Week of Feb. 14, 2011

WEEKLY ADVANCE – The fourth public hearing into redistricting kicks off another busy week in New Jersey politics.

The Apportionment Commission took testimony Sunday at Hudson County Community College in Jersey City.

The location of the hearing – the Culinary Conference Center – is apt since a featured menu item in this saga figures to be the growth of the Hispanic population in the state, and how a new legislative map will represent that increased clout.

With the recently released Census figures showing what was expected – that New Jersey’s population is shifting from the Northeast to the South – Northern Jersey may end up losing a district, so the battle continues over how best to represent the growing Latino population: either the Democrats’ way of spreading them among districts, or the Republicans’ preferred method of “packing’’ them into a district to give at least certain geographical sections some solid minority clout.

Expect another kind of partisan tension on Monday as a coalition of environmentalists, unions, and others will launch their battle against Gov. Christie’s push for privatization of public services.

With most of the opposition to the Republican administration’s desire to downsize the public work force coming from Democrats – does anyone remember the  debacle over privatized auto inspections? Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-22) of Fanwood asked a packed privatization hearing last week – the New Jersey Coalition on Privatization on Monday can be expected to list other examples of private sector-reliance gone wrong.

Also on Monday, two types of energy production will be dealt with in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.  Looking backward at the star-crossed legacy of nuclear power, the committee will consider a bill to establish a panel that would oversee the decommissioning of  nuclear generating facilities. The bill points out that over the next decade or more, the state can expect to deal with several such plants whose life span will be expiring.

In the same hearing, the panel will look forward to greener energy pastures by considering several bills, one of which promotes installation of electric-vehicle charging stations at service areas along the state’s toll roads.

On Tuesday, the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards will meet and is scheduled to deal with a complaint brought last year by then-Wayne Council candidate William Brennan regarding his complaint against Assemblyman Scott Rumana over his appearance before a state agency to represent a non-profit of which he is also board chairman.

Then on Wednesday, more than 200 mayors will flock to the N.J. State League of Municipalities’ annual Mayor’s Legislative Day and sound off on what their needs and problems will be in 2011 as the state looks to push more services onto the backs of local officials.

The session will be held at the Statehouse Annex.

And capping off the week, on Thursday both the Senate and the Assembly will be in full session for the first time this month.

Week of Feb. 14, 2011