LEGISLATIVE ROUNDUP: Gamblers can self-exclude without admitting problem (Courier Post Online)

The state Assembly last week unanimously passed legislation that allows a person to enter the gambling self-exclusion list without acknowledging a problem.

Current law requires a person who wants to be put on the list at all New Jersey casinos to admit a gambling problem. The bill, co-sponsored by Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, and John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, eliminates that stigma.

The bill will now be referred to the Senate.

Farm measure

Legislation to help protect farmers from faulty equipment passed the Assembly Thursday in a unanimous vote.

The bill, co-sponsored by Gilbert “Whip” Wilson and Gabriela Mosquera, both D-Camden/Gloucester, extends the protections of the state’s vehicle lemon law to new motor vehicle farm equipment purchased or leased in New Jersey.

The measure heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Breakfast in schools

The Assembly approved a three-bill package to boost breakfast programs in schools. The first bill, co-sponsored by Singleton, Pamela Lampitt, D-Camden/Burlington, and Celeste Riley, D-Cumberland/Gloucester, requires the state to assist schools in increasing participation in the federal School Breakfast Program.

The second bill says that a district must contact a parent or guardian if a breakfast or lunch bill is in arrears. The third measure, co-sponsored by Wilson mandates a state website serve as a clearinghouse for farmers to provide products to school breakfast and lunch programs.

The bill package now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Predator legislation

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Thursday passed the “Jessica Lunsford Act” , co-sponsored by Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington.

The bill mandates minimum sentencing of 25 years to life for the aggravated sexual assault of a child younger than 13, except in certain circumstances of a negotiated plea agreement in which the defendant would be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison.

Currently, first-degree crimes are punishable by a sentence of 10 to 20 years.

Gun magazine limit

The full Assembly passed a bill last week to ban the sale of high-capacity magazines capable of carrying more than 10 rounds. Co-sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, D-Camden/ Burlington, the measure passed in a 46-31 vote.

Current state law allows a maximum 15 rounds of ammunition. The limit proposed by the bill would bring state laws in line with limits contained in the federal 1994 assault weapons ban.

The bill will be referred to the Senate.

Student debt

Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Celeste Riley has co-sponsored a package of bills aimed at reducing student debt.

The 20 bills address critical factors impacting whether a student successfully completes college in the most cost-effective manner. Factors include college readiness, completion rates, cost, data collection, accountability and pathways to success.

State testing

Assemblywoman Riley, chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, introduced a resolution Tuesday urging the Department of Education to delay administration of the 2013-2014 New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge in response to the numerous school snow days this year.

Each year, public schools are required to administer what is known as NJ ASK to students enrolled in grades 3 through 8. Assessments begin as early as April 29.

Tax credit

Legislation giving tax relief to those providing long-term care to loved ones was advanced Monday by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

Co-sponsored by Sen. Donald Norcross, D-Camden, the Caregiver’s Assistance Act offers gross income tax credit for certain expenses incurred in the care and support of a senior family member.

The credit equals 22.5 percent of expenses, with a maximum tax credit of $675.

Pilot program extension

Legislation that encourages consolidation and shared services among municipal and county governments has passed the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. The bill would expand Gloucester County’s tax assessment pilot program to counties across New Jersey.

The proposed law would modernize property-tax assessment in participating counties by moving responsibility from the municipal to the county level. The freeholder board would appoint a county assessor. Over a three-year period, municipal tax assessors would be eliminated and replaced by a county office.

Legislation reintroduced

The Senate Commerce Committee has approved legislation co-sponsored by Norcross to revise scrap metal regulations in New Jersey. The measure, vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie last session, aims to combat the rising scrap metal theft epidemic. Steps will include fingerprinting for cash transactions and keeping records for at least five years.

Angel Fuentes, D-Camden, and Wilson co-sponsored a version of the bill in the Assembly.

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  • Francesca Larson
    published this page in In The News 2014-03-24 09:53:24 -0400