Weekly Roundup: Week of June 10

TRENTON – The New Jersey League of Municipalities found itself the target of gubernatorial ire this week.

The League released a task force report that recommends charging income tax rates on the entire income, as opposed to just portions of it, in order to help lower property taxes.

The property taxes savings could be $2,700 for the average family by the fourth year, the study said.

But Gov. Chris Christie quickly lambasted the recommendation, calling it “gimmicky” and a throwback to the old games of Trenton that he refuses to play.

He vowed to throw the report in the garbage when it comes to him because, he said, that’s “where it belongs.”

A busy legislative week

Several bills were taken up by legislative committees. Among the more noteworthy bills released was bill  S2466, which would permit local governments to levy a fee on hospital revenues in five cities and two counties, as part of a five-year “local hospital fee” pilot program. The beneficiaries would include Newark, Jersey City, New Brunswick, Trenton, Camden, and the counties of Passaic and Atlantic.

Three months after the Senate Health Committee released its version of the bill, the Assembly Women and Children Committee released a bill prohibiting licensed professionals from practicing gay conversion therapy.

Similar arguments were voiced again. Proponents of the bill said the therapy has been ineffective, if not just plain damaging, based on analyses by various reputable medical groups. But opponents of the bill said it deprives parents of their rights concerning how to raise their children and seeking help for unwanted situations.

Another bill, The Opportunity to Compete Act, S2586, would prohibit employers from conducting a criminal background check on job seekers during the “pre-application and application process,” according to the proposal.

The New Jersey Business and Industry Association opposed the bill, saying it could potentially eliminate more deserving candidates. In addition, time would be devoted unnecessarily to a potential candidate who because of the person’s criminal record the company ultimately would not want to hire.

There was some criticism against bill A3933, a bill that would allow projects to be constructed on piers along the Hudson River in northern New Jersey.

Environmentalists said residents would be put in harm’s way if such projects come to fruition. And Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer criticized it, saying it would allow development to take place in a flood prone area of her city.

Nonetheless, the bill, which enjoys bipartisan support (Republican Assemblywoman Amy Handlin and Democratic Assemblyman Vincent Prieto are the prime sponsors) was released by the Assembly Environment Committee.

The Assembly Human Services Committee released bill A4097, which revises the requirements for obtaining an amended birth certificate due to a sex change and that surgery is not necessarily required to obtain one.

The bill would enable people who received a sex change without having surgery to receive an amended certificate. Current law states that a person must undergo sex reassignment surgery to receive an amended birth certificate.

The bill was released unanimously.

The Assembly Environment Committee released a trio of bills providing low-coast loans from the Environmental Infrastructure Trust. All three, A4183, A4184 and A4185, were released unanimously.

Special election

The appellate court dismissed an attempt to block the special election to fill Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s seat from being held separate from the general election.

Opponents of the decision to hold a special election argued the high cost and the risk of voter suppression were reasons the court should say no to the Christie administration.

But the court said the governor was within his rights to schedule a special election just a few weeks ahead of the November general election.

However, the Democrats opposed to the ruling indicated Friday they would go to the state Supreme Court and request a hearing there.

 

 

Weekly Roundup: Week of June 10