A-2200 (Johnson, Conners) This legislation, which permits a child whose parent or guardian is ordered into active military service to remain enrolled in the school district where the child’s parent or guardian resided prior to active military service, was unanimously released from the Assembly Military & Veterans Affairs Committee and is on second reading in the Assembly. NJEA supports this legislation.
S-1872 (Lesniak, T. Kean) The "Opportunity Scholarship Act." This legislation establishes a so-called “pilot program” for tax credits to entities contributing scholarships for low-income children to enroll in certain districts. The bill would cost $360 million over five (5) years and require district-level state aid reductions based on the number of voucher recipients in the district. NJEA strongly opposed the bill at a circus meeting of the Senate Economic Growth Committee. The committee moved its meeting to the front of a pro-voucher rally after the Chairman became unnerved that more NJEA members attended the committee than voucher supporters. NJEA stood firm in its opposition. Nevertheless, the committee, after being stacked with members, voted unanimously to release it with amendments. The bill is now referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, which may or may not schedule it for a hearing.
S-1073/A-355 (Turner, Kean, Jasey, Voss, Moriarty) The Senate Education Committee released this legislation that would make permanent the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program. The bill would retain many elements of the original pilot, such as the program’s voluntary nature and certain enrollment restrictions. The bill would change current law by removing the limitation of one choice district per county and changing transportation responsibility from the choice district to the district agreed in the choice application. As amended, the bill would allow enrollment restrictions up to a maximum of 10% per grade level or 15% per school. NJEA took a neutral position on the bill. The bill now goes to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
S-439 (Turner) was released from the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee 5-0-0 and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The bill, supported by NJEA, requires spousal consent for a member of the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF), the Judicial Retirement System (JRS) or the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) to elect a retirement benefit which is payable for the life of the member only and terminates at death of the member, without refund of any kind to the spouse. This requirement is similar to what is required under federal law (ERISA) for private pension plans.
S-10 (Sweeney, Ruiz) was released from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee 8-4-1 and is now before the full Senate. The bill, which NJEA supported, would increase the gross income tax rate on income exceeding $1,000,000 for taxable year 2010. The additional revenue would be used to restore some of the cuts in the governor’s proposed budget.
S-1730 (Norcross, O’Toole, Sacco) Legislation which calls for all public employees to reside in the state was released by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee (4-0-1). NJEA was successful in securing amendments to grandfather all current employees still opposed the bill because it could initiate protectionist legislation from other states which would work against New Jersey. This bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
Medco pharmacy benefit manager contract to administered the prescription drug benefit program for the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program (SEHBP) Hearing. NJEA and other public employee unions testified about the problems that members are experiencing in getting approval for certain prescription drugs through Medco.