They’re baaaack…. And so are updates!
When the pandemic first began, the legislature voted on some bills on an emergency basis without holding committee hearings. Members of the legislature and the public complained that without the committee process, bills passed without full consideration of issues around them and without full vetting.
Those initial voting sessions involved COVID-19 bills. Now, both houses are beginning committee hearings again. While the bills being considered are still COVID-19-related, they will now receive the full hearing process.
Legislative sessions are being held by phone. And although legislators do not have to be present in the chamber in Trenton to vote, some staff are there. The legislative process is moving slowly as much of the paperwork still needs to be processed as if everyone were physically working in the statehouse. Legislators are voting by phone, and at committee hearings, members of the public can pre-register to testify remotely.
It will be interesting to see how this continues….
Please read on for some news, take actions, and a review of what’s happened recently in the legislature. And now that the legislature is in session, you’ll be hearing from me more often. If there’s something you’d like me to include, let me know! I’m open to suggestions.
IN THE NEWS
- Murphy announced that NJ will be able to keep federal funds as the Trump administration has relaxed the rules for using the money. $467 million will go to school aid.
- New Jersey’s credit rating is going down as a result of the pandemic.
- You all know by now that school buildings will remain closed for the rest of the year. This doesn’t mean that school is closed, though. John Mooney writes about the issues facing schools going forward.
- Urge Congress to Include Equitable Relief for all Student Loan Borrowers
- Ask the Assembly to move our health care and job justice for ESP bills
BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW
- A1104/S687 – “Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights Act”; requires certain school meal information be provided to students’ parents; establishes protocols for identifying eligible students for meal programs; prohibits stigmatizing student with bill in arrears. (Support) (Signed by the Governor P.L.2020, c.29)
- A3943/S2357 – Requires hospitals to report COVID-19 demographic data. (Monitor)
BILLS VETOED (Please note the reasons why these bills were vetoed is included.)
- A3813 / S2292 – Permits use of virtual or remote instruction to meet minimum 180-day school year requirement under certain circumstances. (Support) (A3904, which was signed into law, accomplished the same and more.)
- A3842 / S2282 – Establishes Bridging the Digital Divide in Schools Grant Program in DOE to provide and expand access to technology and equipment for students in certain school districts. (Support) (There is federal money in the CARES act to pay for this.)
- A3857 / S2275 – Makes FY 2020 supplemental appropriations of $15 million for grants to food banks. (Support) (This bill costs money.)
RESULTS FROM MONDAY, MAY 4
- A3946/S2356 – Provides relief to students receiving State financial aid to address special circumstances due to 2020 health state of emergency. (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly)
BILLS TO BE CONSIDERED THURSDAY, MAY 7
- S2350 – Concerns benefits and leave provided to workers. (Support)
- S2383 – Requires Commissioner of Education to establish three-year “Bridge Year Pilot Program” for students graduating high school in 2021 and 2022 who were impacted by public health state of emergency caused by coronavirus disease 2019. (Monitor)
- S2392 – Allows extension of certain local government timeframes; allows local governments to accept certain payments; allows local governments to conduct certain meetings remotely; adjusts certain property tax distribution and notice requirements. (Oppose)
WHEN IS THE LEGISLATURE MEETING AGAIN?
- Thursday, May 7 – Assembly and Senate Committees
- Monday, May 11 – Assembly and Senate Committees
- Thursday, May 14 – Assembly and Senate Voting Session
- Thursday, May 28 – Assembly and Senate Committees
- Thursday, June 4 – Assembly and Senate Committees
- Monday, June 8 – Assembly and Senate Committees
- Thursday, June 11 – Assembly and Senate Committees
- Monday, June 15 – Assembly and Senate Voting Session
- Thursday, June 18 – Assembly and Senate Voting Session
- Monday, June 22 – Assembly and Senate Voting Session
- Thursday, June 25 – Assembly and Senate Voting Session