New energy tax receipts bill introduced

TRENTON – Although a bill that would restore some of the Energy Tax Receipts to towns has been held back from Senate Budget Committee consideration Thursday, a similar bill has been introduced.

Sen. Linda Greenstein, (D-14), Plainsboro, a co-sponsor of the bill that was to have been heard on Thursday,  has sponsored S1923, which also seeks to address the problem of tax receipts which mayors say belong to municipalities but which the state is taking.

The new bill, introduced Tuesday, would change the manner of energy tax receipt distribution beginning with the upcoming fiscal year.

The taxes are collected by the state, but this bill would mandate that starting with fiscal year 2013, payments would be made directly to the towns by the taxpayers.

The bill estimates that for FY13, the total amount of that tax would be approximately $1.063 billion.

S1900, the other energy tax receipt-related bill, would require that in fiscal year 2013, municipalities would receive an aid increase equal to 20 percent of the difference between their total payment of Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Aid and Energy Tax Receipts Property Tax Relief Aid in Fiscal Year 2008 and Fiscal Year 2012. 

Under S1900 the full amount would be restored in fiscal year 2017.

That bill won’t be heard in committee Thursday due to the revenue shortfalls reported by the state this week.

A related bill that Greenstein introduced Tuesday, S1924, would have the state distribute an additional $387 million in aid to towns as Energy Tax Receipts Property Tax Relief Aid. This extra money would restore $331 million in aid reductions to Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Aid in fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011 and provide the inflation-based increase in CMPTRA required by current law. 

Among other bills introduced Tuesday:

A2886: This bill by Assemblyman Sean Kean, (R-30), Wall Township, would designate blueberry pie as the official New Jersey state dessert.

In addition to touting the blueberry’s nutritional as well as economic value – New Jersey ranked fourth in blueberry cultivation nationally in 2010 at 49 million pounds – other states such as Massachusetts and Maryland have taken the time to name a state dessert, according to Kean’s bill.

A2888: This bill by Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, (D-17), Somerset, would establish an Office of Clean Energy to improve energy distribution and increase the use of non-polluting energy.

There is an office that exists as a division of the Board of Public Utilities, but Chivukula wants to give the issue more prominence. His bill would continue to fund the effort through the societal benefits charge, and have the office draw up a plan that sets benchmarks to be attained over 25 years.

A2896:  sponsored by Assemblyman John Burzichelli, (D-3), Paulsboro, would require that school bus drivers be familiar with the routes they are driving.

The bill states that a school district that owns and operates its own buses, or a school bus contractor, ensure that all drivers be familiar with their route and all the stops on the route, and that the state Department of Education have the power to impose fines for violations.

A2911: This legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Gregory McGuckin, (R-10), Brick, would allow towns to consider consolidating fire districts.

Under this proposal, upon receipt of resolutions by fire district commissioners, the municipality could work on a consolidation plan in consultation with the Division of Local Government Services.

The plan would have to include a first-year budget for the consolidated districts.

A2932: Dubbed the “Anti-Big Brother Act,’’ this bill would require that a school district that gives a student a laptop computer must provide written notice that the device may record information on the student’s activity.

The bill is sponsored by Assembly members Annette Quijano, (D-20), Elizabeth, and Ruben Ramos Jr., (D-33), Hoboken, and is a reaction to the controversy that occurred in Lower Merion in Pennsylvania in which school-furnished laptops’ cameras recorded student activity that was transmitted to school administrators.

New energy tax receipts bill introduced