Once again, Economic Opportunity Act to face Senate vote

TRENTON – As expected, the Senate has scheduled a voting session for Monday, the centerpiece of which will be the Economic Opportunity Act bill that has undergone many changes.

The bill originally passed in the Assembly in May generally enjoyed environmentalists’ support, but by the time the Senate voted on it last week, it had undergone key changes that led to some environmental groups opposing it.

The Assembly then amended it yet again, reinserting some of the things environmental backers wanted, and now the Senate has scheduled another vote for next week.

One key clause that was in the bill, disappeared, then reappeared deals with an executive order signed by then-Gov. Thomas Kean that mandated environmental reviews of certain projects.  The Senate removed that provision, but the Assembly has reinserted it.

Yet some environmental groups still worry that the way the bill is written there are enough loopholes to open up sensitive areas to development.

The point of the bill is to reduce red tape, do away with some controversial grant incentive programs, and improve job creation and retention by streamlining the process.

Among other things, the bill is designed to target shuttered hospital sites, target areas with poverty, help portions of Southern New Jersey struggling to recover from the downturn, and lower some of the thresholds for certain towns to participate in tax incentive programs.

The Senate also has some other key bills up for a vote Monday:

S533: This bill, the “Common Sense Shared Services Act,” ensures that statutorily required, tenured municipal officials do not stand in the way of a shared service agreement.

S116:   This bill establishes a Disparity in Treatment of Persons with Disabilities in Underrepresented Communities Commission.  

The legislation recognizes the problem that minorities with disabilities often have less access to health care and other opportunities.

S2543: Makes it a crime of the third degree to practice psychology, chiropractic or state-certified psychoanalysis without the appropriate license or certification.

Once again, Economic Opportunity Act to face Senate vote