Prominent bills on flood protection for home-owners, state grants for developers and environmental hot buttons like natural gas will see committee hearings this Thursday, along with a previously vetoed measure to allow transgender New Jerseyans to alter their birth certificates without having to undergo surgery. Assembly Republicans will also see their alternative to a failed mental health record expungement bill go to committee after its introduction last month.
As the birth certificate and expungement bills revisit the drama of two failed override votes in the Senate and Assembly, look for Republicans to be on their guard if Democrats take the opportunity to twist the knife after Governor Chris Christie’s underwhelming tenth-place finish in the Iowa caucus.
Here are the hearings to watch in Trenton tomorrow, and the bills likely to spark debate. See times and locations below, or listen to the legislature’s live stream tomorrow.
Senate Environment and Energy – 10:00AM in Committee Room 10, State House Annex
A bill from Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-27) to offer $5 million of annual realty transfer fee revenue to homeowners will go before the committee. Those hoping to elevate their properties would be reimbursed with the funds. Pennacchio said Wednesday that the bill is not meant as a criticism of the state’s existing emergency response procedures.
Senate Labor – 10:00AM in Committee Room 6, State House Annex
The ‘New Jobs for NJ’ act from Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) will be headlining. The bill would offer tax incentives to small businesses that hire unemployed workers. The measure joins the suite of legislation that Sweeney has been proposing in advance of a predicted 2017 gubernatorial run, and follows his general strategy of courting both business and labor.
Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities – 10:00AM in Committee Room 9, State House Annex
A measure to impose stricter penalties on gas companies who neglect to repair and maintain pipelines is going to be under discussion. Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-38) is primary sponsor of the measure, which could have meaningful consequences for a potential natural gas pipeline through the protected Pinelands if its requirement for the DEP and BPU to determine new regulations succeeds. The BPU approved the pipeline project last week, one day before the chairman of the Pinelands Commission, an opponent of the pipeline, was unceremoniously replaced.
Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens – 11:00AM in Committee Room 4, State House Annex
A measure from Senator Joe Vitale (D-19) goes back to committee after a failed override vote in the Senate last session. The bill would allow for transgender residents to file for a revised birth certificate without undergoing gender reassignment surgery, as the current statutes require. The bill intends to reflect the fact that some transgender people do not undergo surgery, expanding the law to include intersex individuals and allowing applicants to apply on the basis of medical “gender transition treatment” rather than surgery alone.
Assembly Commerce and Economic Development – 1:00PM in Committee Room 16, State House Annex
The tax subsidies that have served as Trenton’s prevailing strategy in redeveloping areas like Camden and Newark could see a challenge if a bill from Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver (D-34) passes committee and goes on to a vote on the floor. The bill would require provisions allowing for a full refund of the grant if a private corporation misrepresents itself in its application, or fails to uphold the terms of its agreement with the granting state body.
Assembly Law and Public Safety – 2:00PM in Committee Room 11, State House Annex
A new Republican-backed rival to the mental health record expungement bill that saw a successful override vote in the Senate will go to the Law and Public Safety Committee. Last session, the Democrats’ bill failed to make that same headway in the Assembly and went down after lengthy debate on the floor. The new bill, with a slew of Republican primary sponsors including Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21), would require that law enforcement have a say in whether potential gun buyers with mental health records with the state can have that record expunged rather just just being notified of the expungement, as the failed bill would have mandated.