Preview: Senate Committees To Tackle License Suspension, Environmental Concerns On Monday

Committees to Also Consider Accessibility of Legislative Voting Records on Monday

TRENTON – On Monday, the Senate Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the findings of the Motor Vehicle Affordability and Fairness Task Force, a panel of experts charged by the Legislature with reviewing the State’s driver’s license suspension laws to study the impact on New Jersey drivers.

Senator Nicholas J. Sacco, the Chair of the Transportation Committee and a prime sponsor of the bill establishing the Task Force as part of the larger Motor Vehicle Commission reform legislation signed into law in January of 2003, noted that the report issued by the Task Force will likely be a stepping off point for future legislation.

“What we’re seeing is that many of these laws that carry license suspension as part of the penalty really hit low-income residents the hardest,” said Senator Sacco, D-Hudson and Bergen. “For many, license suspension perpetuates a cycle of economic distress, where a driver may be hit with high surcharges he or she cannot afford, lose their license, and then find their job in jeopardy because they can’t get adequate transportation to work. We’ll be looking at a number of different initiatives, including giving judges discretion on a case-by-case basis, to ensure that justice and fairness are not mutually exclusive.”

The Transportation Committee is scheduled to meet at 10:00 A.M. in Committee Room 10 of the Statehouse Annex.

The Senate Environment Committee will consider legislation sponsored by Senator Steve Sweeney to make various changes to the State’s underground storage tank remediation and cleanup laws. The bill, S-482, would allow for State funds to be used to remove residential underground fuel tanks, which may pose an environmental hazard for the surrounding property should the tank begin to leak. The Senator noted that a State subsidy for residential tank removal will give more homeowners incentive to take care of aging tanks before it’s too late.

The Environment Committee will be meeting in Committee Room 10 at 1:00 P.M..

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will take testimony from officials with the Departments of Education and Corrections and the New Jersey Commerce and Economic Growth Commission regarding the FY 2007 Budget. They will also consider legislation sponsored by Senators Nicholas P. Scutari and Raymond J. Lesniak to appropriate $3 million in federal funds for the State’s Asian Longhorn Beetle Program. Under legislation sponsored by Senator Scutari last session, New Jersey began a program to contain the infestation of the Asian Longhorn Beetle, an invasive foreign insect that attack and kill maple and other hardwood trees, and this fiscal year, the State was awarded federal funds to continue the program.

The Budget Committee will meet in Committee Room 4. It will consider the legislation at 10:00 A.M., and will take up the Department of Education hearing immediately after. The Commerce Commission’s hearing will begin at 1:30 P.M., and the Department of Corrections meeting will begin at 2:30 P.M..

The Senate State Government Committee will consider legislation from Senator Loretta Weinberg, which would require the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS) to make complete voting records of legislators available to the public in electronic format. The Senator noted that OLS has already expressed that they have the technological means to do so, and that it will greatly increase openness in government, by allowing constituents to easily find how their legislators voted on different bills. The State Government Committee will meet at 1:00 P.M. in Committee Room 7 in the Statehouse Annex.