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State Assembly Passes Bill that Strips Some Government Agency Heads of Veto Power

On April 29, 2013, the New Jersey State Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill that will have far reaching impacts on administrative law in New Jersey. The bill known as A-1521 would effectively strip certain agency heads of their current veto powers over the decisions of administrative law judges in contested state agency decisions. The bill covers several major agencies, including the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).

The bill comes as a result of recommendations made by the April 19, 2010, report of the Red Tape Review Group, a study group formed by Governor Chris Christie with the mission to find ways to roll back the size of government. Proponents of the bill claim that it will lead to a fairer and more efficient process. Under existing state law, administrative law judges make preliminary decisions on cases, which the head of a government agency can approve, reject or modify. The bill would render decisions in certain disputes final determinations that cannot be overturned by an agency head.

As the NJDEP is one of the agencies directly affected by the proposed bill, the attorneys at Lieberman Blecher & Sinkevich will be keeping an eye on A-1521 as it moves through the legislative process. According to Stuart Lieberman, “It is really incredible that a Governor would actually give up this much power, and it would be remarkable if this bill ultimately becomes law.” Be sure to check our blog for further developments of this legislation, or follow us on Twitter (@EnviroLawyers) to be kept in the loop about the bill’s development.

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