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From the NJ State Chamber of Commerce

September 29, 2008 - Tracking Legislation Important to the New Jersey Business Community


Assembly Education Committee - Teaching Personal Finance to High School Seniors - A-1943 (Schaer/D-36; Lampitt/D-6; Coutinho/D-29): Committee passed and Assembly passed 77-2. Establishes a three-year pilot program to provide high school seniors in selected districts with a personal financial literacy course. The goal of the pilot program is to ensure that high school graduates receive instruction on budgeting, savings and investment, credit card debt, and other issues associated with personal financial responsibility. At the conclusion of the pilot program, the Education Commissioner will report to the Governor and the Legislature on the feasibility of implementing the program statewide. The State Chamber supports this measure as a way to educate students on the workings of the money and credit markets to safeguard against irresponsible spending that leads to excessive personal debt and bankruptcy. Contact: Jim Leonard


Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee - Energy Efficient and Hybrid Vehicles For State Use - A-3023 (Lampitt/D-6; Vainieri Huttle/D-37): Committee passed, referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Requires the state to phase-in a requirement to purchase only fuel efficient vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, alternative technology vehicles, fuel cell-powered vehicles, or hybrid electric vehicles. The State Chamber believes the state needs to lead by example in the ongoing effort to reduce greenhouse gases. Contact: Michael Egenton

Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee - Public Access to Areas Adjacent to Critical Infrastructure - A-2954 (Milam/D-1; Albano/D-1): Committee passed and Assembly passed 76-1. Prohibits the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) from mandating public access to tidal waterfront areas and adjacent shoreline at existing military, industrial, transportation, energy or port facilities. Additionally, the NJDEP would be prohibited from requiring certain facilities to pay for off-site access. The State Chamber believes this legislation will help to clarify current NJDEP regulations that raise concerns regarding safety and homeland security issues. Contact: Michael Egenton


Public Employee Pension and Benefits Reform Act of 2008 - S-1962/A-2818 (Buono/D-18; Sweeney/D-3; Scutari/D-22; Kean, T./R-21; Roberts/D-5): Governor Corzine signed into law Sept. 29. Makes various changes to the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) concerning retirement age, eligibility, and purchase of service credit. Additionally, the bill merges the Lincoln's Birthday holiday into President's Day for state employees. Salary and benefits packages enjoyed by public sector employees is significantly higher than private sector packages. This is a major reform measure under the Platform for Progress Government Reform Initiative. Contact: Jim Leonard

Assembly State Government Committee - Financial Disclosure for Legislators - ACR-188 and 189 (Moriarty/D-4; O'Scanlon/R-12; Greenstein/D-14; Johnson/D-37; Love/D-4; DeAngelo/D-14): Committee passed. Revises the financial disclosure requirements for Legislature members and their spouses. The resolution revises the category of earned income to be reported to include income paid to the member, the member's spouse or fiduciary of a named corporation, professional association, partnership, or proprietorship, and including a trust or estate and as a shareholder of a professional service corporation. The resolution also revises the value ranges for the financial disclosure. Contact: Jim Leonard


Bypassing Physician Referral - A-1380 (Conaway/D-7; Greenstein/D-14; Munoz/D-21; Voss/D-38): Assembly passed 73-5. Requires health insurance carriers offering a managed care plan to permit a covered person to receive covered services from a health care provider in its provider network without obtaining a referral from the covered person's primary care physician. Centrally managing a patient's care through a primary care physician helps manage costs and increases quality by coordinating all efforts. Bypassing this coordination is neither cost effective nor best for quality of care. Contact: Jim Leonard


Assembly Labor Committee - Economic Hearings- The Committee began a series of legislative hearings focusing on the state of our economy. Committee members heard testimony from economists and others on the impact of the financial crisis on New Jersey residents and businesses. James Hughes, dean of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, provided the members with an update on the economy and projections for the future. Dean Hughes predicted recessionary or near recessionary conditions to continue well into 2009 and noted that the home price correction is still in its early phases. His forecast also mentioned that the state will continue to see the detrimental effects of tightening credit and consumer retrenchment, which may cause New Jersey's logistics, warehousing, distribution and retail industries to decline. Dean Hughes highlighted the importance of long-term capital investment, particularly in our transportation infrastructure.

Testimony from special interest groups such as New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal leaning think tank, encouraged the Committee members to raise the minimum wage. The State Chamber believes that now is not the time to add to the costs of doing business in this state. Rather, the State Legislature should consider tax and regulatory reforms to stimulate job growth in this difficult economy. Contact: Jim Leonard


Improving NJ's Corporate Governance Laws - A-2879 thru A-2885 (Diegnan/D-18; Vas/D-19; Chivukula/D-17; DeAngelo/D-14; Coutinho/D-29; Milam/D-1; Love/D-4; Albano/D-1): Assembly passed all bills by a vote of 79-0. This seven-bill package is designed to update New Jersey's corporate governance laws to make it easier for corporations to conduct business in our state. Many of the legislative changes proposed are modeled on Delaware General Corporation Law, such as increasing the options by which a corporation can merge, acquire or consolidate with a non-incorporated business. Contact: Jim Leonard

Streamlining Tax Collection - A-3111 (Greenwald/D-6; Pou/D-35; Chivukula/D-17): Assembly passed 49-31. Revises the State's sales and use tax to conform with various provisions of the multi-state Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA). The bill incorporates a series of changes to the SSUTA which have been adopted by the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board since New Jersey first entered the agreement in 2005. The changes are intended to simplify and modernize the state's tax collection and administrative procedures, and to ensure New Jersey remains compliant with the provisions of the SSUTA. Contact: Mary Ellen Peppard


Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee - General Aviation Airports - The Committee heard testimony from the NJ Aviation Association, the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Association and others on several concerns regarding general aviation airports. General aviation is an integral part of the U.S. economy and a prime catalyst for economic growth, providing 1.3 million jobs and over $102 billion. Several companies in NJ take advantage of the safety, speed, convenience and flexibility that corporate aircrafts provide. However, general aviation in New Jersey faces serious challenges. In the early 1980s there were 65 privately owned, public use airports. The number has dwindled to 43 with development pressures leading to a number of closures. Issues highlighted at the hearing include tax burdens, zoning and eminent domain issues, sprawl and safety hazards.

General Aviation Airports

Call the State Chamber Government Relations department at (609) 989-7888 with questions or comments.