Earlier this year, NJBIA served as one of the four co-chairs of the stakeholder working group that Senator Smith had tasked with coming up with legislative recommendations on public access to tidal water ways. The group met over several months and in April released its report with consent and non-consent items. On August 1, Senator Smith proposed for introduction S-2490, which provides for protection of public’s rights under the public trust doctrine, and is considered the consent bill. Proposing is the first step in the legislative process, but a bill has to be formally introduced before bill text is available and that was expected to happen yesterday when Senate committees convened. However, there was no quorum in the Senate, so no bills could be introduced into the record.
It was anticipated that on August 18, there would be a hearing on the bill. It is unknown how this technical glitch could impact the committee’s consideration of the legislation since the public draft is unavailable. Senator Smith has held hearings in the past to explore topics and discuss the topic a second time before a vote has been taken.
NJBIA has focused primarily on the issue of critical infrastructure in this discussion and recognizes there are other important issues such as offsite mitigation and permit renewals. There have been many groups and voices represented at the table throughout the process, but the exemption of certain properties was the key area for both BIA and the State Chamber of Commerce. As the discussion continues on both consent and non-consent items, BIA will keep you informed and hope that if your industry has an issue, it is brought to the committee’s attention.