Assembly bills passed: horse race purses, synthetic pot ban, more

TRENTON – After holding a bill dealing with first-responders, the Assembly passed numerous bills, including Lottery privatization concerns, banning synthetic marijuana, and horse race purses.

A329: Passed 75-0. This bill would establish a process for allowing prescribed burns of forested and other undeveloped lands in order to prevent wildfires.

A700: Passed 75-0. This bill requires that a child be provided legal representation by a law guardian after the parental rights of a child’s parents have been terminated and until permanent placement has been finalized by the court.

A710: Passed  70-3-2. This bill would require any state departments to consider where feasible use of a green roof or blue roof in new construction.

A711: Passed 61-14.  This bill would require the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt rules concerning the use of blue roofs and green roofs.

A720: Passed 74-0. This bill requires direct deposit for all state employee compensation starting July 1, 2014. This bill passed the Assembly last year, went through amendments and passed the Senate, and now comes back to the Assembly.

A746: Passed 55-17-1. This bill creates a civil cause of action for gender-motivated violence. This bill was prompted by a United States Supreme Court decision in which the court ruled that Congress lacked the authority to enact that portion of the “Violence Against Women Act.” 

A762: Passed 74-0.  This bill creates a civil cause of action for victims of stalking.

A1134: Passed 74-0. This bill establishes a bill of rights for parents of persons with developmental disabilities, including intellectual disabilities. Such rights would include receiving information in writing, being treated with respect,  and to be free of retaliation if a complaint is made.

A1154: Passed 74-0.   This bill would require the Board of Public Utilities to establish an Energy Efficiency Leadership awards program to recognize state agencies that develop innovative projects that result in a measurable reduction in overall energy usage.

A1196:  This bill was held for amendments. This bill creates a presumption of workers’ compensation coverage for any death or disability suffered by a public safety worker engaged in response to a terrorist attack, epidemic, or other catastrophic emergency.

The bill is named for former Hackensack deputy fire chief Thomas Canzanella, who died in 2007, and who dedicated himself to training firefighters in how to deal with hazardous chemicals or weapons of mass destruction.

He also championed medical coverage for firefighters who worked at the World Trade Center sites following the 9/11 attacks.

A1293/S1327: Passed 72-1. This requires schools that participate in statewide interscholastic sports programs to annually inform student-athletes about National Collegiate Athletic Association eligibility standards for participation in collegiate athletics.

A1314: Passed 57-17. This bill requires the Department of Environmental Protection to submit to the Governor and the Legislature an annual report detailing the appropriated and unappropriated balances of special funding accounts under the department’s jurisdiction.

A1365/S600: Passed 74-0. This bill establishes the Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students to study issues related to improving the funding, delivery, and effectiveness of special education programs.

A1570: Passed 44-30. This requires fire-suppression sprinkler systems in new single- and two-family homes. When this bill passed through committee, it was amended, but then a floor amendment returned the bill to its original form, so that only homes not connected to public water systems are exempted.

A1757/S555: Passed 74-0. This bill amends the “Genetic Counselor’s Licensing Act” of 2009. This bill removes from a genetic counselor’s scope of practice interpreting such laboratory tests and other diagnostic studies. 

The bill also mandates that if a genetic counselor finds any indication of disease or condition that requires medical assessment, the counselor shall refer that patient to a licensed physician.

A1822: Passed 45-30. This requires the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct vibration analysis along routes for the disposal of dredged material from the Delaware River.

A1825: Passed 64-7-4. This bill requires the Department of Education to develop an educational fact sheet for distribution to parents concerning sports-related eye injuries.

A1832: Passed 51-19-3.  This bill seeks to prevent health insurers from limiting access to pain medication. It mandates that under every policy or contract that provides coverage for outpatient prescription drugs, insurers must  provide coverage for prescription drugs used to treat pain in accordance with its provisions. 

A2011: Passed 74-0. This allows a voluntary contribution to homeless veterans on the gross income tax return.

A2037/S71: Passed 56-17-1. This bill establishes a “Yellow Dot Program” and is intended to provide emergency responders with critical health information about citizens who are 62 or older.

A2291/S503: Passed 74-0.  This requires medical oxygen providers to notify fire departments whenever they stop delivering oxygen to a local residence.

A2399/S900: Passed 73-2. This bill requires that all recruit firefighter training programs conducted by the Division of Fire Safety be accredited by the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications, the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress, or any successor entity. 

A2463/S1650: This bill was held after an initial vote of 38-32-4, and would have made numerous changes to delivery of emergency medical services.

For instance, paramedics and EMTs would be licensed and have to submit to criminal history background checks.

Also, the bill makes the Office of Emergency Medical Services in the Department of Health the lead State agency for the oversight of emergency medical services.

Another aspect of the bill is that the Health Department would post on its website a list of licensed paramedics and EMTs.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick warned this bill would transform a system that has worked well, and pointed out the governor has conditionally vetoed an earlier version.

He warned of possible effects on property taxes.

A2626: Passed 73-0. This bill requires a public college or university to waive the institution’s application fee as well as any fee for the receipt or transmission of a transcript for members of the Armed Forces or the New Jersey National Guard who reside in the state.

A2671: Passed 74-0. This provides for voluntary contributions by taxpayers on gross income tax returns for maintenance of certain state memorials honoring war veterans.

A2673/S1783: Passed 73-1. This bill prohibits the manufacture, sale, or possession of synthetic marijuana. Synthetic marijuana, marketed under such names as “Spice,” “K2,”  “Blaze,” and “Red Dawn X,” are manmade substances designed to mimic the effects of marijuana.  According to the bill, these “designer drugs” are sold in tobacco and smoke shops, drug paraphernalia shops, convenience stores, and over the Internet and often are labeled as incense or potpourri to evade law enforcement.

A2893:  Passed 51-10-12. This bill, the “Innovative Services for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act,” requires the Department of Human Services to encourage the establishment of innovative service arrangements for persons with developmental disabilities. 

A2914: Passed 73-0. This allows state residents who are outside of New Jersey to place wagers on horse races using account wagering systems as long as the placing of such wagers does not violate the law of that jurisdiction or federal law.

A2932/S2057: Passed 63-10-2. This bill, “The Anti-Big Brother Act,” requires a school district that furnishes a student with a laptop computer to provide the student with written notice that the electronic device may record or collect information on the student’s activity.

The bill was amended to make it clear its provisions covered charter schools, and that the fine for not providing notification is $250, among other things.

A2946/S1754: Passed 72-1.  This eliminates the requirement that a beach bar must have been in existence prior to Aug. 31, 2011 in order to qualify for an exemption from the “Noise Control Act of 1971.”

Among the amendments to the bill covering bars in the Atlantic City Tourism District is one that says such bars not only would be exempt from the 1971 Act, but from any other noise control ordinance or law.

A3005: This bill was held for amendments. This bill requires debt collectors, in certain circumstances, to cease debt collections against  victims of identity theft until a determination has been made whether the person is actually responsible for the debt in question.

A3019: Passed 74-0. This legislation authorizes public schools to serve to students certain produce grown in community garden. Conditions include ensuring that the soil was tested and declared safe, and that the food is handled in accordance with state and federal health regulations.

A3043: Passed 46-25-2. This bill allows corporation business tax credits for developers who make capital investments and transform disused hospitals or other health care facilities into some other kind of health care operation.

Over a period of 10 years, a developer may apply 10 percent of its capital investment per year as a credit against its corporate tax liability.

The developer must make or acquire capital investment of at least $10 million, and the new tenants must employ at least 100 full-time workers, among other conditions.

A3219: Passed 74-1. This permits witnesses in domestic violence cases under the age of 16 to testify via closed circuit television under certain circumstances. The bill allows the victim to testify this way regardless of age.

A3362: Passed 74-0. This exempts certain properties acquired by municipalities as part of a flood-prone property acquisition effort after Oct. 1 from county, school, and fire district taxes for the following tax year.

An amendment requires the town to reimburse a property owner for any taxes paid by the owner beyond the acquisition date within 15 days of the next meeting of the town governing body following the acquisition.

A3410: Passed 74-0. This requires school districts to provide pupil directory information to county vocational schools upon request. A child’s parent could opt out of this procedure, and the districts would be responsible for notifying parents of this option.

A3427: Passed 74-0.  This bill provides for temporary professional or occupational licensure for qualified nonresident military spouses in New Jersey so that they can practice their chosen profession.

A3489: Passed 74-0. This bill allows monies dedicated to standardbred horse racing purses to be used for the benefit of the standardbred horse racing and breeding industry.

The goal is to help make the horse racing business self-sustaining. The horsemen’s association and the track operators can enter into contracts toward that goal.

A3493: Passed 46-29. This bill changes standards regarding financial-backing qualifications of casino license applicants.

This bill reduces, from $150 million to less than $75 million, the amount of a casino’s full outstanding debt issue that would exempt a casino institutional investor from the requirement to maintain his or her qualifications.

Under the Casino Control Act, a casino license cannot be issued to any applicant unless all applicable qualification criteria are met.  Disqualification criteria include failure to prove the applicant is qualified to hold a casino license; the failure to provide the necessary information to establish such qualification; and criminal convictions. 

Also, applicants are required to “establish and maintain the qualifications” of certain financial backers and institutional investors.

A3494: Passed 43-28-3. This bill caps at 35 percent the share of the state public employee pension and annuity funds portfolio that may be invested in a combination of hedge funds, private equity, commodities, and real estate.

While recognizing the importance of diversifying holdings, the bill points out that alternative assets make for “thorny placements of public funds, as their investment strategies and specific investments tend to be protected information.”

Such “opacity’’ can lead to pay to play abuses, the bill states.

A3614: Passed 45-29. This bill would require that a contract between the state and a private entity operating the state Lottery must be subject to the approval of the Legisature.

The Christie administration is in the process of privatizing a portion of the Lottery operations.

A3642: Passed 75-0. This requires a homeowners insurance consumer information brochure to contain a one-page summary of the policy. The bill, an outgrowth in part of Superstorm Sandy, would have insurers provide in that summary information regarding hurricane deductibles and flood insurance.

Assembly bills passed: horse race purses, synthetic pot ban, more