Assembly passes numerous bills, including Dems’ jobs package

TRENTON – An Assembly voting session that began with a moment of silence for the Connecticut shooting victims proceeded in a relatively quiet, almost somber, fashion.

Even what debate occurred seemed to proceed in quieter tones than some previous sessions. 

The chamber passed numerous bills, including the Democrats’ jobs bills that in some cases drew GOP floor opposition.

Also passed were the constitutional amendment resolution to increase the minimum wage, as well as bills dealing with ‘angel’ investors, tax credits, and a resolution in pursuit of federal recovery money due to super storm Sandy.

A1084/S581: Passed 47-30. This bill, the “New Jersey Angel Investor Tax Credit Act,” revives the expired Small New Jersey-based High Technology Business Investment Tax Credit by establishing credits against corporation business and gross income taxes for investing in New Jersey emerging technology businesses.

As he did previously, Assemblyman Jay Webber criticized this bill as unfair, unnecessary and counter-productive.

He said such “angel” investments already are being made in New Jersey by wealthy investors. “We don’t need to subsidize those decisions,’’ he said.

In addition, he said this bill would take tax dollars from one, lower or middle income sector and send it to the “fabulously wealthy’’ investor for decisions they were going to make anyway.

A1271: Passed 47-28-2.  This bill allows a corporation business tax credit (CBT) and gross income tax (GIT) credit for certain wages paid to qualified interns in tax years 2012 and 2013.

The bill allows credits in amounts equal to 40 percent of compensation paid to qualified interns or $600 of that compensation, whichever is less. 

Taxpayers that employ three or more qualified interns in a tax year receive a $75 bonus per qualified intern.  The bill annually limits the combined credits under both the CBT and GIT to 5,250 qualified interns or 700 taxpayers, whichever limitation is triggered first.

Minority Leader Jon Bramnick said this bill, along with some others, already received one gubernatorial veto and said it would be better to work on a bipartisan basis for a pro-business strategy.

But Assemblyman Lou Greenwald said these bills are an attempt to be bipartisan. The state’s high jobless rate mandates some be given a fresh look, he said.

A955:   Passed 47-29. This bill establishes the Workforce Shortage Loan Redemption Program within the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority.  The program will provide for the redemption of a portion of the eligible qualifying loan expenses of program participants for each year of service in a field in which a shortage of qualified labor exists in the State.

A1133/S527: Passed 76-0-1.  This bill provides that the governing body of a county or municipality may establish a qualified veteran business enterprise set-aside program. In authorizing such a program, the governing body shall establish a goal for its contracting agencies of setting aside a certain percentage of the dollar value of total procurements to be awarded as set-aside contracts to qualified veteran business enterprises.

A1177: Passed 76-0.  The bill directs the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to serve as a liaison between the higher education and business communities concerning issues and topics involving and relating to each community’s assets, efforts, needs, and challenges.  In this capacity, the EDA will facilitate the exchange of information and exploration of collaborations among higher education and business entities that will spur innovation. 

A1566: Passed 77-0. This bill provides that if two or more municipalities agree to the establishment of a joint municipal court, the method of selecting and appointing each judge would be set forth in the agreement establishing the joint municipal court.  The Governor and the Senate would not be involved.

A1591/S1213: Passed 76-0. This bill would create a real property assessment demonstration program to demonstrate a more cost-effective and accurate process of real property assessment administration.  Under the provisions of the bill, not more than four counties may participate; not more than two in the first two full tax years after the bill’s enactment, and not more than two more in the third and fourth full tax years after the bill’s enactment. 

The demonstration program will specifically address the systemic costs which result from the losses due to successful assessment appeals.

A2005: Passed 47-26-3. This bill provides a Corporation Business Tax (CBT) credit and Gross Income Tax (GIT) credit for qualified investment in certain biotechnology businesses.  The purpose is to incentivize investment in New Jersey biotechnology businesses; promote New Jersey as a biotechnology business location; and encourage biotechnology business cluster development in New Jersey. 

The bill allows tax credits for fifty percent of qualified investment in biotechnology businesses.  Qualified investment must be in an amount of at least $25,000, but no more than $250,000, per investor per tax year.  The bill caps the amount of credit available to all investors to $6 million per State fiscal year. 

A2014/S1415: Passed 76-0. This bill requires the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to establish a pilot program to aid former military personnel in finding employment in the construction industry.  The pilot program will require that for each highway project constructed by the authority, at least 20 percent of the projected labor hours are awarded to contractors registered with the Helmets to Hardhats Program.

A2015: 49-26-2. This bill establishes the “New Jersey Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program” in the Department of Education.  The purpose of the program is to broaden and encourage student access and interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields in order to advance United States competitiveness and innovation in these fields.

The program will award grants to school districts to support non-traditional STEM teaching methods for students in grades 9 through 12.

A2122: Passed 60-14-3. This bill would require that when the New Jersey Economic Development Authority makes direct loans to qualified businesses designated in the State Development and Redevelopment Plan as being an “urban center,” the authority shall include businesses located in an area designated in the Plan as being a “regional center.”  Accordingly, regional centers would be permitted to receive direct loans under the “Urban Plus Program.”

Under the bill, a “qualified business” means a business that is established by the authority as a small, women or minority owned New Jersey based business, manufacturer, redeveloper or non-profit organization that is unable to obtain funding from conventional sources, notwithstanding the assistance of an authority guarantee.

A2577: Passed 70-5. This bill would revise certain components of the agreement between the Casino Reinvestment and Development Authority (“CRDA”) and the not-for-profit corporation designated to develop a marketing plan for Atlantic City and the Atlantic City Tourism District.

Among other things, the bill eliminates the requirement that the casino licensees comprising the corporation be limited to those whose investors have invested a minimum of $1 billion in Atlantic City, and provides that the agreement under which casino licensees would make a contribution of $5 million for the formation of the corporation and the marketing plan, or for the tourism district could allow instead for the licensees’ direct expenditure of funds for those purposes. 

A2578: Passed 48-24-4. This bill authorizes Internet wagering at Atlantic City casinos to enable New Jersey residents to place wagers on casino games via the Internet.

A2856/S2159: Passed 75-0. This bill requires compliance with various sections of the federal Internal Revenue Code by pension funds for board of education employees of first-class counties.  The Board of Education Employees’ Pension Fund of Essex County, which has been a closed pension system since 1980, is the only pension fund currently operating under those statutes.  The bill amends provisions of the pension fund, as recommended by the fund’s actuary, to comply with various sections of the federal Internal Revenue Code applicable to governmental plans.

A2913: Passed 77-0. Under the bill, the money to fund programs designed to aid the horsemen and the Standardbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association of New Jersey shall increase from 3.2%  to 5% to codify a contractual agreement between the Standardbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association of New Jersey and the private Standardbred racetrack in this State. 

A3049: Passed 75-0. This bill amends the “New Jersey Shareholders’ Protection Act” to allow certain business combinations between resident domestic corporations and interested stockholders.

Specifically, the bill amends the definition of “resident domestic corporation” to provide that a resident domestic corporation does not include an issuer of voting stock which is organized under the laws of this State but neither maintains its principal executive offices in this State nor has significant business operations located in this State if that corporation’s board of director adopts an amendment to its bylaws electing not to be a resident domestic corporation within 90 days from the effective date of this bill.

A3050: Passed 77-0. The bill provides that a shareholder may participate in a meeting of shareholders by means of remote communication to the extent that the corporation’s board of directors authorizes that participation, and participation shall be subject to such guidelines and procedures as the board adopts.

A3123: Passed 77-0. This bill revises the law concerning shareholder derivative proceedings in New Jersey.  The bill repeals the current law concerning actions brought in the right of a corporation by a shareholder, and supplements the “New Jersey Business Corporation Act” with a new set of regulations concerning derivative proceedings.  The bill retains the substantive provisions of the repealed section.  Certain provisions of the bill are also applicable to shareholder class actions against a corporation or its directors arising out of breach of duty imposed by New Jersey statutory or common law.

A3164: Passed 77-0. This bill requires that the State pay the educational costs of any student who resides in a domestic violence shelter or transitional living facility located outside the student’s district of residence for more than one year.  A series of administrative law decisions have ruled that once a homeless family continues to reside in a particular school district for more than one year, then the family is considered to be domiciled in that district, and the district becomes responsible for the costs of the child’s education.  This bill avoids concentrating these educational costs on the communities in which these shelters are located.

A3166: Passed 46-27-2. This bill would permit sheriffs to hire certain special law enforcement officers to perform court-related duties.

Under current law, only municipalities are authorized to hire special law enforcement officers to provide supplementary police services, particularly during unusual or emergency circumstances.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande said this bill is designed to help Camden transition to a countywide police force. But she said she was concerned it authorizes a park police chief to retire rather than accept a lower rank, authorizing a “golden parachute.’’

Her motion to table failed.

A3178:  Passed 72-4-1. This bill authorizes the State Treasurer, on behalf of the Department of Corrections, to sell Riverfront State Prison, consisting of a 16-acre parcel of land Camden, which has been declared surplus.  The property will be sold and conveyed to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) for one dollar.

A3270: Passed 73-0-1. This bill requires the Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, to develop a career exploration report that provides students enrolled in grades 7 through 12 with information concerning employment in high-demand industries. 

A3319: Passed 77-0. This bill prohibits State government departments and agencies, and any other State entities, from imposing a fee, fine, or penalty on any applicant when it is imposed solely to correct clerical errors made by the applicant on an application for a permit, certificate, or any other purpose. 

A3321: Passed 76-1. This bill would require the State’s administrative agencies to employ various technologies, including the Internet, listserv technology, and e-mail services, in order to streamline the agencies’ rule-making notice and comment procedures and facilitate regulatory compliance.

A3323: Passed 77-0. The purpose of this bill is to revise and simplify all licensing procedures that concern the businesses or commercial enterprises regulated by each State department, agency or commission in the Executive Branch of government to facilitate the licensure processes required thereby, if any, and to increase the number of the remaining procedures that could be completed using computer-based technology, such as the Internet.

A3491/S1855: Passed 77-0. This bill provides for voluntary contributions by taxpayers on gross income tax returns to support New Jersey athletes participating in the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games.

A3580: Passed 47-29. This bill establishes the “Back to Work NJ Program” within the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to provide workplace training to certain eligible unemployment beneficiaries.

Under the bill, an eligible participant who is receiving unemployment benefits pursuant to the New Jersey “unemployment compensation law,” is eligible to participate in the program and receive workplace training from an eligible employer for a maximum of 24 hours per week for up to six weeks.

Assembly Christopher Brown said he was concerned over where the money would be found to support this, although as a businessman he welcomed the initiative. His motion to table the bill was defeated.

A3581: Passed 48-28. The bill revises the law to strengthen enforcement procedures and criminal sanctions against employers who fail to pay wages, compensation or benefits to their employees. The bill imposes criminal sanctions against employers who retaliate against employees who file complaints under the statute and establishes definitions of key terms and phrases found in the statute.

A3582: Passed 48-28. This bill permits the establishment of Garden State Corporations which are principally engaged in manufacturing, and principally utilizing facilities located in New Jersey.

Under the bill, the certificate of incorporation or by-laws of a Garden State Corporation is required to provide that half of the members of the board of directors of the corporation are elected by the employees of the corporation who work in New Jersey facilities.

A3591: Passed 77-0. This bill appropriates $24.29 million to the State Agriculture Development Committee for farmland preservation purposes.

A3592: Passed 76-0-1. Appropriates $38.5 million from the “2009 Farmland Preservation Fund” and “Garden State Farmland Preservation Trust Fund” to State Agriculture Development Committee for county planning incentive grants.

A3593: Passed 77-0. Appropriates $16.25 million from the  “2009 Farmland Preservation Fund” for planning incentive grants to municipalities for farmland preservation purposes.

A3594: Passed 76-0. Appropriates $4.08 million from the “2009 Farmland Preservation Fund,” “2007 Farmland Preservation Fund,” and “Garden State Farmland Preservation Trust Fund” for grants to certain nonprofit organizations for farmland preservation purposes.

ACR168/SCR1 Passed 46-29-1. This amends the Constitution to set the minimum wage at $8.25 per hour with annual adjustments for inflation.

AR88: Passed 75-0. This urges Congress to appropriate $60.4 billion in aid to Northeast states affected by super storm Sandy.

Assembly passes numerous bills, including Dems’ jobs package