TRENTON – Since the Assembly has been on hiatus, bills that originated there and went on to pass in both houses have since languished on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk awaiting approval or veto. The governor can wait until the lower chamber reconvenes to sign the bills, as the 45-day enactment window stays open as long as the house of origin remains out of session.
Among the measures on Christie’s desk are bills to provide streamlined oversight to government contractors, to create a small business assistance application, and to restore lower-level qualification requirements for the state Earned Income Credit (EIC) program.
–A2366: Bipartisan legislation to improve the contract and licensing procedures in the departments of Human Services (DHS) and Children and Families (DCF), based on Christie’s transition team report recommendations. The bill requires DHS and DCF to create centralized licensing review procedures and uniform contracting requirements (including reporting procedures and audit schedules) for social service contractors of either state department. It also allows for multiyear contracts for social service organizations with a strong compliance record. (Sen: 39-0, Asm: 78-0)
–A4204: Restores the state’s earned income credit (EIC) program to 25 percent of the federal EITC level. The state reduced the EIC payout to 20 percent of the federal level in FY11, for an estimated savings of $45 million, but the bill would undo that and restore the EIC to the maximum benefit previously allowable under the state program.
Approximately 485,605 taxpayers received an EIC in 2008 (most recent data available), according to the Office of Legislative Services, a participation rate equal to 90 percent of federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) beneficiaries. The fiscal impact of A4204, according to OLS, is revenue losses of $58.8 million in the current fiscal year, FY12; of $59.7 million in FY13; and of $60.8 million in FY14. (Sen: 24-15, Asm: 46-32)
–A3944: Authorizes the Department of Transportation to procure revenue-generating sponsors for safety and emergency service patrol vehicles and equipment. The bill would allow for sponsor advertising to be placed on the vehicles at the direction of the DOT commissioner, the revenue from which would supplement federal funding for the Safety Service Patrol program. The department anticipates roughly $2 million per year from the initiative, including opportunity for expansion of sponsorships to fund other programs. The revenue estimate is based on details from a meeting between Travelers Marketing and the DOT of a potential $10-million, five-year partnership with State Farm Insurance. According to OLS, seven states allow corporate sponsorship of their emergency service patrols, and all seven have partnered with State Farm, which is the only potential sponsor in New Jersey to this point, the agency said in a fiscal note. (Sen: 35-2, Asm: 75-0)
–A359: The Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Prevention Act requires foreclosure consultants and distressed property purchasers to adhere to certain practices in providing foreclosure prevention services to owners. The bill requires a foreclosure consultant to post a bond with the Department of Banking and Insurance prior to conducting any business in the state, and provides certain contract rights for owners of a financially distressed residential property who contract with foreclosure consultants. Among the requirements is the owner’s right to cancel the foreclosure consulting contract at any time until after the foreclosure consultant has fully performed every service and secured the relief the consultant contracted to perform.
Violations of the proposed law would carry a civil penalty of up to $20,000, as well as criminal implications. The bill allows the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance to create regulations necessary to effectuate its purposes. (Sen: 39-0, Asm: 77-0)
–A3777: Eliminates a separate presidential primary election; provides for delegates and alternates to political party national conventions to be elected at the regular June primary election. (Sen: 39-0, Asm: 78-0)
–A3195: Requires Department of State to create uniform application form for use by small businesses to apply for certain state financial assistance programs. (Sen: 38-0, Asm: 78-0)
–A906: Requires the Board of Public Utilities to provide equal opportunity for businesses that pay societal benefits charges in those businesses’ application for certain energy-related incentives and funding. (Sen: 37-0, Asm: 76-0)
–A2632: Requires Division of Taxation to display Senior Gold prescription program information on tax return instructions. (Sen: 39-0, Asm: 78-0)