Kinsley Landfill in Deptford to become solar field

Sen. Donald Norcross, D-Camden, joined Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester; Ralph LaRossa of PSE&G; Commissioner Bob Martin of the Department of Environmental Protection; and other dignitaries on Tuesday to kick off the Kinsley Solar Farm project in Deptford.

The solar farm is PSE&G’s third landfill project under their Solar 4 All program, and at 35 acres is the largest project to date. When completed, the Kinsley Solar Farm will produce enough energy to power 2,000 homes annually, with 36,841 solar panels.

Workplace safety

The Assembly Labor Committee on Monday released legislation co-sponsored by Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, to create an independent panel within the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to assess current conditions and recommend improvements of workplace safety and health polices in the state’s construction industry.

The bill specifies that particular attention be given to the option of establishing safety and health pre-qualification requirements for contractors bidding on public works contracts.

Lt. Governor role

Singleton introduced legislation Monday to revamp the role of lieutenant governor and broaden the responsibilities of the position to bring it more in line with other states and the vice presidency. The bill gives the position certain statutory duties and responsibilities, establishes annual compensation and an office budget.

Currently, 26 states have a lieutenant governor with varying duties that typically include presiding over the Senate, breaking-roll-call votes, serving in the governor’s cabinet, and acting as governor when the governor is out of state.

Annual report sought

The Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee approved legislation Oct. 23 which requires an annual report on the state workforce.

Co-sponsored by Herb Conaway, D-Burlington, Celeste Riley, D-Cumberland, Gabriela Mosquera, D-Camden, and Singleton the intent of the legislation is to ensure a comprehensive report is available for the Department of Labor to help establish a clearer picture of New Jersey’s workforce. This annual report can be shared with public entities, private enterprise and educational institutions.

Farmland viability

The Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Monday approved legislation sponsored by John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, to encourage the viability of preserved farmlands in the state.

Designated as the “New Jersey Rural Microenterpise Act,” the legislation expects to help certain owners of preserved farmlands expand economic activity in line with the objectives of the farmland preservation program.

Industry-college partnership

Legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Jim Beach, D-Camden, to enhance advanced manufacturing in New Jersey through a council focused on facilitating partnerships between industry and higher education passed the Senate Labor Committee Monday.

Advanced manufacturing is primarily composed of chemical manufacturing, computer and electronic product manufacturing, machinery manufacturing and transportation equipment manufacturing.

Unemployment insurance payments

Legislation cosponsored by Beach and Sen. Labor Committee Chairman Fred H. Madden, D-Gloucester, to streamline the process businesses use to pay into the unemployment insurance system cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Monday.

The bill grew out of an audit that found some businesses were sending unemployment compensation payments to the Department of Labor instead of the Department of Treasury.

Right to farm

The Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee released legislation Monday sponsored by Burzichelli to strengthen the legal protections provided to farmers under the “Right to Farm Act.”

The bill allows farmers to recover reasonable costs and attorney fees incurred in the defense of bad faith complaints against commercial agricultural operations, activities or structures.

Berry harvest aid

Legislation sponsored by Riley to ease some of the cost burdens for cranberry and blueberry harvesters in New Jersey cleared the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Monday.

The bill designates agricultural fields, such as blueberry fields and cranberry bogs, as “active” if any combination of crop production, maintenance, or renovation has taken place on the field within five years. This move reduces the costs associated with New Jersey’s stringent environmental standards for anyone wishing to restart operations on an existing field.

Special motorcycle license

The Senate Transportation Committee advanced legislation Monday by Norcross that creates special motorcycle license plates for veterans.

The license plates would bear a design identifying the registrant as a veteran, and would include a $15 application fee for the plates. Surviving spouses of deceased veterans would also be allowed to retain these plates.

Post tax data

The Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee approved legislation Monday co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, D-Camden, and Singleton requiring the state to annually post complete property tax data. The Assembly approved the bill in September.

The bill comes after the Christie administration deleted property tax data this year traditionally found on the Department of Community Affairs website. The new measure requires the Division of Local Government Services in the DCA to post on its Internet web page a summary of property tax data for each calendar year.

Sick leave

The Assembly labor Committee Monday released a bill co-sponsored by Lampitt to require employers to provide earned sick leave to workers in the state. The bill allows workers to accrue one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

New Jersey would follow Connecticut and California as states to pass legislation requiring employers to allow workers to earn paid sick leave.

The measure prohibits retaliatory personnel actions against an employee for the use or requested use of earned sick leave or for filing of a complaint for an employer violation.

Teen suicide prevention

The Assembly Education Committee approved a bill Monday co-sponsored by Singleton and Lampitt that better prepares teachers to help prevent student suicides.

The legislation requires public school teaching staff members receive two hours of instruction in suicide prevention annually as part of the professional development requirement.

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