Current Legislation - Jan. 20, 2011
Confidentiality Standards for Public Assistance Programs: S-2562 (Greenstein) was released from the Senate Labor Committee (6-0) and is now ready for a full Senate Floor vote. The bill initiated by NJEA would conform to Federal law by requiring confidentiality standards for public employees who may require employee assistance programs.
The legislation would only allow for exceptions should the employee sign a waiver statement or under certain conditions stipulated by the employee assistance program advisor.
Changes to Higher Education Tenure: A-3357 (Lampitt) passed unanimously through the Higher Education Committee today with broad support from AFT, AAUP, the County College Association and the four year institutions of higher education. NJEA opposed this bill which provides for tenure after employment of 7 years adjusting it upwards from the current system of 5 years. NJEA testified against the bill citing the mission statements of County Colleges are different than those of four year institutions where faculty often needs more time in order to publish research papers. County Colleges are teaching institutions where publishing research is not required for granting tenure. We see no logical reason or need to lengthen the time to seven years as we feel this gives Administrators another two years to make faculty beholden to them. The sponsor at our urging amended the bill to grandfather current employees who are on their tenure track. This bill goes to the full Assembly for a vote which has not been scheduled. It does not have a Senate sponsor.
“Opportunity Scholarship Act” (Vouchers): S-1872 (Lesniak/T. Kean) In a day filled with last-minute amendments and heated exchanges, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee released S-1872, sponsored by Senators Lesniak and Tom Kean, by a vote of 8-5. The bill paves the way for a 5-year “pilot” school voucher program—at the cost of almost $1 billion. It would allow up to 40,000 students in 13 pilot districts to receive vouchers up to $11,000 per year to attend private and religious schools. The bill would also earmark 25% of the voucher money for parents of currently-enrolled private school students. However, the bill would require parents of special education students to sign a waiver acknowledging they have no right to special education services. NJEA President Barbara Keshishian testified against the bill. It now awaits action by the full Senate at the discretion of the Senate President.
Child Safety Regarding Sports-Related Eye Injuries: A-3574 (Conaway) requires the DOE to develop an educational fact sheet for distribution to parents concerning sports-related eye injuries. This legislation was reported with amendments out of the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. NJEA supports the bill, which now moves to the full Assembly for consideration.