Identify School Bullies: A-1563 (Lampitt/Watson Coleman). This legislation, which establishes a pilot program in the Department of Education to identify school bullies and develop effective behavior modification measures, was released from the Assembly Education Committee by a vote of 6-0-4 with amendments. The bill now moves to the full Assembly for consideration. NJEA supports this legislation with recommendations for improvement.
Tenure Hearing Held: The Senate Education Committee heard testimony from invited guests on school district employee tenure and its impact on public education. NJEA’s testimony was provided by President Barbara Keshishian, Executive Director Vince Giordano and Director of Professional Development Michael Cohan.
NJEA centered its comments on maintaining high professional standards, moving the decisions of tenure hearings from administrative law judges to arbitrators, and continuing the current strategies for certifying dismissal charges. The hearing heard from a total of 27 witnesses. Chairperson Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) called the hearing a “first step” toward drafting tenure-reform legislation she hopes the governor will support.
NJEA is already working with Assembly leaders to introduce legislation that addresses our concerns as outlined in our December 7 press conference.
Governor conditionally vetoes sick leave cap: S-2220 (Sarlo, Lampitt, Albano, Casagrande, Moriarty) Governor Chris Christie issued a conditional veto (CV) on this bill. A CV is a veto in which the Governor objects to parts of a bill and proposes amendments that would make it acceptable to him. If the Legislature re-enacts the bill with the recommended amendments, it is presented again to the Governor for signature.
In summary, the language changes in the CV would:
Phase out the practice of distributing cash payouts for sick days by prohibiting supplemental compensation for sick days that accumulate after the effective date of the legislation for all state, local government and school district employees;
Require that sick days accrued prior to the effective date of this legislation be used before those days accrued after the effective date;
Expand to all current employees the requirement that a physician provide written verification for use of six or more consecutive sick days;
Require that vacation days accrued prior to the effective date (those not subject to the one-year carry forward provision) of this legislation be used before those days accrued after the effective date (those subject to one-year carry forward restriction); and
Suspend supplemental compensation for any employee under indictment for a crime that involves or touches his or her public office, and mandate the forfeiture of any supplemental compensation if convicted.
What happens next?
According to Senate rules, if the Governor conditionally vetoes a bill and returns it to the Senate, the Senate may amend the bill in accordance with all of the Governor's recommendations. No other or partial amendments are permitted either in committee or on the floor.
The affirmative vote of at least 21 Senators is required to pass the bill as amended. Then, the passed bill, together with the Governor's recommendations, shall be forwarded to the General Assembly.
NJEA GR will keep you updated with further information and requests for action once more information becomes available.
Governor and democrats move interest arbitraton agreement:
S-5 (Sweeney, Doherty, Kyrillos)/A-3393 (Greenwald, Quigley, Chivukula, Evans) The Senate State Government and the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee released the “tool kit” legislation limiting police and fire interest arbitration awards to a 2 percent cap. This legislation is now scheduled for floor consideration in both houses on December 13, 2010.
The proposed bills would:
- Impose an average 2 percent cap on salary increases for all police and firefighter arbitration awards from Jan. 1, 2011 to April 1, 2014 to allow the state to gauge its effectiveness.
- Only affect interest arbitration, not collective bargaining.
- Require pay for longevity, length of service, salary increments and other similar compensation to be included in the cap.
- Require all contracts that expire in the three-year window to adhere to the cap. This will prevent the purposeful stalling of contract negotiations.
- Cap arbitrator compensation at $1,000 per day and $7,500 per case.
- Increase ethical standards and training for interest arbitrators.
- Randomize the selection of interest arbitrators.
- Create a task force to examine the impact of interest arbitration reform and the effectiveness of the cap on restricting municipal spending. The governor will appoint four members and two members will be appointed by the Senate President and Assembly Speaker. The task force will provide recommendations no later than December 31, 2013.
While this bill does not cap the contracts of NJEA members since our contracts are not subject to interest arbitration, it does set the stage for lower settlements and possible movement of legislation to do something similar to school employee negotiations.
Health Insurance Payments and Disclosures: A-3378 (Schaer, Spencer) clarifies out-of-network payment responsibilities under health benefits plans and requires certain coverage and procedure disclosures to consumers. NJEA is monitoring this legislation which was reported out of the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee with a substitute bill and is now on second reading in the Assembly.
All Public Employees Must Live in New Jersey: A-2478 (Moriarty, Riley, Burzichelli, Fuentes, Wilson)/S-1730 (Norcorss, O’Toole, Sacco), The New Jersey First Act, was released by the Assembly State Government Committee. The bill passed the Senate 25-10 last May and is now headed for consideration by the full Assembly.
Under the bill, all newly hired public employees would be required to live in New Jersey or move to the state within a year of taking a position.
The measure would cover all state, county and municipal employees as well as anyone working for political subdivisions of the state. Employees of public authorities, boards, agencies and commissions would also be subject to the measure. Additionally, the bill would cover all employees working within the educational system. A three-member committee, with one person each appointed by the Governor, Senate President and Assembly Speaker, would review individual applications for exemption in cases involving extreme hardship or other unique circumstances.
NJEA had opposed the bill but worked tirelessly with the sponsors to get amendments protecting all current employees under all the circumstances that we could contemplate.
Limits Amount of Time Vacant Teaching Positions Can Be Filled in a Temporary Capacity: S-2071 (Ruiz, Turner)/A-3218 (Caputo) was signed by the Governor (P.L. 2010, c.100) on Dec. 8. The bill, supported by NJEA, would limit the amount of time a vacant position could be filled by individuals holding a CE/CEAS or a standard certificate who were serving as substitutes.
Limits Amount of Time Vacant Teaching Position Can Be Filled by Substitute Teacher: S-435 (Turner)/A-3217 (Caputo) was signed by the Governor (P.L. 2010 c. 97) on Dec. 8. Supported by NJEA, this legislation would limit the number of days a vacant teaching position can be filled by a substitute teacher. New Jersey Administrative Code limits the number of days a single substitute teacher can serve in the same position in one school district. However, there was no provision to prevent districts from having a succession of substitutes in the same position.