The Week in Trenton

September 13, 2010

Christie Proposes Ethics Reform Package

Governor Christie this week proposed a series of ethics reform measures. The Governor also plans to propose reforms in the areas of pension and benefits, economic development and job creation, and education.

Christie’s ethics reform proposal includes:

A complete ban on dual office holding, ending the grandfathering of current legislators at the conclusion of the 2010-2011 session.

A ban on dual employment for all state, county and local officials and employees that would prohibit all such employees from drawing a salary at a second government position, either state, county or local.
Mandatory recusal and strict disclosure of conflicts of interest for legislators.

Requiring pension forfeiture for public officials for crimes that involve the public office.

Forfeiture of campaign funds for officials convicted of crimes of the first through fourth degrees.

Banning the use of campaign funds for criminal defense costs.

Restricting the practice of “wheeling” by imposing contribution limits on county and municipal committees for committee-to-committee contributions and committee contributions to out-of-county or out-of-municipality candidates.

Imposing a uniform set of contract award standards on all levels of government and all branches of state government by ending the “fair and open contract” exception for businesses that make reportable campaign contributions at the legislative, county and municipal levels, yet are able to receive contract awards valued greater than $17,500 with local governments – a practice that is not permitted at the state / gubernatorial level.

Close pay-to-play loopholes by leveling the playing field with changes to the law that would make labor unions subject to the same contribution requirements which apply to other entities doing business with the state.

While details are expected at a late date the Governor’s plans for pension and health benefits include changes for those currently enrolled in the system, increases in health insurance contributions, and a crackdown on disability pension fraud; for education they include changes to the tenure system and teacher pay based on student performance. The Governor also said that he and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno had reached out to CEOs every week for input on how to make New Jersey more attractive place to private businesses.

Assembly Committees to Hold Hearings on Impact of Budget Reductions Assembly Group A and B Committees will meet on Monday and seven committees will discuss the impact of budget reductions on the citizens of New Jersey.

The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee will hear testimony on the impact on New Jersey consumers of the new law that requires stored value cards that go unused for two years to escheat to the state at 10:00 in Room 13.

The Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee will hear testimony on access to capital for New Jersey businesses looking to improve and expand and the extent in which credit is available to New Jersey consumers and homebuyers at 10:00 in Room 12.

The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee will hear testimony on the impact on families of cuts to NJ FamilyCare, which provides insurance to working families, and the New Jersey Early Intervention System, which helps young children with disabilities at 10:00 in Room 16.

The Assembly Higher Education Committee will hear testimony on the tuition aid grant program and the increased demand for student financial assistance. It will also discuss the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act at 10:00 in Room 15.

The Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee will hear testimony on Christie’s cuts to the job-creating New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology at 10:00 in Room 9.
The Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee will discuss the impact of the reduced funding of Urban Enterprise Zones at 2:00 in Room 9.
The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee will hear testimony on the impact of layoffs of public safety officers on New Jersey communities at 2:00 in Room 15.

Christie Submits Proposal to Privatize New Jersey Network

The Christie Administration has submitted a proposal to the Legislature to accomplish the conversion of New Jersey Network (NJN) from a government body to an independent entity, either to a non-profit corporation or through a sale or transfer of assets to an existing public broadcasting entity.

The primary goal of the legislation, the New Jersey Public Broadcasting System Restructuring Act, is to maintain the availability of public broadcasting in New Jersey. The Department of Treasury will be responsible for executing the plan, including:

* compiling an inventory of the authority’s and foundation’s assets and liabilities;
* identifying the methods or mechanisms required to transfer assets and liabilities;
* receiving and approving proposals for the transfer of any or all of the authority’s or foundation’s assets; and
* assuring that the successor to NJN can fulfill the responsibilities of a maintaining a New Jersey-focused public broadcasting operation.

In addition, the Treasurer is given the option to negotiate directly with an existing public broadcasting entity in order to increase the likelihood of a vibrant public broadcasting presence in New Jersey.
Funding for New Jersey Network was reduced in the annual 2011 Appropriations Act passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Christie on June 29, 2010. As a result of the funding cut it was determined that the State of New Jersey would no longer be in the public television business, effective January 1, 2011.

Legislative Task Force on Public Broadcasting Schedules Hearings


The Legislative Task Force on Public Broadcasting will meet on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 10:00 AM in Committee Room 4, 1st Floor, State House Annex.

At this hearing the Task Force will hear from invited guests and the public on the following topic: “An Overview of New Jersey Network and Public Media in New Jersey.” The Task Force will take testimony on the evolution of public media in New Jersey and nationwide. This meeting’s focus is to learn about the history of NJN and the future of public media in the State. The hearing will also examine national trends in public media and how public media is impacted by the Internet, as well as the advent of social media.
The Task Force will also meet on Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 10:00 AM in the Lakeside Lodge, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

At this hearing the Task Force will hear from invited guests and the public on the following topic: “Workforce and Labor Issues.” The Task Force will take testimony on current staffing issues at NJN and workforce needs in public media and also will discuss the vision for the future workforce of a New Jersey-centric media entity. 

Sweeney and Oliver Form Business Task Force

Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver announced the formation of a new Business Task Force that will work to craft reforms to make the state more business-friendly and reposition New Jersey’s economy for long-term growth. The task force, led by leaders in private industry, will be given the broad leeway to propose reforms to state regulatory policy, grants and incentive programs, and business tax law.

The Senate President and Speaker announced the initial membership of the task force and said additional members would be named in the coming days. Initial members are:
* Karen Alexander, President, NJ Utilities Authority;
* Hal Bozarth, Executive Director, Chemical Industry Council of NJ;
* Charlene Brown, Vice-president, AT&T & Chairwoman, NJ Policy Research Organization;
* Terri Duda, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Berkley College;
* Michael Egenton, Senior Vice President, NJ Chamber of Commerce;
* John Holub, President, New Jersey Retail Merchants Association;

* Jaishankar Ganesh, Dean, Business School, Rutgers-Camden;
* Mike Riley, Vice President of Corporate Taxation, Johnson & Johnson;
* Monica Slater-Stokes, Director of International and State Affairs, Continental Airlines;

* Rick Thigpen, Vice President of State Government Affairs, PSEG. 

Christie Signs Executive Order 40 Eliminating 60 Boards and Commissions

Governor Chris Christie signed Executive Order 40 eliminating 60 State boards and commissions that were found through a thorough review to be expired, inactive, non-operational or otherwise defunct.

Governor Christie also accepted the report of the Cabinet’s recommendations submitted in accordance with Executive Order 15, which directed a Cabinet-level review of all authorities, boards and commissions to determine whether each entity should continue or cease to exist. The review resulted in recommendations to eliminate approximately 250 entities and over 60 additional recommendations for mergers. The Governor will review the Cabinet’s recommendations and propose legislation to eliminate or merge boards and commissions that were created by statute.
The report outlining the findings of the EO 15 review and recommendations can be found on the Governor’s website at: www.nj.gov/governor/news/reports/pdf/20100909_EO15DeptRecommendations.pdf.

Under Executive Order 40 the following State Authorities, established under the authority of one or more Executive Orders, are abolished and those Executive Orders, or parts thereof that authorized their creation and existence, are rescinded:
(1). the 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution Celebration Commission established pursuant to Executive Order No. 116 (2000);
(2). the Advisory Committee on the Preservation and Use of Ellis Island established pursuant to Executive Orders No. 82 and No. 93 (1998);
(3). the Advisory Committee to Study the Future of the New Jersey Training School for Boys in Monroe Township established pursuant to Executive Order No. 75 (1997);
(4). the Advisory Council on Juvenile Justice established pursuant to Executive Order No. 10 (1994);
(5). the Advisory Council to Promote the Profession of Nursing in New Jersey established pursuant to Executive Orders No. 139 (2002), and Nos. 141 and 142 (2002);
(6). the Advisory Panel on Higher Education Restructuring established pursuant to Executive Order No. 14 (1994);
(7). the Advisory Panel on School Vouchers established pursuant to Executive Order No. 30 (1995);
(8). the New Jersey Character Education Commission established pursuant to Executive Order No. 9 (2002);
(9). the Benefits Review Task Force established pursuant to Executive Order No. 39 (2005);
(10). the Billboard Policy Procedure and Review Task Force established pursuant to Executive Order No. 59 (2003);
(11). the Blue Ribbon Panel on the Development of Wind Turbine Facilities in Coastal Waters established pursuant to Executive Order No. 12 (2004);
(12). the Budget Efficiency Savings Team Commission established pursuant to Executive Order No. 2 (2002);
(13). the Commission on Rationalizing New Jersey’s Health Care Resources established pursuant to Executive Order No. 39 (2006);
(14). the Construction Trade Training Council established pursuant to Executive Order No. 123 (2001);
(15). the Defense Conversion and Community Assistance Commission established pursuant to Executive Order No. 87 (1993);
(16). the Deferred Balance Task Force – Board of Directors established pursuant to Executive Order No. 25 (2002);
(17). the Delaware Bay Weakfish Action Commission established pursuant to Executive Order No. 20 (1990);
(18). the Ellis Island New Jersey Restoration Advisory Committee established pursuant to Executive Order No. 111 (2000);
(19). the Election Advisory Council established pursuant to Executive Order No. 143 (1986);
(20). the Fix DMV Commission established pursuant to Executive Order No. 19 (2002);
(21). the Governor’s Youth Advisory Council established pursuant to Executive Orders No. 34 (1995), 79 (1998), and 107 (1999);
(22). the Task Force for Farmland Assessment Program established pursuant to Executive Order No. 109 (1993);
(23). the Renewable Energy Task Force established pursuant to Executive Order No. 45 (2003);
(24). the Governor’s Cabinet for Children established pursuant to Executive Orders No. 60 and No. 83 (2003);
(25). the Governor’s Commission on Eastern European History established pursuant to Executive Order No. 41 (1991);
(26). the Education Mandate Review Study Commission established pursuant to Executive Order No. 75 (2003);
(27). the Governor’s Commission to Support and Enhance New Jersey’s Military and Coast Guard Installations established pursuant to Executive Order No. 106 (2004);
(28). the Governor’s Committee on Children’s Services Planning established pursuant to Executive Order No. 102 (1993);
(29). the Governor’s Committee on Welfare Reform established pursuant to Executive Order No. 101 (1993);
(30). the Governor’s Council on New Jersey Outdoors established pursuant to Executive Orders No. 138 (1986), No. 196 (1988), and No. 40 (1995);
(31). the Governor’s Hispanic Advisory Council for Policy Development established pursuant to Executive Order No. 17 (2002);
(32). the Governor’s School Board of Overseers established pursuant to Executive Orders No. 42 (1991) and No. 129 (1986);
(33). the Blue Ribbon Transportation Committee established pursuant to Executive Order No. 43 (2003);
(34). the Governor’s Study Group on the Bicentennial of the Polish Constitution established pursuant to Executive Order No. 31 (1991);
(35). the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health established pursuant to Executive Order No. 1 (2004);
(36). the Governor’s Task Force on Public Health Emergency Planning established pursuant to Executive Order No. 140 (2002);
(37). the Governor’s Task Force on Steroid Use and Prevention established pursuant to Executive Order No. 46 (2005);
(38). the Study Commission on Parole established pursuant to Executive Order No. 39 (1995);
(39). the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee established pursuant to Executive Order No. 13 (2002);
(40). the Hudson River Waterfront Development Committee established pursuant to Executive Orders No. 53 (1983), No. 152 (1986), and No. 32 (1991);
(41). the Invasive Species Council established pursuant to Executive Order No. 97 (2004);
(42). the Lake Restoration & Management Advisory Task Force established pursuant to Executive Order No. 115 (2000);
(43). the Landlord-Tenant Task Force established pursuant to Executive Orders No. 81 and No. 86 (1998);
(44). the Legalized Gaming Policy Study Commission established pursuant to Executive Order No. 83 (1993);
(45). the Liberty State Park Public Advisory Commission established pursuant to Executive Orders No. 74 (1979), No. 75 (1984), and No. 163 (1987);
(46). the New Jersey Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission established pursuant to Executive Order No. 125 (2008);
(47). the New Jersey Advanced Technology Vehicle Task Force established pursuant to Executive Order No. 4 (1999);
(48). the New Jersey Council on Access and Mobility established pursuant to Executive Order No. 87 (2007);
(49). the New Jersey Council on Job Opportunities established pursuant to Executive Order No. 54 (1992);
(50). the New Jersey Fisheries Development Commission established pursuant to Executive Order No. 75 (1984);
(51). the Video Lottery Study Commission established pursuant to Executive Order No. 46 (2003);
(52). the Task Force for the Review of the Treatment of the Criminally Insane established pursuant to Executive Order No. 58 (1996);
(53). the New Jersey Character Education Commission established pursuant to Executive Order No. 9 (2002);
(54). the Governor’s Asian American Commission established pursuant to Executive Order No. 39 (2002);
(55). the Task Force on the Affordability and Accessibility of Health Care in New Jersey established pursuant to Executive Order No. 97 (1999);
(56). the State Council on Vocational Education established pursuant to Executive Order No. 28 (1991);
(57). the Study Commission on New Jersey’s Non-Public Schools established pursuant to Executive Order No. 161 (2009);
(58). the New Jersey Geographic Information Council established pursuant to Executive Order No. 122 (2001);
(59). the Citizen’s Committee on Permit Coordination established pursuant to Executive Orders No. 57 (1977) and No. 100 (1985); and
(60). the Toll Road Consolidation Commission established pursuant to Executive Order No. 15 (2002).

Legislative Calendar


The Assembly Appropriations Committee met this week to receive testimony on the Race to the Top application. Next week Senate Group 1 and 2 Committees and Assembly Group A and B Committees are scheduled to meet.

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