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Tracking Legislation and Other Items Important to the NJ Business Community

OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR - CABINET CONFIRMATIONS

The Senate confirmed Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff as the State Treasurer and Lee A. Solomon, Esq. as the new leader of the state Board of Public Utilities. Eristoff previously worked for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as New York City commissioner of Finance and former New York Governor George Pataki as executive deputy commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. Solomon, previously a State Superior Court Judge, served as a former county and federal prosecutor. He began his public service career as a Camden County Freeholder, before being elected to serve in the General Assembly from 1991 to 1996.

EDUCATION

Assembly Education Committee

Interdistrict Public School Choice Program – A-355 (Jasey/D-27; Voss/D-38): Committee passed. Creates a permanent inter-district public school choice program. A five-year inter-district public school choice pilot program was established in 2000 and expired on June 30, 2005. As under the original choice program, the permanent program would allow students to enroll across district lines in designated schools within a district. The permanent program does not limit the number of districts that can participate in the choice program. Contact: Michael Egenton

Assembly Education Committee A-355 Vote: Diegnan, Patrick J., Jr. (Chairman) – Yes; Voss, Joan M. (Vice Chair) – Yes; Caputo, Ralph R. –Yes; Evans, Elease – Yes; Jasey, Mila M. – Yes; Malone, Joseph R., III – Yes; Moriarty, Paul D. – Yes; Ramos, Ruben J., Jr. – Yes; Rumana, Scott T. – Yes; Rumpf, Brian E. – Yes; Watson Coleman, Bonnie – Yes; Wolfe, David W. – Yes

GOVERNMENT REFORM

Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee

Pension Reform – S-2 (Scutari/D-22; O’Toole/R-40); S-3 (Doherty/R-23; Whelan/D-2); S-4 (O’Toole/R-40; Buono/D-18); SCR-1 (Sweeney; Kean, T./R-21): Committee passed, Senate passed 36-0. This package of pension reform bills would: limit the enrollment in the defined benefit pension program to full-time (32 hours per week) employees who earn more than $5,000; require workers to pay at least 1.5% of their salary for health benefits; changes the formula for determining pension payments; caps sick leave payouts at $15,000; and changes the constitution to require the state to pay the full amount of the payment obligation to help fully fund the pension system. These bills recognize the state's serious fiscal situation and will begin to stem the explosive growth of benefit and pension costs. Contact: Jim Leonard

Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee S-2, S-3, S-4, SCR-1 Vote: Whelan, Jim (Chairman) – Yes; Gordon, Robert M. (Vice Chairman) – Yes; Bucco, Anthony R. – Yes; O'Toole, Kevin J. – Yes; Buono, Barbara – Yes

Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee Bidding Requirement Exemptions – S-245 (Bateman/R-16; Rice/D-28): Committee passed. Authorizes certain state authorities and local and county governments to purchase goods or services at a cost below that offered under state contracts without resorting to advertising for bids. This would provide state authorities, as well as local and county governments, the necessary flexibility to obtain goods and services at lower prices than those available under state contracts. Additional savings would also be achieved by avoiding costs and delays related to the bidding process. Contact: Jim Leonard Senate

Community and Urban Affairs Committee S-245 Vote: Van Drew, Jeff (Chairman) – Yes; Rice, Ronald L. (Vice Chairman) – Yes; Connors, Christopher J. – Yes; Haines, Philip E. – Yes; Ruiz, M. Teresa – Yes

Revising Shareholder Action – S-895 (Gill/D-34; Sarlo/D-36): Senate passed 39-0. Eliminates a 10-day waiting period for certain shareholder actions, thereby reducing inefficiencies in transactions. This bill makes New Jersey law consistent with Delaware law. Delaware does not require any such waiting period once notice of the non-unanimous approval of the activity is provided to the non-consenting shareholders. Contact: Jim Leonard

STATE BUDGET

Assembly Budget Committee

State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff outlined Governor Christie’s plan to address the current 2010 fiscal year budget shortfall. Earlier this month, Governor Christie declared a state of fiscal emergency and issued Executive Order 14, which freezes state spending in order to plug the $2.2 billion deficit in the 2010 fiscal year state budget. Governor Christie’s budget solutions include 375 line item spending reductions, efficiencies and program eliminations. Committee members expressed concern about the impact of the spending cuts on current programs and services, particularly the cuts to charity care and school aid. The members encouraged the treasurer to reconsider some of the cuts, especially in areas where spending reductions result in the loss of federal matching funds.

*Provided by the NJ State Chamber of Commerce