Weekly Advance: Week of Feb. 13

TRENTON – With marriage equality doomed unto stalemate, the main attraction for the politically attuned is – duh – education reform.

And if last week wasn’t proof enough of school reform thunderclouds coming over the hills, the future weeks will provide a glimpse inside another deal done before it began.

It may be unfair to call the passage of teacher tenure reform a “deal.” Rather, it’s the actions of a pre-existing power alliance polishing off a significant policy initiative; but each point on the power-bloc has its own motive for reform somewhere on the scale between “public good” to “private gain.”

The alliance set up during the last legislative session – what Bergen Record columnist Charlie Stile terms New Jersey’s Uni-Government – is solidly in place, never mind any indications to the contrary. (Are there any?)

State Sen. Teresa Ruiz, (D-27), Newark, is working with Gov. Chris Christie’s staff to finalize details of the TEACH NJ Act, the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey Act. It’s a longwinded acronym – even if it is a stretch (TEACh NJ?) – but the bill will very likely be law soon, providing nothing cataclysmic occurs to the power base players.

One of the operators in the ed reform machine may be finally minted this week. Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf’s second residence in Somerset County avoided a courtesy block and netted him an interview before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, which is likely to finally remove that “acting” tag.

All of that said of ed reform, marriage equality is going to require a lot of ink and bits this week. The Senate has 21 votes in hand, but more may be piling on.

The Assembly has a session on Thursday, but their board list is empty as yet.

There are a few interesting bills in Senate committees on Thursday. Among them are: S1566 (Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act); S768 (Changes requirements and increases fees for marriage licenses and civil union licenses; provides for annulments without cause); S1128 (Establishes conditional intervention program in municipal court for certain first-time offenders); and SCR89 (Urging clemency for medical marijuana user/grower John Ray Wilson).

The Senate voting session – other than the marriage equality bill – on Monday will include:

S173: This bill seeks to address the impending physician shortage in  New Jersey by directing the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services to convene a summit of state agencies, boards, and representatives of medical schools and teaching hospitals in the state. The purpose would be to assess the physician work force, involve more community hospitals in resident rotations, and discuss expansion of residency slots, among other things.

S658: This bill prohibits sewerage authorities from charging a new connections fee when the property is owned by a municipality or under the charge and control of a local board of education or the board of trustees of a charter school.

S873: This bill will permit the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development to request additional funds from the “Supplemental Workforce Fund for Basic Skills.” Thirteen percent of all funds appropriated to the supplemental fund are allocated as a grant to provide basic skills training for displaced workers. This bill provides that the consortium may request additional funds from the 25 percent of the supplemental funds that are allocated for grants to consortia.

S610: Under this bill, an executive county superintendent of schools must identify an education services agency to help promote shared services in that county. The agency must be either a county special services school district, jointure commission, or educational services commission located in the county. If one of these agencies is not in the county, a similar agency in an adjoining county would be designated.

S1328: This bill would permit the School District of South Orange and Maplewood, the only Type II school district with a board of school estimate, to choose to move the date of its annual school election to November. The procedures would be identical to those set forth in the law that allowed districts without a board of school estimate to move elections to November. 

S323: This bill permits county clerks to create an identification card for veterans who are residents of that county and do not hold an identification card issued by the federal government that identifies the person as a veteran. They are designed to help veterans receive discounts or other courtesies for which they typically are eligible.

S1027: This bill extends the application deadline for 18 months, from Feb. 1, 2012 to Aug. 1, 2013, for the submission of certain project applications to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority for the authority’s review and approval.

S437: This bill prohibits the purchaser of a used vehicle from waiving the obligation of the dealer to make emissions-related repairs.

S1084: This bill would allow a business or nonprofit organization to adopt certain responsibilities related to a stormwater management basin located in the Barnegat Bay watershed by entering into an agreement with the state or a local government ownership or control over the stormwater management basin.

S454: This amends the law that required school districts to get written permission from a parent before a student could be administered certain surveys. Under this revision, the written consent would be required only if the survey itself was required to be completed. Voluntary surveys would be preceded by a written notification being sent to the parent.

S503: This requires pharmacists and other providers of oxygen to notify the local fire department when they stop supplying oxygen to a patient’s residence. The bill also requires that in any case where the patient provided the notification to the fire department, the patient or the patient’s representative must notify the fire company when the supply has been stopped.

S618: This bill ensures that traditional safety provisions regarding school buses – such as a stopped bus flashing its red lights when picking up or dropping off a child – also apply when the bus is picking up or discharging people with developmental disabilities.

The bill also has a provision allowing drivers to pass a school bus at no more than 10 miles per hour if that bus is parked at a curb and picking up or discharging a passenger with developmental disabilities on the same side of the street.

S852: This extends immunity from civil liability for users of automated external defibrillators, and it eliminates language that prohibited a person from using an AED unless they had certification in cardio pulmonary resuscitation. Some of the rationale comes from technological advances in which AEDS actually prompt users through the process.

S876: This bill would allow certain people with criminal records to be employed by holders of alcoholic beverage licenses as long as the position does not require the preparation or service of alcoholic beverages, providing security or admission-monitoring services, or providing management or professional services. Sex offenders would be barred.

S965: This bill would permit a municipality or fire district to appoint a civilian federal firefighter who lost his position as the result of downsizing at a federal military installation, even if the municipality has adopted the Civil Service rules. Under current law, a municipality may only hire a civilian federal firefighter, while ignoring Civil Service rules, if the military installation has been closed.

S1026: This bill establishes the “VETeach Pilot Program” to address the shortage of certified public school teachers that is anticipated to occur due to teacher retirements by taking advantage of the workforce represented by the state’s veterans. Under the pilot program, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey will enroll, in a 36-month teacher preparation program, veterans who served in the armed forces on or after Sept. 11, 2001.

One last note: we are issuing a very soft semi-apology to Christie. Last week’s Advance column, the Springsteen set-list, busted the governor’s chops for not taking questions at his town hall appearances. Lo and behold, Christie indeed scheduled a press availability last week after his town hall in Westfield (which the governor used to savage NJEA exec Vince Giordano). Consider this a mea culpa, kind of.

The rest of the schedule follows:

MONDAY

Senate voting session, 12 p.m., Senate chambers, Statehouse, Trenton

Atlantic Coast Shellfisheries Council, 7 p.m., Nacote Creek Law Enforcement Office, 360 New York Road, Port Republic

TUESDAY

N.J. Commission on Environmental Education and Interagency Work Group, 9:30 a.m., Department of Environmental Protection, sixth-floor large conference room, 401 E. State St., Trenton

Economic Development Authority, 10 a.m., 36 W. State St., Trenton

N.J. Fish and Game Council, 10 a.m., Central Region Office, Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, Robbinsville

WEDNESDAY

Delaware River Port Authority, 9 a.m., 11th-floor board room, One Port Center, 2 Riverside Drive, Camden

Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission, 10 a.m., Prallsville Mills, 33 Risler St., Stockton

Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority, 7 p.m., Tinton Falls Municipal Building, 556 Tinton Ave., Tinton Falls

“Budget Updates,” Professional Development Seminar, 9 a.m., N.J. League of Municipalities, Conference Center at Mercer County Community College, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor

THURSDAY

Assembly voting session, TBA, Assembly chambers, Statehouse, Trenton

Senate Economic Growth Committee, 10:30 a.m., Rm. 1, Statehouse Annex, Trenton

Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, 10:30 a.m., Rm. 10, Statehouse Annex, Trenton

Senate Judiciary Committee, 1 p.m., Rm. 4, Statehouse Annex, Trenton

Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, 1 p.m., Rm. 1, Statehouse Annex, Trenton

N.J. Commission on Spinal Cord Research, 9 a.m., Department of Health and Senior Services, first-floor board room, Market and Warren streets, Trenton

Health Care Administration Board, 9:15 a.m., Department of Health and Senior Services, Health and Agriculture Building, first-floor auditorium, Market and Warren streets, Trenton

N.J. Law Revision Commission, 10 a.m., Commission offices, seventh floor, 153 Halsey St., Newark

N.J. Highlands Council, 4 p.m., 100 North Road, Chester

Daily Events

N.J. Chamber of Commerce, 11 a.m., “Webinar, Google Places: The New Yellow Pages That Gets Better Results and Costs No Money,’’ N.J. Small Business Development Center, The College of New Jersey, Ewing

FRIDAY

Pension and Health Benefits Review Commission, 10 a.m., Division of Pension and Benefits, 50 W. State St., Trenton

N.J. Chamber of Commerce, 8 a.m., “The Five Biggest Business Owner Bloopers,” Merrill Lynch, 197 Route 18, Suite 305, East Brunswick

“Collection of Municipal Court Fees,” 9 a.m., N.J. League of Municipalities, National Conference Center, 399 Monmouth St., East Windsor

Fourth Annual Campaign Managers Conference, 9 a.m., The Rebovich Institute for N.J. Politics, Rider University, Sweigart Auditorium, 2083 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrence

Weekly Advance: Week of Feb. 13