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NJ Sierra Club: Assembly and Senate Preview: Enviro Bills Up on Thursday  

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The following bills are up in the New Jersey Senate on Thursday, January 31st:

S2505(Oroho)"Vegetation Management Response Act"; concerns vegetation management related to electric public utility infrastructure.

“We oppose this legislation. The bill is too broad and gives utilities too much power without proper oversight.The legislation allows for open season on important vegetation that could harm environmentally sensitive areas. Vegetation removal can result in increased erosion and sedimentation, increased flooding and pollution in our waterways, and destruction of wildlife habitat. The bill will allow utilities to go outside the right of way on your property. They do not have a right to do that to cut trees down, this is a constitutional issue,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We need to protect power lines from trees but not allow for power companies to just clear-cut whatever they want. This bill also exempts utilities from local tree ordinances and shade tree commissions. This gives them a blanket to clear-cut anything they want. We need protective and selective cutting, not just open discretion.”


S1500(Singleton/Greenstein)The bill requires disclosure by independent expenditure committees; raises certain campaign contribution limits; repeals ban on certain intraparty fund transfers.

 “This bill would require 527 independent expenditures on elections are disclose to contributors. This will shed a light on dark money. We believe this legislation is important because we are always concerned that when campaign monies are hidden, it can’t be for anything good. Independent expenditures are more common now than direct expenditures on candidates. We also believe these contributions should be subject to pay to play so that we don’t see companies that have contracts with the state or others,” said Tittel. “Too often, dark money can stop green initiatives. Sierra Club always supports campaign finance reform because special interest have a lot more money and power.”

“PSEG cannot give direct expenditures to a campaign in New Jersey but they can give money to 527 for independent expenditures. If they are giving money to these funds, then they should be subject to pay to play. We need to know where this money is coming from. We also need to know if these independent campaigns are getting contributions from business or entities that they regulate or do legislation in their fields. This is critical for the public to know that. It is important that we shed more light on dark money so that maybe it can go away,” said Tittel.

S15 (Sweeney) Raises, over time, hourly minimum wage to $15.00. The bill provides that, except for certain workers specified by the bill, the general minimum wage rate will be increased to $10.00 per hour on July 1, 2019, to $11.00 per hour on January 1, 2020, followed by $1.00 increases each year until the rate reaches a level of $15.00 per hour in 2024.

“We support this legislation that would raise the minimum wage in New Jersey. Nearly half of all workers across the country make less than $15 an hour. It is important to increase the minimum wage because it raises the standard of living and helps the environment. Raising minimum wage will help raise people’s standard of living. People who make more money live better lives, have better health and have a higher quality of life,”said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

 

The following bills are up in the Assembly on Thursday, January 31st:

A2694(Mckeon/Pinkin)/ S1073(Smith)Authorizes municipalities, counties, and certain authorities to establish stormwater utilities.

“The biggest source of pollution we face is from stormwater runoff. This legislation is an important step forward to help clean up our waterways and protect us from flooding. The bill will allow towns to have a funding mechanism to establish stormwater utilities. Stormwater is a very serious problem that impacts our waterways and affects public health. This bill is a good start to help us reduce those problems and we need to continue to do more to clean up our combined sewer overflow because they are a health hazard,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

During periods of heavy rainfall the wastewater volume in a combined sewer system can exceed the capacity of the sewer system or treatment plant. Consequently, combined sewer systems are designed to overflow occasionally and discharge excess wastewater directly to nearby streams, rivers, or other water bodies. Dilapidated storm water systems exacerbate the problem by increasing the water in combined sewers and we need funding to reduce the amount of water in sewers during major storm events.  

“We need to do more to clean up our combined sewer overflow because they are a health hazard, especially after heavy rain.  Raw or impartially treated sewage runs during major storms are a huge concern. This could expose communities and the environment to serious contamination. This bill will go a long way to help municipalities to come with a plan to develop a program and infrastructure in place to help clean up non-point pollution and CSOs,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

A3075 (Quijano/Pinkin) Encourages development of zero-emission vehicle fueling and charging infrastructure in redevelopment projects.

“New Jersey needs to do more to increase our sale and use of electric vehicles. This bill is a good step, but we should be requiring redevelopment projects to have EV charging infrastructure.  We need to create a charging network that allows people to drive through New Jersey without range anxiety. There are currently more than 20 fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles available at US dealerships and we want people to feel confident that they can purchase and EV and travel through New Jersey with it. We also need to develop the high-speed charging network and have utilities provide for charging stations in areas where the market won’t initially reach,” said Jeff Tittel. “We can see the benefits of clean air and clean jobs if we build a state-wide network of charging stations, create green jobs, save people money on gas, and reduce air pollution.”

A15 (Coughlin) Raises, over time, hourly minimum wage to $15.00. The bill provides that, except for certain workers specified by the bill, the general minimum wage rate will be increased to $10.00 per hour on July 1, 2019, to $11.00 per hour on January 1, 2020, followed by $1.00 increases each year until the rate reaches a level of $15.00 per hour in 2024.

“We support this legislation that would raise the minimum wage in New Jersey. Nearly half of all workers across the country make less than $15 an hour. It is important to increase the minimum wage because it raises the standard of living and helps the environment. Raising minimum wage will help raise people’s standard of living. People who make more money live better lives, have better health and have a higher quality of life,”said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

 

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