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By Fred Barnes

“Change Has Arrived”

When Governor Christie was sworn in as New Jersey’s 55th Governor, he declared, “change has arrived”! And, indeed it has. On his first full day in office, Christie immediately fulfilled a key campaign promise by signing three sweeping executive orders, suspending virtually all new or proposed government regulations for 90 days and setting up a formal review of New Jersey’s regulatory structure.

The Christie Administration has made reining in government overregulation a top priority, and even before taking office named his Lieutenant Governor Guadagno to head up the Red Tape Review Group to identify regulations that hurt our economy and to recommend changes.

Executive Order #2 provides regulatory relief in the near and long term. Specifically, it requires: 1) extensive use of cost-benefit analysis and scientific and economic research to determine whether regulations are necessary and cost effective; 2) a process for granting waivers when rules are unduly burdensome or conflict with other State rules; and 3) a compelling reason for every instance in which a rule, regulation or standard exceeds federal law. Imagine that!

Also, Executive Order #2 requires agencies to apply “time-or-decision” rules, meaning they must process permit applications according to the regulations and standards in effect when the application was filed.

Executive Order #3 formally establishes the Red Tape Review Group to reform New Jersey’s regulatory system.

Other Executive Orders DIRECTS all agencies, boards, commissions, departments and authorities over which the Governor has the power to veto minutes, to refrain from recommending, proposing, publishing or submitting any regulations containing an UNFUNDED MANDATE.

Governor Takes Swift Action

During his short time in the Governor’s Office, the Governor has done the following:

  • With an anticipated budget deficit for 2009 of $2 billion, he has put a “freeze” on state spending, including school aid;
  • He has served notice on schools, municipalities and state agencies that they must use their surplus funds to help meeting their budget needs;
  • Laid forth a plan to reform the Unemployment Trust Fund aimed at preventing a dramatic payroll tax increase for NJ employers;
  • Enacted three pension reform bills which will have public workers contribute 1.5% of their salaries to their healthcare cost; sick leave payout would be capped at $15,000; retirement ages will increase; and the pension system would be restricted to full-time employees, among other reforms;
  • Among which, would be the requirement that all workers who have more than one public job, will only be able to receive one pension!

A New Game in Town

Throughout the course of the next few months, there will considerable debate regarding the budget, but also on some of the proposals Governor Christie has put forth. While the business community is very pleased with the Governor’s proposals; it is expected the unions, teachers and other public entity groups will have much to say. However, it is expected the Governor will hold firm and bring about some much needed changes.

A Time for NJLBA’s Voice To Be Heard

Never before has there been a time more conducive for the voice of NJLBA and other groups and organizations to be heard. The new administration has put in place a process whereby this can happen, but the Legislature has also created several new committees on regulatory oversight where they are seeking the views and opinions of the public.
NJLBA is in the process of compiling a list of regulations and laws that our members feel are too onerous and that stifle business and competition. We will continue to submit ideas and speak out on issues and policies that affect licensees, and hope we will be able to help realize some meaningful changes that will be of benefit to our members. Now, more than ever before, it is important for licensees to speak with one voice, by joining NJLBA, and supporting our efforts.

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