April 27, 2018

I.     State Issues
II.    Federal Issues
III.   League Conference Follow-up
IV.   Also of Interest  

I. State Issues 

a. Immediate Action Needed: Bill to Transfer of PFRS to a Labor-Management Board on Governor’s Desk

Your immediate assistance is needed.   As we previously reported S-5/A-3671, which transfers the management of Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) to a Board of Trustees of PFRS with majority labor control, now awaits action by the Governor.   Governor Murphy has until on or about May 10 to act on this bill. It is imperative that the Governor’s office hear from local officials on this very concerning proposal.
Please either call the Governor at 609-292-6000 or your contact in the Governor’s IGA office to express opposition to this bill until it is amended to add the necessary safeguards advocated by the League, the Conference of Mayors (NJCM), and the Association of Counties (NJAC).  
For more information please see http://njslom.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/678

b. Deadline for 2018 Financial Disclosure Statements is April 30

As a reminder, the deadline to file the statutorily required annual Financial Disclosure Statements is Monday, April 30. The Division of Local Government Services has issued Local Finance Notice 2018-12 providing guidance on the filing of the 2018 Financial Disclosure Statements. 
Please note that the Local Finance Board may periodically conduct audits for compliance and initiate investigations.  Local Government Officer can be assessed an appropriate fine that is not less than $100 nor more than $500 pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.10. In addition, for elected officials, the failure to file a FDS can subject the municipality to a loss of State Aid as it is a question on the “Best Practices” Questionnaire.
Contact:  Lori Buckelew, Senior Legislative Analyst, lbuckelew@njslom.org, 609-695-3481 x112.

c. Governor Signs Pay Equity Law

On April 24, 2018 Governor Murphy signed into law S-104, the “Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act.” The new law which takes effect July 1, 2018, modifies the Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to expand unlawful employment practice under LAD to include discrimination based on compensation or financial terms or conditions of employment. 
For more please see our recent blog post
Contact: Lori Buckelew, Senior Legislative Analyst, lbuckelew@njslom.org, 609-695-3481 x112.

d. Governor Signs Bill on Prepayment of Property Taxes

On April 20, Governor Murphy signed into law A-3382/S-1971, which permits taxpayers to make dedicated prepayments toward anticipated property taxes.  The law requires that regardless if the governing body adopted a resolution, the tax collector must receive property tax payments at any time during the year. Payments may be made in full or in installments, not less than one dollar. The law took effect April 20 and is retroactive to July 1, 2017.  For more please see our recent blog post.  

Contact:  Lori Buckelew, Senior Legislative Analyst, lbuckelew@njslom.org, 609-695-3481, x112.

II.    Federal Issues

Our thanks to the folks at George Mason University’s State and Local Government Leadership Center for their analysis of these issues.

a. U.S. Senate Committee Readies Opioid Crisis Response.

The Senate Health Committee this week unanimously voted to report S.2680, the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, to the full Senate. The bill, jointly sponsored by Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray, includes measures intended to make it easier to prescribe smaller packs of opioids for limited durations, spur the development of non-addictive painkillers, and bolster the detection of illegal drugs at the border.
The legislation includes measures aimed at helping specific agencies and departments address the crisis. It clarifies the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to require that drug manufacturers package painkillers in smaller packs, such as a seven- or three-day supply, with the hope of helping to curb overprescribing. It also clarifies the regulatory path to create non-addictive drugs to help with pain. The bill proposes specifics with regard to how opioid grants may be provided, boosting the allotments for states where the epidemic has hit the hardest. The proposed Senate version would let states use the funding they receive until it runs out, rather than mandating it be spent during that year.
In response to actions by some states to implement limits on the length and dosage of opioid prescriptions, the proposed legislation calls for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue a report on the impact of these laws. The bill seeks to: improve access to telemedicine; enhance access to treatment in underserved areas; and encourage states to share data on opioid prescribing and dispensing.
Chairman Alexander has said he hopes to mark up the proposed legislation this spring, while, on the House side, the House Energy and Commerce Committee anticipates reporting its version before the Memorial Day recess.
Contact:  Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, jmoran@njslom.org, 609-695-3481, x121.

b. Housing Assistance Changes Proposed

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary, Dr. Ben Carson, this week proposed significant changes to the agency’s low-income housing programs, tripling rent for the poorest households, and making it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements. The changes appear to reflect a comprehensive effort by the Trump administration to restrict access to the safety net and reduce the levels of assistance for those who do qualify.
Public housing authorities, and owners, in the case of project-based assistance, would be authorized to establish minimum work requirements for recipients, excluding people over the age of 65 and the disabled. Under the HUD proposal, some of the nation’s poorest tenants would see their rents triple: every non-elderly, non-disabled household would have to pay a minimum of $150 a month in rent—triple the current minimum amount for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program of $50.
Under Secretary Carson’s initiative, the rent for tenants in subsidized housing would rise to 35 percent of gross income (or 35 percent of their earnings working 15 hours a week at the federal minimum wage), up from the current standard of 30 percent of adjusted income. About half of the 4.7 million families receiving housing benefits would be affected, according to HUD officials. Sec. Carson stated: “Every year, it takes more money, millions of dollars more, to serve the same number of households: It’s clear from a budget perspective and a human point of view that the current system is unsustainable.” The proposal would also exempt seniors over the age of 65 and individuals with disabilities from the rental increases for the first six years. HUD officials said that group makes up more than half of the 4.7 million families receiving subsidies.
Contact:  Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, jmoran@njslom.org, 609-695-3481, x121.

III.   League Conference Follow-up

a. Claim Your CEUs from the Annual Conference

Attention Municipal Officials! Do Not Forget to Claim Your CEUs from the 2017 NJLM Annual Conference! Please click on the following link to claim your credits: http://www.njslom.org/339/Continuing-Education-Unit-CEU-Tracking-S

b. Exhibits at the Annual Conference

Do you know a vendor that would be a good fit for the Annual Conference?  If so, ask them about being an exhibitor or have them contact Kristin Lawrence, Exhibit Manager at 609-695-3481 x125 or klawrence@njslom.org. Information is also available on njslom.org/exhibit

IV.   Also of Interest 

a. League New Website Announcement

In case you missed it, the League recently launched a completely redesigned website; a project NJLM staff has been working on for nine months. Our web address remains the same, www.njslom.org, but the site has a completely different look and interface, which will improve user convenience. Some of the many new features of the site include:
  • Subscription options for tailored alerts (for instance, users can subscribe to receive alerts when the job/RFP page is updated, or to receive emails each time a seminar is added to the seminar calendar). Click here to subscribe to alerts.
  • Improved and responsive search function.
  • A rotating photo banner atop each webpage with photos highlighting the state’s many great features and locations, and currently featuring our recent Show Off Your City contest winner - Verona Township!
  • A site map and quick links to aid site navigation.
 We hope that the new site improves your experience navigating the League’s website!

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