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January 12, 2010

Re:  Bills on the Governor’s Desk

Dear Mayor:

The last full voting sessions of the 213th Legislature ended late last night.  During this lame duck session many municipal issues have received attention. In this letter, we will focus on bills that have passed both Houses and now await final consideration by the Governor.

Speed Limits:  The League supports A-537/ S-1234, which outlines the criteria municipalities should consider when establishing speed limits.  We agree with the sponsor on the need for State criteria to assist municipalities in establishing reasonable speed limits within their jurisdictions.

Regulation of Small Wind Energy:  The League opposes S-2528/A-3740, which limits regulation of small wind energy systems by municipalities as it unnecessarily infringes on local discretion. For more on this bill, please see our Dear Mayor letter of December 21.

Preservation, Right to Farm Act:  The League opposes legislation which allows solar and wind energy generation on preserved farms under certain circumstances and includes solar and wind generation and commercial farms as protected activity under the Right to Farm Act.  S-1538/A-2859, takes any oversight regarding these facilities on farmland away from the local government.  We are very concerned with allowing landowners to exercise rights to commercial uses that were already relinquished through the preservation process.

Property Assessments:  The League supports A-4313/S-2711, which revises the procedure for reassessment of certain real property and appeal of assessment by certain property taxpayers.

Public Contract Issues Base and Alternate Bids: The League opposes legislation which provides for base and alternate bids for certain contracts; and requires contract units to specify the bases for determining the lowest responsible bid and criteria for selection of alternate bids.  A-3698/S-278 is confusing with a convoluted process in need of clarification.  We believe awards should be granted on base bids only and it is unnecessary to rank order alternates.  Local units should have the flexibility, within the limits of available funds, to make these decisions internally.

Public Contract Issues Public Bodies to fund Outreach and Training:  The League opposes legislation that would require public bodies to provide funds for outreach and training programs for minority group members and women in connection with certain construction contracts.  S-2730/A-4082 shifts the responsibility of outreach and training programs from the private sector to the public sector.

Changing the Form of Government:  The League opposes S-3157/A-4264 which would require a 10 year delay before reconsideration of a public question on: 1)changing the form of government, 2)division of the municipality into wards or 3)increasing/decreasing the term of office or number of governing body members.  The existing time limitations are appropriate and a ten year period is too long if a municipality wishes to change.

Collection Fees:  The League opposes A-2178/S-986 which permits surcharges up to 22% to offset private collection fees for certain delinquent debts owed to courts, counties, and municipalities.  We are opposed to the inclusion of property taxes in this legislation and believe the provisions of the current tax sale law are sufficient to collect property taxes.
Managerial and Executive Confidential Status:  The League opposes S-3071/A4261, which permits certain State managers and deputy attorneys general to negotiate collectively under the "New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act"; changes definition of managerial executive and removes confidential status of deputy attorney generals.  While this bill, as introduced, effects only state employees, we are extremely concerned that the precedent will lead to the inclusion of non-exempt public employees in municipalities.

Discontinuation of Bus and Train Services:  The League supports S-1362/A-333, which requires 45 days’ notice to affected municipalities of discontinuation of certain bus and train services.  We believe municipalities should have notice of these changes so that they may notify affected residents and/or provide other transportation opportunities.

Business Registration Certificate:  The League supports A-557/S-2336, which repeals bidding requirement for local public contracts to allow bidders to avoid unresponsive bid if they inadvertently omit business registration from bid proposal provided that bidder was registered before bid submission deadline.  The bill would grant discretion to the governing body to give the bidder a reasonable amount of time to submit its business registration certificate.

Snowmobiles, All-terrain Vehicles:  The League supports A-823/S-2055, which regulates operation of snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, and dirt bikes and certain other vehicles and off-road vehicles; requires DEP to designate three sites on State-owned land where snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes may be used.  This legislation is in response to a League sponsored 2007 conference resolution. 

Sale of Tax and Municipal Liens:  The League supports A-1619, which revises certain statutes concerning sale of tax and other municipal liens. 

Health Insurance:  The League supports A-1882/S-1807, which permits three year payoff of accumulated deficits of municipal health insurance funds.

Lemon Law Protection:  The League supports A-3396/S-2304 which provides authorized emergency vehicles protection under the lemon law.  This sensible legislation will save taxpayer dollars upon discovery of a defect that curtails a vehicle’s fitness for use. 

Foreclosure Requirements:  The League supports A-4063/S-3059 which establishes the "New Jersey Foreclosure Fairness Act"; imposes additional foreclosure notice requirements; amends "Mortgage Stabilization and Relief Act."

Wastewater Management Plans:  The League supports A-4345/S-2985, which extends requirement of wastewater management planning agencies to establish or update wastewater management plans, and extends validity of sewer service areas and wastewater service areas, until April 7, 2011.

Elected Office: The League supports A-4338/S-3139, which permits member of volunteer fire company and emergency response squad to hold municipal elective office. 

Governor Corzine has until 12:00 noon on Tuesday, January 19th to take action.  You can express your position on any of these bills by contacting the Governor’s Office at 609-292-6000 or by faxing 609-292-3454.

We will notify you of the Governor’s actions on these matters.  If you have any questions, contact the League’s Legislative Staff at 609-695-3481, ext. 112, 120 or 121.

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director


 

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