In this update

  • What’s up with THE LEGISLATIVE SCHEDULE? (It’s all about marijuana legalization)
  • STATE OF THE STATE
  • STATE BUDGET
  • SCHOOL FUNDING/EDUCATION NEWS
  • NATIONAL NEWS
  • POLITICS
  • BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW
  • SESSION DAY RESULTS
  • BILLS TO BE CONSIDERED

Before anything else, TAKE ACTION on testing and vaccinations:

THE LEGISLATIVE SCHEDULE

Marijuana and cannabis have been the talk of Trenton.  But there are details to work out in the bill that deal with underage penalties for marijuana use.  Time is running out – bills have 45 days after they pass for the governor to take action.  After that, when the house that originated the bill meets, the bill automatically becomes law.  To give the governor and legislature time, the Assembly canceled its scheduled meetings on Monday, February 8, and Wednesday, February 17.  At this point in time, the Assembly is still scheduled to meet on Thursday, February 18.  Tick-tock.  (Read more about it here: https://newjerseyglobe.com/legislature/coughlin-delays-assembly-quorum-giving-more-time-for-marijuana-negotiations/.)

STATE OF THE STATE

At the beginning of January, Governor Murphy gave his State of the State – although it wasn’t with the usual buzz and overcrowding in the Assembly chamber.  Instead, it was a pre-recorded speech.  In the address, Murphy talked about the goals he has already achieved and what lies ahead for the state.  You can read about it here: https://www.inquirer.com/politics/new-jersey/new-jersey-governor-phil-murphy-state-address-20210112.html or watch the address here: https://youtu.be/u8AZRB1g6jA.

STATE BUDGET

At the same time, talk of the state budget has begun.  The budget address is scheduled for February 23.  Talk of the budget has already begun, as seen in John Reitmeyer’s article about the challenges facing the state in next year’s budget:  https://www.njspotlight.com/2021/01/nj-2022-budget-pension-payments-surplus-bond-rating-pandemic/.   And while the budget might face many challenges, there is some good news for our pension fund, which is seeing higher-than-expected returns: https://www.njspotlight.com/2021/01/nj-public-worker-pension-investments-soar-15-returns-system-worst-funded/.  (Extra credit budget article – the costs of borrowing money to balance the budget:  https://www.njspotlight.com/2021/01/what-it-has-cost-nj-to-borrow-billions-during-health-crisis/.)

SCHOOL FUNDING/EDUCATION NEWS

Of course, school funding is always a hot topic when it comes to the state budget.  What will school funding look like?  There are many unknowns:  https://www.njspotlight.com/2021/01/for-nj-schools-state-funding-for-2021-22-comes-with-a-lot-of-unknowns-districts-budgets/.  In other education news,

NATIONAL NEWS

On the national front, President Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, appeared before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and PensionsCommittee last week:  https://www.npr.org/sections/biden-transition-updates/2021/02/03/963620575/education-pick-miguel-cardonas-message-to-lawmakers-en-la-union-esta-la-fuerza.  And the House cleared the way for the next coronavirus relief package https://www.politico.com/states/new-jersey/story/2021/02/05/house-clears-way-for-massive-coronavirus-stimulus-plan-1362095

POLITICS

In politics, (this is a legislative update, but politics does affect policy….) election 2021 has already begun in the legislature, including a future shake-up in Republican leadership:

  • In LD 37, Senator Loretta Weinberg (D) has announced she will not seek reelection.  Her position of Senate Majority leader will need to be filled after this coming fall’s election.  Both democratic Assembly members in LD 37, Gordon Johnson and Valerie Vanieri Huttle, are seeking the Senate seat.
  • In LD 21, Senator Tom Kean (R) has announced he will not seek reelection.   Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R) has announced his intent to run for Kean’s seat.  Candidates on both sides of the aisle are lining up to run in this competitive district.  But Kean’s leaving and Bramnick’s run for the Senate also leads to two other competitive races: the leadership of the Republican Party in both houses of the NJ legislature.
  • In LD 16, Senator Kip Bateman (R) will not run for reelection; Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D) will seek to move up to his seat, leaving an open seat in the Assembly.  Former Congressman Dick Zimmer (R) is interested in running for Bateman’s seat.
  • In LD 8, Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R) announced he won’t seek reelection.  A competitive district in the Assembly race in 2019, it’s also the district where Senator Dawn Addiego, who ran on the Republican ticket in 2017, switched parties to join the Democratic party in January 2019.  Peters’ running mate, Jean Stanfield, announced her bid for the Senate seat.  (In an interesting side note, Assemblyman Francis Bodine, in the same legislative district, also switched to the Democratic party in 2007 when the Republican party denied him the party line in 2007.  Who did get the line that year?  Dawn Addiego.)
  • In LD 39, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R) has announced she will seek the Senate seat currently held by Senator Gerry Cardinale (R).  While Cardinale, 86 years old, intends to run for his 13th term, Republican mayors in the district are pressuring him to give up his bid.
  • In LD 20, Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D) is said to be running against incumbent Senator Joe Cryan for the Senate seat, although he has not yet formally announced it.

BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW

  • S1028 / A3601 (Ruiz, Turner, Singleton / Quijano, McKnight, Timberlake) – Allocates Amistad Commission in but not of DOE; requires commission to elect chairperson and appoint executive director; requires public schools to include instruction on accomplishments and contributions of African Americans to American society

RESULTS FROM JANUARY 7, 2021

  • A4830 – Requires in person early voting period for certain elections; makes appropriation. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee.) (Monitor)

RESULTS FROM JANUARY 11, 2021

  • 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. (Passed in both houses and sent to Governor) (Support)
  • A4454 – Requires school districts to include instruction on diversity and inclusion as part of implementation of New Jersey Student Learning Standards. (Passed in both houses and sent to Governor) (Support)
  • 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. (Passed in Senate) (Support)
  • A4783 – Grants reciprocity to teachers with certain out-of-state certificates. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly.) (Support)
  • S321 – Requires certain residential developers to replace lead service lines. (Passed in Senate.) (Support)
  • S1271/S2588/S2660   – Establishes requirements for closures of private career schools and institutions of higher education, modifies review process of new academic programs, and requires approval of branch campuses.        (Passed in Senate and sent to Governor.) (Monitor)
  • S1877  – Requires institutions of higher education and proprietary degree-granting institutions to provide transparency of tuition and fees to prospective and current students. (Passed in Senate.) (No Position)

RESULTS FROM JANUARY 13, 2021

  • A5245/S699 – Requires training for DOE arbitrators to include issues related to cultural diversity and bias. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly) (Support)
  • A1616 – Requires certain student identification cards to contain telephone number for suicide prevention hotline. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly) (Monitor)
  • A3872 – Requires institutions of higher education and proprietary degree-granting institutions to provide transparency of tuition and fees to prospective and current students. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly) (No position)
  • AR199 – Urges Congress to address in future federal higher education stimulus legislation inequities in incorporation of part-time and online learning students in formula calculation. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly) (Support)
  • A681 – Expands scope of law prohibiting age discrimination. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly) (Support)

RESULTS FROM JANUARY 14, 2021

  • A4810/S441 – Establishes Government Efficiency and Regulatory Review Commission. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate) (Monitor)
  • S3033  Establishes School and Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program in BPU. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate) (Support)
  • A1625/ S2854 – Directs DOE to develop outreach program to encourage young women and minorities to pursue post-secondary degrees and careers in STEM. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate) (Support)
  • S54 – Requires under certain circumstances development by certified school nurse of individualized health care plan and individualized emergency health care plan for student with life-threatening allergies or anaphylaxis. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate) (Seek Amendments)
  • 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. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate) (Support)
  • S990 – Requires school district to report to DOE on various aspects of computer science courses. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate) (Monitor)
  • S2825 – Establishes loan redemption program for certain bilingual education teachers. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate) (Support)
  • S2826 – Requires State Board of Education to establish procedures for issuance of limited certificate of eligibility with advanced standing and limited certificate of eligibility for certain teacher candidates. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate) (Seek Amendments)
  • S2827 – Requires teachers to biennially complete two hours of professional development related to cultural competence. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate) (Seek Amendments)
  • S2829 – Establishes “Male Teachers of Color Mentorship Pilot Program;” appropriates $50,000. (Reported out of committee with amendments, 2nd reading in Senate) (Support)
  • S2830 – Requires educator preparation program to report passing rates of students who complete certain tests and to disseminate information on test fee waiver programs, and permits collection of student fee for certain testing costs. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate) (Monitor)
  • S2833 – Establishes Teacher Apprenticeship Program. (Reported out of committee with amendments, 2nd reading in Senate) (Support)
  • S2834 – Mandates training on culturally responsive teaching for all candidates for teaching certification. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate) (Support)
  • S2835 – Requires compilation of data and issuance of annual reports on New Jersey teacher workforce. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate) (Support)

RESULTS FROM JANUARY 21

  • S237/S854 – Requires new civics instruction in middle and high schools; requires school districts to use DOE’s curriculum guidelines for civics; and requires DOE to provide funding to enhance civics instruction. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate) (Seek amendments)

RESULTS FROM JANUARY 25

  • 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. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee) (Support)
  • A4783 – Requires DOE to establish Alternate Route Interstate Reciprocity Pilot Program. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly) (Support)
  • A4856 – Requires Internet websites and web services of school districts, charter schools, and renaissance schools to be accessible to persons with disabilities. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly) (Support)
  • A5126/S3214 – Requires Commissioner of Education to prepare learning loss report and report on public school operations during COVID-19 public health emergency. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly) (Monitor with concerns)
  • 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. (Reported out of committee, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee) (Support)

RESULTS FROM JANUARY 28

  • A850/S2864 – Establishes “Broadband Access Study Commission.” (Passed in Senate) (Support)
  • 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. (Passed in Senate) (Seek Amendments)
  • S550 – Requires certain student identification cards to contain telephone number for suicide prevention hotline. (Passed in Senate) (Monitor)
  • S1018 – Establishes task force to examine school discipline practices including racial disparities and effectiveness. (Passed in Senate) (Support)
  • S1020 – Requires School Report Card to include demographic breakdown of students who receive disciplinary actions; requires Commissioner of Education to establish Statewide database concerning certain disciplinary actions. (Passed in Senate) (Support)
  • S2358 – Requires registration of private education lenders; establishes protections for private education borrowers. (Passed in Senate) (Monitor)
  • S2820 – Allows registered voters to submit application to vote by mail using online voter registration website maintained by Secretary of State up to seven days before election. (Passed in Senate) (Monitor)
  • S2831 – Grants reciprocity to teachers with certain out-of-state certificates. (Passed in Senate) (Support)
  • 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. (Passed in Senate) (Support)
  • S2853 – Prohibits certain provisions in agreements between insurance carriers and dentists. (Passed in Senate) (Oppose)
  • SJR93 – Designates February 14 of each year as Frederick Douglass Day in NJ. (Passed in Senate) (Support)

BILLS TO BE CONSIDERED TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9

  • S829 – Requires property condition disclosure statement to indicate presence of lead plumbing in residential property. (Support)

BILLS TO BE CONSIDERED THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11

  • A3548/S1140 – Requires health benefits coverage for adolescent depression screenings. (Support)
  • S3033 – Establishes School and Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program in BPU. (Support)

WHEN IS THE LEGISLATURE MEETING AGAIN? (subject to change)

  • Tuesday, Feb. 9           Senate Committees
  • Thursday, Feb. 11       Senate Committees
  • Thursday, Feb. 18       Assembly and Senate Voting Sessions
  • Monday, Feb. 22         Assembly Committees
  • Tuesday, Feb. 23         Governor’s Budget Address
  • Thursday, Feb. 25       Assembly Voting Session
  • Wednesday, March 3  Assembly Committees
  • Thursday, March 4      Senate Committees
  • Tuesday, March 9       Senate Committees
  • Wednesday, March 10 Assembly Committees
  • Thursday, March 11    Senate Committees
  • Monday, March 15     Assembly Committees
  • Wednesday, March 17 Assembly Committees
  • Thursday, March 18    Senate Voting Session
  • Thursday, March 25    Assembly Voting Session

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