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Preview – Paid Family Leave, Global Warming Highlight Action By Senate Panels

TRENTON – Several key Senate committees will convene here Thursday to consider issues of importance to the people of New Jersey such as paid family leave, global warming and regulation of self-styled foreclosure consultants.

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider S-2249, a bill that would extend temporary disability benefits to include up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for workers caring for sick family members as well as newborn and newly adopted children.

“By passing this bill, we will lay a foundation for strong families in the workplace,” said Senator Stephen M. Sweeney, a prime sponsor of S-2249.

The Senate Environment Committee, meanwhile, is set to review S-2114, otherwise known as the Global Warming Response Act, that would create a statewide greenhouse emissions reduction program starting next January and having a goal of reaching 1990 levels by the year 2020. The bill, further, would call for an 80 percent reduction of current levels of greenhouse emissions by the year 2050.

“It’s obvious now that doing nothing about global warming is not an option for us as a nation,” said Senator Barbara Buono, a prime sponsor of S-2114. “New Jersey can’t stand by and wait for the Bush Administration to map a national strategy to reduce greenhouse gases because that might be a doomsday scenario.”

The issue of fly-by-night “foreclosure consultants” will be considered by the Senate Commerce Committee when it takes up S-2699, a bill sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner to make it clear that only licensed, non-profit debt adjusters can provide foreclosure consulting services in New Jersey.

“Right now, we’ve got rogue operators advertising on telephone poles with empty promises to help debt-ridden families save their homes from foreclosure,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “Unfortunately, these scam artists are taking advantages of families in crises and we’ve got to put a stop to it fast.”

Senator Turner said her bill would authorize the Department of Banking and Insurance to bring summary actions against illegal foreclosure specialists and anyone else participating with them in their illicit schemes.

DOBI also would be authorized under the bill to require criminal background checks and establish criteria such as good moral character before issuing licenses to officers and employees of licensed debt adjusters.

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