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From the NJ State Chamber of Commerce February 24, 2009 - Tracking Legislation and Issues Important to New Jersey Employers


Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee Hearing on Economic Crisis – The Committee listened to people from the public and private sector testify on the impact of the economic crisis and the condition of New Jersey’s financial institutions. The committee members heard from Caren Franzini, CEO of the Economic Development Authority (EDA); Steven Goldman, state banking and insurance commissioner; Rae Rosen, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; John E. McWeeney Jr., president of the New Jersey Bankers Association; and Anthony R. Calascibetta, practice leader for Wiss & Co.’s economic advisory team.

Franzini said the Governor has formed a committee to ensure that the federal stimulus package addresses the needs of the state’s and another taskforce was created focusing on jobs, specifically attracting businesses, assisting and retaining current New Jersey companies, and expediting construction projects. She highlighted EDA’ s new Main Street program, through which the EDA provides guarantees and loans to small and mid-sized businesses, and the InvestNJ grant program, which provides businesses with grants of up to 7 percent of their capital investment costs and $3,000 for each new job created and retained for one year. Franzini reported that the EDA has received 315 applications, which are projected to create 8,600 new jobs.

Commissioner Goldman told the committee that New Jersey’s state chartered banks are doing relatively well, but that the state’s foreclosure rate is on pace with the national average. McQueeney said that while his member banks have money to lend, they are experiencing a decline in demand.

Rosen testified that this recession is likely to outlast our previous recessions and that the unemployment rate may reach 8 to 9 percent in the second quarter of this year. She noted that New Jersey’s high per capita income will help our state rebound. Contact: Mary Ellen Peppard

Corzine Names McBride, Boxer to Oversee Implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – Governor Corzine yesterday named his chief of staff Ed McBride and the state comptroller Matt Boxer to lead a group that will oversee the execution and implementation of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in New Jersey. The Center for American Progress has estimated that New Jersey will receive some $17.4 billion from the federal stimulus program, including $7.2 billion in tax cuts that will provide relief to more than 3.5 million taxpayers in New Jersey beginning as early as some people's next paycheck. The stimulus package also contains much-needed assistance for the growing burden on state Unemployment Insurance funds as well as other social safety net programs as well as substantial investments in roads, bridges, dams and other infrastructure that will create billions of jobs across the nation. (Source: Governor's Office)


Wind and Solar Energy in Industrial Zones – A-2550 (Lampitt/D-6; Chivukula/D-17; Wagner/D-38; Vainieri Huttle/D-37; Pou/D-35; Greenstein/D-14): Senate passed 36-3. Permits the location of certain renewable energy facilities in areas zoned for industrial use. The bill defines a “renewable energy facility” as a facility that engages in the production of electric energy from solar technologies, photovoltaic technologies, or wind energy. Specifically, this legislation provides that a renewable energy facility on a parcel or parcels of land comprising 20 or more contiguous acres would be a permitted use within every industrial district of a municipality. Contact: Michael Egenton

Authorizing Grants for Energy Programs and Projects – A-2507 (Chivukula/D-17): Senate passed 31-6. Authorizes the state Board of Public Utilizes to use revenue from the Retail Margin Fund to provide grants for the development of combined heat and power, energy efficiency and demand response projects by non-residential customers with high levels of peak energy load usage. This legislation will assist large energy users with their energy costs. Contact: Michael Egenton


NJ Collaborating Center for Nursing Board – S-621 (Vitale/D-19; Weinberg/D-37; Diegnan/D-18): Assembly passed 73-2, Senate passed 39-0, sent to Governor. Established by legislation (P.L.2002, c.116), the NJ Collaborating Center for Nursing is funded by a public/private funding partnership between the State and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The center serves as a research and development organization to provide objective information about the New Jersey's nursing workforce. This bill makes certain changes in regard to the organization's governing board and provides a permanent funding source for the center in order to ensure its sustainability. Contact: Jim Leonard

Prohibits Hospitals from Charging for Certain Medical Errors – S-2471 (Vitale/D-19; Sweeney/D-3; Weinberg/D-37): Although scheduled for a vote by the full Senate, the Senate decided to recommit the bill back to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. The bill identifies 14 patient safety indicators that are generally preventable and seeks to prohibit hospitals and physicians from charging patients if there are medical errors in these areas. In addition, the bill directs the state Department of Health and Senior Services to include hospital-specific data in the NJ Hospital Performance Report.