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January 20, 2017

RE:  WEEKLY UPDATE
I.    State Policy Issues
II.   Federal Policy Issues
III. 101st Annual Conference Recap
IV. 2017 Campaign Contribution Notice
V. Primer for Local Officials
VI. Also of Interest

Dear Mayor:

I. State Policy Issues

a. Supreme Court Issues Gap Ruling

On Wednesday, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued its decision on the gap issue. See In Re Declaratory Judgement Actions filed by Various Municipalities, County of Ocean, Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s Decision in In Re Adoption of N.J.A.C. 5:96, 221 N.J. 1 (2015), Docket No. 077565 (2017). The Court has affirmed, in part, and reversed, in part, the decision of the Appellate Division and may have expanded the Mount Laurel doctrine to include, with some important exceptions, low and moderate income (LMI) households created during the 16 year gap period.

You can click here for the summary the League provided on Wednesday.  We continue our assessment as to the long-term implications of the ruling and will advise accordingly.  We urge you to speak to your land use attorneys for the potential implications on your municipality.

Contact: Michael Cerra, Assistant Executive Director, mcerra@njslom.com, 609-695-3481 x120.

b. Law Permits Waiving, Reducing or Deferring Certain Fees for Deployed Military Personnel

Earlier this week Governor Christie signed legislation that would permit authorities and local units operating water supply or sewerage facilities to waive, reduce, or defer sewerage and water service fees for deployed military personnel.  In addition, a municipal utility providing electricity for a single municipality may waive, reduce or defer interest, rents, rates, fees or other charges.   The local unit may establish a reduction, total abatement or deferment without interest of fees, rates, rents or other charges for primary residence owned, in full or in part, by any person who is enlisted in any branch of the US Armed Forces.  The reduction, total abatement or deferment shall be in effect during the period of time in which the person is deployed for active service during wartime.  The League supported P.L. 2016, c. 102 which took effect on January 9, 2017.

Contact: Lori Buckelew, Senior Legislative Analyst, lbuckelew@njslom.org, 609- 695-3481, x112.

c. Governor Signs Executive Order Drug Abuse Control

On January 17, Governor Christie signed Executive Order 219 declaring that the “abuse of and addiction to opioid drugs is a public health crisis in New Jersey, necessitating the marshalling of all appropriate resources to combat its harmful effects on the citizens of our State.”  The Executive Order creates an eight member “Governor’s Task Force on Drug Abuse Control” consisting of the Attorney General, Commissioners of Health, Human Services, Corrections, Education, Children and Family Services, and Banking and Insurance.  The task force is charged with developing and executing a comprehensive coordinated strategy to combat drug abuse and with reviewing current statutes and regulations to make recommendations to remove barriers that prevent treatment.

In addition, the Attorney General was directed to establish standards to limit the initial prescription of opioids for acute pain and that additional quantities of prescription pain killers may only be prescribed after further doctor patient consultation.  The Commissioner of Children and Family Services was instructed to take necessary steps to ensure that residential substance abuse disorder treatment facilities, are able to utilize existing space effectively, and 18 and 19 year olds with substance abuse problems are able to take advantage of any vacancies in existing facilities, as appropriate.  The Commissioner of Education was directed to develop a new comprehensive curriculum to educate children about the dangers of substance abuse.

Executive Order 219 took effect immediately.

Contact: Lori Buckelew, Senior Legislative Analyst, lbuckelew@njslom.org, 609- 695-3481, x112.

d. Governor Signs E-Waste Bill

We are pleased to report that Governor Christie has signed S-981/A-2375, (P.L. 2016, c. 87)  regarding so-called "e-waste."   The League supported this bill, and worked closely with our partners at the Association of Counties. 

Specifically, this legislation would require each manufacturer of "covered electronic devices" to provide for the collection, transportation, and recycling of its market share in weight of all covered electronic devices collected in a program year.  

The "Electronic Waste Management Act” was intended to require manufacturers to provide for the recycling of residential covered electronic devices at no cost to taxpayers.  Unfortunately, despite the best of intentions, it did not work out that way.   Local governments wound up subsidizing the program with taxpayer dollars in order to ensure that 100% of the material collected is properly recycled. 

This new law should ensure that manufacturers provide for a "free and convenient" recycling program for all of the covered electronic devices that are collected and further eliminate the need for local governments, and by extension our property taxpayers, to either absorb these costs or eliminate their programs

You can also click here to learn more on this legislation from the League's Town Crier blog.

Contact:  Michael Cerra, Assistant Executive Director, mcerra@njslom.org, 609-695-3481 x120.

e. Important Legislation Awaiting Action

We still await the Governor’s action on bills which have passed both Houses and now sit on his desk. For both A-4189/S2670 and A-3695, the 45 days, which the State Constitution allows for gubernatorial consideration of passed bills, would expire at noon on February 2 or the next day, thereafter, when the Assembly (the House of origin) is in session. Unless the current legislative calendar is modified, that would be Thursday, February 9. Please consider contacting the Governor’s Office on:

A-4189/S-2670, regarding Urban Enterprise Zones (UEZ), which will extend, for two years, UEZ authorization in municipalities where the program was scheduled to sunset at the end of 2016. (Those municipalities are Bridgeton, Camden, Newark, Plainfield and Trenton.)  The remaining zones do not expire for a number of years.

Previously Governor Christie conditionally vetoed A-2576/S-1080, which would have extended UEZ designation for participating municipalities for another 10 years.  With his conditional veto, the Governor asked instead, that the Legislature direct the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to conduct a study of the UEZ program “… which shall include, without limitation, an assessment of whether an alternative, location-based program to assist fiscally distressed municipalities is appropriate, and, if so, recommendations for the parameters of such a program …”

Respecting the Governor’s desire for a comprehensive analysis of the program, A-4189/S-2670 is a compromise. The new legislation accepts the Governor’s recommendation regarding a DCA study of the program and research into alternatives. However, the bill provides a two-year extension to the five UEZs that were set to expire at the end 2016.

You can click here to email the Governor and ask him to sign the compromise legislation. 

Contact:  

Michael Cerra, Assistant Executive Director, mcerra@njslom.com, 609-695-3481 x120;
Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, jmoran@njslom.org, 609-695-3481 x121.

Also, A-3695, which preempts municipal regulation of some taxi services such as Uber and Lyft,   is opposed by the League.  This legislation would unnecessarily exempt ride for hire services from local regulation. We have asked the Governor to conditionally veto the bill, so as to delete Section 26.

This proposal, in its current form, would create a new class of taxis, exempt from local oversight. Instead, the legislation establishes State-level safety and insurance requirements for transportation network companies that conduct business in this State. According to the bill, a ‘transportation network company’ is an entity that uses smartphone technology to connect a prospective passenger to a transportation network company driver. Section 26 of the bill exempts these entities and drivers from any local regulation.

Since 1917, in order to protect prospective passengers and the general public, and to preserve order, municipalities have been empowered by statute to license and regulate ride-for-hire businesses. Throughout that period, in order to protect the public, local governing bodies have been responsive to concerns raised by passengers, pedestrians, local merchants and other motorists. Local first responders have attended to accidents. Local law enforcement has responded to incidents. While no level of regulation is perfect, municipalities have clearly demonstrated their effectiveness in this area for close to 100 years.

The manner in which the service is dispatched and provided does not materially alter the responsibilities that local governments will bear. Nor will the manner of dispatch obviate the concerns of local elected officials in ensuring the public’s legitimate interests in public safety. Further, enactment of this bill could motivate traditional taxi and limousine businesses to avoid local over-sight, by requiring prospective passengers to use smartphone technology to hail a ride. That, in turn, could make it more difficult for older residents and for the economically disadvantaged to access transportation alternatives.

On that basis, absent deletion of the preemption provisions, the League of Municipalities cannot support this legislation.

Contact:  Jon Moran, Sr. Legislative Analyst, jmoran@jslom.org, 609-695-3481 x121.

II. Federal Policy Issues

a. FCC Seeks Comment on Wireless Facility Siting in the Right of Way

On December 22, 2016, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) released a notice seeking comment on “potential Commission action to help expedite the deployment [of] next generation wireless infrastructure by providing guidance on how federal law applies to local government review of wireless facility siting applications and local requirements for gaining access to the right of way.” A copy of this notice can be found here.

We are pleased to let you know that the FCC has granted the motion of our national affiliate, the National League of Cities (NLC), and the new initial commenting deadline is now March 8, 2017, with a reply comment deadline of April 8, 2017. This extension gives us valuable time to gather information from municipalities on what the situation is in their communities.

This is a very important regulatory proceeding that will affect local government authority.  Strong and factually based comments are necessary as a counterweight to proposals that would limit home rule.

Additionally, the League and the National League of Cities need local governments to provide input on the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) recent the December 22, 2016 notice.

Please consider responding to this brief survey provided here.

For background on this issue, please click here, for a white paper written by the League’s Bureau of Municipal information. In addition, on January 30, we will be hosting a webinar on this issue. Click here for more information on the webinar.

Contact: Ed Purcell, Staff Attorney at (609) 695-3481 x. 137 or epurcell@njslom.org

b. Federal Infrastructure Policy Will Impact New Jersey Municipalities

With the new Administration taking charge in Washington, New Jersey municipal officials will need to make their voices heard in the offices of the members of our Congressional Delegation on a number of issues. On January 17, we posted a piece on our blog, The Town Crier, outlining the prospects for major new investments in our ailing infrastructure.  Visit https://njlmblog.wordpress.com/ to access that overview.

III. 101st Annual Conference Recap

a. Conference CEUs

You can now download the certificates for the CEUs you’ve earned at the Annual League Conference.  For full information and instructions visit http://www.njslom.org/confceu/

IV. 2017 Campaign Contribution Notice

At the Department of State’s request, please see the 2016 Campaign Contribution Notice here.  It is important that this notice come to the attention of each municipal clerk.

V. Order the 2016-2017 Primer for Elected Officials

Whether you are a veteran or newly elected mayor or councilmember, the Primer for Elected Officials provides the basic information needed to carry out the responsibility of governing.  It contains an updated directory of services provided by the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, a guide to Titles 40 and 40A of the New Jersey Statutes Annotated, and an up-to-the minute listing of State Agencies and the legislative priorities for the upcoming year. 

See our web page for an order form: http://www.njslom.org/publications/Publications.pdf .  Alternatively, contact Suzanne Allen, at 609- 695-3481, ext. 129 or via email at sallen@njslom.com.  The investment for members is $20.00 and for non-members, $30.00.  It is a necessary guide!

VI. Also of Interest

a. January Calendar  Reminders

  • JAN. 23: First voting sessions of 2017 for state Senate and Assembly

b. Help Other Municipalities Find Vendors, While Helping to Support the League’s Magazine

Have you recently worked with a vendor and think that other municipalities could benefit from their services?  Please tell your vendor about the League’s magazine, NJ Municipalities!

NJ Municipalities is an award winning monthly magazine read by over 6,355 readers.  It has been a local government news source for over 100 years, and is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2017!

Advertising can help spread your vendor’s message!  Let us know your vendor’s contact information so that we can send them a free sample.

Thank you for your support of NJLM!

Contact: Taran B. Samhammer, Advertising Manager, tsamhammer@njslom.org, 609- 695-3481, x124.

c. Initiative from NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness!

The tragic lesson we learned in the wake of attacks around the world and here at home is that smaller venues where the public gathers—which have limited security and free movement—are often targets of choice for terrorists.

With the premise that homeland security begins with hometown security, we have partnered with DHS and local law enforcement on a program designed to train and educate “Main Street” owner-operators of public gathering facilities like restaurants, nightclubs, cafes, theaters, stores, and entertainment facilities. The result is a bottom-up approach to security and community preparedness, helping to increase community resilience, readiness, and security in municipalities and small businesses across New Jersey.

Want to host a workshop in your town or county?

Visit www.njohsp.gov/hometownsecurity or contact preparedness@njohsp.gov

d. Snow Removal & Disposal Policy

Severe weather season is here and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is reminding municipalities of the State's policy for proper Snow Removal and Disposal. 

Municipalities are reminded, before and after a storm, to clear any blockages caused by snow and debris from storm drain catch basins.  These efforts are especially important to help prevent localized flooding that may result from melting snow and heavy rain.  Please be sure to use appropriate precautions when attempting to clear any stormwater related infrastructure.  The up- to -date policy can be found here.

e. Register Now for a Chance to Connect With Your Legislative Leaders

Register now for a chance to connect with your legislative leaders at the 25th Annual Mayor’s Legislative Day on February 8, 2017.

The Mayors' Legislative Day is unique occasion for local leaders to interact with individuals who are responsible for setting the agenda for Property Tax Reform, Affordable Housing, Pension and Health Benefits Reform, Transportation and Utility Issues.  It is also a great way to hear, first hand, about the State’s legislative agenda from the Governor, Administration officials and key members of the Senate and Assembly. 

Confirmed Speakers for this event are:

  • Mayor Albert B. Kelly, Mayor, Bridgeton City, League President,
  • Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Charles Richman
  • Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin
  • Department of Transportation Chief of Staff John Case
  • Moderator: Matthew Friedman, Reporter for Politico,
  • Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney
  • Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto
  • Assemblyman Jon M. Bramnick
  • Senator Thomas H.  Kean, Jr
  • Mayor James L. Cassella, Mayor, Borough of East Rutherford, League 1st Vice President
  • Mayor Colleen Mahr, Mayor, Borough of Fanwood, League 2nd Vice President
  • Mayor James Perry, Mayor, Township of Hardwick, League 3rd Vice President

Following the Legislative and Commissioners Panel, is the 19th Annual Elected Officials Hall of Fame and a tour of the Statehouse.

For more information about this program please click the following link: http://www.njslom.org/seminar-documents/2017-feb08-legislative-day.html

If you have any other questions regarding this event, please contact Danielle Holland from the League office at, 609-695-3481 ext. 118.

Contact: Danielle Holland, Seminar Manager, dholland@njslom.org, 609- 695-3481, x118.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Darcy, CAE
Executive Director

 

 

 

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