LEGISLATIVE ROUNDUP: Bill to allow sports betting at casinos OK’d

Legislation that paves the way for sports betting at casinos and racetracks received final approval by the Assembly and Senate Thursday.

The bill, co-sponsored by Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, repeals all prohibitions against wagering at casinos or gambling houses in Atlantic City or at current racetracks in the state.

The vote comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday not to take up New Jersey’s appeal of a 22-year old federal ban on sports betting.

Priority status

The Assembly Thursday approved legislation co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt, D-Camden, and Assemblyman Gilbert “Whip” Wilson, D-Camden, that requires combat veterans get priority status among applicants to the New Jersey State Police.

Transportation network

Legislation that establishes a State Transportation Infrastructure Bank passed the Assembly Thursday. The bill, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, leverages public and private investments for the long-term overhaul of New Jersey’s transportation network.

Farm to school

A package of bills co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Celeste Riley, D-Cumberland, and Wilson to financially support the New Jersey Farm to School program and promote healthier food options gained approval from the Assembly Thursday.

Farm to School provides agricultural products to school food service departments to improve student nutrition, provide health and nutrition education opportunities and support local farmers.

Agricultural tourism

A bill to promote agricultural tourism in New Jersey received approval in the Assembly Thursday. The legislation, co-sponsored by Riley and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Gloucester, directs the State Agriculture Development Committee to launch a pilot program permitting special occasion events to be conducted on wineries located on preserved farmland under certain circumstances.

Exclude local bases

The Assembly Thursday approved legislation co-sponsored by Singleton, Lampitt, Assemblymen Herb Conaway, Jr., D-Burlington, and Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, D-Camden, urging Congress to exclude Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Picatinny Arsenal when considering defense department budget cuts.

A similar resolution sponsored by Sens. James Beach, D-Camden, and Donald Norcross, D-Camden, also cleared the Senate Thursday.

Computer science

Legislation co-sponsored by Singleton placing a greater emphasis on the importance of computer science in high school education got the go-ahead from the Assembly Thursday.

Under the bill, school districts throughout New Jersey would be required to permit an advanced placement computer science course to satisfy a part of either the mathematics or science credit requirements for graduation beginning with the 2014-15 grade nine class.

Cop car cameras

Legislation co-sponsored Moriarty, Lampitt, Assemblyman Angel Fuentes, D-Camden, and Assemblywoman, Gabriela Mosquera, D-Camden, to equip all police cars in New Jersey with cameras received Senate approval Thursday.

False report penalties

The Senate Thursday approved a measure from Norcross to increase penalties against those who issue false police reports.

Doctor shortage

The Senate Thursday passed legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego, R-Burlington/Camden, to convene a planning summit to find ways to address an expected shortage of physicians in the Garden State.

The summit will analyze the supply, discuss the redistribution or expansion of residency slots and investigate ways to include more community hospitals in resident rotations.

Women’s health care

Legislation co-sponsored by Greenwald to expand Medicaid coverage for women’s health care received final legislative approval from the Senate and Assembly Thursday.

Grant repayment bill

Legislation co-sponsored by Wilson to require corporations qualifying for state development subsidy grants to repay the entire amount if they fail to uphold the grant terms won Assembly approval Thursday.

Pension contribution protection

The Assembly Thursday passed legislation co-sponsored by Singleton to prevent administrations from taking the increased pension contributions made by public employees to offset the contributions owed by the state.

Text ads prohibition

Legislation co-sponsored by Moriarty to prohibit advertisers from sending unwelcome and unsolicited advertisements to consumers via text messaging got unanimous support Thursday in the Assembly. The bill also requires any telecommunications company that sells, or offers to sell, text messaging services to allow customers to block incoming and outgoing text messages.

Job growth measures

Two bills co-sponsored by Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, D-Gloucester, that aim to create jobs and spur economic growth in New Jersey cleared the full Senate Monday.

A tax credit program provides incentives to employers with less than 100 workers who increase their workforce by hiring unemployed workers. The second measure gives priority for state-administered training programs to those who have suffered from long term unemployment.

Greenhouse gas initiative

Legislation co-sponsored by Sweeney that reaffirms New Jersey’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative was approved Monday by the full Senate. In May 2011, Gov. Christie withdrew New Jersey from RGGI without legislative approval. In March of this year, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court ruled the administration acted improperly by pulling out of the program.

Withholding payments

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Fred Madden, D-Gloucester, that requires the state to withhold payments from delinquent vendors who fail to contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund cleared the Senate Monday.

CPR training law

The Senate Monday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington, requiring students at public and charter high schools to receive training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of an automated external defibrillator. The Assembly passed the same legislation.

Debt analysis

Legislation co-sponsored by Singleton and Burzichelli that requires the State Debt Report include an affordability analysis cleared the Senate Thursday. The analysis is supposed to provide a clear, data-driven framework for the executive branch and the legislature to evaluate and establish priorities that could impact the state debt amount in future years.

Vacant property maintenance

Legislation co-sponsored by Moriarty that permits municipalities to take action against creditors who fail to maintain vacant properties that are slated for foreclosure passed the Assembly Monday.

Child restraint upgrade

A bill sponsored by Lampitt to bolster car safety for young children cleared the Assembly Monday. The bill amends the state’s child passenger restraint system and booster seat law to implement the latest recommendations.

Support libraries

The Assembly Monday approved legislation co-sponsored by Singleton, Wilson and Lampitt to allow taxpayers to make a voluntary contribution in support of local libraries on their gross income tax returns.

Mold standards

Legislation co-sponsored by Riley requiring the state to establish standards for exposure limits to mold in residential buildings and certification of mold inspectors and abatement workers passed the Assembly Monday.

Teenage driving program

Legislation co-sponsored by Lampitt that strengthens the education and practice requirements for New Jersey’s Graduated Driver’s License program received approval by the Assembly Monday. Under the bill, the permit phase of the graduated driver’s license would be extended from six months to one year for all new drivers, age 16 to 20, before they become eligible for a probationary license.

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