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August 20, 2013

Re:       Governor Takes Action on Various Bills

I.   Bill signed requiring home improvement contractors to display State issued identification badge
II.  Governor conditionally vetoes Logging Bill
III. Governor vetoes bill requiring SHBP coverage for alcoholism, other substance use disorders and non-biologically based mental illness
IV. Governor vetoes bill establishing county-wide purchasing system for food and custodial services
V.  Governor vetoes revisions to the Shore Protection Funding criteria
VI.  Governor vetoes bill that would have allowed development on piers in certain coastal high hazard areas in urban municipalities

Dear Mayor,

Yesterday, Governor Christie took action on various bills of interest to municipalities as follows:

I.          Bill signed requiring home improvement contractors to display State issued identification badge

P.L. 2013, c.144, will require every contractor registered under the “Contractors’ Registration Act” to have in their possession a state issued identification badge whenever they are performing, engaging or attempting to engage in the business of making or selling home improvements.  The badge will include a color photograph of the contractor’s face, the contractor’s name, registration number and business.  The badge will include a statement that it is not for an electrical contractor, plumbing contractor or HVACR Contractor license. A contractor will be required to renew their identification badge at least once every six years.   The law will take effect on August 19, 2014.

II.        Governor conditionally vetoes Logging Bill

The Governor conditionally vetoed S-1085/A-2837, which would have established a forest stewardship program for State-owned lands.     The League opposed the bill based on concerns raised by our member municipalities regarding the potential damage resulting from commercial logging to roads, streams and drainage systems on both State and municipal lands.   Additionally, these State lands have been set aside, using public dollars,  for conservation and recreation purposes. 

The conditional veto cites as the Governor’s sole concern the provision which would have transferred responsibility for the program over to a group independent of state government, the non-profit Forest Stewardship Council.    The Governor removed that provision, returning oversight to the Department of Environmental Protection.

The bill now returns to the Legislature for consideration of the Governor’s conditional veto.   Since that the third party oversight was considered a vital portion of the bill to its advocates, it is not certain if S-1085 will advance any further.  While we appreciate the Governor’s conditional veto, it did not address the concerns raised by municipalities impacted by the bill.  As such, we would recommend contacting your legislation and ask them to oppose the bill. 

III.       Governor vetoes bill requiring SHBP and SEHBP coverage for alcoholism, other substance use disorders and non-biologically based mental illness

The Governor vetoed S-1253/A-1665, which required the State Health Benefits Commission and School Employee Health Benefits Commission to provide coverage for the treatment of alcoholism and other substance-use disorder as well as disorders that are included in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and are not a biologically-based mental illnesses under same terms and conditions as for other diseases or illnesses.  In his veto message, Governor Christie noted that both State Health Benefit designs commissions are reviewing mental health coverage as well as other changes to the health plans offered in calendar year 2014.  The Governor has been advised that the School Employee Health Benefits Commission (SEHBP) “has come to agreement on a number of changes to the health plans to be offered in 2014 and the SEHBP will provide the same coverage for mental health disorders as for physical disorders.  Unfortunately, the SHBP design committee has not yet reached any similar agreement on changes to their health plans for 2014.”  The Governor further noted that while the bill was well intended it would limit the role of the design committees and upset the deliberate balance and independence envisioned when creating the design committees.

IV.       Governor vetoes bill establishing county-wide purchasing system for food and custodial services

The Governor vetoed S-1191/A-2974, which would permit Camden, Gloucester, Middlesex, Passaic and Union counties to established a countywide purchasing system for providing custodial services and/or food services to school districts within their county.  Every local school district within the county that uses a private contractor for custodial services and/or food services would be mandated to participate in the county-wide contract.  In his veto message the Governor noted that S-1191/A-2974 usurps local control in favor of a more restrictive county-wide experiment that would conflict with federal law.  In addition, the current system provides districts with the flexibility to jointly purchase services as a means to reduce costs and share services.

V.        Governor vetoes revisions to the Shore Protection Funding criteria

The Governor vetoed S-2620/A-3874, which would require that in order to receive shore protection funding a project would need to meet the requirements of the priority system and criteria.  The bill would have directed the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, in developing the priority ranking system for Shore Protection Fund projects, to include for consideration any project that would provide for the protection, stabilization, restoration, or maintenance of the shore associated with a public access walkway, provided that the walkway serves as a public access corridor spanning multiple municipalities. In his veto message the Governor noted that S-2620/A-3874 would divert limited funding sources from critical shore protection projects.

VI.       Governor vetoes bill that would have allowed development on piers in certain coastal high hazard areas in urban municipalities

The Governor vetoed S-2680/A-3933, which would have allowed development on existing piers located in coastal high hazard areas in certain urban municipalities.  In his veto message the Governor noted that he vetoed the bill because it had the potential to jeopardize National Flood Insurance Program eligibility for impacted municipalities.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

 

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