Governor Murphy Signs Bill to Speed Up Construction Permitting Process, Makes Progress on Efforts to Build More Affordable Housing in New Jersey
Governor Phil Murphy this week signed A573, which makes several changes to the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) Act designed to speed up the construction permitting process. The bill codifies a three-day construction inspection turnaround from the date of the requested inspection and allows for developers to contract with private on-site inspection agencies if local construction officials cannot complete the inspection within three days of the requested date. The bill brings New Jersey in line with several other states where private sector inspections supplement government inspections. The ultimate approval and sign-off on a certificate of occupancy will still come from local construction officials.
The bill also provides local governments with several avenues to improve their ability to conduct inspections in a timely manner, including a more streamlined bidding process to contract with private inspection agencies to conduct inspections for them or enter into shared services agreements to consolidate work among multiple municipalities.
In addition to the bill signing, Governor Murphy, along with Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, announced the award of more than $19 million to organizations across the state through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF), National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF), and the HOME Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDO) Production Program.
“As we enter a new year, this Administration’s mission remains the same; we will continue to make New Jersey stronger, fairer, and more affordable for all of our residents,” said Governor Murphy. “Today’s bill signing will speed up the construction permitting process, making sure that developers are able to complete their projects without delay. The over $19 million investment will aid in the completion of 79 affordable housing units across our state. These steps will bring us closer to providing quality and affordable homes to our residents.”
Governor Murphy Signs Bipartisan Legislation Establishing First in the Nation K-12 Information Literacy Education
Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (S588) establishing the requirement of K-12 instruction on information literacy under the implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. The signing of this bipartisan legislation reaffirms the Governor’s commitment to leading the nation in public education while preparing students for lifelong learning by equipping them with the skills they need to accurately assess information.
The bill requires the New Jersey Department of Education to develop New Jersey Student Learning Standards in “information literacy,” which is defined as a set of skills that enables an individual to recognize when information is needed and to locate, evaluate, and effectively use the needed information. Information literacy includes, but is not limited to, digital, visual, media, textual, and technological literacy.
“Our democracy remains under sustained attack through the proliferation of disinformation that is eroding the role of truth in our political and civic discourse,” said Governor Murphy. “It is our responsibility to ensure our nation’s future leaders are equipped with the tools necessary to identify fact from fiction. I am proud to sign legislation that is critical to the success of New Jersey’s students and essential to the preservation of our democracy.”
Murphy Administration Announces Funding to Support Facility and Security Upgrades for Reproductive Health Care Providers
The Murphy Administration announced funding for reproductive health care providers as part of Governor Phil Murphy’s ongoing efforts to expand protections for and access to reproductive health care in New Jersey. The funding includes zero-percent interest loans for upgrades at reproductive health care facilities and grants for security enhancements.
“We must and will continue to take a comprehensive approach to making reproductive health care safe and accessible to all who need it in our state,” said Governor Murphy. “This is a matter of defending a fundamental right that remains under attack throughout our country. New Jersey will continue to serve as a safe haven for both providers and patients as we take additional steps to ensure protected, equitable access to this critical care.”
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturning Roe v. Wade and other states implementing restrictions on and even criminalizing reproductive health care, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), in partnership with the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority (HCFFA), is offering zero-percent interest, forgivable loans to family planning providers seeking to make facility upgrades to deliver care to more patients.
“This program is an important step in the Murphy Administration’s ongoing commitment to helping ensure access to reproductive health care services throughout New Jersey,” said Health Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli. “These loans will support the improvement of facilities with equipment upgrades, increased staffing, and expanded IT services to enhance reproductive health care.”
New Jersey’s Minimum Wage Increases to Over $14/Hour for Most Employees
New Jersey’s statewide minimum wage increased by $1.13 to $14.13 per hour for most employees, on January 1, 2023.
The increase is part of legislation signed by Governor Murphy in February 2019 that gradually raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024 for most employees. When Governor Murphy took office in 2018, the state’s minimum wage was $8.60 per hour and he and the Legislature immediately identified increasing the minimum wage as a legislative priority. Under a law signed in 2019, the minimum wage increases by $1 per hour each year – or more if warranted because of significant increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
“Putting our minimum wage on a clear path to $15 an hour and setting us among the nation’s leading states remains one of my proudest moments,” said Governor Murphy. “This increase will ensure that hundreds of thousands of hardworking people across our state are paid a wage that allows them to provide for their families and live with greater dignity. To solidify New Jersey as the State of Opportunity, we must continue our mission of building a stronger and fairer economy that works for every family, and that begins with growing our middle class.”
EPA Announces $500 Million Loan to Modernize Wastewater and Drinking Water Infrastructure in New Jersey
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $500 million loan to the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank to modernize wastewater and drinking water systems serving over 10 million people throughout New Jersey. This is the first loan issued through the State Infrastructure Financing Authority Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (SWIFIA) program, which provides loans exclusively to state infrastructure financing authority borrowers, commonly known as state revolving fund programs.
“The EPA is thrilled to announce our first SWIFIA loan to New Jersey, a state that is making great strides in utilizing water infrastructure investments to improve access to clean, safe water for all residents,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “With EPA’s low-interest WIFIA loan, New Jersey will invest in over 90 communities across the Garden State and create 16,000 jobs while saving approximately $62.5 million. The Biden Administration is proud to expand our successful WIFIA program to now offer dedicated loans to state infrastructure financing authorities.”
“From critical resilience projects to the replacement of lead service lines, New Jersey remains at the forefront of innovative water infrastructure solutions,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “The EPA’s SWIFIA loan will further solidify New Jersey’s status as a national model for water infrastructure, which serves as the foundation for healthy communities. In addition to helping our state secure safe, healthy, and efficient wastewater and drinking water systems for all New Jerseyans, the EPA’s support will also help generate good-paying jobs in our expanding water workforce.”