CV’d bills before Senate: Economic Opportunity Act, horse racing at beaches

TRENTON – The Senate will take up bills Thursday that were conditionally vetoed during the year.

On the voting board are bills dealing with horse racing at beaches, reporting information about seized firearms, damages paid to people wrongfully imprisoned, and a makeover of business tax incentive programs.

The extensive makeover of tax incentive programs – The Economic Opportunity Act – won Assembly concurrence on Monday following that day’s conditional veto, and will be before the upper chamber.

Gov. Chris Christie issued his CV of the bill that whittles five jobs and business programs to two, expands eligibility to more Southern New Jersey towns, and – according to some critics – places some Highlands areas at environmental risk.

Christie removed from the bill two items: prevailing wage protections for maintenance employees and opportunities to re-use old hospital sites.

When the bill – A3680 – was last before the Senate, Sen. Ray Lesniak ripped the bill for abandoning affordable housing efforts, but Assembly sponsors warned that further changes would render it impassable in the lower chamber.

It passed the Senate 30-4 in August.

Another bill that was CV’d on Monday, A4149/S2899, also is scheduled to be before the Senate Thursday after the lower chamber concurred with the governor’s recommended changes 75-0.

This bill would permit horse racing on the beach, but Christie struck provisions that would have allowed betting.

While he supported the idea of allowing the racing, Christie expressed reservations about allowing wagering outside of Atlantic City and racetracks.

A third bill, A3797, that was conditionally vetoed Monday and which also received immediate Assembly concurrence, would require law enforcement agencies to report information on seized firearms with databases such as the National Crime Information Center.

However, Christie struck a portion that would have mandated public reporting by the state police on firearms trace data received from the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Such disclosure would violate federal law, he said in his veto message. The Senate will consider the CV recommendations.

A bill that was vetoed on May 9 – S1219 – would increase the amount of money paid to those wrongfully imprisoned.

The bill would have hiked the damages from twice a person’s income in the year before imprisonment or $20,000 (whichever is greater), to twice the income or $50,000.

However, Christie struck from the bill a provision that a person could still be compensated even if they falsely confessed to a crime it turned out they did not commit.

Plus, he removed a cost-of-living adjustment provision.

The Senate will also vote on these bills:

A4188/S2740: This requires that information reported by employers to the Department of Human Services about new hires be shared with the Department of Labor in order to combat improper collection of unemployment benefits after they have returned to work.

S2580:  Designates Route 53 as the “Alex DeCroce Memorial Highway.”

DeCroce, who represented the 26th District for 23 years, passed away on Jan. 9, 2012, at the Statehouse following a lengthy Assembly session.

At the time, he had been the longest-serving member of the Assembly.


CV’d bills before Senate: Economic Opportunity Act, horse racing at beaches