- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The latest on action in the New Jersey Legislature during the final session of the year (all times local):

7 p.m.

Human milk banks seeking to operate in New Jersey would be required to register with the state health department under a bill approved by the state Senate.

The Senate passed the measure unanimously on Thursday.

The bill also requires that the banks be accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, a nonprofit group that publishes guidelines on health and safety.


6:20 p.m.

The state Assembly has passed parts of an Atlantic City financial assistance package after making changes demanded by Gov. Chris Christie when he vetoed it last month.

The key measure is the so-called PILOT bill, for payment in lieu of taxes.

It would let Atlantic City’s eight casinos make specified payments for 15 years instead of property taxes.

The casinos would be able to predict their costs, and would be prohibited from appealing their taxes. That’s something they have done to devastating effect on the city’s finances in recent years.

Bills redirecting casino investment taxes to pay off municipal debt, and using money that once promoted the resort to help the city also were passed.

The state Senate has not yet scheduled a vote on the measures.


6:10 p.m.

Businesses would be required to provide workers with paid sick leave under a bill approved by the state Senate.

Senators voted 22-17 in favor of the measure on Thursday.

Under the bill, an employee would accrue one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

The measure was opposed by business leaders, who argued it would be impose excessive regulations.


5 p.m.

New Jersey’s Senate failed to override the governor’s veto of a measure to permit residents who change their gender to update their birth certificates.

The Senate suspended a vote on Thursday after falling one vote short of the necessary 27 to override Christie.

The measure would have authorized the state’s registrar of vital statistics to issue an amended birth certificate for a person who submits a request. Under current law, such a person would have to first undergo sex-reassignment surgery to get an amended birth certificate.

In his veto, Christie said “appropriate safeguards” should accompany changes affecting birth certificates because they “unlock access” to benefits like passports and social services.


4 p.m.

The Assembly failed to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a bill that aimed to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic violence offenders.

The Assembly voted 49-18 Thursday to rebuke Christie, falling five votes shy of the 54 needed to override him.

The measure called for domestic violence offenders to surrender firearms while a restraining order is in effect, or when they are convicted of a crime, among other measures.

Christie argued the bill effectively restates current law. Already, New Jersey law prohibits domestic violence offenders and those under a restraining order from buying or owning a gun.

Christie also called for expediting the gun application process for domestic violence victims.


2 p.m.

A state senate committee has made its own changes to a proposal to let voters decide whether to allow two new casinos in the northern part of the state, but wide differences remain with a competing Assembly version.

The Senate budget committee advanced Senate President Steve Sweeney’s referendum plan that would require companies seeking the new licenses to already own an Atlantic City casino.

The Assembly version only places that requirement on one of the two new licenses.

Sweeney’s amended bill also changes the formula for helping revive Atlantic City, with no more than a third of gambling revenue from the new casinos going to the resort.

Both houses will consider an agreement by Monday, or else a single bill could be voted on by the full Legislature.


12:10 p.m.

A proposed constitutional amendment requiring New Jersey to make quarterly public pension payments has advanced in the Legislature.

The Assembly judiciary committee approved the proposed amendment, which could end up on the ballot as a referendum in 2016.

Gov. Chris Christie criticized the proposal at a recent state business event, saying it amounted to a payback by unions who back Democrats

Proposed amendments move to the ballot if approved by three-fifths of the Legislature in one year or by a simple majority in two legislative years.

Supporters of the amendment say it could save the state $13 billion over time in additional investment income and cuts to the unfunded liability.


11:40 a.m.

A New Jersey Assembly committee has made minor changes to a bill that would let voters decide whether to approve two new casinos in the northern part of the state.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee made a minor tweak Thursday to the proposed distribution of gambling tax revenue from the new casinos.

The bill calls for 63 percent of the new revenue to be split among programs for senior citizens and the disabled, and for tax relief for such residents in county and local governments across the state.

The change approved Thursday shifts an additional 2 percent to tax relief.

The bill still must be reconciled with a competing Senate version that has different funding distribution and casino ownership requirements.


11:30 a.m.

A proposal that would ask voters to weigh in on whether the state’s gas taxes should be used only for transportation projects has been approved by a legislative committee.

The Assembly judiciary committee approved the proposed constitutional amendment on Thursday.

The measure seeks to ensure those fuel tax funds are not used to address other problems.

Currently, the state’s 10.5-cent gas tax is required to be used for transportation. But there is no mandate on how to use revenue from a separate 4-cent tax on petroleum products. The proposal also would require that the full 13.5-cent diesel tax is used only for transportation as well. Three cents of it currently is not specifically required to go toward transportation.

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