-Jennie Lamon, Assistant Director of Government Relations, NJPSA
While much of the state seems to be enjoying holiday mode, our state capital remains in the full frenzied state of lame duck. This week in Trenton, committee rooms were buzzing, and both chambers conducted lengthy sessions. The General Assembly bid farewell to several members who will not be returning in the new Legislative session. The typical end of session rush to get final bills across the finish line and to the Governor’s desk before the pocket veto deadline has been at full steam. However, there are some initiatives that don’t need to be rushed through at the end of the session, and indeed, should not be. Major changes to education policy deserve thoughtful deliberation and meaningful discussion. With your help, NJPSA has been working hard to try to slow down a couple of these bills during lame duck. Heading into the final two weeks, we are pleased to see our hard work paying off. S-2054, the bill that would require students to complete the FAFSA as a condition of graduation was pulled down mid-vote after failing to achieve a majority 21 affirmative votes. A-5877, the bill revising when educator evaluations are done, was replaced with an Assembly floor substitute that NJPSA had major input in. We still need our collective voices to be heard on A-5874, the bill related to online learning, which had floor amendments today, but still needs significant work. Please see our Action Alert if you haven’t already. Please read on to see where things stand under the golden dome as we close out calendar year 2023. Stay tuned for a busy start to 2024!
Action by the Governor: Signed into Law
Within hours of them landing on his desk, Governor Murphy took action on two bills, singing them into law. A bill implementing the electric school bus program and a bill authorizing schools to receive food waste from other LEAs are now in statute.
S-3044 wGR/A4716 (Diegnan, Greenstein/Stanley, Benson, Mukherji) – Makes supplemental appropriation of $15 million to DEP for implementation of Electric School Bus Program
S-3153 wGR/A4548 (Codey/Kennedy, Haider, Stanley) – Authorizes schools to receive certain food waste from other schools, and provides exemption to such receiving schools from certain DEP permits, under certain conditions
General Assembly Voting Session
On Thursday, December 21st, the full General Assembly took action on several education related bills.
S-3330/A-5015 Requires school districts to provide instruction on grief as part of New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Passed in Assembly and sent to Governor 75-0-0
S-530/A-5164 Requires certain school meal information be provided to public school students’ parents and requires school districts to request that families apply for school meals under certain circumstances Passed in Assembly and sent to Governor 72-1-1
A-4501/S-1892 Authorizes certain boards of education to issue bonds to repair damages caused by natural disasters in certain circumstances. Passed in Assembly 71-3-0, Senate Concurred with Assembly amendments and sent to Governor 35-0
A-545 Authorizes use of school bus monitoring systems Passed by the Assembly (70-2-1)
A-4496 Revises various provisions of law governing construction of school facilities projects and operations of New Jersey Schools Development Authority; establishes “Charter School and Renaissance School Facilities Loan Program” in EDA Passed in Assembly 68-6-0
A-5336 Requires public schools to develop policy for emergency administration of nasal seizure rescue medication and use of manual vagus nerve stimulator on students with seizure disorder Passed by the Assembly (74-0-0) NJPSA has concerns and is seeking amendments to this legislation.
A-5307 Directs DOE to develop guidelines for school districts concerning student mental health services Assembly Floor Amendment Passed (Wimberly)
A-5877 Revises schedule for summative evaluations of certain education professionals; limits collection of teacher generated student growth data. Assembly Substitution (Lampitt)
Senate Voting Session
On Thursday, December 21st, the full Senate took action on several education related bills, and confirmed a new member of the State Board of Education. .
Advise and Consent
On Monday, December 18th, the Senate Judiciary Committee interviewed and reported from committee Mary Bennett to be a member of the State Board of Education. On Thursday, December 21st, the full Senate confirmed the nomination of Mary Bennett, the first new member to the State Board of Education in six years. Bennett will replace Mary Elizabeth Gazi, for the term prescribed by law, currently set to expire on June 30, 2024. Governor Murphy has submitted five other nominations to the state board of education, which is currently full of members sitting in expired seats. Those other nominations could be considered on January 4th. The final voting session of the legislative session will be held on January 8th.
S-1888/A-3690 “New Voter Empowerment Act”; permits 17 year olds to vote in primary election if they turn 18 years old before next succeeding general election Passed in Senate 24-11, Assembly Concurred with Senate Amendments 46-19-0, Sent to the Governor
S-3883/A-5416 Requires State Board of Education to authorize alternate route to expedite teacher certification of persons employed as paraprofessionals in school districts. Passed in Senate 32-0, Assembly Concurred with Senate amendments 66-1-0, Sent to the Governor
S-3890/A-5417 Prohibits limiting number of county college credits that may be applied towards educator preparation program and teacher certification requirements. Passed in Senate and sent to Governor 34-0
S-3044 Makes supplemental appropriation of $15 million to DEP for implementation of Electric School Bus Program Passed in Senate 23-1, Assembly Concurred with Governor’s recommendations, Passed in Assembly and sent to Governor 47-19-1
S-3153 Authorizes schools to receive certain food waste from other schools, and provides exemption to such receiving schools from certain DEP permits, under certain conditions Passed in Senate 35-0, Assembly Concurred with Governor’s recommendations and sent to Governor 66-0-0
SR-108 Urges incorporation of Sikhism instruction into social studies curriculum Resolution Passed in Senate by voice vote, Filed with Secretary of State
S-3543 Directs DOE to develop guidelines for school districts concerning student mental health services Amended on Senate floor, 2nd reading in Senate by voice vote (Ruiz)
S-4215 Requires age verification and parent or guardian consent for minor’s use of social media platform; prohibits certain messaging between adults and minors on social media platform Amended on Senate floor, 2nd reading in Senate by voice vote (Ruiz)
A-5874 Requires board of education to directly employ certain professionals; permits board of education to contract for certain personnel; permits use of virtual or remote instruction for public school students in certain circumstances Amended on Assembly floor, 2nd reading in Assembly (Wimberly)
A-5877 Revises schedule for summative evaluations of certain education professionals; limits collection of teacher generated student growth data Assembly floor substitute, 2nd reading in Assembly (Lampitt)
With still two weeks remaining before the Legislative Session ends, anything could happen. Your NJPSA Government Relations team will be there for every step and will report back to you. Thank you for your advocacy, and for all that you do. Please have a peaceful and relaxing holiday break.