Shared services, busing bills cleared committees

Several key bills advanced in committees Monday:

A3138, a bill to help combat flooding of the South River in Sayreville, advanced today in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

The bill, as amended, would provide $1.4 million to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to initiate and support flood control and prevention projects to mitigate the periodic flooding of the South River, which often floods its banks after heavy rains and severe storms.

A portion of the funding – $1.047 million – would be drawn from the “Dam, Lake, Stream, Flood Control, Water Resources, and Wastewater Treatment Project Bond Act of 2003;” the remainder – $353,000 – would be drawn from the “Emergency Flood Control Bond Act” of 1978.

A3489/S1124, which would encourage bus companies to continue transporting passengers to Atlantic City and other tourist destinations, advanced in the Assembly Tourism and Arts Committee. The bill would prohibit imposition of the corporation business tax on out-of-state operations whose only contact with New Jersey is carrying passengers into the state in a motor vehicle or bus, and the return of those passengers to a location outside the state.

S2794, which would promote shared services, cleared the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

The legislation would require New Jersey’s Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization, and Consolidation Commission (LUARCC) to study local government units (county government, municipal government, school districts) to determine where taxpayer dollars could be saved through sharing of services. If the study shows that a savings can be realized through sharing that service in one or more local governments, the question of whether to do so would be put to a public referendum in all municipalities involved. If the towns involved fail to pass the proposal, they would be subject to losing state aid in the amount equal to what they would have saved had they shared the service. If one town approves it but another denies it, only the town that denied it would lose aid.

A3460, which would allow events designated as “agricultural tourism” events to be held on preserved farmland, was approved in the Assembly Tourism and Arts Committee.

The bill defines “agricultural tourism” as affordable, recreational and educational activities and opportunities to learn about the production of food and agricultural products, and the state’s farming heritage while helping to encourage the preservation of agricultural lands. This definition includes hayrides, corn mazes, pick-your-own operations, farm markets, school tours, agricultural fairs, farm festivals, weddings, winery tours and horseback riding.

AR135, which supports the preservation of Princeton Battlefield and those who died there, was approved in the Assembly Tourism and Arts Committee.

The site of the Princeton Battlefield has been designated a National Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the adjacent area may contain important clues of the battle fought at Princeton, according to sponsor Reed Gusciora, (D-15), Trenton. But, he said in a release, like many Revolutionary War battlefields located in New Jersey, the Princeton Battlefield is threatened by ongoing development.


Shared services, busing bills cleared committees