Legislative Update – Jan. 18, 2023

Educator Pipeline

  • The bill to eliminate the edTPA as a requirement was finally signed into law.  Thank you for all your hard work getting this done!  Eliminating the edTPA should help the teacher pipeline.  What else is being done around this work?  Governor Murphy convened a task force to look at the educator shortage here in New Jersey.  The task force has until Jan. 31 to make its recommendations.  NJEA has four seats on the task force and a subcommittee of NJEA members is working to ensure your voices are heard.

Elections are coming

  • While this is a legislative update, politics and policy go hand in hand, and it’s never too early to start talking about the next election.  Now that congressional races are over and there is a speaker in the House, New Jersey’s political establishment is looking towards 2023, when all members of the state legislature will be up in their redrawn districts.  NJ Spotlight looks at the key issues that may drive state elections in 2023. 
  • New Jersey Globe has this handy “retirement tracker” to keep track of musical chairs in the legislature.
Legislative Retirement Tracker

School Based Youth Services Program and mental health

  • The SBYS program was extended until the end of this year.  However, its future still remains in question as the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is planning to implement a hub and spoke system for services.  DCF believes a new system will reach more schools and students; advocates ask why a system that works should be dismantled.  

Information literacy standard

  • Governor Muprhy signed a bill that will create a New Jersey Student Learning Standard in information literacy, to be taught grades K-12.  NJ is being touted as the first state with this requirement.  Bravo to the NJ Association of School Librarians, who advocated for this to happen.  And, for the record, sponsored by Senator Michael Testa, a republican.  See this story

Gun Control

  • In response to the Supreme Court’s decision declaring a constitutional right to carry handguns in public this summer, New Jersey passed historic gun control legislation in December.  Parts of this legislation, however, are already being blocked by a federal judge. 

State of the State and Budget

  • Governor Murphy gave his State of the State address last week, the first in person since the start of Covid-19.  While progressives in New Jersey tout the governor’s record on issues such as reproductive rights, same-sex marriage, the minimum wage and funding of state pensions, there was some disappointment from advocates when the centerpiece of the speech was liquor licenses.

    Following the State of the State will be the budget address, probably sometime in late February.   Whether you call it “Christmas tree items” or “Pork,” every budget has extra money for favored projects in the form of budget resolutions, adopted in a process that is not transparent to the public and which favors the majority party in power.  New Jersey lawmakers have already started to talk about this process.  Read about it on NJSpotlight news. 

Standardized Test Scores/Tutoring

  • The NJ Department of Education (NJDOE) took a lot of heat for its slow release of standardized test scores.  At the December State Board of Education, NJDOE finally released them, showing declines across the board.  This was one day after the Joint Committee on the Public Schools heard from advocates asking for fewer standardized tests in school.

    How to help students with learning?  The NJDOE is touting the New Jersey Partnership for Student Success which will help match tutors with students while also working on a grant program for districts in conjunction with the legislature.  

Bills that moved in the Legislature in November and December

Bills that moved in committee:

  • A398/3080 – Establishes the Office of Dropout Prevention and Reengagement of Out-of-School Youth in DOE, and the Student Dropout Prevention Task Force. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee. Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate. Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee) (Support)
  • A3199 /S2008- Establishes “Health Care Heroes Violence Prevention Act.”(Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Support)
  • A3334 – Requires Medicaid reimbursement for covered behavioral health services provided by local education agency to student who is eligible Medicaid beneficiary. (Reported out of committee, referred to Assembly Education Committee.) (Support)
  • A3514 – Limits patient information behavioral health care providers may disclose to health insurance carriers. (Introduced and referred to Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.) (Support)
  • A4094 – Requires redaction and nondisclosure of home address of elected officials and candidates for elected office. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly.) (Monitor)
  • A4496 – Revises various provisions of law governing construction of school facilities projects and operations of New Jersey Schools Development Authority. (Amendments only passed through committee) (Seek amendments)
  • A4458 – Requires DOE to establish central registry of individuals and organizations interested in providing supplemental tutoring to students. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly.) (Support)
  • A4890 – Establishes High Efficiency Accelerated Learning Grant Program and Tutoring Advisory Commission. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly.) (Seek amendments)
  • A4924 – Authorizes Higher Education Student Assistance Authority to award summer tuition aid grants. (Reported out of committee, referred to Assembly State and Local Government Committee.) (Monitor)
  • S899 – Requires institutions of higher education to maintain supply of naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray for opioid overdose emergencies and permits emergency administration of naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray by licensed campus medical professionals and designated persons. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Monitor)
  • S1884 – Requires State Auditor to annually publish user-friendly report summarizing and analyzing contents of State’s Annual Financial Report. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Monitor)
  • S2057 – Requires certain documentation of needs of students with disabilities during school security drills and emergency situations and in school security plans; requires staff training on needs of students with disabilities in emergency planning. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Monitor)
  • S2076 – Establishes “Twelfth Grade Postsecondary Transition Year Pilot Program” in Department of Education. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate. Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.)
  • S2535 – Requires health benefits coverage of hearing aids and cochlear implants for insureds aged 21 or younger. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate. Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.)
  • S2657 – Extends deadline for completion of school district’s annual audit. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Monitor)
  • S2672 – Allows qualified school to be called “New Jersey Farm Fresh School.” (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Support)
  • S2927 – Establishes timelines for review and approval by Commissioner of Education of annual certified audits submitted by approved private schools for students with disabilities. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate. Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.) (Monitor)
  • S3145 – Requires Commissioner of Education to distribute survey to school districts regarding instruction on Holocaust and genocides. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate. Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.) (Support)
  • S3251 – Provides increased flexibility in school district enrollment for military-connected students. (Introduced and referred to Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.) (Monitor)
  • SCR42 – Condemns all forms of anti-Semitism and rejects attempts to justify anti-Jewish hatred. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Support)
  • SCR121 – Urges Congress to provide for universal school meals program. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Support)

Bills/resolutions that passed in one house:

  • A480 – Extends validity of temporary instructional certificate issued to military spouse to one year; requires expedited processing of application by military spouse for NJ instructional certificate and reduced fees for military spouse to obtain certificate. (Passed in Assembly 77-0-0.) (Support)
  • A4090 – Requires State Auditor to annually publish user-friendly report summarizing and analyzing contents of State’s Annual Financial Report. (Passed in Assembly 77-0.) (Monitor)
  • A4396 – Establishes timelines for review and approval by Commissioner of Education of annual certified audits submitted by approved private schools for students with disabilities. (Passed in Assembly 78-0-0.) (Monitor)
  • S704 – Prohibits mental health care professionals from disclosing mental health notes to health insurance carriers. (Passed in Senate 38-0.) (Support)
  • S1221 – Establishes program in DOE to reimburse school districts for providing menstrual products in certain public schools and requires State to pay costs. (Passed Senate 37-0.) (Support)
  • S2256 – Establishes requirements concerning methods for determining whether child has specific learning disability under federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (Passed in Senate 36-0.) (Support)
  • S2692 – Requires public schools that offer student psychological services to offer remote sessions. (Passed in Senate 36-0.) (Monitor)
  • S3044 – Makes supplemental appropriation of $15 million to DEP for implementation of Electric School Bus Program. (Passed in Senate 23-11.) (Support)
  • S3085 – Expands culpability requirements for firearms trafficking offenses and violations of regulatory provisions relating to firearms. (Passed Senate 22-14.) (Support)
  • S3150 – Establishes strict liability criminal penalties for firearm trafficking that results in injury or death. (Passed Senate 37-0.) (Support)

Bills on the governor’s desk:

  • A3523/S2305 – Requires health insurers to cover colorectal cancer screenings recommended by United States Preventive Services Task Force and eliminates cost-sharing requirements for certain colonoscopies. (Passed in both houses and sent to Governor.) (Monitor)
  • S275/A4149 – Permits pharmacists to furnish self-administered hormonal contraceptives pursuant to a standing order, in accordance with protocols established by Board of Pharmacy and Board of Medical Examiners. (Passed in Senate and sent to Governor 29-8.) (No Position)

Bills signed into law/resolutions filed:

  • A4769/S3214 – Makes various revisions to requirements for obtaining a firearm purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun, and permit to carry a handgun; codifies sensitive places in which firearms and destructive devices are prohibited. (Signed by the Governor P.L.2022, c.131.) (Support)
  • S588 – Directs DOE to develop New Jersey Student Learning Standards in information literacy. (Signed by the Governor P.L.2022, c.138.) (Support)
  • S896 – Prohibits State Board of Education from requiring completion of performance-based assessment as condition of eligibility for certificate of eligibility with advanced standing or certificate of eligibility. (Signed by the Governor P.L.2022, c.129.) (Support)
  • ACR142 – Reconstitutes the “Joint Committee on Economic Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity.” (Resolution Passed in Senate 36-0. Filed with Secretary of State.) (Support)
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