TRENTON – First word to describe this week: frontloaded. Second word: loaded.
The flurry of post-election activity is upon us. Among the issues moving through Trenton this week: personal injury protection, windmill tax credits, syringe sales, “jobs” bills, and land use legislation allowing for modification of existing projects due to economic hardships.
With no schedule from Tuesday to Friday, the Senate has four committees meeting on Monday; the Assembly has seven.
There are also many issues being discussed in the background this week, like sports betting, accidental injury pension reform, and, according to a source, a bill for the next session to put the Millionaire’s Tax on the ballot for voters to decide.
The last one should come as no surprise given the Democrats’ new three-fifths majority in both chambers (which bypasses a two-year vote) and Friday’s Quinnipiac poll showing 68 percent support for the tax on the upper-echelon wealthy.
Also coming down the pike are telecom deregs (again) and a bill conceptually detailed by state Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), of Elizabeth, last week that would extend the reach of the Election Law Enforcement Commission to include schools and school employees.
In response to the reported investigations into campaign contributions for a few Elizabeth Board of Education officials, Lesniak said in an email that he directed staff to draft a preliminary bill last week. ELEC can currently issue a $5,000 fine for solicitation of campaign contributions on state property or property of an agency of the state – including county and municipal properties – but not on public school properties.
On the telecom front, two senators and a couple of interest groups are rolling out the pressure for passage of S3062 on Monday, too, which they say would “eliminate unnecessary and outdated regulations while ensuring the necessary oversight to protect consumers.”
State Sens. Bob Smith, (D-17), of Piscataway, and Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), of Teaneck, will be joined by Piscataway Mayor Brian Wahler and representatives of the AARP and N.J. Citizen Action in the Statehouse Monday morning to highlight the bill’s merits – especially as they relate to the state’s power and telecom outages from recent severe weather.
At least one major event for Monday isn’t happening. The Delaware River Basin Commission’s contentious vote on fracking deregulations has been postponed, even though the Sierra Club and several Democratic lawmakers are carrying on with their War Memorial protest and march to the Statehouse.
The Dems are again ushering through their “jobs” package: A4306, A4336, and A4337 (which officially creates the already operative N.J. Business Action Center).
In the Assembly a variety of bills will be heard in the various committees, like A4259, which allows a gross income tax credit for interest on student loans, and A4104, which deals with particular constraints and circumstances regarding Urban Enterprise Zones and municipalities that qualify for the program.
Finally, there’s good news for bake sale advocates. The Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee is expected to pass S2734 on Monday. The measure permits the sale of home baked goods under certain circumstances.
Now you can have your cake and sell it too (as long as you have the appropriate signage).
The “People’s Chamber” will also swear in its newest member next week, Democrat Troy Singleton, (D-7), filling the seat vacated by the retired Jack Conners, following Singleton’s election triumph in the split district.