On June 5, the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network), an NLIHC State Coalition Partner, held its annual lobby day in Trenton, the state capitol. More than 100 Network members visited their legislators to advocate for fair practices in Sandy recovery, and for other housing and community development issues.
The Network used its lobby day to build support for an override of Governor Chris Christie’s (R) conditional veto of S1306, a “Sandy Bill of Rights.” Network members delivered pairs of flip-flops to Senators who initially voted in favor of the bill, but changed their position after the Governor conditionally vetoed it.
In March, both chambers of the state legislature passed the Sandy Bill of Rights, a major victory for advocates. The bill calls for changes addressing problems residents and housing advocates have raised about state-administered, federal recovery grants. Among the changes are requirements that the state provide a clear explanation of how to apply for programs and an online system that allows applicants to determine where they stand on waiting lists (see Memo, 1/20).
In May, Governor Christie conditionally vetoed the Senate bill, proposing more than 150 changes and removing entire sections. Of the fourteen Republicans in the State Senate, eleven initially voted to pass the bill and three did not vote. However, when Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) said he would seek to override the conditional veto, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R) sent Sweeney a letter stating that Senate Republicans would not vote against the Governor. A vote to override the veto is scheduled for later this month.
“After Governor Christie conditionally vetoed the bill, some legislators have changed their minds about helping Sandy survivors and ensuring that the recovery is fair and transparent. New Jersey voters know that flip-flops belong on the Shore, not on the Sandy Bill of Rights,” said Staci Berger, President and CEO of the Network. The veto override vote is expected next week.
Network members advocated for other priorities during their lobby day. On June 5, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee passed S2081 that would create a Foreclosure Prevention and Neighborhood Stabilization Revolving Trust Fund with revenues from a new temporary surcharge on mortgage foreclosure complaints. The Senate also passed S82 that would establish a property tax lien pilot program allowing certain municipalities greater control over the sale of tax liens. The full Senate passed S82 on June 12 and it is on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature.
The Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee passed A1007 on June 5 to require the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to establish procedures for inspection and abatement of mold hazards in residential buildings and school facilities. It would also require DCA to establish certification programs for mold inspectors and mold hazard abatement workers. Also passed by the committee was A1257 to create a cause of action for failure to maintain certain foreclosed vacant properties, and require out-of-state creditors to designate in-state representatives. The full Assembly will vote on both bills on June 23.
For more information contact Arnold Cohen, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, at firstname.lastname@example.org.