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PREVIEW – Senate Committees To Consider DUI Bills, School Choice Measure

Will Also Review Reporting of Abuse Against Vulnerable Adults Bill, and Property Tax Reassessment Streamlining

TRENTON – On Monday, six Senate Committees will meet to discuss issues ranging from strengthening New Jersey’s driving while under the influence (DUI) laws, to school choice, to streamlining the property tax reassessment process in New Jersey, to posting nutritional information of food available in chain restaurants.

The Senate Law and Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee will meet at 2:30 PM in Committee Room 4 to consider a package of bills sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, that would crack down hard on motorists repeatedly caught driving under the influence or driving with a suspended license. The bills would also impose stiff new penalties on those caught lending their vehicle to someone with a suspended or revoked license, in an effort to deter those who enable repeat offenders.

The Senate Education Committee will meet in Committee Room 6 at 10:00 AM to discuss a bill sponsored by the Committee Chairwoman, Senator Shirley K. Turner, D-Mercer, which would establish a permanent “Interdistrict Public School Choice Program” in the State Department of Education. The program, which is modeled on a five-year pilot program established in 2000, would permit local and regional school districts to opt to become “choice” districts, and establish agreements with sending districts to allow students from the sending district to transfer in.

Senator Fred H. Madden, D-Gloucester and Camden, will preside over a Senate Labor Committee meeting at 2:30 PM in Committee Room 10 on the impact of the current recession on New Jersey workers. The Committee will hear from the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, Commissioner David Socolow, and will review the effectiveness of State, federal and local programs to assist workers and their families, including job training and unemployment insurance.

The Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee is scheduled to meet at 10:00 AM in Committee Room 7, and will consider a bill sponsored by Senator Paul A. Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic, to streamline the property tax reassessment process. The bill would create an easier, simpler and quicker system for local tax assessors to reassess a homeowner’s property value. At a time when property values are at an all-time low, Senator Sarlo hopes this measure will allow hard-hit New Jersey taxpayers to realize some measure of property tax relief.

The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee will meet at 2:30 PM to review a number of legislative initiatives, including S-1799, sponsored by Senators Bob Gordon and Loretta Weinberg, both D-Bergen, which would create a reporting system whenever a vulnerable adult is suspected of being abused, neglected or exploited, and S-2905, sponsored by Health Committee Chairman, Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, and Senator Shirley Turner, which would require chain restaurants to provide certain nutritional information for food and beverage items offered for sale in their restaurants.

In addition to the Senate’s scheduled Committee meetings, the full Senate will convene at noon for a quorum call in order to swear in Senators Jim Beach, D-Camden, and Michael Doherty, R-Warren and Hunterdon, both of whom won special elections to fill out the remainder of the Senate term.