OLS points out constitutional concerns regarding landfill closure

TRENTON – An opinion issued by the Office of Legislative Services states that the Fenimore Landfill bill – S2617 – could pose constitutional challenges.

The main hurdle the bill could face is that it can be argued that it violates the Equal Protection clause of the state Constitution.

“If the bill does provide for the Fenimore Landfill to be regulated in a manner different from other landfills of the same class, there may be grounds to challenge the bill as violative of Equal protection or as special legislation of the type prohibited,” the opinion reads.

However, it does point out a bill like that could hold constitutional muster if “a court can find a rational basis for establishing the Fenimore Landfill as a ‘class of one’ and the restrictions in the bill are appropriate to the circumstances.”

The Senate Environment and Energy Committee took testimony today concerning environmental problems at the site.

Still, OLS cautioned that while such legislation may be appropriate within the state’s so-called police power, the memo states that the bill could be argued against because “the bill does not afford the owner of the Fenimore Landfill ‘equal protection of the law, in that it does not apply equally to similarly situated persons.’”

Sen. Bob Smith (D-17) of Piscataway, was in agreement with the memo, and went further, to call the bill “vague.” While Republicans made the argument that bills have been released and amended shortly after, which they were trying to do with S2617, Smith said a lot more details need to be put in.

Among the details are how the capping is going to be paid for. That’s why he set the target date for the bill’s release for June 13.



OLS points out constitutional concerns regarding landfill closure