TRENTON – The Assembly approved numerous bills, including ones involving Edison internal affairs investigations, eliminating health insurance requirements for certain college students, and early voting.
A3445: Passed 76-0. This permits pet owners to board public transportation with domesticated animals during emergency evacuation.
Amendments specify that the animal must not constitute a health or safety hazard, and that all passengers be provided seating first.
A3546/S2291: Passed 76-1. Eliminate the requirement that every two-year student at a community or county college in New Jersey maintain health insurance coverage.
Republicans urged the bill be sent back and returned to its original form in which all full-time students, including four-year students, would also have been relieved of the requirement.
“Insurance is simply too expensive,’’ Republican Jay Webber said, in the aftermath of the Affordable Care Act, but Speaker Sheila Oliver limited Republicans and told them not to debate the federal health care law.
Democrat Lou Greenwald spoke in favor of the bill, and also referenced the national situation, which prompted Minority Leader Jon Bramnick to rise in protest for unequal treatment.
“I’m the referee here,” Oliver said.
A3553/S2364: Passed 46-31 largely along party lines. This bill establishes an early voting process to allow voters to cast their votes at specially designated polling places, starting on the fourth Monday before the primary election for the general election and the general election, and ending on the Sunday before the election. A municipality holding municipal elections on the second Tuesday in May, by an ordinance adopted by its governing body may also conduct early voting for those municipal elections.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski said the right to vote is a fundamental hallmark of democracy, and that the pace of living today mandates election laws be updated to keep pace, especially since so many New Jersey residents work out of state and for longer hours.
A3561: Passed 66-9-1. Provides for distribution of gross income tax refunds via prepaid debit cards. The Office of Legislative Services estimates that the bill will reduce state administrative expenses by up to $1.2 million per fiscal year once its provisions are fully implemented in FY 2016.
A3562: Passed 72-3-1. Provides for the use of prepaid debit cards as a standardized form of disbursement for certain state and local government payments to individuals and business entities.
A3620: Passed 77-0. Requires disposition of the remains of an active duty service member by the most recently executed document. This deals with situations in which the deceased did not leave a will.
Current law dictates whoever is named on a federal form, known as Form 93, has authority over the funeral and disposition of remains, but some laws don’t recognize the federal form, and this bill would clarify the authority of the federal form.
A3625: Passed 74-0. This bill requires owners of age-restricted apartment buildings or dwellings to annually prepare and maintain emergency building operations plans.
A3651/S2410: Passed 71-4. This bill would validate the school bond authorization proceedings taken by the Board of Education of the Monmouth Regional High School District, Monmouth County, and approved by the voters at the school election held Nov. 6, 2012.
A3708: Passed 46-24-6. This bill establishes a two-year pilot program requiring the Attorney General to perform the internal affairs functions of Edison, Middlesex County.
Sponsor Assemblyman Peter Barnes said his hometown of Edison has had “challenges’’ going back years that a locally run internal affairs unit cannot handle, and that the problem, plus the desire for transparency and public trust, mandate an outside authority take over, at least on a trial basis.
A3764: Passed 75-0. Permits counties and municipalities to use snow removal reserve funds for clearance of debris following declaration of emergency by President or Governor.
A3782: Passed 76-0. This bill provides for a series of follow-up studies of former residents of state developmental centers who have made a transition into the community.
The studies would assess the well-being of all former residents of North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center.
A3848: Passed 76-0. This bill would revise the permitted surcharge on admission at major places of amusement.
Under a 2007 law, the surcharge is 5 percent. This bill would set that surcharge at an amount up to 5 percent, allowing a municipality to charge less than that.
S1650: Passed 44-31-2. This bill required first-responders to be licensed and submit to criminal history record background checks.
S1415: Passed 75-0. 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, known as the Helmets to Hardhats Program.
S1912: Passed 76-0. As amended, this bill would require public and nonpublic schools to require that any student enrolled in grades six to 12 have a physical examination prior to participation on a school-sponsored interscholastic or intramural athletic team or squad.
S2092: Passed 75-0. This creates certain new criminal offenses aimed at theft from carriers.
A3052: Passed 77-0. This bill, titled the “Residential Mortgage Satisfaction Act,” places certain requirements on mortgage holders to issue pay-off letters to facilitate the payment of residential property mortgages, clarifies which persons may request a pay-off letter, and provides an additional process to discharge mortgages of record.
AR89: Passed 76-0. Urges Congress to waive cap on community disaster loans for certain counties, municipalities, and school districts affected by Superstorm Sandy.
AR118: Passed 75-0. Honors New Jersey emergency medical services personnel for service during Hurricane Sandy.