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With overwhelming bipartisan support, the State Senate passed legislation introduced by Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove that would allow municipalities to use a portion of certain affordable housing development fees collected for affordability assistance programs for veterans.
Specifically, the 9th District delegation’s legislation (S-915) would provide that up to 30 percent of the development fee amounts permitted to be spent on affordability assistance programs may be directed to a municipal program for first-time home buying veterans to provide grants for down payment assistance. The legislation is permissive, providing municipalities the option of establishing a program.
Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) issued the following statement on the second anniversary of the landfall of Superstorm Sandy on the Jersey Shore:
“Two years after our state was hit by the biggest storm in its history, we have made substantial progress with our recovery.
“Debris has been carted away and washed out roads and boardwalks replaced, and thousands of homes have been rebuilt and elevated.
Legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Budget Officer Anthony Bucco to authorize local governments to email permits, receipts and bills was unanimously passed by the Senate Community & Urban Affairs Committee.
“This legislation will modernize the way local governments do business to make sure there are no delays in job creation or economic development, and to ensure that taxpayers are not charged with unnecessary mailing, printing and employee work hours costs,” said Bucco (R-Morris). “While my colleagues and I continue to work on cutting nation-high property taxes at their root causes and eliminating burdensome regulations and red tape, we can enact common-sense measures such as this one to expedite jobs and make local government more efficient.”
A measure sponsored by Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) to create better coordinated and comprehensive primary and behavioral health care services was advanced by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
Under Senator Singer’s legislation, S2375, ambulatory care facilities would be permitted to provide primary health care services and behavioral health care services under a single license.
“The state’s current requirement forcing facilities to obtain multiple licenses is an unnecessary burden that restricts a patients’ access to needed care and makes it much more difficult for health centers to provide coordinated, holistic care,” said Singer. “Making it easier for ambulatory care facilities to also provide mental health services will allow more patients to get the full spectrum of care that they need.”
Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) issued the following statement after legislation (S-2318) that he sponsors with Senate President Stephen Sweeney (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem) to limit sick leave payouts for all retiring public employees to $15,000 was advanced by the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee:
“Six-figure payouts to retiring public employees for hundreds of days of accrued sick leave are budget killers for municipalities and a ridiculous burden on property taxpayers.
The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho to continue the special appraisal process for Green Acres & Farmland Preservation programs for lands in the Highlands area.
The special appraisal process, which sunset June 30, 2014, is designed to ensure fairness for property owners whose homes and farms were devalued by the 2004 Highlands Act that banned most development in the 860,000 acre area. The legislation, S1050, renews the appraisal process until 2019.
“It’s critical the special appraisal process be continued to ensure that property owners in the Highlands who wish to sell their land receive a fair value,” said Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris). “Preserving land is a worthy effort yet we also need to be equally concerned about protecting landowners whose property values dropped significantly when the 2004 Highlands Act regulations were put in place.”
The state Senate Transportation Committee unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean to make New Jersey a hub for the development, testing and implementation of driverless vehicles.
In June 2013, Senator Kean introduced Senate bill 734, which would make New Jersey the third U.S. state —and the first in the densely populated, fast-paced North East Region — to permit the testing of and licensing for autonomous vehicles.
“New Jersey’s workforce and economy, has a lot to gain from being at the forefront of such innovation, beyond that the overall implementation of driverless vehicles stands to make our roadways much safer and less congested,” said Kean (R-Union, Somerset, Morris).
Following a number of long-term power outages in recent years that have affected New Jersey residents, the Senate Community & Urban Affairs Committee has approved legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) and Senator Bob Smith (D-Middlesex, Somerset) that would streamline the local approval process to make it easier for residents to install automatic standby generators on their homes.
“Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and recent blizzards and storms have reminded us how dependent we are on electricity and how hard it can be to get by when our power infrastructure is down,” said Kyrillos. “Following those outages, many homeowners have sought to install permanent standby generators for use in future emergencies. Some have found, however, that the local approval process to install a generator to be unnecessarily complicated and difficult, which this bill addresses.”
Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), a sponsor of New Jersey’s recently enacted law repealing prohibitions on sports wagering at racetracks and casinos, responded to a federal court’s restraining order that will prevent Monmouth Park from starting to accept sports wagers as planned:
“I am disappointed that the temporary restraining order imposed by a federal court will prevent Monmouth Park from starting to accept wagers on sporting events this weekend as was planned. I believe, however, the court will find after a more thorough review that New Jersey’s repeal of prohibitions on sports betting at our racetracks and casinos is compliant with both federal law and the guidance provided in previous federal court rulings.”
Legislation (S-2396) sponsored by Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-40) that would allow New Jersey residents to make voluntary contributions on their state income tax returns to the ALS Association was approved by the New Jersey Senate in a 38-0 vote.
The measure’s advance follows the grassroots Ice Bucket Challenge social media campaign that raised $115 million for the ALS Association between July 29 and September 22.
“Many of us participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds for ALS research and the care and treatment of those suffering from this horrible disease,” said O’Toole. “While the viral fundraising campaign was very successful, it was also short lived. This legislation will create a permanent opportunity for New Jersey residents to demonstrate their generosity and help fight ALS.”