TRENTON – The week will kick off with the Senate in full-court-press mode, conducting a voting Session on Monday whose agenda is crammed with jobs, tax-break, and education bills.
Just in time for November campaign slogans, the Democratic-controlled upper chamber will seek to push through a roster of legislation.
Jobs and tax breaks
The same bills the Senate Budget Committee cleared last week will face a full chamber.
Perhaps the most controversial could be S3056, the “Garden State Film and Digital Media Jobs Act.”
Touted by sponsor Sen. Paul Sarlo, (D-36), Wood-Ridge, the bill seeks to expand the tax credit program from $10 million to $50 million for film production, despite criticism from lawmakers such as Sen. Michael Doherty, (R-23), Washington Township, who cited data that he said shows similar programs in other states have been revenue-losers.
The so-called “reality’’ show, “Jersey Shore,’’ helped spark this controversy. Even Sarlo said that Snooki & Co. deserve all the criticism they get, but that one low-brow entertainment product shouldn’t be allowed to detract from the quality programs, important jobs, and needed revenue the legislation makes possible.
Some of the other jobs and tax-break related legislation that will be on the docket:
S3055, the “Angel Investor’’ act, which establishes credits against business taxes for investing in emerging technology enterprises;
S3033, the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program, which offers tax breaks for creating a minimum of 100 new or retained jobs along with making capital investments of at least $20 million;
S3052, which would direct the Economic Development Authority to set up a small-business loan program with amounts up to $250,000;
And S3054, which would expand corporation business tax credit programs to the gross income tax, giving sole proprietors and limited liability companies the same incentives for hiring and investment the bigger players enjoy.
Senate President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), West Deptford, has S2868, a supplemental appropriation of $4.1 million for additional aid to school districts that have had significant enrollment growth, at least 13 percent as of October 2011 compared to the 2008-09 school year.
And then there is S1858, sponsored by Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), Elizabeth, which would allow high-performing, non-public schools in failing districts to become charter schools.
Also facing votes are bills to authorize county colleges to set up green job certification programs (A1098); to exempt fuel-efficient vehicles from sales taxes for a period of time (S756); and to set up task forces for closures of state developmental centers (S2928), a bill vetoed by the governor that has undergone changes.
But as exhaustive as all of this Senate activity is, it kind of makes the Assembly’s inactivity quite visible by comparison.
June 29 was the lower chamber’s last session, and for the foreseeable future nothing is scheduled.
This is a sure sign that elections are drawing near.
A storm of complaints
You might be tired of hearing about the recent hurricane, the floods, or anything weather-related, but officials are not.
The Board of Public Utilities will hold two hearings next week – Monday at the Monmouth County Library in Manalapan and Tuesday at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy in Morris Plains – to take public testimony about the responsiveness of utilities during and after Hurricane Irene in August.
The hurricane left hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans without power for days. The situation was so chaotic that utilities reported in some instances that as soon as power was restored in one area, it was lost in another.
And the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards is scheduled to meet Tuesday. On the agenda is the complaint against Assemblyman Scott Rumana, (R-40), Wayne.
Back in April, the committee dismissed six of seven complaints against Rumana brought by his political foe and November election opponent Bill Brennan that stemmed from Rumana advocating on behalf of a non-profit of which he was chairman.
That leaves one possible complaint on which the committee may or may not proceed. The original issue, brought by Brennan, goes back to March 2010.
He’s outta here (for a few days)
And in the wake of Democrats’ criticism of a lack of transparency in Gov. Christie’s out-of-state itinerary, the governor’s office on Friday released a detailed agenda of where he will be next week.
And for a good chunk of it, he won’t be here.
He has political functions lined up Monday through Thursday in Missouri, California and Louisiana.