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November 8, 2013

Re: Legislative Recap, Lame Duck Begins

Dear Mayor:

Both Houses of the State Legislature were in session on Thursday, convening the “lame duck” session. The current Legislative session ends at noon on Tuesday, January 14 and any bills not acted upon by that time, must start over in the new session.

There were a number of developments of interest during the day yesterday.  Senate President Sweeney and Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean were both re-elected to their leadership positions.  Assemblyman Vince Prieto was elected to serve as the Assembly Speaker beginning in January and Assemblyman Jon Bramnick was re-elected to serve as the Assembly Republican Leader.

The Senate Environment Committee acted on bills of interest to municipalities.  The following bills were approved:

A-1588/S-2081, which requires the Department of Community Affairs to establish standards concerning mold hazards in residential building interiors and schools facilities, is supported by the League and has previously passed the State Assembly.  These bills are now referenced to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee;

S-2632,  which the League also supports.  Under current law, a municipality can provide “clean energy” special assessment on properties when the owner has requested the assessment in exchange for financial assistance for the financing.  This legislation expands the permitted projects that may be included to water conservation projects, flood resistant construction projects, hurricane resistant construction projects, residential storm shelter projects and safe rooms.   Such a program would be permissive for both the municipality and the property owner.   The bill is now referenced to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

The Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee also acted on bills of interest to municipalities, including:

S-1345, which requires the Office of the State Comptroller to conduct compliance audits to verify municipal compliance following earlier compliance audit.   The League has long objected to this legislation for a number of reasons, including the fact that the Comptroller can already do this, and the requirement that the municipality reimburse the State Treasury for the costs of the compliance audit. However, committee amendments eliminated that reimbursement requirement.  The League is reviewing the newly amended bill and will advise you accordingly.   S-1345 is now referenced to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further review.

S-2400, which the League supports, would establish a pilot program to allow municipalities to bid at auction on one or more parcels of real estate if the  governing body determines that the property is suitable for a public purpose or financially beneficial, preempting  all other bidding on that property.   S-2400 is second referenced to the Senate Budget and Appropriations committee. 

S-2921, which the League supports, would require a vacant and abandoned property to be registered with the municipality and provide additional enforcement tools.   The bill is referenced to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.  The Assembly companion, A-4031, stands at 2nd and can be scheduled for a vote by the full Assembly.

The Senate Labor Committee acted on the following bill of interest to municipalities:

S-2604 expands the requirements of the Public Works Contractor Registration Act and sets criteria for responsible bidders.  The League has opposed the bill because we are concerned with conflicts that could arise with conflicting definitions in the Local Public Contracts Law and the Public Works Contractor Registration Act.  The bill was merged not only with the Assembly companion, A-3359, but with S-3309, which makes construction work on public utilities subject to the Public Works Contractor Registration Act, as well.  The League is reviewing the newly amended bill and will advise you accordingly.   

For additional information, please contact Mike Cerra at 609-695-3481 x120 or mcerra@njslom.com, Jon Moran at 609-695-3481 x121 or jmoran@njslom.com or Lori Buckelew at 609-695-3481 x112 or lbuckelew@njslom.com.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

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