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Legislative Update 2/24/17

TRENTON WATCH  

February 24, 2017

Tracking Legislation and Other Items Important to the Business Community:


CONSUMER AFFAIRS

Thumbs downLimits Consumer Contract Disputes Forum - A-1515 (McKeon/D-27; Diegnan/D-18; Benson/D-14; Muoio/D-15; Pinkin/D-18; Moriarity/D-4)/S-387 (Cruz-Perez/D-5; Barnes/D-18): Assembly passed 49-20. The measure prohibits conditions in a consumer contract that require disputes be resolved in a venue, forum or jurisdiction inside the state of New Jersey. The business community opposes limiting the venue for these arbitration disputes to within the State. Independent third-party arbitrators are typically located in Philadelphia or New York, which is not an unreasonable distance for the parties to travel. Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Thumbs UpEmergency Price Increases -S-2321 (Oroho/R-24; Beach/D-6; Burzichelli/D-3; Wisniewski/D-19; Mosquera/D-4; Houghtaling/D-11; Wimberly/D-35): Signed into law by the Governor. Amends statutory language regarding so-called price-gouging during a state of emergency by specifying an exact period of time during which 'excessive' price increases would be prohibited. This bill stipulates that 'excessive' price increases would be prohibited during a state of emergency and for an initial period of 30 days following the declaration of a state of emergency, unless the Governor extends the prohibition for periods of up to 10 days. Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Thumbs UpTwo-Year UEZ Extension - A-4189 (Gusciora/D-15; Muoio/D-15; Mukherji/D-33; Pintor Marin/D-29; Chiaravalloti/D-31; Wimberly/D-35; Van Drew/D-1; Turner/D-15): Conditionally vetoed by the Governor. The bill would have extended the duration of the first five UEZs (Bridgeton, Camden, Newark, Plainfield and Trenton) for two years. The Governor's conditional veto directs the commissioner of Community Affairs, in consultation with other departments and agencies, to complete a six-month review of the UEZ program, and make a recommendation to the Governor and Legislature whether there is an alternative location-based program to assist fiscally distressed municipalities. Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  and  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Thumbs UpBEIP Tax Credits - S-2477 (Sarlo/D-36; Oroho/R-24; Schaer/D-36; Space/R-24; Mukherji/D-33; Singleton/D-7): Signed into law by the Governor. This legislation would allow companies that are using BEIP tax credits when they pay their insurance premiums tax to receive a refund if their tax credits are higher in value than what they owe in the insurance premiums tax. Previously, companies could only receive refunds if they chose to apply the tax credit to their corporate business tax liability. Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Thumbs UpMicroenterprise Assistance - A-3333 (Singleton/D-7; Mukherji/D-33; Oliver/D-34; Muoio/D-15; Houghtaling/D-11; Turner/D-15; Cruz-Perez/D-5): Signed into law by the Governor. Provides counseling and assistance to microbusiness startups. One-Stop Career Centers would be required to provide additional services focused on microenterprise training. The bill was amended at the request of the State Chamber to ensure that experienced business counselors provide the assistance. Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Assembly Appropriations Committee

Thumbs UpEconomic Gardening Program - A-4170 (Downey/D-11; Houghtaling/D-11)/S-2541 (Cruz-Perez/D-5): Assembly committee passed. This bill establishes an "Economic Gardening Program" within the Business Action Center (BAC). The program will provide customized services to qualified, second-stage growth businesses in New Jersey that demonstrate revenue or job growth, and are in the process of expanding beyond the local market area. These services will focus on counseling and management consulting, including reviews of core strategies and guidance on how to increase exposure through the Internet. The BAC will be required to annually report the program's status to the Governor and the Legislature. Contact: Michael Egenton

Assembly Appropriations Committee A-4170 Vote: Burzichelli, John J. (C) - Yes; Lagana, Joseph A. (VC) - Yes; Caride, Marlene - Yes; Conaway, Herb - Yes; DiMaio, John - No; Lampitt, Pamela R. - Yes; Mosquera, Gabriela M. - Yes; Quijano, Annette - Yes; Rible, David P. - No; Schaer, Gary S. - Yes; Schepisi, Holly - No 

Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee

Thumbs UpNew Jersey Business Advisory Council - A-2719 (Bucco/R-25; Munoz/R-21; Pinkin/D-18; Johnson/D-37; DeCroce/R-26)/S-959 (Beck/R-11; Bucco/R-25): Assembly committee passed. Establishes the "New Jersey Business Advisory Council" to advise the Business Action Center and the NJEDA on issues involving the improvement of the state's business climate. The Governor will appoint 12 representatives from various industry sectors to the council. The members will represent small, medium and large businesses as well as urban, suburban, and rural-based businesses in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation, and businesses engaged in military contracts and hiring veterans. There will be at least three members each from North, Central, and South Jersey. Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Assembly Commerce and Economic Development A-2719 Vote: Johnson, Gordon M. (C) - Yes; Pintor Marin, Eliana (VC) - Yes; Auth, Robert - Yes; Bucco, Anthony M. - Not Voting; Chiaravalloti, Nicholas - Yes; Coughlin, Craig J. - Yes; DeCroce, BettyLou - Yes; Kennedy, James J. - Yes; Mukherji, Raj - Not Voting; Munoz, Nancy F. - Yes; Muoio, Elizabeth Maher - Yes; Oliver, Sheila Y. - Yes 


EDUCATION

Thumbs UpReallocates Remaining Project Grants for Higher Education - A-34 (Prieto/D-32; Singleton/D-7; Benson/D-14; Wimberly/D-35; Burzichelli/D-3; Jasey/D-27; Sumter/D-35; Sarlo/D-36; Kean/R-21): Senate passed 36-0, sent to the Governor. Appropriates $34.3 million from the "Building Our Future Bond Act" and provides for reallocating the amount remaining from project grants (not awarded) to public and private institutions of higher education. These funds are for capital project grants to increase academic capacity at New Jersey's public and private institutions of higher education. Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


ENERGY

Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee

Thumbs UpGreen Building Permits - A-2081 (Mukherji/D-33; Pintor Marin/D-29; Muoio/D-15; Holley/D-20): Assembly committee passed. Provides for priority consideration, by Department of Community Affairs, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Transportation, and municipalities, of permit applications for green building projects. A project qualifies as a "green building project" if it is designed in accordance with the green building manual prepared by the Commissioner of Community Affairs. The application would include a letter from a licensed architect or engineer describing how the project qualifies as a green building project. Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee A-2081 Vote: Eustace, Tim (C) - Yes; McKeon, John F. (VC) - Yes; Karabinchak, Robert J. - Yes; Rooney, Kevin J. - Yes; Wisniewski, John S. - Yes; Wolfe, David W. - Yes 

 Senate Economic Growth Committee

Thumbs downRejecting the Monmouth County Reliability Project - SR-75 (Kyrillos/R-13; Beck/R-11)/AR-164 (Handlin/R-13; O'Scanlon/R-13): Testimony opposing this was provided by Tom Bracken, president of the State Chamber. This resolution urges the BPU, DEP, NJ Transit, and the Governor to "reject" Jersey Central Power & Light's application to undertake Monmouth County Reliability Project (MCRP). The project would use an NJ Transit railroad right-of-way between Aberdeen and Red Bank to run a new 230 kilovolt electric transmission line, in addition to certain substation enhancements and modern technology upgrades. Utilities have been among the best corporate residents of New Jersey, and this line will improve reliability, meet the increasing demand of customers in Monmouth County and grow the state economy. Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


STATE GOVERNMENT

 Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee

Thumbs UpNon-Commercial Sustaining Announcements -  S-2751 (Diegnan/D-18; Gordon/D-38): Senate committee passed. Provides that state contracts for public service announcements (non-commercial sustaining announcements) on public radio and television stations will be purchased as a single contract, without public advertising for bids, to a non-profit association that represents broadcasters. Non-commercial sustaining announcements are radio and television public service announcements that promote various programs, including public health and safety campaigns, public education, and public outreach or awareness missions. Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee S-2751 Vote:

Whelan, Jim (C) - Yes; Turner, Shirley K. (VC) - Yes; Diegnan, Patrick J., Jr. - Yes; Oroho, Steven V. - Not Voting; Thompson, Samuel D. - Yes 


WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Thumbs UpCommunity College Consortium - S-1761 (Rice/D-28; Cunningham/D-31; Pou/D-35; Johnson/D-37; Wimberly/D-35; Pintor Marin/D-29): Assembly passed 67-1. Amends part of the "Supplemental Workforce Fund for Basic Skills" to direct the Community College Consortium to work with the African American Chamber of Commerce and the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey to promote the Department of Labor and Workforce Development's basic skills program to businesses across the state. The program works with community colleges and businesses throughout the state to deliver basic-skills training to qualified, displaced, disadvantaged or unemployed workers. The State Chamber also participates with the program. Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Thumbs UpEstablishes New Jersey Commission on Higher Education and Business Partnerships - A-1668 (Schaer/D-36; Jasey/D-27; Johnson/D-37; Zwicker/D-16; Giblin/D-34; Downey/D-11; Wimberly/D-35; Kean/R-21): Signed into law by the Governor. Establishes New Jersey Commission on Higher Education and Business Partnerships. The Commission will explore how to best foster innovation and collaboration through private investment in higher education, focusing on research and development in the growing technical and bioscience industries. The executive director of the commission will serve as the Higher Education-Business Partnership Ombudsman to work with interested institutions of higher education. A representative from the State Chamber will serve on the Commission. Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


TRANSPORTATION

Thumbs UpRegulates Transportation Network Companies - A-3695 (Lagana/D-38; Singleton/D-7; Wisniewski/D-19; DeCroce/R-26; Sarlo/D-36; Kyrillos/R-13): Signed into law by the Governor. Regulates ridesharing companies that use the Internet or other digital communications to connect drivers with people who need rides. The State Chamber acknowledges the compromise agreement on background checks, and recognizes that it will fairly regulate transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft while still allowing them to flourish. Additional amendments regarding insurance will provide more coverage in the event of an accident. Ridesharing companies are innovative companies that provide safe and affordable transportation options to New Jersey residents, businesses and visitors. Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Thumbs up and down indicates the chamber's support or opposition to issues. Call the State Chamber Government Relations Department at (609) 989-7888 with questions or comments.