A steady stream of bills — ranging from bans on employers who discriminate on the basis of credit reports, to measures for boosting the School Safety and Security Fund, to the creation of the New Jersey Secure Choice Savings Program Act, creating retirement funds for workers — will make their way through a slate of Senate and Assembly Committee hearings today. Here’s a few to look out for.
With NJTransit expected to move forward with a proposed 9 percent fare increase and services cuts amid a $120 million budget gap and stalled efforts to refund the state’s Transportation Trust Fund, members of the Assembly Transportation Committee will take up A2587, a bill that could help stop the move. Sponsored by Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-14), the legislation, which is only up for debate at the 10 a.m. meeting, would expand the powers of the Division of Rate Counsel by requiring it to evalute NJTransit fare increases within 90 days after receiving notice from the NJ Transit Corporation. NJ Transit would have to provide any information requested by the division in the course of its evaluation. The measure comes as NJ Transit’s Board of Directors considers a final approval of the hikes, which have drawn scrutiny from lawmakers and the public in recent weeks.
All those “acting” commissioners, directors, and cabinet members still working under Gov. Chris Christie? Under A4436, sponsored by Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D-6) and Troy Singleton (D-3), and set to be considered at the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s 10 a.m. committee, they’d be mostly done away with, requiring that any individual appointed in an acting capacity in the executive branch of state government or as a county prosecutor, if the governor has not submitted that person’s name in nomination to the Senate to fill that position on a permanent basis within six months, that person must vacate the position. The limitation on serving in an acting capacity would be six full consecutive or intermittent months. The Assembly committee’s consideration of the bill comes on the heels of passage of similar legislation in the Senate, where state Senator Nick Scutari (D-22) likewise sponsored a measure that would limit the term a person may serve in an acting capacity for positions that require the Governor’s nomination. And there are, at the moment, quite a few of them: Attorney General John Hoffman since June 2013, State Comptroller Mar Larkins since December 2013, and more recently-appointed acting commissioners that include those leading the Department of Human Services and the Department of Community Affairs, serving since February and March 2015, respectively, along with a number of county prosecutors.
Despite calls from critics to make the title official, Christie has said he has no immediate plans for nominating Hoffman to the AG’s spot — likely because it would mean the candidate would have to go through a lengthy confirmation hearing in front of a Democratic-controlled legislature.
Also Look Out For…
Backroom budget deals. Ongoing questions surrounding the prospect of North Jersey gaming. Pension debates. These are all issues that are heating up as the legislature heads into the final weeks of what is expected to be a contentious budget season, set to conclude on June 30, when lawmakers will have to pass their spending plan that meets the state’s miscellaneous financial obligations and problems.