Passed in committee: Med marijuana for minors, shared-services bills, more

TRENTON – The Assembly Budget Committee released bills Thursday to help Passaic River areas with flood control, shared-services tenure issues, medical marijuana for minors, and to provide tax relief for towns hard hit when a large-business revenue source leaves.

A3807: “Corporate Disinvestment Property Tax Relief Act”; appropriates $5 million. The purpose is to aid towns when a major business leaves. Towns receiving such aid must use it to reduce tax levies. It passed along party lines.

Sponsor Assemblyman Ralph Caputo said the bill was inspired by a large pharmaceutical company departing Nutley, making it harder to provide services.

Possibly $9 million in revenue will be lost when Roche departs for New York, he said, affecting also Clifton. 

Thomas Evans, Nutley’s commissioner of finance, said the property is undergoing environmental studies and will be idle by the end of the year. “It has a devastating impact on the local municipality,’’ he said, when a taxpayer that large leaves.

Republican Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon wanted to substitute the governor’s bill for property tax relief, but it was tabled. He and fellow Republicans argued that the best way to help struggling towns is by direct property tax relief in general to cure a systemic problem.

A1401/S533: The “Common Sense Shared Services Act”; concerns shared service agreements and joint contracts for local personnel under the “Uniform Shared Services and Consolidation Act.” It passed unanimously.

Part of the bill’s purpose is to ensure tenured local officials don’t serve as roadblocks to shared services.

The N.J. Chamber of Commerce and League of Municipalities are among the bill supporters.

A4202: Appropriates $715,706,303 from the “Building Our Future Bond Act” to the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education for public and private institutions of higher education. It was released largely along party lines.

A4228/S2539: Authorizes release or reduction of original performance guarantee after deposit of adequate replacement performance guarantee by successor developer. It was released unanimously.

A2675: Reappropriates $3 million from the “Dam, Lake, Stream, Flood Control, Water Resources, and Wastewater Treatment Project Bond Act of 2003” to fund state flood control projects. It passed unanimously.

This bill targets Passaic River Basin areas hard hit by the recent storms and flooding.

A4241: Provides for similar requirements for minor and adult patients in medical marijuana program. It would allow severely ill minors to participate in the program. It passed largely along party lines with Democrats voting yes, Republicans Jay Webber voting no, and Chris Brown and Anthony Bucco abstaining. Republican Declan O’Scanlon supported it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics opposed the bill.

But Jennie Stormes, a registered nurse, said her 14-year-old son has a severe condition involving epilepsy. He is failing the drugs that are prescribed for his genetic condition, Dravet syndrome.

However, he spends some time in California where he can have access to medical marijuana and has benefited, she told the panel.

“My son will not get high from medical marijuana,’’ rather this is an essential treatment for his condition, she told the committee.

Sponsor Assemblywoman Linda Stender told the panel there will be oversight by attending physicians, and made the point that the minor’s parent will be informed of potential risks.

A4251: Extends moratorium on the imposition of statewide non-residential development fees until 2018; establishes the “New Jersey Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act.”

Additionally, the bill creates the “New Jersey Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act,” as a temporary program within the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency for the purpose of purchasing foreclosed residential properties from institutional lenders and dedicating them for occupancy as affordable housing.  The HMFA shall cease the program’s operations on December 31, 2017.

Declan O’Scanlon and other Republicans wanted to separate the two issues of the moratorium and affordable housing money but their motion failed. The bill itself passed along party lines.

ACR197: Urges BPU to coordinate with PJM Interconnection to facilitate development of New Jersey Energy Link in phases; recommends that BPU and EDA conduct economic studies to determine benefits of project. It passed along party lines.

Passed in committee: Med marijuana for minors, shared-services bills, more