Assembly votes: Help for laid-off police officers, MS victims

TRENTON – In the year-end Assembly session, some bills – such as to help laid-off police officers and taking care of animals in domestic violence cases, passed overwhelmingly.

S2212/A4381 – Passed 67-0. This bill establishes the New Jersey Multiple Sclerosis Task Force in the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).

The purpose of the task force is to:  develop strategies to identify and address the unmet needs of persons with MS in order to enhance the quality of life of persons with MS by maximizing productivity and independence, and addressing emotional, social, and vocational challenges of persons with MS; and develop strategies to provide persons with MS greater access to various treatments and other therapeutic options that may be available.

S2731/A38876 – Passed 70-0. This bill establishes that certain laid-off police officers would not have to retake the basic police training course if they are employed within five years from the date of being laid-off. 

A2292 – Passed 71-0. This bill requires that a child be provided legal representation after the parental rights have been terminated and until the child’s permanent placement has been finalized by the court.

A2553 – Passed 42-26-2. This bill supplements the consumer safeguards with respect to health benefits plans provided by health insurance carriers. Basically, a carrier which offers a managed care plan must provide for an annual audit of its provider network, at its own expense, by a private auditing firm approved by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance.

S1406/A2502 – Passed 45-25-1. This bill establishes the “New Jersey Property Assessment Clean Energy (NJ PACE) Municipal Financing Program.” It authorizes certain types of financing for the purchase and installation of renewable energy systems and energy efficient improvements by property owners. 

A1633 – Passed 71-0. This would authorize the court to include provisions concerning animals in domestic violence restraining orders. The amended bill, among other things, includes temporary restraining orders, not just final restraining orders.

Some bills were held for more work or amendments:

A4283 – The NJ STARS and NJ STARS II programs would be revised. The bill limits the costs covered by the NJ STARS scholarship to tuition, as opposed to tuition and fees.

For NJ STARS II, the bill allows recipients to use the scholarship to attend a New Jersey independent four-year institution of higher education.  Under current statute the scholarships can only be used to attend four-year public institutions. The bill eliminates the provision in NJ STARS II that calculates the amount of the scholarship based on the student’s grade point average (GPA).  Currently, a student with a GPA equal to or greater than 3.25 and less than 3.50 may receive a scholarship in an amount up to $3,000 per semester and a student with a GPA equal to or greater than 3.50 may receive a scholarship in an amount up to $3,500 per semester.  The bill maintains the minimum GPA threshold at 3.25 and limits scholarships for all NJ STARS II students to $1,250 per semester.

A2933/S2119 – This would revise the law governing the use of tanning facilities by minors.    A tanning facility operator is to prohibit a person who is under 14 from using a tanning facility and a person under 18 from using a tanning bed in a tanning facility.  A tanning facility operator is to permit a person who is at least 14 but less than 18 to use spray tanning in a tanning facility with the written authorization of the person’s parent or legal guardian. Assembly votes: Help for laid-off police officers, MS victims