Various Assembly and Senate committees held hearings and considered numerous pieces of legislation this week. The municipal issues considered include:
Assembly Telecommunications & Utilities:
A-2846: Permits local unit or authority that operates a water, sewerage, or stormwater management system to reduce the fees or other charges it collects from low-income persons residing in its district or service area was amended. The amendments will require that the provisions of the bill will only apply if an undesignated fund balance is available or a sufficient number of unreserved retained earnings are set aside and designated to offset the projected loss in revenues that may be attributable to providing a reduction. The bill, which the League supports, has been referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee.
A-5292/S-3335: Requires Board of Public the Board of Public Utilities (BPU), in consultation with the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), to prepare and submit within 30 days of the effective date of the bill, to the Governor and to the Legislature, a written report that makes findings and recommendations concerning the effects of the coronavirus 2019 pandemic on local utility and public utility service to commercial and residential customers in this state. It was reported out of committee and referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee.
The committee took testimony on A-4678, which prohibits public utilities and authorities from increasing a rate, fee, interest on delinquent chargers, or similar charge for service rendered to a customer during and within 180 days after the end of a declared public health emergency. The private market has some concerns with the legislation and will continue discussions with the sponsor.
Assembly Women & Children Committee:
A-1078: Requires domestic violence orders to be issued in the primary language or languages used by both the plaintiff and the defendant. It was amended by the committee with provisions applying to any temporary restraining ordered issued, not just those issued by the municipal court judges. It requires Administrative Office of the Courts to prepare standard temporary restraining order forms in English, Spanish, and up to 10 additional languages commonly spoken in New Jersey. Also, if applicable, the temporary restraining order should be served with a copy of the translated order. The bill was released from committee and referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Assembly Special Committee on Infrastructure & Natural Resources:
A-5343: Requires public community water system (PCWS) in the state to develop a service line inventory and a replacement plan for lead service lines that provides for the replacement of all lead service lines within 20 years. It would also authorize an investor-owned PCWS to recoup the costs of lead service line replacements by increasing the rates it charges to its customers. It was amended by the committee, making various substantive changes to the legislation that we are currently reviewing. The amended bill has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
A-5407: Amends various public finance laws, including the Local Budget law, to remove existing restrictions on the ability of local governments and authorities to finance the costs of lead service line replacements. It was amended by the committee, expanding the provisions to apply to any municipal utilities authority with a water supply operation rather than applying to solely to water-only utilities; revised the definition of “lead service line”; and removed all provisions of the bill that modified various requirements of the “Water Quality Accountability Act.” The bill has been referenced to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Assembly Labor Committee:
A-5378/S-3414: Promotes workforce diversity in project labor agreements. It was amended by the committee, requiring each project labor agreement stipulate that the project labor agreement applies to work done at the construction sites of public works project but not to work done outside those site. Also, if a union trust fund covered by the project labor agreement has not adopted the building and construction industry exemption authorized by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the signatory employers are not obligated to hire employees covered by that fund. The amended bill awaits consideration by the full Assembly.
Assembly Environment & Solid Waste Committee:
A-1979: Requires every architectural paint producer, or a representative organization established on behalf of two or more such producers, to develop and implement a plan for an architectural paint stewardship program designed to minimize public sector involvement in the management of post-consumer architectural paint by reducing its generation, promoting its reuse and recycling, and negotiating and executing agreements for its collection, transportation, reuse, recycling, burning for energy recovery, incineration, and disposal using environmentally sound management practices. It amended by the committee, clarifying that the paint stewardship assessment required by the bill would be included in the price of paint sold in the state, rather than added to the price. The League supports this legislation that was released by the committee and was referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
A-2783: Requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop, and update as appropriate, guidelines for use by State and local agencies when entering into contracts for the purchase of goods to encourage the maximum purchase of goods made with the highest percentage of recycled material. Committee amendments provided that the guidelines developed under the bill may be based upon by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; specify that the requirement to review and modify bid and product specifications applies to the Director of the Division of Purchase and any State agency having authority to contract for the purchase of goods or services and provide that bid and product specifications would be modified to the extent practical and feasible; and that the bill would not apply to bid specifications or bid packages advertised and made available to the public prior to the effective date of the bill. The amended bill was released from committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.
Assembly Community Development & Affairs Committee:
A-4656: Authorizes municipalities and counties to establish civilian review boards to review police operations and conduct. It was amended by the committee, and the League is currently reviewing them. The bill was released and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.
A-5472: Requires law enforcement to provide written notification to parent or guardian of person under age 18 who commits first offense of unlawfully buying or possessing alcoholic beverages or cannabis. The committee’s amendments made technical changes and added the terms “marijuana” and “hashish” concerning parental notification. The bill now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.
Assembly Appropriations Committee:
A-1116: Provides for the uniform regulation of small wireless facility deployment in this state by the State government and local government units. The committee’s amendments provided that an authority may not charge more than $200 for use of the right-of-way and more than $70 for use of an authority pole per year. It eliminates the provision that nothing in the bill is to apply to poles owned by investor-owned public utilities unless under certain circumstances and to delete certain references to investor-owned public utilities. It also provides that nothing in the bill is to authorize a person to collocate a small wireless facility on property owned by a public utility without consent of the public utility nor be construed to effect certain circumstances as provided in the amendments. The League thanks the sponsor, Assemblywoman Murphy, for her willingness to listen and hear our concerns as we continue with this work in progress. The bill now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.
A-1976: Establishes the Renewable and Efficient Energy Financing program in the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank to provide loans and other forms of financial assistance to State entities, local units, and school districts to finance cost-effective energy efficiency improvements in buildings and other property owned or operated by the State entities, local units, or school districts. It was released by the committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.
A-4825/S-647: Revise the cybersecurity, asset management, and reporting requirements for water purveyors under the "Water Quality Accountability Act" (WQAA), and increase the oversight responsibilities of the Department of Environmental Protection and the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness in relation to the WQAA. Committee amendments clarify that auditing authority provided to DEP under the legislation would not limit the fiscal oversight authority of the Division of Local Government Services. It require certain municipalities, counties, and authorities that have capital programs extending beyond three years to identify, in their annual reports to the DEP on their asset management plans, the infrastructure improvements to be undertaken pursuant to their asset management plans in the remaining years of their capital programs, along with the actual or estimated cost of the improvements. The bill now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.
Legislation that appropriates federal funds to Economic Development Authority as follows: $25 million to support microbusinesses in need (A-5443), $35 million to support food and beverage establishments in need (A-5444), $10 million to support child care centers in need (A-5445), $15 million to support businesses and nonprofits in need (A-5446), and $15 million to support arts and culture organizations in need (A-5447). For more please see our recent blog post.
A-5478/S-2714: Authorizes commercial farms that are located on preserved farmland, and produce agricultural or horticultural products worth $5,000 or more annually, to hold special occasion events, subject to certain conditions. It was released from committee. The League opposes this legislation as the bill will qualify all farmland for non-agricultural commercial activities beyond their intended use, without the appropriate degree of local input and oversight and circumvents the objectives of the State’s successful farmland preservation efforts. The legislation now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.
Assembly State & Local Government Committee:
A-1180/S-2644: Permits public libraries to dispose of certain materials, such as books, periodicals, newspapers, without advertising for bids. Released from committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.
A-2284/S-818: Permits certain proposed county ordinances to be sent to the clerk of each municipality in the county by regular mail or by electronic mail. Released from committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.
A-4881: Prohibits the appeal of a municipal land use decision on the basis of a deviation from some requirement of law because a meeting was held by virtual or remote means during a declared emergency. The committee’s amendments would limit applicability of the bill to the period of time during the declared COVID-19 emergency and for a reasonable time thereafter, if so provided by executive order; and require that the notice of and conduct of the municipal land use board must be consistent with DCA guidance provided at the time the applicant request a list of property owners. The legislation, which the League supports, now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.
Assembly Homeland Security & State Preparedness:
A-1173: Requires the Office of Emergency Telecommunications Services in the Office of Information Technology to establish a central registry of residents with special needs, who would require additional assistance during an emergency. Held by the committee.
A-5302: Requires the director of the State Office of Emergency Management to designate an emergency response liaison for people with special needs who will coordinate and oversee emergency responses for people with special needs. Released by the committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.
Contact: Lori Buckelew, Assistant Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481, x112