The lame-duck legislative session will end in early January after both chambers of the New Jersey Legislature reorganize. But lawmakers are keeping busy and will hold a number of hearings over the next week before the end of the session.
In addition to holding voting sessions on bills, here are some topics that will be addressed after the New Year but before the Jan. 9 reorganization of both the state Senate and General Assembly:
1. Drinking Water Infrastructure. On January 3, a joint legislative task force will meet and discuss recommendations for improvements to New Jersey’s drinking water infrastructure. The task force –which is chaired by Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex) and Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Bergen)– was formed last summer in order to study vulnerabilities to New Jersey’s drinking water supply. It was a response to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan that drew national headlines last year. On Wednesday, the task force will vote on a report of recommendations.
2. Medical Examiners Offices and Protocols in the State. Earlier this month, NJ.com launched a wide-reaching investigative report detailing the failures and inconsistencies that exist in New Jersey’s medical examiner system, often times resulting in delayed examinations or lack of answers surrounding causes of death. The response to the investigation was swift and on January 4, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee will hear testimony about potential issues and possible next steps for reform.
3. Treatment of Incarcerated Individuals. The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee will hear testimony about allegations of sexual misconduct at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, something that was also exposed by an NJ.com report. They committee will also vote on the creation of a task force that could address parole eligibility for juveniles, a response to court rulings questioning the culpability of juveniles who commit crimes (when compared with adults) and questions about life without parole for juvenile offenders. The committee will meet on January 4.
4. NJ Transit and Transportation. New Jersey’s rail system has been faced with delays and derailments with increasing frequency, even as repairs are made to rail lines used by NJ Transit. On January 5, there will be a joint hearing of the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee and the Assembly Judiciary Committee to check in on the state of NJ Transit. New Jersey Transit Executive Director Steven Santoro will testify. On January 4, The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will also weigh in on whether to supplement New Jersey’s general fund by over $85 million in order to help NJ Transit cover the cost of capacity improvements and safety improvements. The supplemental funding –sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester)– would also appropriate of $76 million to the Department of Transportation for bridges and roads.