TRENTON – The Senate Energy Committee released several bills today.
S178, Sen. Christopher Connors, (R-9), Forked River, and Jennifer Beck, (R-11), Red Bank, was approved unanimously.
This bill establishes the Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs Program in the Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Fish and Wildlife.
The bill establishes the program on a statewide basis by enabling the Division of Fish and Wildlife to model the program after a pilot program implemented in Ocean County in 2000. To the maximum extent possible, the division will implement and operate the program in every county in the state.
The bill appropriates $200,000 from the Drug Enforcement and Demand Reduction Fund to DEP to fund the cost of implementing the program. The appropriation will support the initial salary costs of a full-time program director, who will oversee and coordinate a predominantly volunteer staff.
Beck pointed out that no tax dollars will be used. The funds come from convicted drug offenders’ proceeds.
S1460/A2294, sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), West Deptford, was approved 3-0-2 with both Republicans abstaining.
This bill requires a municipality to pay any property tax refund ordered by a county tax board or by the State Tax Court resulting from an appeal on the assessment of an industrial property that has become vacant or underutilized and that is subject to federal or state court orders or administrative actions or orders for environmental remediation.
The bill was spurred, in part, by a disused Sunoco refinery in Southern New Jersey that is fighting for tax refunds at the same time that lawmakers want it to spend money to clean up its property.
Chairman Sen. Bob Smith, (D-17), Piscataway, said the problem now is that companies have absolutely no incentive to comply with mandates to clean up their sites.
S822, co-sponsored by several legislators, including Sens. Bob Smith, (D-17), Piscataway and Kip Bateman, (R-16), Somerville, was cleared unanimously.
The bill would amend the Electronic Waste Management Act by revising its penalty provisions, deleting the credit-trading program, reallocating the funds collected under registration fees, authorizing enforcement of the act by certified local health agencies, and removing audit and public hearing requirements under current law.
Under the bill, the Department of Environmental Protection would use the registration fees from manufacturers to support the administration of the program. In addition, the bill
would exempt manufacturers who sell fewer than 100 televisions or fewer than 100 covered electronic devices in the previous program year from paying the $5,000 registration or registration renewal fee.
Among amendments, solid waste facilities would be prohibited from accepting waste with a visible quantity of covered electronics, but there would not be a violation if there is a good-faith effort at compliance.
S831, co-sponsored by Sens. Nicholas Scutari, (D-22), Linden and Bob Smith, (D-17), Piscataway, unanimously.
This bill would help address pollution caused by combined sewer overflows by establishing notification requirements and requiring signs at recurring overflow sites.
An entity issued a general permit for a combined sewer system by the Department of Environmental Protection would be required to report to the DEP any overflow or any potential discharge of raw or diluted sewage into the surface waters or groundwaters of the state.
The report would be made no later than 24 hours after the time that the agency in question became aware of the event.
S1177/A1343, sponsored by Sen. Bob Smith, (D-17), Piscataway, was approved 4-1 with Sen. Jim Whelan, (D-2), Atlantic City, opposed.
This bill would prohibit any person from using or leaving unattended fishing gear, with some exceptions, within 100 feet of artificial reefs created under the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s artificial reef program.