January 4, 2008
Re: LEGISLATIVE ALERT
Monday is the last day of the 2006-2007 legislative term, and there are a handful of bills scheduled for consideration to which we would like to call your attention. We urge you to contact your State Senator and Assembly representatives on these bills.
S-557/A-1886, the Recycling Enhancement Act, which the League supports, is set for votes by the Senate and Assembly on Monday. This legislation imposes a recycling tax of $3 per ton on most solid waste generation in order to provide recycling grants to municipalities and counties suffering from recently declining recycling rates.
Funds raised by the new recycling tax will be appropriated annually as follows:
60% to municipalities, and eligible counties that collect solid waste, as recycling performance grants and to assist with "pay as you throw" weight based residential waste disposal systems;
25% to counties for recycling program funding including household hazardous waste;
5% shall be used by the State for program planning and funding, and administrative expenses;
5% shall be used by the counties for public information and education program.
5% shall be granted to institutions of higher education to conduct research on recycling
You should be aware that in the original version of the bill the percentage dedicated to municipalities was 30% and is now doubled. Municipalities with active recycling programs should see significantly larger recycling grants than in the past.
We also expect consideration of A-4559 and S-2976, which authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to sell, exchange, retire, assign, allocate, or auction allowances from greenhouse gas emissions. The bills specifically set aside 10% of these revenues for “programs designed to promote local government efforts to plan, develop and implement measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Thanks to the 10% dedication to local governments, the League has also expressed its support for this bill.
Amendment to Torts Claims Act—OPPOSE
SCS 176/A-1511 would expand survivor recovery in the event of wrongful death. Under current law, damages in a wrongful death suit are limited to pecuniary losses. These bills would allow recovery for mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society and loss of companionship.
SCS 176/A-1511 are contrary to the principles of Title 59, the Tort Claims Act. When Title 59 was enacted, the Legislature understood that the basis for lawsuits against governmental entities must be different because of the nature of functions performed by government. Prior to Title 59, governments were protected by sovereign immunity. When the Legislature did consider providing a basis for citizen lawsuits against governments, they understood that unless tort rules were carefully drafted, governmental entities could be exposed to literally every accident that occurs in the community.
A-3153/S-2209 Collective Bargaining—OPPOSE
Discipline and compensation are items for collective bargaining. This bill will supersede local collective bargaining agreements and also raises an unfunded state mandate concern.
Also, be advised that A-500 and S-4000, The "School Funding Reform Act of 2008," are also posted for floor votes in both the General Assembly and State Senate.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.