Friday, May 24, 2013

Jasey, Diegnan, Wagner, Caputo & Jimenez Bill to Benefit Teachers Aspiring Toward Educational Leadership Roles Advances

Measure to Create Advisory Board and Program to Fill Leadership roles in School Districts

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Patrick Diegnan, Connie Wagner, Ralph R. Caputo and Angelica M. Jimenez to encourage more of New Jersey’s teachers to take part in educational leadership roles recently gained legislative approval by the full Assembly.
The sponsors note the purpose of the legislation is to create a teacher leader endorsement program that would identify the skills, knowl­edge, and requirements necessary to fulfill leadership roles in school districts. Teacher leaders would serve as coaches, mentors, and facilitators of professional learning.
“Teacher leadership goes beyond the four walls of a classroom,” said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). “We must encourage and support our most dedicated, innovative educators to expand their roles and become professional leaders in their field. Fellow educators, schools, and students will benefit greatly from their expertise.”
“The opportunity to grow within your profession is important to any individual, “said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Teachers taking on leadership roles, serving as experts, supporting decision-making in school and being a resource to fellow teachers is a critical factor in our maintaining excellence in an ever-changing educational environment.”
The bill would establish a Teacher Leader Endorsement Advisory Board in the Department of Education to make recommendations to the Department of Education and State Board of Education regarding the program of study for the teacher leader endorsement.  The advisory board would continue to meet after the recommendations are made in order to continue to advise the department regarding any necessary adjustments and assess the outcomes of the program of study.  No later than five years after the bill’s effective date, the advisory board would make recommendations to the State board regarding non-supervisory roles and responsibilities for which a teacher leader endorsement should be required.
“Teachers help transform schools and classrooms into inviting learning centers that inspire our students to achieve excellence everyday,” said Wagner (D-Bergen, Passaic) “In leadership positions, teachers will help transform our districts into professional learning communities that improve school functioning and education overall.”
“Educators are important sources of information and their expertise is a valuable resource,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “In leadership positions, teachers feel part of the change or development of school improvement and, by working collaboratively they support fellow teachers by taking a lead in achieving the collective goal.”
 “Our educators are model leaders. They prove it each and everyday in the classroom,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen, Hudson). “Creating a program to further develop a teacher’s leadership skills to be able to lead their colleagues to success will make an invaluable impact on education.”
This bill would authorize a teacher leader endorsement to a teacher’s instructional certificate.  In order to be eligible for the teacher leader endorsement, an applicant will be required to: complete a program of study equivalent to, at a minimum, 12 graduate credits or 180 clock hours; and complete five years of full-time teaching under a valid provisional or standard certificate, or a combination thereof, issued by the State Board of Examiners.
Under the provisions of the bill, a State institution of higher education, an educational organization, or other non-profit entity, or a combination thereof, may apply to the Department of Education to offer a program of study preparing teachers for eligibility of a teacher leader endorsement.  The State Board of Education will be required to set the standards for the program.
The measure was approved 74-2-1 on Monday, May 13. It now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Oliver, Green, Benson & Bramnick Bill to Grant College Credit to Students Completing Jersey Boys and Girls State Programs Clears Senate Panel

(TRENTON) -  Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, Republican Leader Jon M. Bramnick, Assemblyman Daniel Benson and Assemblyman Jerry Green to give students participating in the American Legion Jersey Boys State or the American Legion Auxiliary Jersey Girls State programs college credit for successfully completing the week-long course in government was released Thursday by a Senate panel.
“These are exemplary students and potential leaders in government,” said Oliver (D-Essex). “Chosen for their interest in civics and academic excellence, the students deserve credit for the intensive study and participation that is required of them while in this program. Let’s give them a head start as a reward for their hard work.”
“In just one week, future leaders can acquire a lifetime’s worth of knowledge about politics and government from the Boys and Girls State programs,” said Bramnick (R-Union/Morris/Somerset). “Completing this challenging program advances students’ education, leadership skills, and is worthy of college credit.”
Under the bill (A-953), public and independent institutions of higher education would be permitted   to grant up to three college credits to high school students who successfully complete the American Legion Jersey Boys State or the American Legion Auxiliary Jersey Girls State programs. The bill also would direct the Commission on Higher Education to encourage New Jersey colleges and universities to award students’ credit for successful completion of the programs.
“As an alum of the American Legion Jersey Boys State, I know firsthand the benefits that these programs offer to young people who are interested in learning more about how our democratic government works,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “The education given and the level of work expected from participants is exceptional and worthy of college credits.”       
“These programs give young people who may be interested in pursuing a career in politics a hands-on understanding of how our government works,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “Giving college credits for the intensive work completed during the programs rewards participants, and gives those interested in joining another incentive to participate in these valuable programs.”
The goals of Boys State and Girls State programs are to: develop leadership and pride in American citizens; educate participants about our system of government; instill in participants a great understanding of American traditions; and stimulate a desire to maintain our government process. The Jersey Girls State is currently based at Georgian Court College. Jersey Boys State is currently based at Rider University.
The bill was approved 76-0 by the Assembly in April. It was released Thursday by the Senate Higher Education Committee.

Barnes & Moriarty Bill to Improve Ethics Disclosure at Independent State Authorities Advances Forward

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Peter J. Barnes III and Paul Moriarty to improve ethics disclosure at independent state authorities was approved 78-0 Monday by the Assembly.
The bill (A-759) requires members of independent state authorities to report to the State Ethics Commission the existence of a contractual relationship between a relative of the member and the independent state authority.
“Disclosure is always the best way to ensure good government, and this is a reasonable step forward to ensure taxpayers are protected,” said Barnes (D-Middlesex). “This requirement would be similar to that expected of other public officials, and it’s the right thing to do.”
A member who violates the requirements of the bill would be subject to removal from office and liable to a penalty of up to $5,000, unless the member knew or reasonably should have known the member was in violation, in which case the penalty shall be no less than $5,000 and no more than $10,000 for each violation.
“This is a simple step that can go a long way toward improved ethics at these authorities,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “It’s the right thing to do.”
The bill has now been referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee.

Albano, Riley, Singleton & Burzichelli Legislative Package to Crack Down On Counterfeit ‘Jersey Fresh’ Products, Promote NJ’s Wineries & Farms Clears Assembly

(TRENTON) – A legislative package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Nelson T. Albano,  Celeste M. Riley, Troy Singleton and John J. Burzichelli to promote New Jersey’s wineries and farms and protect our agricultural products against counterfeits was approved Monday by the Assembly.
The first bill (A-2871), sponsored by Albano, Riley and Singleton, would put some serious teeth into the laws governing the use of the “Jersey Fresh” and similar branding, in an effort to cull counterfeit food products claiming to have New Jersey ingredients.
“When counterfeit ‘Jersey Fresh’ products are found, we need to get them off the market as quickly as possible,” said Albano (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland).  “Nabisco or Kraft wouldn’t tolerate counterfeiters trying to pass knock-off Oreos or Mac and Cheese as the real thing on store shelves and neither should the farmers, butchers and fishermen behind the ‘Jersey Fresh’ label.”
Current law already prohibits and penalizes the use of the state outline on agricultural products not produced in New Jersey. The bill (A-2871) would supplement existing law to include specific prohibitions against using the “Jersey Fresh” logos and branding on agricultural products not produced in state and would provide for the seizure and forfeiture of such counterfeit products.
“While there are already laws on the books that prohibit trying to pass off produce, vegetables and meats and fish as ‘Jersey Fresh,’ we don’t really have a system in place to remove the goods once they’ve made it to store shelves,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “Our legislation would put that system in place; leaving counterfeit ‘Jersey Fresh’ products in stores benefits no one.”
“There is a certain expectation of taste and quality that consumers associate with the ‘Jersey Fresh’ label,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “There is a trust built on product consistency that only our farmers can deliver. Counterfeits not only betray this trust, but damage the brand’s reputation which can hurt our farmers and retailers financially. This added layer of protection can help prevent that.”
Specifically, the bill (A-2871) would prohibit advertising and packaging from implying in any way that any produce, seafood, dairy or other agricultural product is “Jersey Fresh,” unless:
  • The product complies with all relevant state Department of Agriculture grading standards for freshness for the use of such branding; and
  • The individual has first obtained a license and registration number from the department authorizing the use of such branding in association with their particular product.
Any agricultural product that is labeled marketed in violation of the bill’s provisions would be subject to forfeiture when the defendant has committed a second or subsequent offense under the bill’s provisions. In addition, upon the filing of a verified complaint alleging that farm products are being improperly marketed in violation of the bill’s provisions, a court would be authorized to issue a warrant directing a law enforcement officer to: (1) seize, and take into possession, the product or products described in the complaint; (2) bring such product or products before the court that issued the warrant; and (3) summon the person named in the warrant, and any other person who may be found in knowing possession of the described product or products, to appear in court on the designated date.
If the court determines that the labeling or other marketing was in violation of the bill’s (or of current law’s) marketing prohibitions, the bill would require the product to be forfeited and disposed of by destruction, donation, or lawful sale, as directed by a court of competent jurisdiction.  The proceeds from any court-authorized sale, less legal costs and charges, would be paid into the state treasury.
The second bill (A-2978), sponsored by Albano, Burzichelli and Riley, would require the Department of Agriculture to post on its web site information on the location and contact information of wineries and farms in New Jersey, along with a link to any other list of wineries posted on the Internet by any other state agency. Under the bill, information on farms would be posted if the farms sell any of their agricultural or horticultural items.
“Our wineries carry great potential for increased job creation and economic development throughout our state, so let’s embrace that potential and promote wineries and our farms as best we can,” said Albano. “It’s 2013, so let’s make sure we utilize our technological resources as best we can to promote our agricultural heritage.”
“New Jersey’s wineries are part of a burgeoning industry that can, if promoted properly, significantly benefit our state, and we know our farms are already a key aspect of our economy,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “Let’s use all of our tools to promote these tourist and business destinations to make sure we take full advantage of their benefits.”
“Nowadays when people are planning a vacation, they will rely on Google to search for their ideal destination. We have the ability to reach so many more people through the web,” said Riley. “New Jersey boasts beautiful farms and wineries that warrant promotion. Let’s use the web to our advantage to promote these growing industries to help boost local economies, as well as the state.”
The bill (A-2871) was approved 73-3-2 and now awaits further consideration by the Senate, while bill (A-2978) was approved 77-0-1 and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Burzichelli Bill to Study Impact of Granting Lottery Winners Anonymity on Transparency, Lottery Sales OK’d by Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat John Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem) to study whether granting lottery winners in New Jersey anonymity would negatively impact transparency and lottery sales was approved Monday by the Assembly.
The former version of the bill, which gave lottery winners the option to remain anonymous for a year, was approved by both house, but it was conditionally vetoed by the governor. The current version implements the recommendations made by the governor under his conditional veto.
“While I think we had it right the first time, I appreciate the concerns raised by the governor concerning transparency and lottery sales. We certainly don’t want to do anything that may negatively impact one of the state’s most consistent sources of revenue. So in the spirit of compromise, we have revised the bill to first look into what, if any, negative effects granting anonymity to lottery owners may have on the lottery program,” said Burzichelli. “While not every lottery-winning story ends in tragedy, I still believe there is merit to giving lottery winners the option to stay out of the public eye, so I hope that after a review of the potential repercussions, we will be able to give them that option.”
The bill (A-2982) directs the state treasurer to review the disclosure and nondisclosure of lottery winners in New Jersey and other jurisdictions and how nondisclosure affects transparency and lottery sales, and report any findings and recommendations to the governor by the end of the year.
Current regulations allow the State Lottery to use the names, addresses, prize amount and photographs of winners. The address used does not include a street or house number. In addition, a winner’s name, town, and county are available under the Open Public Records Act.
There are numerous stories across the country of lottery winners whose overnight-millionaire stories ended in tragedy. Illinois resident Jeffrey Dampier, who won $20 million in Illinois' lottery in 1996, was kidnapped and killed by his sister-in-law and her boyfriend who targeted him for money. Abraham Shakespeare won the $31 million jackpot in Florida in 2006. He disappeared in 2009 and his body was found in early 2010 under a concrete slab. A woman who had befriended him and then seized control of his remaining fortune was charged in connection with his murder.
The bill was approved 77-1 and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.

Prieto: Budget Worries Persists as Christie Still Cannot Afford Tax Cut Already on the Books

(TRENTON) – Assembly Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen) released the following statement Tuesday after the committee received a final revenue update:

“New Jersey has still not come close to returning to fiscally sound footing after more than three years of Christie budget policies that benefited the rich over the middle-class and poor.
“In fact, Gov. Christie still cannot afford the property tax credit/rebate program that currently exists, let alone fund a new one.
“Election year pandering by Gov. Christie and Republicans while the middle-class and senior citizens endure delayed property tax relief amid a nearly 20 percent net property tax increase is shameful.
“Democrats want to provide more tax relief, but want to do so responsibly. That’s why Democrats put forth a plan to provide middle-class property tax relief while closing the tax break Gov. Christie has protected for millionaires. Unfortunately, Gov. Christie and Republicans opposed it, and senior citizens and middle-class taxpayers continue to suffer.”

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Johnson Bill to Make Dog Fighting a Crime in NJ Assembly Approved

Measure Would Establish Dog Fighting as a Third Degree Crime in the State

(TRENTON) – Bipartisan legislation sponsored in part by Assemblyman Gordon Johnson to establish new crimes of “dog fighting” and “leader of a dog fighting network” passed the full Assembly today.  The bill would also amend the RICO statute to add “leader of a dog fighting network,” to the list of offenses the state considers racketeering activity in the state.
“Dog fighting is deplorable and should be prosecuted as a criminal act,” said Johnson (D-Bergen).  “Unfortunately, New Jersey has seen far too many cases of this kind of criminal treatment toward animals in our communities. It’s time to strengthen state law by imposing stronger penalties for dog fighting and its ring leaders.”
Under the bill (A-2379), dog fighting would be considered a crime of the third degree, which is punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, or a fine of up to $15,000 or both.  The bill would also require the court to order the seizure and forfeiture of any dogs used for dog fighting or baiting.  The measure would also permit the court to seize other animals or property in the person’s possession, and prohibit the person from possessing animals in the future.
“Those who organize, run or financially back dog fighting operations should receive tougher punishment as a result of their extensive involvement,” added Johnson.
In addition, the bill would define “leader of a dog fighting network” as a person who conspires with others in a scheme or course of conduct to unlawfully engage in dog fighting as an organizer, supervisor, financier or manager with at least one other person. Leader of a dog fighting network would be a second degree crime, five to ten years in prison or a fine of up to $150,000, or both.
 “This legislation would codify what we already know to be true,” said Johnson. “Dog fighting is a crime. In NJ, it will be treated as one upon enactment of this bill.”
The measure was approved 78-0. It will now go to the Senate for further consideration.

Eustace Bill to Help Homeowners Protect Properties in Flood Prone Areas, Keep Flood Insurance Low Clears Assembly

(TRENTON) – The Assembly on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Bergen) that would allow limited exemptions to local land use restrictions when raising a structure to meet new federal flood elevation standards would violate said restrictions.
            “It is a catch-22 for property owners. You want to raise your property to meet new federal guidelines to protect your home from future flooding and avoid higher flood insurance premiums, but doing so might mean breaking land use restrictions set by your local government,” said Eustace. “The bill helps avoid this potential conflict by providing a partial exemption that would allow the property owner to raise an existing structure without violating local land use restrictions.”
            The bill (A-3890) would provide a person with a limited exemption from local land use restrictions when raising a structure to meet a new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) base flood elevation, if raising the structure would result in a violation of local land use restrictions.
A “new FEMA base flood elevation” is defined in the bill to mean any advisory base flood elevation or effective base flood elevation proposed or adopted after October 29, 2012, by FEMA.  A base flood elevation, as calculated by FEMA, represents the elevation of a flood with a one percent chance of occurrence during any given year, commonly referred to as a “100-year flood.”
Specifically, the exemption would allow a person to raise the structure to the “highest applicable flood elevation standard,” which is defined in the bill to be the higher of two standards: (1) the new Federal Emergency Management Agency base flood elevation plus two additional feet, or (2) any applicable flood elevation standard required pursuant to rules and regulations adopted by the Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to the “Flood Hazard Area Control Act.”
            The bill would not apply to new construction.  Also, the bill would provide that the exemption would not be available to a person who has altered a structure under circumstances where, had the alteration not been made, the structure could have been raised to meet the highest applicable flood elevation standard either without the exemption or with an exemption of lesser degree than what is needed with the alteration. Nonetheless, a person would not be barred from qualifying for the exemption in this manner because of any alteration that was initiated before the applicable standard was publicly known, meaning, either the new FEMA base flood elevation was publicly proposed by FEMA or the applicable flood elevation standard was adopted by DEP, as the case may be.
            The bill was approved 76-1-0 by the Assembly and awaits further consideration by the Senate.

Fuentes, Diegnan & Vainieri Huttle Bill Providing Social Media Training for School Students Gets Assembly OK

Measure Comes in the Wake of Many High-Profile Tragedies Prompted by Social Media Use

            (TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Angel Fuentes, Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help educate New Jersey students on the responsible use of social media and the many pitfalls that come along with its use was approved 59-15-3 by the full Assembly on Monday.
            “We’ve all made foolish mistakes as kids, but nowadays those decisions can be magnified tenfold by social media, creating many unfortunate consequences for children,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester).  “Everyday we see stories about youngsters facing legal repercussions, humiliation and tragically, even suicide, as a result of social media activity.  Proper education will hopefully help open students eyes to these consequences so they do not end up as the next unfortunate headline.”
The sponsors underscored the importance of the legislation in the wake of many high-profile tragedies prompted by social media use, including the suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi and two high-profile rape cases in California and Ohio, which resulted in one suicide.
“The advent of social media has made it a far more complicated and different world for adolescents growing up today than it was for their parents,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex).  “Whether it’s adolescent impulsiveness or something more dangerous like bullying and harassment, it bears far more serious consequences when carried out over social media.  It’s important that we educate students early about the proper way to go about using these platforms.”
The bill (A-3292) would require school districts to provide instruction on the responsible use of social media as part of the district’s implementation of the Core Curriculum Content Standards in Technology.
“Social media is powering the world today and can affect college prospects, job opportunities and much more,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).  “It’s important that we teach kids at an early age to use these tools responsibly so they don’t make any foolish mistakes that could derail their lives before they even get started.”
The instruction will provide students in grades 6 - 8 with information on the purpose and acceptable use of various social media platforms; social media behavior that ensures cyber safety, cyber security, and cyber ethics; and potential negative consequences, including cyber bullying, of failing to use various social media platforms responsibly.
Under the bill, the Commissioner of Education would be required to provide school districts with sample learning activities and resources designed to promote the responsible use of social media.
The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Eustace & Wagner Bill to Make Clear New Jersey Residents Don’t Violate the Law by Joining Contests of Skill Approved by Assembly

Bill Brings Common Sense & Eliminates Confusion over Contests

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace and Connie Wagner sponsored to make clear participation by New Jersey residents in contests of skill does not constitute unlawful gambling was approved 78-0 Monday by the Assembly.
The bill (A-3624) provides that participation by a New Jersey resident in a contest of skill in which a participant pays an entry fee for the opportunity to win money or something else of value is not considered a game of chance, does not constitute unlawful gambling and and will not subject the participant or the sponsor of the contest of skill to any civil or criminal liability.
“This addresses the reluctance of some contest sponsors to accept entries from New Jersey residents because of their belief doing so would violate New Jersey’s gambling laws,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The confusion on this point is apparently the result of a misinterpretation of New Jersey case law that addresses gambling, so let’s clear this up and bring some common sense.”
“The current confusion has had the effect of denying New Jersey residents the opportunity to participate in such events as baking and photography contests sponsored by reputable national organizations that are not involved in any form of gambling,” said Wagner (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Under the bill, New Jersey residents would be free to participate in contests of skill and the sponsors would be free to accept entries from New Jersey residents without fear doing so would violate New Jersey’s gambling laws.”
Under the bill, the term “contest of skill” is defined to mean any contest where the winner or winners are selected solely on the quality of an entry in the contest as determined by a panel of judges using uniform criteria to assess the quality of entries. 
Under the bill, a “contest of skill” does not include any contest, game, pool, gaming scheme or gaming device in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance.
The bill will now be referred to the Senate.

Greenwald & Caride Bill to Help Inform Residents of Places to Fuel Up During Emergencies Approved by Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald and Assemblywoman Marline Caride sponsored to create a database that will make it easier for the state to communicate locations of gas stations, including those with back-up generators, to the public during a crisis or ongoing emergency was approved 56-20-2 Monday by the Assembly.
The sponsors noted the list would benefit residents during times of state emergencies in severe weather occurrences such as hurricanes and snowstorms.
“When Sandy hit, residents were scrambling all over the state to locate places to buy fuel,” said Greenwald (D-Camden, Burlington). “We were driving miles to find an open gas station. The time spent in long lines and searching was, to say the least, frustrating.”
“By creating a kind of gas station directory, we will make it easier for the state to help residents find fuel during these times of emergency and minimize the confusion that is likely to occur during future emergencies,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The energy shortage brought on by Hurricane Sandy can happen again. This bill is responsible government; a step forward in ensuring New Jersey is prepared in the future.”
The bill (A-3549) requires the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety to create and maintain a database containing the names and locations of every premise in this state where motor fuel is sold by a retail dealer. 
The database is to be updated at least monthly and include information regarding the types of motor fuel sold by each dealer and which dealers possess back-up generating equipment on site
The bill will now be referred to the Senate.

Singleton, Green, Conaway, Moriarty & Lampitt Bill to Help Small Business “Go Green” Advances

(TRENTON) -  Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Paul D. Moriarty, Jerry Green and Pamela Lampitt to provide loans to small businesses to cover costs recently passed the full Assembly 74-4. The measure will now head to the Senate for further consideration.
"For small businesses, finding ways to keep costs down is important in today’s economy,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Ensuring that small business owners are afforded the tools to conserve energy where they can is a good investment of State resources."
 “In this economy, small business owners are looking for options to 'go green' but can't always finance the first step,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “This bill would help business owners who are looking to improve their business and lower energy costs make that a reality.”
“Energy efficiency is just one way to trim the costs of running a business,” said Moriarty. “The program under this bill would serve as a vehicle for small businesses to find out what needs to be done to achieve energy efficiency and also to help get it done.”
“Small businesses are the backbone of New Jersey’s economy,” said Green (D-Middlesex Somerset and Union). “This bill would help these businesses manage their energy costs more effectively and become more environmentally friendly.”
“Many small businesses are very interested in learning how they can reduce their carbon footprint and become more environmentally conscious,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “It is often the initial costs of performing an energy audit that often deters businesses from “going green” right away. With a loan program, small businesses would be able to get started and become more energy efficient sooner rather than later.”
The bill (A-2270) requires the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, in consultation with the Board of Public Utilities and the Department of Community Affairs, to establish and administer a program that makes one or more low-interest loans available to an eligible small business for 100 percent of any otherwise unreimbursed costs for (1) an energy audit of any of the business’s buildings conducted by a contractor licensed by the board, and (2) the purchase and installation of all energy efficiency or conservation equipment at any of those buildings as a result of the energy audit.
The program in this bill is modeled after the Burlington County Bridge Commission’s “Greenbacks to Go Green” program, which uses shared services to encourage local governments to identify and implement cost-effective energy conservation measures to save taxpayer dollars.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Stender, Egan, O’Donnell & Wimberly Bill to Ensure First Responders Get Health Care Needed for Ailments Suffered at Work Heads to Governor’s Desk

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Linda Stender, Joseph V. Egan, Jason O’Donnell and Benjie E. Wimberly to ensure public safety workers who suffer a disability or death due to their often extreme work requirements are covered by workers’ compensation received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor’s desk.
The bill (A-1196), known as the “Thomas P. Canzanella Twenty First Century First Responders Protection Act,” is named after the late Thomas P. Canzanella, a Hackensack Fire Department deputy chief who spent several weeks at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and advocated for better conditions for public safety workers.
            “These workers are our first line of defense. Their jobs are not only stressful, they are dangerous,” said Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “This bill ensures that public safety workers are adequately covered if they suffer a debilitating illness or worse related to their duties at work.”
            “Public safety workers expose themselves to dangerous situations that could prove debilitating and even deadly,” said Egan (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “The work is grueling not just physically, but mentally. The work itself can be a health hazard. They deserve comparable coverage.”
            “The work of fire, police and other public safety workers is demanding. They respond to situations that most of us only experience vicariously by watching or reading the news,” said O’Donnell (D-Hudson). “They are entitled to coverage that stands up to the demands of the job.”
            “It took years for Ground Zero first responders to get coverage for cancers stemming from the recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This bill helps protect first responders of such a nightmarish scenario by preventing similar delays in the future.”

            The bill creates a rebuttable presumption of workers’ compensation coverage for any death or disability, including post traumatic stress disorder, if the death or disability arises from the physical or psychological impact of stress or injury experienced by a public safety worker engaged in response to a terrorist attack, epidemic, or other catastrophic emergency, in which the worker is exposed to pathogens or biological toxins from biological warfare or epidemics, hazardous chemicals used in, or related to, chemical warfare, or cancer-causing radiation or radioactive substances, or witnesses death and suffering of a magnitude sufficient to cause significant psychological trauma.
            The bill provides that, with respect to all of the rebuttable presumptions of coverage, employers may require workers to undergo, at employer expense, reasonable testing, evaluation and monitoring of worker health conditions to determine whether exposures or other presumed causes are actually linked to the deaths, illnesses or disabilities, and further provides that the presumptions of compensability are not adversely affected by failures of employers to require testing, evaluation or monitoring.
            The public safety workers covered by the bill include paid or volunteer emergency, correctional, fire, police, including the state police, medical personnel and any other nurse, basic or advanced medical technician or staff responding to a catastrophic incident and directly involved and in contact with the public during such an incident, either as a volunteer, member of a Community Emergency Response Team or employed or directed by a health care facility.
            The bill approved 53-19-4 Thursday by the Assembly, and 21-13 by the Senate last week.

Lampitt, Singleton, Eustace & Gusciora Measure to Tighten Mental Health Oversight for Gun Owners One Step Closer to Law

Legislation Part of Comprehensive Anti-Gun Violence Initiative

(TRENTON) – The General Assembly on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Troy Singleton, Tim Eustace and Reed Gusciora to tighten mental health oversight for gun owners. 
The measure is part of the comprehensive Assembly Democratic anti-gun violence initiative, which is comprised of roughly two dozen bills.  The bill (A-3717) would make it mandatory for the state to submit certain mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
The Assembly originally approved the measure in February, but it was amended by the Senate earlier this month and inadvertently omitted voluntary records as part of the data that is to be transmitted to NICS.  The Assembly amended the bill today by a vote of 67-11 to tighten the language to ensure that both involuntary and voluntary records are included in the data transmitted to NICS, sending it back to the Senate for final legislative approval now.
“A crucial mental health reporting failure is what allowed the Virginia Tech shooter to purchase weapons despite being adjudicated mentally ill.  Clearly, there needs to be greater coordination in incorporating mental health records into the background check process,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “The NICS relies on states to submit this information. If states fail to do so, the database will have incomplete or inaccurate records, allowing some individuals to purchase guns who should be prohibited. The goal of this legislation is to avoid that at all costs.”
The U.S. Department of Justice established the NICS for federally licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks on prospective gun purchasers.  The NICS attains or accesses records from state police, local police and other agencies to determine if the prospective gun purchaser is prohibited from owning a firearm. 
“These days it’s harder in some states to buy cold medicine than it is to buy a gun,” said Singleton (D-Burlington).  “A clean bill of mental health is a crucial component to building a safer gun culture.”
New Jersey has begun the process of implementing an electronic system to submit mental health records to the NICS, however submission of these records is not mandatory under current state law.  The provisions of this bill would make the submission mandatory.
“A comprehensive and coordinated approach to mental health background checks is the most effective way to reduce the possibility of guns ending up in the wrong hands,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic).  “This is a smart approach to dealing with any correlation between gun violence and mental illness.”
 “In the more recent mass tragedies we’ve witnessed, mental illness appears to be a common thread shared by the alleged shooters,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Middlesex).  “Tightening mental health oversight is one component, but a very important one, in a comprehensive package of bills that will hopefully help curb gun violence.”

Vainieri Huttle, Burzichelli, Singleton & Coughlin Bill to End Organ Transplant Discrimination Based on Mental, Physical Disability Gets Final Legislative OK

Measure Stems from Stratford, NJ Family’s Troubles Securing Kidney Transplant for Disabled Three-Year-Old Daughter

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, John J. Burzichelli, Troy Singleton and Craig Coughlin sponsored to prohibit discrimination against organ transplant candidates because of physical or mental handicaps was granted final legislative approval by the full Assembly on Monday.
“Refusing to allow a viable candidate for an organ transplant to receive one, simply because they have a preexisting mental or physical disability that has no impact on their transplant suitability should not be allowed to occur,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), the Human Services Committee Chair.  “We wouldn’t allow discrimination based on race or religion, and we shouldn’t allow it based on non-medically relevant disabilities.”
The sponsors said their legislation stems from an incident involving the Rivera family, from Stratford, NJ.  The Rivera’s three-year-old daughter, Amelia, who suffers from the developmental disability Wolf-Hirschorn syndrome, was reportedly refused candidacy for a kidney transplant by a doctor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia due to her disability, despite it not having any medical bearing on her eligibility as a transplant candidate.
“It sickens me to think that a doctor could look a mother and father in the eyes and tell them that their daughter wasn’t eligible for an organ transplant because of a medically irrelevant mental handicap,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester).  “We need to make sure that this type of discrimination doesn’t happen again.”
“Discrimination of any kind is unconscionable, but discrimination in an organ transplant scenario literally gives the bigotry life or death stakes,” said Singleton (D-Burlington).  “No New Jersey family should ever again have to experience the horrors and indignities the Rivera family faced.”
Individuals with mental or physical disabilities sometimes face discrimination in organ transplant scenarios because of assumptions regarding their quality of life or their ability to comply with complex post-transplant medical requirements, regardless of whether the individual has an effective support system in place to ensure compliance.
“This sort of discrimination is simply mind-boggling,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex).  “One of the underlying tenets of the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors is to refrain from any intentional injustice, but that’s exactly what was inflicted on little Amelia.  From her unfortunate lesson, we need to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Under the bill (S-1456/A-2390) any individual who is a candidate to receive an “anatomical gift,” or organ transplant, would not be deemed ineligible solely based on a physical or mental disability, provided the disability in question has been found by a physician or surgeon to have no medically significant impact on the successful receipt of an anatomical gift.  If an individual has the necessary support system in place to assist with complying with post-gift medical requirements, the individuals’ inability to independently comply with said requirements would not be deemed medically significant.  In all instances in the bill, the term “disability” has the same meaning as in the federal “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.”
The measure was approved by a vote of 77-0 and now heads to the Governor’s desk.

Oliver & Greenwald Hail First Final Legislative Approvals for Gun Violence Prevention Bills as Push for High-Capacity Ammunition Ban Continues

(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald on Monday hailed the Assembly votes giving the first final legislative approvals to bills stemming from the its gun violence prevention effort.
            The Assembly initiated the gun violence prevention initiative by approving 22 bills in February. On Monday it gave final legislative approval to:
·         A3583/1683 (Wilson, Johnson, Wagner, Lampitt, Wimberly, Quijano, Riley) - Creates task force to explore areas to improve school safety.
·         A3797 (Mainor, Eustace) - Requires collection and reporting of certain firearms information to interjurisdictional databases; requires information relating to crime of firearms trafficking be included in annual Uniform Crime Report.
·         A3796 (Mainor) - Provides 180-day window for persons to dispose of certain unlawfully possessed firearms.

Another bill - A3717 (Lampitt, Singleton, Eustace, Gusciora) - Requires submission of certain mental health records to National Instant Criminal Background Check System – had to be amended but was approved by the Assembly and sent to the Senate for final legislative approval consideration.
Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic):
“Today represents a key step toward the Assembly’s goal of a safer New Jersey. These bills will improve school security, keep guns away from those who shouldn’t be able to purchase them, enhance efforts by law enforcement and get unlawful weapons off our streets. Still, our work is far from done, and I look forward to giving final legislative approval to more common sense gun violence prevention bills in the weeks ahead, all while continuing our effort to get a bill limiting ammunition magazine capacity into law.”

            Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington):
            “Getting the Assembly approved bill (A-1329) to ban firearm magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition into law remains a priority, but today is great progress for the people of New Jersey. These bills would help make our communities safer, and represent the first of many common sense bills we will be sending to the governor’s desk, hopefully to be signed into law. Banning high-capacity ammunition magazines continues to be a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if,’ but in the meantime this is a good day for New Jersey.”

Conaway, Riley & Chivukula Resolution to Move Forward in Establishing State Health Insurance Exchange Advances

(TRENTON) – A concurrent resolution sponsored by Assembly Democrat Herb Conaway, Jr. M.D., Celeste M. Riley and Upendra J. Chivukula to help smooth the process of establishing a state health insurance exchange for consumers and businesses under the landmark federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was approved 46-30-2 today by the full Assembly.
The measure (ACR-184) would establish the Joint Legislative Task Force on Health Insurance Exchange Implementation to oversee and develop recommendations for the implementation of a health insurance exchange in New Jersey in accordance with the federal act.
The sponsors noted that the insurance exchange is designed to promote choice and value by allowing an individual or small business to compare the costs and benefits of various health plans and options, while being part of a large insurance pool, which helps lower rates.
“Given the evolving nature of the health insurance market and the complexities of the federal law and existing state regulations, this task force is necessary to oversee and develop recommendations, to properly implement the health insurance exchange in New Jersey,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “Having waited this long for the governor to decide on a course of action for our health exchange, it’s crucial that we get a hold on things now to make sure the exchange is functioning and effective.”
“It is important for New Jersey to put in place a process for coordinating the health insurance Exchange,” said Chivukula (D-Middlesex, Somerset). “A legislative task force must certainly be a part of that process in order to ensure proper implementation of the new federal act.”
“The cost of health insurance has quickly become unaffordable for many residents and small businesses,” said Riley (D- Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem). “By comparing health plans, costs and benefits, residents will be able to find a plan that fits their budget and sustain healthcare for their families and employees. We need to begin developing an implementation strategy for the state health insurance exchange now.  This should be a priority for the governor.”
            Pursuant to the resolution’s provisions, the 12-member task force would be charged with:
     (1)   Analyzing and overseeing the operation of a federal health exchange in New Jersey;
     (2)   Developing recommendations on whether the state should play a more active role in the operation of the health insurance exchange to ensure that the state benefits to the maximum extent practicable; and
     (3)   Making recommendations that will best ensure a coordinated effort among the relevant state agencies, health care providers, third party payers, and the federal government to implement the health insurance exchange in New Jersey.
The task force would be required to provide the Senate President and the Assembly Speaker with quarterly updates of its activities, findings, conclusions, and recommendations for legislation or administrative action. 
In addition, the task force is required to issue annual reports of its activities, findings, conclusions, and recommendations for legislation or administrative action, including any recommendations to expand the role of the state in implementing the health insurance exchange in New Jersey.
The measure now heads to the Governor’s Desk for further consideration.

Coutinho, Green, Singleton, Watson Coleman, Ramos, Conaway & Wimberly’s Sweeping Economic Development Incentive Reform Legislation OK’d by Assembly

Measure Designed to Create Jobs & Spark Economic Development

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Albert Coutinho, Troy Singleton, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Ruben J. Ramos Jr., Jerry Green, Herb Conaway M.D. and Benjie Wimberly introduced to boost New Jersey’s job creation efforts by revamping and streamlining the state’s economic development tax incentives was approved 53-6-15 Monday by the Assembly.
The bill (A-3680) would merge five state tax-incentive programs into two, with one focused on job creation and the other on economic development.
“Our tax incentive programs have been invaluable to our state’s economic development planning, but - with five programs with varying goals - we clearly need to streamline these programs and make it easier for businesses to understand and take advantage of them,” said Coutinho (D-Essex). “We want businesses to bring new jobs to New Jersey and preserve the ones they already provide. This merger of five incentive programs into two will enhance the ability of the state to attract and retain businesses to further the overarching goal of creating and retaining jobs.”
The bill, the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, expands two economic development incentive programs administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
The Grow New Jersey Assistance Program would be the state's premiere business attraction and retention incentive.
“It would be built to better match or surpass the financial incentive packages being offered by neighboring and other competing states, while also providing bonuses to drive development to smart growth areas in the state,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “This is vital for job creation in a state where we’ve seen an unemployment rate hovering near 10 percent. We need to do better.”
“This program would help more readily close project financing gaps and build public infrastructure critical to redevelopment projects, while also providing bonuses to achieve public policy objectives, such as bringing fresh produce to urban food deserts and rebuilding tourism destinations that were destroyed due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Let’s make it easier to create jobs and economic growth while accomplishing some of our major policy goals.”
The bill phases out the provisions of the Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Grant Program, the Business Employment Incentive Program and the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Program.
Coutinho said he’s had in-depth discussions with developers, business organizations, labor unions and planning groups as he’s finalized the bill, which was released unanimously by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee chaired by Coutinho.
“We need to improve upon our current policies and make it easier to create and preserve jobs in New Jersey,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). “We need to do better, and this sweeping reform will go a long way toward creating new jobs in our state.”
“An unemployment rate that’s hovering around 10 percent means we have to do something different,” said Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset). “This is an effort to streamline our incentive programs to create more jobs and economic development. It’s a step in the right direction.”
“We have to focus on job creation and economic development, and this bill will allow us to increase the ability of existing New Jersey businesses, including small and mid-size companies, to use these economic development tools to expand their businesses in place, and to create and retain New Jersey jobs,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “We will better match or surpass the financial incentive packages being offered by neighboring and other competing states.”
“We need to put a better focus on job creation and economic development,” said Wimberly (D-Passaic/Bergen). “This bill will streamline our laws and make it easier for businesses to bring jobs and economic growth to the places that need it most. We cannot sit idle with 9 percent unemployment.”
The bill will now be referred to the Senate.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mainor & Eustace Bill to Report & Track Abandoned & Seized Firearms Gets Final Legislative Approval

Measure is Part of Assembly Democrats’ Comprehensive Anti-Gun Violence Initiative

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Charles Mainor and Tim Eustace to create uniform reporting requirements to log and track abandoned, discarded or seized firearms was approved 51-27 Monday by the Assembly, giving it final legislative approval.
The legislation (A-3797) is part of the comprehensive Assembly Democratic gun violence prevention initiative. 
“The systems and technology to report and track abandoned or seized weapons are out there, but what’s really needed are standard procedures to help make sure this gets done,” said Mainor (D-Hudson), who is also a detective with the Jersey City Police Department.  “These procedures are critical to solving gun-related crimes, getting criminals off the street and preventing future crimes.”
“Providing for the public safety and the wellbeing of the citizens of our residents and responding to the growing dangers and threats of gun violence is a priority, which makes it vital for the law enforcement departments and agencies of this state to fully participate, through the utilization of electronic technology, in interjurisdictional information and analysis sharing programs and systems to deter and solve gun crimes,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This is just more common sense.”
The bill would require that information relating to the crime of firearms trafficking be included in the annual crime report the Attorney General prepares and transmits to the Governor and Legislature.
Also under the bill, local law enforcement officers and agencies are required to report to the various federal and state database systems that are part of the Criminal Justice Information System information relating to their seizure or recovery of firearms unlawfully possessed, used for an unlawful purpose, recovered at a crime scene or found as abandoned or discarded weapons.
These database systems, which include the National Crime Information Center’s 2000 System, NJ Trace (part of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ e-Trace System) and the National Integrated Ballistics Identification Network, make nationwide firearms information readily available to law enforcement agencies. 
“By integrating and analyzing the firearms’ information available through these databases with the data submitted by local law enforcement agencies in New Jersey, the State Police can develop valuable profiles on the geographic and source venders or providers of the firearms being illegally brought into the state,” Mainor said.
The bill also requires the Superintendent of State Police to issue to the public an initial report summarizing firearms trace data received within the last 10 years from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. 
Thereafter, quarterly reports are to be issued summarizing data currently received. 
The reports are to include particular and aggregate information on the state of origin of the recovered firearm, the identity and city location of the firearm’s source vendor, the type of firearm recovered, the manufacturer, make, and model of the recovered firearm, the crime which was committed with the recovered firearm and other appropriate information.
Finally, the bill also requires all New Jersey law enforcement agencies to test-fire certain seized and recovered firearms and submit the resulting ballistics information to the National Integrated Ballistic Identification Network. 
“The ballistics information in the network is used to determine whether the firearm is associated with or related to a crime, criminal event, or any individual associated or related to a crime or criminal event,” Eustace said.
The bill now goes to the governor.

Mainor Legislation to Establish 180-Day Penalty-Free Period for Turning in Firearms Advances

Bill Would Allow Residents to Voluntarily Surrender
Unlicensed or Unregistered Firearms Including Assault Firearms

(TRENTON) -  The Assembly advanced legislation today sponsored by Assemblyman Charles Mainor to establish a 180-day period for a person who unlawfully possesses an unlicensed and unregistered firearm to dispose of it by transferring it,  turning it over to the police  or rendering it inoperable. This measure is one of numerous bills in a sweeping Assembly Democratic gun violence prevention bill package. 
Current law prohibits the manufacture, sale, or possession of assault firearms and large capacity ammunition magazines except under certain circumstances. Any persons who possessed an assault firearm on the law’s effective date were given one year to obtain a license for the firearm, render it permanently inoperable, sell it, turn it over to the police or dispose of it in some other legal manner. 
 The sponsor notes that the intent of his legislation is to once again allow people who possess illegal firearms and/or ammunition to get rid of it without penalty.
“New Jersey once provided an opportunity for residents to do the right thing and turn over assault weapons,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “We can provide that same encouragement again free of judgment, punishment, and penalty.
“We would also re-open that window of opportunity for a longer period of time to get as many firearms as we can out of the hands of the public for the safety of the community.  These can be firearms inherited from family members and that have no use or purpose. Turning firearms like these over to the authorities would create safer homes and communities.”
Under the bill’s (A-3796) provisions, a person who unlawfully possesses a handgun, rifle, or shotgun would be required either transfer that firearm to a person who may lawfully possess it or voluntarily surrender that firearm to the appropriate law enforcement agency or officer. The bill excludes unlawfully possessed high capacity ammunition magazines and ammunition. This legislation would be effective immediately and shall expire on the 181st day after enactment.
In the case of an assault firearm, any person who has in his possession an unlicensed or unregistered assault firearm would be required, within 180 days of the bill’s effective date, to: (1) transfer the assault firearm to any person or firm lawfully entitled to own or possess the firearm; (2) render the assault firearm inoperable; or (3) voluntarily surrender the assault firearm.  If the person elects to render the firearm inoperable, he or she is required to file a certification on a form prescribed by the Superintendent of the State Police indicating the date on which the firearm was rendered inoperable.
The Assembly Democratic gun violence prevention package was proposed in response to the national call for effective legislative action that will help curb the long-standing issue of gun violence occurring in New Jersey’s communities. 
The General Assembly gave the measure its final legislative approval on May 20th with a vote of 48-24-6. The bill will now go to the Governor for further consideration.

Assembly Budget Panel to Get Final Revenue Update from Treasurer & Legislative Budget Officer

(TRENTON) – The Assembly Budget Committee will meet Tuesday to get a final revenue update from the state treasurer and the Office of Legislative Services.
The committee will hear from OLS at 10 a.m. in Committee Room 11 on the 4th Floor of the State House Annex in Trenton.
It will hear from the treasurer at 2 p.m. in the same location.
The hearing will be streamed live at

Riley, Burzichelli & Coughlin Measure to Allow Private Sponsorship of Highway-Related Services As a Cost Saving Measure Clears Assembly

(TRENTON) -  Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Celeste M. Riley, John J. Burzichelli and Craig J. Coughlin to allow private entities to sponsor the operational activities of certain state transportation agencies, as well as highway-related services in order to help alleviate the burden on taxpayers was approved Monday by the General Assembly.
            “This legislation authorizes a simple move that would potentially offer a great benefit to taxpayers,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “Covering the cost for upkeep of state highway rest areas and other services may be minimal in ways but it is money that can add up over time.  In this economy, every little bit we save would make a big difference in the long run.”
“Thousands of people travel our state highways each year,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem).  “Extending the opportunity for sponsorship would be an asset to any corporation’s marketing platform. And it also alleviates costs to our taxpayers which is a win in this economy.”
 “Offering sponsorship is an opportunity that would help business and industry in the state as well as relieve a burden on taxpayers,” said Coughlin (D- Middlesex). “In these economic times, we should look for more ways such as this one to reduce costs where ever we can.”
The bill (A-3461) would create sponsorship programs in the Department of Transportation, New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and South Jersey Transportation Authority to allow a person or entity to sponsor the appropriate agency’s operational activities by providing the services, products, or monetary contributions in exchange for an acknowledgement sign. 
An acknowledgement sign is defined as a sign intended to inform the traveling public that a highway-related service, product, or monetary contribution has been sponsored by a person, firm, or entity, and which meets all design and placement guidelines for acknowledgement signs as established pursuant to the provisions of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways and all sign design principles provided in the federal Standard Highway Signs and Markings Book.
The bill would require each agency to adopt a policy on sponsorship agreements that is consistent with pertinent federal laws, rules, regulations, and orders. In particular, the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) March 2012 order, “Policy on Sponsorship Acknowledgment and Agreements within the Public Right-of-Way.”  The policy adopted by each agency would have to:
·       require the termination of a sponsorship agreement if the sponsorship agreement or acknowledgement sign present a safety concern, interferes with the free and safe flow of traffic, or is not in the public interest;
·       describe the sponsors and sponsorship agreements that are acceptable and consistent with applicable state and federal laws;
·       require that any monetary contribution received through the program be used solely for highway purposes;
·       include a requirement that the private sponsor comply with the state’s “Law Against Discrimination”; and
·       be approved by the FHWA’s New Jersey Division Office.
            In addition, the bill provides that a sponsorship agreement for any portion of the interstate highway system is subject to approval by the FHWA and that advertising signs are not permitted as part of the programs. Advertising signs are signs that are intended to promote commercial products or services through the use of slogans and information on where to obtain the products or services.
The bill would be effective on the first day of the 18th month following enactment.
The measure was approved 78-0 and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.