** Monday Preview: Senate Committees To Discuss Affordable Housing Reforms, Education Priorities

TRENTON – A number of Senate Committees will convene on Monday, February 1, to consider a wide-range of matters, including reforming the state’s approach to affordable housing and identifying statewide educational priorities.

The Senate Economic Growth Committee will meet at 10:30 am in Committee Room 1 of the State House Annex where they will consider, for discussion only, bill S-1, sponsored by Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, which would reform the state’s approach to affordable housing and abolish the Council on Affordable Housing. The committee will also consider bill S-920, sponsored by Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Senator Lesniak, which would revise certain provisions of the “New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act of 2009” in order to help facilitate the development of public-private higher education projects.

Newly appointed Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Teresa Ruiz will convene a hearing at 10 am in Committee Room 6 to hear testimony from various stakeholders on educational priorities for the new legislative session, including representatives from the NJEA, various school boards and other educational organizations and associations.

The Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee will convene at 1 pm in Committee Room 7 to take up the “Transparency in Government Act” (S-708), sponsored by Senator Richard J. Codey, which would permanently require the state to establish a public finance website, a measure that was recently created through Executive Order, but subject to the whims of future Governors.

The committee will also consider resolution SR-23, sponsored by Senator Sandra B. Cunningham and Senator Lesniak, urging Congress to approve the “Haitian Protection Act of 2009,” which would grant temporary protected status to qualified Haitian nationals in the U.S.

The Senate Environment and Energy Committee will convene at 10 am in Committee Room 10 to consider several bills, including a measure (S-922) sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would appropriate $17.45 million in previously approved bond monies to fund vital damn restoration projects. The committee will also take up, for discussion only, a bill sponsored by Senator Bob Smith (S919) that would forge a balance between the public’s right to tidal waterfront areas and homeland security and public safety concerns.

The Senate Military and Veteran’s Affairs Committee will also meet at 1 pm in Committee Room 1 where they will consider a package of bills (S-589, 590) sponsored by Chairman James Beach that would provide the surviving beneficiaries of deceased service members with a comprehensive benefits package and help foster educational opportunities for service members and veterans by providing increased access to information on institutions of higher learning. Senator Beach will also discuss his latest initiative to help reunite recently recovered dog tags from Vietnam veterans with surviving family members.

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