Well, it’s been quite some time since you received a legislative update.  My apologies.  Since the last update, Governor Murphy presented his state budget and budget hearings have begun, NJ received (sort of) a waiver on testing for this year, and the legislature has begun voting in-person with plexiglass petitions on desks, although most committee meetings are on zoom.  As a legislator recently quipped, “It’s really warm in that chamber, with all the hot air that gets stuck in the plexiglass.”

Before you read any part of the update, help your fellow members at the County College of Morris, where the college president is engaging in union busting.  In addition to the fact that several of the members he is non-renewing are union leaders, he also wants to “balance” tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty.  If you sent the email a few days ago, send it again.  The message has been slightly tweaked.

TAKE ACTION! 

IN THIS UPDATE

  • STATE BUDGET
  • OTHER HAPPENINGS
  • POLITICS UPDATE
  • SESSION DAY RESULTS
  • WHEN IS THE LEGISLATURE MEETING AGAIN?

STATE BUDGET

The last time I did an update, Trenton was all about marijuana.  And it had just passed.  Now, Trenton is all about money – lots of it.  A year ago, everyone was gloom and doom about the state’s finances.  Remember this?  In May 2020, the governor proposed a mini-budget for July, August, and September that pushed most big payments off to the full fiscal budget.  The treasurer was predicting a $10 billion shortfall through July 21.  Unsure of how to balance the budget, the state passed a controversial bill to borrow to balance the budget, and the NJ Supreme Court ruled it was legal.

Now, the state is awash in funds.  Revenue collections were much stronger than anticipated and the state borrowed $4 billion.  With all that money, Governor Murphy’s proposed budget comes with many good things:

  • A full pension payment, the first since 1996, ahead of schedule.
  • Full funding of post-retirement medical benefits.
  • Increased funding for K-12 (although S-2 districts will still see funding cuts) and special education.
  • More money for our community colleges.
  • More funding for pre-k expansion.

You can read more details about the governor’s proposed budget here: https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562021/20210223c.shtml

Remember that the governor proposes a budget, but it is up to the legislature to craft a bill by the constitutional deadline of June 30.  The governor then has the option to sign, line-item veto, or outright veto the entire thing.  After the governor’s budget address, the next step is budget hearings.  After public budget hearings where any individual or group can testify (on zoom this year) come departmental hearings, which are currently underway.

Have some fun!  Try to balance the budget with this tool from NJSpotlight:  https://www.njspotlight.com/2021/04/nj-budget-2021-interactive-tool-calculator-tax-spend-balance-try-your-hand/  (If you do this, let me know how it worked out for you!)

 OTHER HAPPENINGS

POLITICS UPDATE

BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW SINCE THE LAST UPDATE

  • A4310/S2691 – Authorizes school districts to maintain surplus at four percent for 2020 2021 and 2021 2022 school years. (Support)
  • A4410/S2743 – Establishes Community College Opportunity Grant Program in Higher Education Student Assistance Authority to provide last dollar financial aid grants to county college students and Student Success Incentive funding to county colleges. (Support)
  • A4454/S2781 – Requires school districts to include instruction on diversity and inclusion as part of implementation of New Jersey Student Learning Standards. (Support)
  • A4783/S2831 – Requires DOE to establish Alternate Route Interstate Reciprocity Pilot Program. (Support)
  • A4830/S3203 – Requires in person early voting period for certain elections; makes appropriation. (Monitor
  • A5245/S699 – Requires training for DOE arbitrators to include issues related to cultural diversity and bias. (Support)
  • A5373/S3322 – Allows county board of elections to determine location of certain ballot drop boxes under certain circumstances. (Monitor)
  • AJR180/SJR93 – Designates February 14 of each year as Frederick Douglass Day in NJ. (Support)

BILLS THAT HAVE BEEN HEARD SINCE THE LAST UPDATE

  • A169/S108 – Concerns speech rights of student journalists at public schools and public institutions of higher education. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly)
  • A653/A954/S526 – Provides that purchase of insulin is not subject to deductible and requires health insurers to limit copayments and coinsurance for insulin. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments; 2nd reading in Assembly)
  • A681 – Expands scope of law prohibiting age discrimination. (Support) (Passed in Assembly)
  • A850/S2864 – Establishes “Broadband Access Study Commission.” (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to Governor)
  • A970/S2259 – Establishes Mental Health Screening in Schools Grant Program in DOE; appropriates $1 million. (Support) (Passed in Senate; 2nd reading in Assembly to concur with Senate amendments)
  • A1055 – Establishes five-year community schools pilot program. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee)
  • A1736 – Concerns counseling for children who were either physically present or who may have seen or heard act of domestic violence. (Support) (Reported out of committee, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee)
  • A2293 – Requires institutions of higher education to implement suicide prevention programs and raise awareness of mental health services. (Support) (Passed in Assembly)
  • A2311/S356 – Establishes study commission to examine development of mutually beneficial relationships between institutions of higher education and municipalities. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate)
  • A2455 – Establishes pilot program in DOE to support FIRST Robotics Programs in school districts. (Support) (Passed in Assembly)
  • A2487/S989 – “Healthy Terminals Act”; requires certain airport and train station workers to be paid certain wage rates and benefits. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to Governor)
  • A2863/S968 – Requires public water systems to provide notice of elevated lead levels in drinking water to customers and local officials; requires landlords to notify tenants of elevated lead levels. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to Governor)
  • A3394/S237/S854 – “Laura Wooten’s Law”; Requires civics instruction in middle school; authorizes New Jersey Center for Civic Education to provide curricula, professional development and technical assistance for middle and high school civics. (Seek Amendments) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee)
  • A3548/S1140 – Requires health benefits coverage for adolescent depression screenings. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to Governor)
  • A4004 – Establishes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic Task Force on Racial and Health Disparities. (Monitor) (Passed in Assembly and sent to Governor)
  • A4264/S2486 – Establishes Clayton Model Pilot Program in DOE to provide school-based social emotional learning to students in grades kindergarten through five at certain public schools. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to Governor)
  • A4433 – Creates grant program to encourage school districts to partner with institutions of higher education in training school-based mental health services providers. (Support) (Passed in Assembly)
  • A4434 – Establishes Student Wellness Grant Program in DOE. (Support) (Passed in Assembly)
  • A4435 – Requires DCF to give priority to certain school districts with student mental health counseling centers in awarding grants under School Based Youth Services Program. (Monitor) (Passed in Assembly)
  • A4436 – Establishes “Student Mental Health Task Force” to study resources available to schools and parents to address student mental health needs. (Support) (Passed in Assembly)
  • A4437 – Permits certain mental health professionals working in school districts to refer or help facilitate referral of students to private professional counselors. (Support) (Passed in Assembly)
  • A4461 – Requires State to enter into contract and coordinate with certain cooperative purchasing systems for procurement of COVID-19 related goods and services by school districts. (Support) (Passed in Assembly)
  • A4517/S2766 – Requires Civil Service Commission establish mentoring program for minority civil service law enforcement applicants. (Support) (Reported out of committee, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee)
  • A4542/S2765 – Requires Civil Services Commission to undertake various initiatives to increase diversity and inclusivity within law enforcement agencies. (Support) (Reported out of committee, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee)
  • A4598/S2767 – Establishes oversight database to aid in civil service hiring process for law enforcement officers; requires Statewide diversity analysis of law enforcement. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee)
  • A4680/S2932 – Concerns subcontracting agreements entered into by four-year public institutions of higher education. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly)
  • A4789 – Establishes Safe and Equitable Remote Learning Pilot Program in DOE to support provision of remote learning safe havens by certain school districts. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee)
  • A4808/S3086 – Establishes office in EDA to assist in provision and expansion of broadband Internet service in State to address inequities in accessing broadband service. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee)
  • A4819/S3033 – Establishes School and Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program in BPU. (Support) (Passed in Senate; Reported out of committee; 2nd reading in Assembly)
  • A4836 – Establishes task force to evaluate quality, efficacy, costs, and educational outcomes of online courses offered by public and independent institutions of higher education during COVID-19 pandemic. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly)
  • A4859 – Mandates training on remote teaching for all candidates for teaching certification. (Support) (Reported out of committee, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee)
  • A5007 – Requires DOE to compile list of professional development programs on virtual and remote instruction; requires public school teachers and school leaders to complete professional development program on virtual and remote instruction. (Seek Amendments) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee)
  • A5147 – Establishes Alleviating Learning Loss in New Jersey Grant Program in DOE to assist public schools in establishing or expanding certain educational programs to address learning loss in students. (Support) (Passed in Assembly)
  • A5295/S2832 – Allows student enrolled in institution of higher education who has completed 30 semester-hour credits to serve as substitute teacher; extends time period substitute teacher may serve during public health emergency. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly)
  • A5339 – Requires driver education programs to be inclusive of all students. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee)
  • A5343 – Requires public community water systems to inventory and replace lead service lines within 10 years; provides for recoupment of costs by investor-owned public water systems. (Support) (Passed in Assembly)
  • A5374 – Directs DOE to request waiver of certain student academic assessment requirements from federal government. (Support) (Passed in Assembly)
  • ACR145 – Amends Constitution to prohibit slavery or involuntary servitude. (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly)
  • AR239/SR120 – Condemns inflammatory rhetoric and abuse targeted at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and recognizes contributions of these individuals and communities in New Jersey. (Passed in both houses, filed with Secretary of State)
  • S225 – Provides that student-athlete who sustains concussion must return to regular school activities prior to return to competition; requires school districts to implement six-step return-to-competition process. (Support) (Passed in Senate)
  • S311 – Prohibits public schools from denying admittance to student due to tardiness or violation of dress code or school uniform policy. (Support) (Passed in Senate)
  • S508 – Requires public and nonpublic secondary schools to annually conduct written or verbal substance use screening on all students using a particular screening program. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee, Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee)
  • S555 – Establishes task force to examine public school programs and services designed to address student mental health. (Support) (Reported out of committee, Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee)
  • S1857 – Establishes five-year community schools pilot program. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Senate Budget Committee;)
  • S2166 – Provides certain sending school districts one representative with limited voting rights on receiving school district board of education. (Monitor) (Passed in Senate)
  • S2811 – Requires school report card to include information concerning number of mental health professionals and security personnel employed by each school district. (Support) (Passed in Senate)
  • S3253 – Establishes alternate route to expedite certification of teachers at early college high school programs. (Oppose) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate)
  • S3313 – Establishes task force to evaluate quality, efficacy, costs, and educational outcomes of online courses offered by public and independent institutions of higher education during COVID-19 pandemic. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate)
  • S3434  Requires boards of education to provide special education and related services to certain students exceeding age of eligibility for special education and related services. (Support) (Passed in Senate)
  • S3470 – Allows certain students to repeat prior grade level during 2021-2022 school year upon parental request. (Oppose) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee)
  • S3488 – Modifies certain procedures pertaining to school district regionalization; establishes grant program for cost reimbursement of conducting regionalization feasibility studies; and provides financial incentives for regionalization. (Support) (Passed in Senate)
  • S3522 – Creates Local Part of PERS; creates board of trustees for Local Part of PERS. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate)
  • SJR109 – Condemns hate and violent extremism and commits to defense of safe and just democracy. (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate)

WHEN IS THE LEGISLATURE MEETING AGAIN? (subject to change, especially if the budget vote is early)

  • Wednesday, May 5                 Assembly Committees
  • Thursday, May 6                     Senate Committees
  • Tuesday, May 11                    Senate Committees
  • Wednesday, May 12               Assembly Committees
  • Thursday, May 13                   Senate Committees at the call of the President
  • Monday, May 17                    Assembly Committees at the call of the Speaker
  • Thursday, May 20                   Assembly Voting Session
  • Tuesday, June 1                      Senate Voting Session
  • Wednesday, June 2                 Assembly Committees
  • Thursday, June 3                     Senate Committees
  • Wednesday, June 9                 Assembly Committees
  • Thursday, June 10                   Senate Committees
  • Monday, June 14                    Assembly Committees at the call of the Speaker
  • Tuesday, June 15                    Senate Committees at the call of the President
  • Wednesday, June 16               Assembly Committees at the call of the Speaker
  • Monday, June 21                    Assembly/Senate Voting
  • Thursday, June 24                   Assembly/Senate Voting
  • Monday, June 28                    Assembly/Senate Voting
  • Tuesday, June 29                    Assembly/Senate Voting

Wednesday, June 30               Assembly/Senate Voting

Related

Send this to a friend