Assembly Appropriations releases several bills

TRENTON – The Assembly Appropriations Committee released several bills at its Thursday session, including Sen. Jennifer Beck’s bill that would revise the farmland assessment law.

The bill, A3090, calls for doubling the minimal income requirement on the first 500 acres of land, where farmers would have to sell $1,000 instead of $500 of goods, as the law in its present form states.

But Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club was concerned it doesn’t do much to prevent “fake farmers,” who can get as much as a 90 percent reduction on their property taxes just for growing and selling some products, but aren’t full-time farmers.

“That’s the kind of thing that hurts all of us,” he said.

But Committee Chairman John Burzichelli (D-3) of Paulsboro said the bill is still an improvement over the status quo.

The bill passed, but Assemblyman John DiMaio and Assemblywoman Alison Little McHose abstained.

Other bills that were released:

A1588: A bill requiring the Department of Community Affairs to establish standards concerning mold hazards in residential buildings.

The New Jersey League of Municipalities and state Parks Association supported the bill, but Assemblyman John DiMaio and Alison Little McHose voted no. However, the only other Republican on the committee, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-12) of Colts Neck, voted yes.

A3262: A bill amending the “Flood Hazard Area Control Act” in order to require the Department of Environmental Protection to take certain action concerning delineation of flood hazard areas and floodways.

The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-38), joked that the bill was the first piece of legislation he sponsored that received support from colleague Assemblywoman McHose. The bill was released unanimously.

A3289: A bill creating the “New Jersey Social Bond Act,” a pilot program within the Economic Development Authority.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Assemblyman Angel Fuentes (D-5), said the act is “a fiscally responsible solution to social problems.”

Casagrande, DiMaio and Little McHose all voted no, but all the Democrats on the committee voted yes.

A3598: a bill establishing a municipal court conditional dismissal program, in which a defendant charged with a petty disorderly persons offense or disorderly persons offense may apply, for a $75 fee, to enter the program if he is a first-time offender.

By enrolling in the program, bill sponsor, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15) of Trenton, said “first-time offenders can avoid a criminal record.”

The Administrative Office of the Courts’ Dan Phillips expressed support for the bill.

Assembly Appropriations releases several bills