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October 17, 2014

Re:  Weekly Policy Update

Dear Mayor:

Here is a brief update on legislative and regulatory issues of interest to municipalities. 

I.   COAH Meeting on Monday, October 20
The Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) will meet on Monday, October 20.   It is anticipated that the Council will approve the proposed “third round regulations,” which will then be effective upon publication in the New Jersey Register on November 17.   If you recall, the League filed its comments on the regulations on July 31, and are posted online at: http://www.njslom.org/documents/NJLM_comments_73114.pdf
Contact: Mike Cerra, mcerra@njslom.com or 609-695-3481, ext. 120.

II.   League opposes bill to bypass public referendum on public water systems

The League Legislative Committee recently reviewed and opposes A-3628 and S-2412, the “Water Infrastructure Protection Act.” This legislation would allow the lease or sale of public water or wastewater assets to a private entity, without any referendum, if one of six “emergent conditions” are met.  While the League committee appreciates the sponsors’ intentions of providing flexibility, the League is concerned about the authorization of the sale or lease of a public water asset without voter approval. In many cases, a water/wastewater asset may be a municipality’s most valuable asset and the six “emergent conditions” are very broad. Considering the value of the water assets, the broad nature of the criteria and the irreversibility of the decision, the voter referendum represents a critical level of consent from the governed.  Further we are unaware of any shortcomings in the existing law (N.J.S.A 58:27-19) which necessitates the changes contemplated under this legislation. We recommend contacting your legislators if you share these concerns on A-3628 and S-2412. 
Contact: Contact: Mike Cerra, 609-695-3481 x120, or mcerra@njslom.org

III. S-2454 & A-3791,  DLGS  Modernization and Local Mandate Relief Act of 2014”

Recently, the “Division of Local Government Services Modernization and Local Mandate Relief Act of 2014” was introduced by Senators Van Drew and Oroho and Assembly representatives Stender, Auth, Andrzejczak, Clifton and Eustace.  The intent of the S-2454/A-3791 is to streamline the responsibilities of the Division of Local Government Services and local governments.   The League supports this commonsense bill.  A detailed description of the bill is available at:  http://www.njslom.org/legislation/s2454-101714.pdf

Many of the proposed amendments in the bill are issues that the League has raised before the Red Tape Review Commission, conference resolutions and other legislative initiatives.   We thank the sponsors and request that you reach out to your Senator and Assembly representatives urging them to support this bill.
Contact: Lori Buckelew at lbuckelew@njslom.org or 609-695-3481 x112.

IV.    A-1883/S-1941, (Increases permissible value of door prizes offered by volunteer service organizations)

The Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee voted in favor of companion bills, A-1883 and S-1941. This initiative, supported by the League, would update the raffle statute to permit veterans’ organizations, religious congregations, educational and social service associations and volunteer first responder squads to increase the value of raffle prizes to $200, without the need to, first, obtain a license.  The current raffle prize value limit has stood at $50 since 1955. The companion bills would not diminish, in any way, current municipal regulatory rights and it would apply only when the entire net proceeds of the raffle are devoted to the organization’s public spirited goals.  They will, we hope, help advance the beneficial work of the volunteer, non-profit entities that contribute so much to the quality of life in New Jersey municipalities and to the fulfillment, contentment and happiness of our citizens. The bills, which were previously approved by the General Assembly, now go to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further review.
Contact: Jon Moran at jmoran@njslom.org or 609-695-3481, ext. 121.

V.   New UEZ bill introduced

At a Thursday press conference, Senator Robert Singer, the former Mayor of Lakewood, and Senator Paul Sarlo, the Mayor of Wood-Ridge, announced their sponsorship of new legislation designed to dedicate new revenues for urban enterprise zones (UEZ.).    S-2509 will change the revenue structure for these zones by increasing by a half percentage annually the amount of sales tax collected on purchases in the zones.  Currently, the sales tax is 3.5% and under this bill that would increase to 4% in the next fiscal year (FY 2016), 4.5% in FY 2017 and so forth until it reaches 7% in FY 2021.    All revenues collected above 3.5% will be dedicated to local zones.   Thus, in FY 2016, 12.5% of the total sales tax revenues in these zones will deposited into the separate accounts under the urban enterprise zone assistance fund.   Then by FY 2021, 50% of the sales tax revenues will be for the UEZs.   At the press conference, the sponsors indicated their objective was to find a revenue neutral (to the State) solution to assist economic development in these UEZs and give the Legislature seven years to further evaluate the future of UEZs.  The sponsors were joined by a number of UEZ coordinators from across the State, who stated their support for the initiative.  S-2509 is referenced to the Senate Economic Growth Committee. 
Contact: Mike Cerra, 609-695-3481 x120, or mcerra@njslom.org

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

 

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