Weekly Advance: Week of Aug. 6

TRENTON – It’s still possible to find news in and around Trenton amid the last month of summer. The first

TRENTON – It’s still possible to find news in and around Trenton amid the last month of summer.

The first full week of August has several things to be on the lookout for, including the release of a pending Supreme Court case and the possibility of a bill signing by Gov. Chris Christie. Additionally, some Senate and Assembly lawmakers will be at the Statehouse – not at the beach – throughout the week.

Kyleigh’s Law

In May, a New Jersey lawyer presented his argument to the state Supreme Court that challenges a driver decal law that requires young motorists with learner’s permits or provisional licenses to display their driver status by affixing special decals to their license plates.

The Supreme Court is expected to release its decision on the lawsuit Monday morning.

State and federal laws protect drivers from disseminating certain personal information, including age, Gregg Trautmann told the state’s high court.

Legislation named after 16-year-old Kyleigh D’Alessio, of Morris County, who died in a 2006 car accident, stirred controversy among some who said the special decal violates driver protection laws and also argued it puts a certain age group at risk of unreasonable search and seizure as well as makes them targets for predators.

The decal law applies to drivers between the ages of 17 and 21.

However, courts have consistently ruled driving is a privilege – not a right – and that lawmakers can enact certain rules to better enforce laws already in place, said the state Attorney General’s Office in May.

The AG also argued the law is consistent with federal driver protection rules, saying a driver decal does not identify a motorist’s birthday – or even his or her precise age.

Teacher tenure

The 45-day clock for the governor to sign legislation sitting on his desk is ticking, and high up on the list of unsigned bills is the state’s teacher tenure reform, A3060/S1455.

The bill, dubbed the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act, passed both houses following unanimous votes and awaits Christie’s signature. Sources indicated it’s likely the governor will take action on the legislation sometime next week.

Christie, who has expressed disappointment that a key component of his call for tenure reform – seniority – was not addressed, has not signaled exactly how his pen will move, though the bill’s sponsors in both chambers have expressed their optimism.

“I would be very surprised if the governor did not sign it,” Assembly Education Committee Chair Patrick Diegnan, (D-18), South Plainfield, told State Street Wire in June.

Sen. Teresa Ruiz, (D-29), Newark, has expressed similar optimism regarding the bill being signed into law.

The bill, which was supported by the state’s largest teachers union, extends the number of years required to attain tenure to four years, requiring a teacher to serve a year of mentorship during the first year of employment.

The bill, among other things, would institute teacher evaluations conducted by district supervisors and put in place a rating scale ranging from ineffective to highly effective.  To attain tenure, a teacher must attain a rating of effective in two of the first three years after the mentorship.

Affordable housing funds

Speaking of the governor, the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee is slated to meet Wednesday to hear testimony regarding the state’s plan to sweep $161 million from municipalities’ affordable housing funds.

Last month, an appellate court judge ruled that an injunction blocking the transfer of affordable housing trust funds from municipalities to the state is not warranted, but will allow local governments to contest the transfer before it occurs.

A judge ruled that the injunction was not warranted because municipalities have known for four years that the July 17, 2012 deadline was in place.

The panel, however, ruled that before any money is transferred to the Council on Affordable Housing, the state must provide a written notice of the amount it is transferring.  The municipality will then have the right to contest the transfer by demonstrating that the funds have already been committed to a project.

In the meantime, Assembly lawmakers are expected to hammer home the governor’s “raid” on the funds, according to an Assembly Democrat news release.

The Legislature passed a bill extending the time towns had to use the funds, but Gov. Chris Christie vetoed it.

“New Jersey is one of the most expensive states in the nation to live in,” said Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green (D-22) in the release.

“If these vetoes are any indication, the governor wants to keep it that way,” the chairman of the housing panel continued. “Unlike the million dollar earners he so vehemently protects, not everyone can afford a decent place to live.”

Monday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Nothing scheduled

Boards and Commissions

4 p.m., Site Remediation Professional Licensing Board, Department of Environmental Protection, 401 E. State St., Trenton

 

Tuesday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Nothing scheduled

Boards and Commissions

10 a.m., Health Care Facilities Financing Authority, Building 4, Station Plaza, South Clinton Avenue, Trenton

7 p.m., Environmental Protection Agency, public hearing concerning Cornell-Dubilier Electronics Superfund site, South Plainfield; South Plainfield Senior Center, 90 Maple Ave., South Plainfield

7 p.m., Delaware Bay Shellfisheries Council, Haskin Shellfish Research Lab, 6959 Miller Ave., Port Norris

 

Wednesday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Assembly

2 p.m., Housing and Local Government Committee, Rm. 16, Statehouse Annex, Trenton

 

Thursday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Senate

10 a.m., Education Committee, Rm. 6, Statehouse Annex, Trenton

10 a.m., State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee, Rm. 7, Statehouse Annex, Trenton

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

12 p.m., Quorum, Senate chambers, Statehouse, Trenton

Boards and Commissions

10 a.m., Environmental Infrastructure Trust, 3131 Princeton Pike, Office Building 6, Suite 201, Lawrence

Daily Events

8:30 a.m., N.J. Business and Industry Association, What the Supreme Court’s Healthcare Decision Means for Employers, Forsgate Country Club, 375 Forsgate Drive, Monroe

 

Friday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Nothing scheduled

Boards and Commissions

9:30 a.m., Pinelands Commission, Richard J. Sullivan Center for Environmental Policy and Education, 15C Springfield Road, New Lisbon

  Weekly Advance: Week of Aug. 6