Legislation for Heat-Related Workplace Protections Faces Opposition – Lawmakers introduced in February A3521/S2422, a bill which would immediately require employers to offer protections to workers who face extreme heat, including providing cold water, paid rest breaks with access to shade or climate-controlled spaces, and an emergency response to heat-related employee illnesses, as well as limiting employee exposure to extreme heat and creating a plan for heat waves. The bill would also mandate the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to set a new standard and create employer regulations for heat stress. The bill’s sponsors note the urgency of developing heat-related protections for workers given rising temperatures from climate change, while opponents argue the state should wait for the release of federal standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which can take up to seven years. 



Stakeholders Largely United on School Funding Reform in Testimony to Senate Committee – The Senate Education Committee invited advocates and school officials to offer testimony at a March 14 hearing on revising the state’s school funding formula. Legislation known as S2, enacted in 2018, modified a 2008 formula in order to reduce disproportionate funding of certain districts. However, inflation and rising real estate valuations have led to sharp decreases in state aid for some districts. Witnesses called on lawmakers to rework the school funding formula to consider education costs, mitigate the effects of changes in property values, and raise caps on property tax hikes to allow districts to meet funding needs more quickly. Committee Chair Sen. Vin Gopal stated he would like to have a bill ready by the summer to advance these recommendations.

Senate Committee Advances Bills to Push Forward Clean Energy Transition – The Senate Environment and Energy Committee advanced two climate bills which many believe necessary to meet Gov. Murphy’s goal of having the state run on 100% clean energy by 2035. S237 – the New Jersey Clean Energy Act of 2024 – would establish the 100% clean electricity standard and direct the Board of Public Utilities to establish a clean electricity certification program. S258 appropriates $300 million to electric public utilities to develop and implement grid modernization plans. Both bills were referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee before consideration by the full Senate, where they may face significant opposition. 


Public Administration

Bill to Amend Open Public Records Act Meets Public Outcry at Hearing – Upon receiving complaints from various stakeholders, including activists, labor unions, journalists, and advocates in a March 14 Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing, lawmakers chose to pull A4045 to revise it before a committee vote. The bill would amend the Open Public Records Act with the aim of reducing the strain on municipalities to comply with record requests. Advocates say the bill would gut the law and undermine governmental transparency. Lawmakers will now meet with advocates to determine acceptable revisions. The Senate equivalent S2930 remains pending, awaiting a vote from the full legislative body once revisions are added.