Dioxin: Legislative Developments

November 21, 2016 | Complex Torts & Product Liability | General Liability

New Jersey Senator Proposes Creation of Dedicated Environmental Fund

A proposed constitutional amendment has been introduced into the New Jersey legislature that, if adopted, would dedicate all moneys from settlements and awards collected by the state in connection with legal claims based on environmental contamination.

The proposed amendment would provide that such amounts only could be used to repair damage to, restore, or permanently protect the state’s natural resources, and for any of the purposes enumerated in Article VIII, Section II, paragraph 6, of the state’s constitution. Those constitutionally enumerated purposes include providing funding for cleaning contaminated sites and underground storage tank sites, water quality programs, and preserving open space, farmland, and historic buildings or sites.

In addition, the proposed amendment states that no more than five percent of the moneys dedicated and appropriated annually pursuant to the amendment could be expended for administrative costs of the state or its departments, agencies, or authorities for the authorized purposes.

The proposed amendment, introduced as a concurrent resolution by Senator Bob Smith and Senator Linda R. Greenstein, was co-sponsored by Senators P. Barnes, III, Codey, Lesniak, Scutari, Vitale, Turner, Weinberg, and Sarlo.

The Proposed Amendment

The proposal would amend Article VIII, Section II, of the New Jersey constitution by adding a new paragraph 9 that would read:

  1. There shall be credited annually to a special account in the General Fund an amount equivalent to the revenue annually derived from all settlements and judicial and administrative awards collected by the State in connection with claims based on environmental contamination.

The amount annually credited pursuant to this paragraph shall be dedicated, and shall be appropriated from time to time by the Legislature, only for paying for costs incurred by the State to repair damage to, restore, or permanently protect the State’s natural resources, or for any of the purposes enumerated in Article VIII, Section II, paragraph 6 of the State Constitution, except that no more than five percent of the moneys appropriated pursuant to this paragraph may be expended for administrative costs of the State or its departments, agencies, or authorities for the purposes authorized in this paragraph.

If the legislature agrees to the proposed amendment, New Jersey voters would vote on whether to amend the constitution.

Currently, funds from settlements and awards collected by the state in connection with legal claims based on environmental contamination may be used for any state purpose.

For further information, please contact James V. Aiosa, Paul V. Majkowski, Lawrence S. Han, or your regular Rivkin Radler attorney.

 

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