Legislative Roundup: Ridesharing bill adds restrictions

Ridesharing companies that enlist drivers to use personal vehicles to transport passengers would have to get a state permit and meet safety requirements under legislation advanced by an Assembly panel Thursday.

The Transportation Committee approved the bill, which also calls for companies like Uber and Lyft to expand their insurance coverage to include the period when drivers use their smartphone apps to find fares.

Drivers would have to get a special authorization from the Motor Vehicle Commission, similar to other commercial driver’s license holders.

The bill also calls for driver background checks and vehicle inspections.

Nicole Benincasa, a policy associate for Uber based in New York City, said the legislation, sponsored by Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, would threaten the ridesharing model and amounts to a departure of “reasonable regulations.”

Workforce bills

Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington, toured the Burlington County Institute of Technology’s Westampton campus Wednesday and unveiled new legislation to better develop New Jersey’s workforce.

The bills expand career and technical education in New Jersey by creating a commission to study and improve career technical education (CTE) program access; making it easier for vocational-technical schools to purchase new facilities; better promoting vocational-technical schools and CTE programs and their best practices and giving schools greater incentive to start CTE programs.

The measures give businesses supporting critical areas of the economy preference in competing for state training grants and dedicates Workforce Development Partnership Funds to former casino employees.

Elderly caregivers aid

Legislation to provide a tax credit for those who take in and support an older family member was advanced Thursday by the Assembly Women and Children Committee.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Assemblywomen Pamela R. Lampitt, D-Camden, and Gabriela Mosquera, D-Camden. Designated as the Caregiver’s Assistance Act, the bill provides a gross income tax credit to qualified caregivers, including resident taxpayers and resident individuals.

Newborn health policy

Legislation that would require New Jersey hospitals and birthing centers to provide informational literature on health insurance coverage for newborns to new parents also was released by the Assembly Women and Children Committee.

Ending revenue disputes

The Assembly Budget Committee advanced a measure Thursday co-sponsored by Singleton to end state revenue disputes and improve the budget forecasting process. The bill would establish a joint legislative and executive branch New Jersey Revenue Advisory Board in order to provide consensus revenue forecasting advice for state budget purposes.

ALS donation

Legislation sponsored by Singleton, Herb Conaway Jr., D-Burlington, Mosquera and Celeste Riley, D-Cumberland, to make it easier for taxpayers to donate to the ALS Association was signed into law Thursday.

Nutrition assistance

The Assembly Human Services Committee released a three-bill legislative package Thursday co-sponsored by Mosquera to prevent delays and ensure that residents in need who apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits receive them in a timely manner.

Sweeney award

Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, D-Gloucester, was honored Friday with the “FDR Visionary Award” for outstanding leadership and support of the mission of the March of Dimes to prevent premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality.

Domestic violence move

The Assembly Women and Children Committee advanced a trio of bills Thursday co-sponsored by Lampitt to bolster protections of domestic violence victims.

The first enhances the protections offered under the “New Jersey Safe Housing Act.”

Another bill adds cyber harassment to the domestic violence statutes.

The last measure makes it a third degree crime for a person to enter a house intending to commit a crime or injury to a victim protected by a restraining order.

Electronic monitoring

Legislation sponsored by Singleton and Mosquera that would establish a pilot program for the electronic monitoring of domestic violence offenders in New Jersey was released Thursday by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

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