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** Preview: Senate Committees To Meet, Receive Budget Update, Consider Important Health & Public Safety Measures

TRENTON – A number of Senate Committees will meet on Thursday, February 4, to take up a wide-range of issues, including the most pressing which is a report on the status of the current budget and the projected outlook for the upcoming 2011 fiscal year. Also slated for consideration are a number of progressive health and public safety related measures.

The Senate Budget Committee will meet at 11 am in Committee Room 4 of the State House Annex for the sole purpose of receiving a budget update from David Rosen, the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services Budget and Finance Officer. The update will focus on the current economic conditions and the impact on New Jersey’s tax revenue as it relates to the current budget and the projected outlook for next year’s budget.

The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee will also meet tomorrow at 1 pm in Committee Room 1 where it will consider a bill (S-665) sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono and Senator Joseph Vitale, which would establish a medical home demonstration project under Medicaid. The goal of the bill is to reducie charity care costs by providing primary care in a coordinated and cost efficient setting in stark contrast to emergency room care. The committee will also consider a bill (S-785) sponsored by Senator Fred Madden that would build upon New Jersey’s position as a pioneer in organ donation by allowing organ donors to deduct any unreimbursed donor-related expenses against their gross income.

The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee will also meet at 1 pm in Committee Room 10 to take up a measure (S-911) sponsored by Senator John Girgenti that aims to deter assaults against healthcare workers by upgrading the penalties for anyone convicted of such an offense. The committee will also consider a bill (S-189) sponsored by Senator Nick Scutari, which would establish penalties to crack down on the use of “bump” keys to commit certain crimes; a bump key is a manufactured or modified key, commonly used by locksmiths, but also used as a tool by burglars because it can open a cylinder lock, the type used in homes, with minimal force, offering a fast and potentially covert method of entry. The committee will also consider a measure (S-766) sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Senator Brian Stack that would allow specially licensed retailers to directly ship wine to New Jersey residents, expanding access and choice for consumers and providing retailers with a new method to increase revenue.

The Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee will also meet at 10 am in Committee Room 1 to consider a variety of bills, including S-122, sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew, which would benefit veterans by setting aside a portion of tenant vouchers under the state’s rental assistance program.

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