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June 12, 2015

RE:    Weekly Policy Update 

I. OPRA and OPMA
II.
New Jersey Supreme Court Ruling on Pension Payment Obligation
III.
Bill advances that permits municipalities to implement a 5 year residency requirement for Public Safety Employees
IV.
BPU—Verizon Stipulation Agreement

Dear Mayor:

Here’s a recap of major policy issues of interest to local governments. 

I. Senate Budget Appropriations Committee Holds OPRA and OPMA Bills

On Monday, June 8th, the Senate Budget Committee took testimony on but held S-781 and S-782, which make amendments to both the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) and the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).  Senate Budget Chairman Sarlo did make the commitment to bring both bills back for a vote at the next Senate Budget Committee meeting, which could be scheduled as early as Monday, June 22. We will be meeting with various stakeholders and Senator Weinberg’s staff early next week to discuss our concerns with the bills.  Please see our June 9 Dear Mayor letter outlining our concerns.  Please contact your State Senator expressing your concerns with the legislation.

Contact: Lori Buckelew, lbuckelew@njslom.org or 609-695-3481 x112.

II. New Jersey Supreme Court Ruling on Pension Payment Obligation

On Tuesday, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled the statutory language in PL 2011, C. 78 (“Chapter 78”) did not create an enforceable contract requiring constitutional protection.   For more on this decision, please see the League’s June 9 Dear Mayor letter (http://www.njslom.org/letters/2015-0609-pension.html) and the June 11 Dear Mayor letter (http://www.njslom.org/letters/2015-0611-pension.html. )
Contact: Michael Cerra, mcerra@njslom.org or 609-695-3481 x120.

III. Bill advances that permits municipalities to implement a 5 year residency requirement for Public Safety Employees

The Senate Budget Committee amended and released without recommendation S-2783.  This permissive legislation would authorize municipalities, at their discretion, to adopt ordinances implementing a five-year residency requirement for police and fire appointees. Specifically, S-2783 would allow the municipality to require new police and fire (paid and part-paid departments) hires to begin residing in the municipality within six months of their appointment. A municipality that adopts ordinance may provide an exception to the residency requirement for any member of the police department who suffers injury, or a threat of injury, to his person, family, or property, committed by another who acts with purpose to: (1) intimidate the officer because of his status as an officer; (2) manipulate an investigation; or (3) otherwise influence the officer to violate his official duty.

New Jersey’s municipalities have a long-standing tradition and the right, in our view, to establish and enforce residency requirements. Municipalities are exploring all possible avenues to strengthen its tax base and job opportunities, stabilize neighborhoods and enhance community engagement, objectives that may be advanced through residency requirements.

S-2783 and its Assembly companion A-4265 both stand at 2nd reading and can be scheduled for votes in their respective houses. 
Contact: Michael Cerra, mcerra@njslom.org or 609-695-3481 x120.

IV.   BPU—Verizon Stipulation Agreement

The Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has issued an order formally implementing provisions of a proposed stipulation agreement between the BPU and Verizon that was approved by BPU commissioners on May 19th. A copy of this order can be found at http://www.njslom.org/legislation/bpu/BPU_Order_060515.pdf.  

This agreement has been the topic of a number of communications from the League. In sum, it would deregulate basic telephone rates and remove existing basic telephone service quality standards in either three or five years. The League opposed the BPU’s adoption of this agreement.  Please see earlier correspondence here: http://www.njslom.org/letters/2015-0519-bpu.html

Contact:  Ed Purcell, Esq., epurcell@njslom.org or 609-695-3481

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

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