Lame Duck Alert 12/23

December 23, 2013

AFP continues to monitor the lame duck session of the Legislature. Over the past two weeks bills have moved on the RGGI Cap & Trade scheme and open space spending. AFP has been in Trenton to oppose these proposals.

RGGI Cap & Trade Scheme – Bills SCR146/SCR162

SCR146 and SCR162 were merged into one bill. Each bill would force New Jersey back into the RGGI Cap & Trade scheme via constitutional amendment subject to voter approval. The Senate Environment and Energy Committee moved the bill last week with the support of Senators Kip Bateman (R-16), Bob Smith (D-17), Jim Whelan (D-02) and Linda Greenstein (D-14). Only Sen. Jen Beck (R-11) opposed. A full Senate vote is likely before the end of the lame duck session. (Listen HERE to AFP’s testimony opposing this legislation starting at the 7:30 mark.)

Companion bills have been introduced in the Assembly but it is unlikely these will be taken up in committee before the end of the lame duck session.

Open Space Bills – Senate Bill SCR165, Assembly Bill A4541

Legislators are presenting taxpayers with two choices regarding open space spending: bad and terrible!

“Terrible” – Senate Bill SCR165 would cost taxpayers up to $6 BILLION over the next 30 years. The bill would amend the constitution and require voter approval. SCR165 was moved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee by a unanimous vote. A full Senate vote should come before the end of the lame duck. (Click HERE to listen to AFP’s testimony against SCR165 starting at the 1:46:00 mark.)

“Bad” – Assembly Bill A4541, also subject to voter approval, would authorize $200 MILLION in bonding for open space over the next two fiscal years. With interest, this could cost the State as much as $800 MILLION. Given the State’s fiscal problems, the last thing lawmakers should be doing is seeking to amass more debt to purchase/preserve open space.

A4541 passed the full Assembly by a count of 64-13 with 2 not voting and 1 abstention. Prior to the vote, AFP issued a press release calling for legislators to oppose the bill: http://bit.ly/1idP64k.

“Good” – Since the Senate and Assembly, as well as environmentalist groups, are not on the same page with respect to open space funding, neither of these ideas is likely to make its way onto the ballot any time soon.

Corporate Welfare Bill

Meanwhile, Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-), pulled the “Economic Opportunity Act II” (Bill S3030/A4051) but vowed to reintroduce the legislation as two separate bills next session. One of the bill’s main provisions was to provide massive tax breaks for the film industry.

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