TRENTON – The gun control debate dominated the media attention a week ago, but it was back to refocusing on the post-Sandy rebuilding in the Garden State this week.
Taking a significant step forward, Gov. Chris Christie adopted flood maps devised by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that would require certain Shore properties to rebuild their homes at a higher elevation.
While it will no doubt be expensive, Christie said it would be better than having to incur sky-high flood insurance premiums, which could reach as high as $31,000.
Christie adopted the emergency measure on Thursday, because FEMA would not be able to take action on the maps for as long as two years. Adopting the standards sooner rather than later, he said, enables residents and businesses to rebuild the Jersey Shore faster.
The field narrows
Early Friday Sen. Dick Codey announced that he was not going to run for governor, and it’s clear that with Sen. Barbara Buono, the only declared Democratic candidate so far, being way behind in head-to-head polls, Christie remains a force to be reckoned with.
Senate President Steve Sweeney and Congressman Bill Pascrell remain possibilities. Sweeney has said he will have a decision by month’s end, which is this coming week. And Pascrell has not yet issued a formal statement although he did give indications in previous interviews that he was leaning toward not running.
Christie called on the Senate Judiciary Committee – well, more directly, Senate President Steve Sweeney – to take action on the two nominees for the Supreme Court. Appearing livid, Christie called on Sweeney to do his job, adding that he’s losing patience.
Christie accused Sweeney of running around playing politics.
At the same time, Sweeney was indeed travelling, doing a jobs tour in Wall Township and Atlantic City in one day, and having another in Paramus at the end of the week.
It was a quiet week at the Statehouse but Sen. Jennifer Beck did submit an interesting piece of legislation calling for three towns in the Fort Monmouth redevelopment area to award a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) program to redevelopers instead of having to pay property taxes on the parcels.
The Board of Public Utilities adopted a whopping 103 measures designed to improve utility-customer communications and recovery related to future major weather events.
The Assembly Budget Committee released Sweeney’s legislation, S2425/A3679, which would amend the state statute dealing with authorizing project labor agreements to allow additional labor agreements with the state.
The bill would expand the definition of “public works project,” which pertains now to “construction, reconstruction, demolition or renovation” projects.
Republicans trashed the bill, saying it would ultimately lead to higher costs for taxpayers.
Christie said he hasn’t yet taken a stand on two major subjects on the radar – the proposed minimum wage hike and Internet wagering. The minimum wage bill calls for it being raised to $8.50.
The subject of Internet gaming resurfaced, after Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-27) released a statement touting a recent report that it may be struggling Atlantic City’s only hope. The South Jersey resort town has been battered by Pennsylvania in terms of gaming revenue.