. The Senate companion, S-3165, has not been acted on, so it appears that this legislation will not move during this legislative term. We would anticipate it to return after the new Legislature is sworn, perhaps as soon as later this month or in February. The League opposed this legislation, and more information on this bill, please see our December 9 Dear Mayor letter. Questions can be directed to Mike Cerra at firstname.lastname@example.org or (609) 695-3481 x120.
Sex offender residency ordinance Legislation Held
The Assembly Budget Committee also held S-837/A-3363, which would permit a municipality to enact an ordinance establishing areas in or around elementary or secondary schools, playgrounds, or child care centers where certain registered sex offenders may be prohibited from residing. We had notified the Committee that we oppose S-837/A-3363, as currently drafted. Local ordinances passed pursuant to this bill would, inevitably, be challenged in State and Federal Courts. This will delay enforcement of the restrictions, possibly for years, and impose significant litigation costs on local property taxpayers. We have offered to work with the sponsors on State-wide standards more likely to be upheld by State and Federal Courts, when the new Legislature begins next Tuesday. For more on this bill, please see our January 4 Dear Mayor letter. Questions can be directed to Jon Moran at email@example.com or (609) 695-3481 x121.
Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) Advances
Legislation intended to stabilize the SREC market and the solar industry in New Jersey was approved by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. The League testified in opposition to the legislation, particularly citing an amendment to the bill which would compel the loss of productive farmland. The committee made significant amendments to the legislation, which the League is currently reviewing. The bills are likely to be voted on by the Assembly on Monday, and could head to the Governor for his consideration. There is significant opposition to the legislation, and it is not known how the Governor will act if the bill should reach his desk. Questions can be directed to Mike Cerra at firstname.lastname@example.org or (609) 695-3481 x120.
Statute of Limitations Bill Advances
Legislation that would eliminate the statute of limitations in civil actions for sexual abuse, A-3622 was amended and approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee. The League opposes this bill because it would expose municipalities to suits several decades old, which would be almost impossible to defend. The Senate companion is assigned to the Senate Budget Committee, but has not been scheduled. Questions can be directed to Matt Weng at email@example.com or (609) 695-3481 x137.
Changes to Marriage and Civil Union Licenses
A-4366, which changes the requirements and increases fees for marriage licenses and civil union licenses and provides for annulments without cause, to spur economic development by making New Jersey a wedding destination was released from the Assembly Budget Appropriation Committee by a vote of 8-3. While the League supports the intent of this legislation we testified in opposition as we have concerns with the implementation. The Senate companion, S-3122, has not been acted on, so it appears that this legislation will not move during this legislative term. For more on this bill, please see our January 4 Dear Mayor letter. Questions can be directed to Lori Buckelew at firstname.lastname@example.org or (609) 695-3481 x112.
Option to Move School Board Elections to November
Legislation that would permit the moving of School Board Elections to November, A-4394, was released, with amendments, from the Assembly Budget Committee by a vote of 8-3. At this time the bill is not scheduled for an Assembly vote on Monday but may be added to the final board list. The Senate companion is scheduled for a Senate vote on Monday. Questions can be directed to Lori Buckelew at email@example.com or (609) 695-3481 x112.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.