Budget panel passes craft distillery, environmental, other bills

TRENTON – The Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee passed several bills as the fiscal year winds down and the FY 2014 budget season comes to a head.

The panel released a bill affording in-state tuition to citizens whose parents’ immigration status has hurt their eligibility. It passed unanimously.

The bill, A3162, states that students born in the U.S. but who don’t qualify for in-state tuition because of their parents’ immigration status shall be deemed eligible for the in-state rate.

Sponsor Assemblywoman Marlene Caride said that the state higher education assistance agency has been improperly interpreting statutes in this area for years.

The purpose is to allow students to apply for the in-state rate without fear of being denied because of parents’ immigration students, she said. 

“These are United States citizens, there is no reason for them to be treated like that,’’ she said.

A4183, A4184, A4185: These bills deal with the state’s environmental preservation programs. The bills OK $780 million in Environmental Infrastructure projects for fiscal year 2014, and establish a $5 billion debt ceiling for a disaster relief program.

They all passed unanimously.

A3810: This shortens the time for wage reports to monthly from quarterly. It also has an exemption for small businesses. It passed 8-4 along party lines.

The Business and Industry Association opposed the bill, saying while its intention is to root out unemployment insurance fraud abuse, the bill does not conform with the Social Security Act requiring quarterly reports and it will hurt some sectors of business more than others with its monthly reporting mandate.

A3811: This bill would require the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to file a notice of debt with the Department of the Treasury upon the failure of an individual debtor to pay a debt incurred due to overpayment of unemployment benefits to the debtor and owed to the state. It passed.

A3812: This bill requires notifications to eliminate fraud in the Unemployment Insurance system. The state registrar would facilitate the electronic notification, upon completion of the death record and issuance of a burial permit, of a decedent’s name, Social Security number and last known address to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.  It passed unanimously.

A1331: Provides sales and use tax exemption for services performed to certain prewritten computer software delivered electronically. It cleared unanimously.

A3518: Creates a craft distillery license of $938, permitting distilling of 20,000 gallons of distilled beverages. It was released mostly along party lines with Republicans Anthony Bucco and Jay Webber opposed

The state Restaurant Association opposes the bill in light of the traditional three-tier separation of manufacturing, distributing, and retail.

Under amendments, a brewpup could also sell distilled spirits, in a sense marrying  two individual licenses as one, something the association opposes.


Budget panel passes craft distillery, environmental, other bills