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September 11, 2013
         

Re:  Governor Takes Action on Various Bills
 

I. Bill signed establishing conditional dismissal program in municipal court
II. Bill signed codifying common law protections and limits of eminent domain under
the “Local Redevelopment and Housing Law”
III.
Governor conditionally vetoes bill that requires State Health Benefits Program provide claims history to employers at no cost
IV.
Governor vetoes bill that would have added the President of the Municipal Clerks’Association as a member of the Government Records Council
V.
Governor conditionally vetoes bill clarifying intent of Legislature to protect certainsenior tenants; aligns housing age restrictions with federal law
VI.
Governor vetoes bill revising the law concerning the purchase of scrap metal
VII. Governor conditionally vetoes bill creating pilot program to allow certain countyutilities authorities to fund certain local infrastructure

Dear Mayor,

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

I.          Bill signed establishing conditional dismissal program in municipal court

P.L. 2013, c. 158, would authorize a conditional discharge program in municipal court similar to existing supervised treatment programs for pre-trial intervention and conditional discharge.   This law, which the League supported, will establish a conditional dismissal program.  A defendant who is charged with petty disorderly persons offenses or disorderly persons offense may apply to enter the program, provided that the person has not been previously convicted of any petty disorderly persons offense, disorderly persons offense or crime.   A defendant can make application to the program after a plea of guilty or finding of guilty, but prior to the entry or judgment of conviction.   This law will take effect on January 8, 2014.

Questions on this bill may be directed to Jon Moran at 609-695-3481 x121 or jmoran@njslom.org.

II.        Bill signed codifying protections in common law protections and limits of eminent domain under the “Local Redevelopment and Housing Law”

The Governor signed into law A-3615/ S-2477, which the League supported.  Specifically P.L. 2013, c. 159 codifies recent case law on redevelopment and eminent domain.  The new law also authorizes municipalities that intend to implement redevelopment initiatives without using eminent domain to do so but to still take advantage of the other tools available under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law. 

The long-term effects of recent cases involving redevelopment and eminent domain, coupled with the recession inhibited redevelopment throughout the State.    Essentially, this new law allows a local government to designate at the beginning of the process that no property would be subject to eminent domain while retaining all the other tools under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.  These changes should provide a significant boost for redevelopment throughout the state. 

Questions on this bill may be directed to Mike Cerra at 609-695-3481 x120 or mcerra@njslom.org.

III.       Governor conditionally vetoes bill that requires State Health Benefits Program provide claims history to employers at no cost

The Governor conditionally vetoed A-1273, which requires the State Health Benefits Program to provide to complete claims experience data along with loss reports and large claims data to participating public employers at no cost.  The veto extended this requirement to joint insurance funds that provide health benefits or health insurance coverage, requires the information be given to the public employer in 60 days instead of 30 days, and requires the release of the claims data comply with HIPPA.  In his veto message, Governor Christie noted that he supports the intent of the bill but “in order to encourage all governmental units to consider all options, I am recommending that the bill be amended to also require joint insurance funds provide claims experience data in the same manner as the SHBP and SEHBP.”

Questions on this bill may be directed to Lori Buckelew at 609-695-3481 x112 or lbuckelew@njslom.org.

IV.       Governor vetoes bill that would have added the President of the Municipal Clerks’ Association as a member of the Government Records Council

The Governor vetoed A1857/S-2433, which would have had the President of the Municipal Clerks’ Association, or their designee, serve as a member of the Government Records Council.   In his veto message the Governor expressed his concern about losing the balance of government representatives and public members.  “Thus, under current law, only two seats on the GRC are reserved for government employees, with the remaining three reserved for individuals who are not employed by the government.  Current law reflects a policy that government transparency is best preserved if government employees are not permitted to dominate the GRC through a majority. I agree with that principle. OPRA currently strikes a delicate balance with respect to the composition of the GRC. While perhaps not the intention of the Legislature, this bill would disturb that balance in a way that could inadvertently undermine transparency and public access to government records.”

Questions on this bill may be directed to Lori Buckelew at 609-695-3481 x112 or lbuckelew@njslom.org.

V.        Governor conditionally vetoes bill clarifying intent of Legislature to protect certain senior tenants; aligns housing age restrictions with federal law

The Governor conditionally vetoed A-2737/S-897, which the League also supported.  The legislation intended to amend existing law so that local rent control provisions apply to multiple dwellings which reserves units for senior citizens.    The bill also revises the definition of the term “senior citizen” to reduce the minimum age requirement to 55 years of age. 

The Governor’s conditional veto struck these provisions and instead directs the Department of Community Affairs to undertake “a review of the application of rent control ordinances to housing constructed for senior citizens and develop findings and recommendations regarding the impact of rent control ordinances on the supply and cost of housing constructed for senior citizens.    It is uncertain whether the Legislature will advance the Governor’s recommendations.

Questions on this bill may be directed to Mike Cerra at 609-695-3481 x120 or mcerra@njslom.org.

VI.       Governor vetoes bill revising the law concerning the purchase of scrap metal

The Governor vetoed A-3222/SCS S-1773/S-2126, which would have revised the laws regarding the purchase of scrap metal.   In his veto message the Governor stated that deterring scrap metal theft is laudable, however, he was concerned that the provisions of the bill would “significantly increasing recordkeeping and reporting requirements on scrap metal businesses will impose substantial expenses and administrative burdens on operators in this State.  Businesses that abide by the law, especially our State’s small business community, should not be penalized with overly burdensome requirements.  Imposing additional hurdles on legitimate small businesses may deter law-abiding scrap metal businesses that contribute to our State’s economy from operating in New Jersey.”

Questions on this bill may be directed to Jon Moran at 609-695-3481 x121 or jmoran@njslom.org.

VII.     Governor conditionally vetoes bill creating pilot program to allow certain county utilities authorities to fund certain local infrastructure

The Governor conditionally vetoed A-4232/SCS S-2844, which creates a pilot program to allow certain county utilities authorities to fund certain local infrastructure.  Specifically, A-4232/SCS S-2844 would permit pilot county utilities authorities to use undesignated fund balances or unreserved retained earnings of county utilities authorities to fund county infrastructure projects in municipalities located within the pilot county.  The pilot counties are Gloucester, Camden and Union.  In his conditional veto message, the Governor noted his support of the sponsor’s intent to find ways to fund infrastructure projects without reliance on property taxes.  However, the Governor was concerned that the bill would put pressure of utilities to raise user fees or invest less in maintaining existing infrastructure.  To that end, the Governor’s conditional veto would require the approval of the Division of Local Government Services before the funds could be used pursuant to this bill.

Questions on this bill may be directed to Lori Buckelew at 609-695-3481 x112 or lbuckelew@njslom.org.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

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