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January 13, 2010 - Tracking Legislation and Other Items Important to the NJ Business Community

Final Report of the 213thLegislative Session


Extending the Requirements of Wastewater Management Planning Agencies – A-4345 (Green/D-22; Scalera/D-36): Assembly passed 60-12, Senate passed 32-4, sent to Governor. Provides for additional time for the implementation of the Water Quality Management Planning (WQMP) rules. The amended bill extends until April 7, 2011 the period of time allowed for wastewater management planning agencies to prepare and submit a wastewater management plan or a wastewater management update to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). In addition, the bill establishes a specific requirement for notice and public hearing whenever a plan proposes to remove property from a sewer service area. The bill also removes a requirement that would have allowed the State Planning Commission to evaluate, study and review the accuracy, validity, feasibility, and practicability of sewer service area mapping, data, models, or any other information provided by the DEP to wastewater management planning agencies. Increasing transparency, certainty and predictability in planning activities by local government and business is critical to ensuring economic growth in our state.

Extending the Permit Extension Act of 2008 – A-4347 (Greenwald/D-6; Malone/R-30): Assembly passed 59-15, Senate passed 32-4, sent to Governor. Extends state, county and municipal permits issued after Jan. 1, 2007 until Dec. 31, 2012. In these existing economic conditions businesses in some cases are forced to delay scheduled projects that have already been approved, which results in some of these permit approvals expiring before the projects are completed. Given that the permit application process is extremely time consuming and expensive, it makes sense to allow additional time for stalled projects to be completed. Businesses may not have the time and money to start the application process over and may abandon these projects or take them to other states.


Solar, Wind and Biomass Energy Generation on Farms – S-1538 (Smith/D-17; Bateman/R-16): Assembly passed 76-0, sent to Governor. Allows the owner of a preserved farm to install and operate solar, wind or biomass energy generation facilities for the purpose of generating power or heat. This legislation will provide New Jersey farmers with the ability to integrate renewable energy into their agricultural operations and allow excess energy to be sold to the grid under limited terms.

Solar and Wind Energy Commission – A-3218 (McKeon/D-27; Rudder/R-8; Lampitt/D-6; Vainieri Huttle/D-37; Greenstein/D-14): Assembly passed 67-9, Senate passed 38-0, sent to Governor. Creates a Solar and Wind Energy Commission. The commission would research the feasibility, financial implications and the projected energy and financial savings to the State regarding solar and wind energy installation on State property. The amendments add two additional members to the Commission, one of whom is to represent the renewable energy industry and the other to represent an electric public utility. Additionally, the amendments require the final report be issued to the Governor and both houses of the Legislature within one year after its organization. The State Chamber believes that state government should lead by example and properly investigate opportunities to install renewable energy systems.


Establishing Corporate Environmental Recognition Program – A-795 (Gusciora/D-15; Fisher/D-3): Senate passed 32-2, sent to Governor. Directs the NJ Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner to establish a list of environmentally responsible businesses, companies, and corporations in the state, recognizing those that have exhibited exemplary attention and concern for the environment. The DEP Commissioner shall periodically provide public recognition in the form of an award of certificates, press announcements, or other forms of recognition to highlight the achievements of the selected private sector businesses.

Clarifying Public Notification – A-3852 (Scalera/D-36): Assembly passed 55-22, Senate passed 30-6, sent to Governor. Modifies the public notification rule regarding the remediation of a site that has been contaminated. The committee amendments would clarify the DEP’s regulatory responsibility with regard to public notification. Specifically, it requires the person responsible for conducting a remediation of a contaminated site to provide written notification to any local property owners and tenants who reside within 200 feet of any “area of concern." Under the law, an “area of concern” is defined as any location where contaminants are or were known or suspected to have been discharged, generated, or manufactured.

Clarifying Covenant Not to Sue – A-4265 (McKeon/D-27; Chivukula/D-17): Senate passed 38-0, sent to Governor. Corrects an inconsistency in the law arising from the enactment of the Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA) and ensures that a covenant not to sue may be issued in certain circumstances. The lack of a covenant not to sue could create impediments to cleanup, redevelopment and transactions with respect to contaminated sites.


Performance Review Audit of the State Health Benefits Program – A-2479 (O’Scanlon/R-12; Casagrande/R-12; Moriarty/D-4): Assembly passed 77-0, received in the Senate without reference. Requires the State Auditor to conduct a performance review audit of the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP), administered by the State Health Benefits Commission, at least every three years and to annually conduct a limited audit for the purpose of ensuring that only persons who, by law, are eligible for coverage are receiving benefits. The purpose of these audits is to ensure the integrity of SHBP and to help eliminate unnecessary State expenditures.


Mandating Managed Care Plans Pay Certain Health Care Claims – S-114 (Weinberg/D-37; Vainieri Huttle/D-37; Handlin/R-13; Munoz/R-21): Senate passed 32-2, sent to Governor. Provides that a carrier which issues a managed care plan with an out-of-network benefit shall remit payment for the reimbursement directly to the health care provider in the form of a check payable to the health care provider, or in the alternative, to the health care provider and the covered person, as joint payees, with a signature line for each of the payees. This bill will undermine the ability of carriers to offer direct payment to providers as an incentive to agree to network reimbursement rates. Many employees rely strictly on “in network” health care providers in order to keep their out-of-pocket costs at a minimum. Removing one of the incentives for providers to join a network will do nothing to lower costs and could lead to less participation by providers in networks.

Incentives For Nursing Faculty – A-2549 (Lampitt/D-6; Giblin/D-34; Vainieri Huttle/D-37; Greenwald/D-6; Greenstein/D-14): Senate passed 38-0, sent to Governor. Proposes a loan forgiveness program that will allow recent graduates of approved masters or doctoral programs who have been hired to be faculty in accredited nursing schools in New Jersey to have a portion of their loans forgiven. The exact amount of the loan forgiveness program will be determined within the regulations. This program will serve as a marketing tool for New Jersey’s schools of nursing to recruit potential faculty hires to pursue a career as a nurse faculty member at their institution.


Mandating Prevailing Wage for Maintenance-Related Projects – A-4268 (Cryan/D-20; Quijano/D-20; Greenstein/D-14): Senate passed 22-14, sent to Governor. Extends prevailing wage requirements to any work on a maintenance-related project that exceeds the scope of work and capabilities of in-house maintenance personnel and has an aggregate value exceeding $50,000. The State Chamber opposes mandates that expand prevailing wage requirements because of the increased financial burden such mandates have on the employer community and the taxpayers. These artificially inflated wages increase labor costs without a corresponding increase in productivity. This bill will increase costs and exacerbate our financial emergency at a time when we can least afford it.

Mandating Prevailing Wage on Energy Projects – A-4293 (DeAngelo/D-14; Egan/D-17; Evans/D-35; Greenstein/D-14): Senate passed 24-13, sent to Governor. Requires BPU to use prevailing wage on board-assisted projects, but does not require adoption of rules and regulations regarding that mandate. The State Chamber believes there must be defined regulations issued by the Board before implementation. This legislation will ultimately drive up costs for energy efficiency or renewable energy projects by mandating higher union-scale prevailing wages to contractors. These artificially inflated wages increase labor costs without a corresponding increase in productivity. This bill will increase costs and exacerbate our financial emergency at a time when we can least afford it.


Regulatory Relief for Small Business – A-832 (Chivukula/D-17; Schaer/D-36; Fisher/D-3; Love/D-4): Senate passed 36-0, Assembly passed 76-0, sent to Governor. Updates the New Jersey Regulatory Flexibility Act by requiring an agency to conduct a review of rules that are up for re-adoption, ensuring that they have minimal impact on small businesses. In addition, the bill revises the definition of small business from a business that employs fewer than 100 full-time employees to one which, along with its affiliates, employs fewer than 100 full-time employees or has gross annual sales of less than $6 million.