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Votes set on bills as Republicans blast Democrats over lack of toolkit items

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The Legislature is set to vote Monday on a variety of measures affecting businesses, including a bill that would launch a website listing public contracting opportunities — but lawmakers in the Republican Assembly minority criticized majority Democrats for not including pension reform and other measures supported by Gov. Chris Christie on the day's agenda.

The bill that may affect businesses the most is A-3819, which spreads unemployment insurance tax increases over three years, instead of forcing employers to pay an average $300 per employee increase on July 1.

The website bill, S-2065, would require the state to develop a site named Bulletin NJ that would list all public contracts open for bidding. The bill has already been approved by the state Senate. Christie vetoed an earlier version that would have combined an employment database with the contracts information.

The other bills include A-3862, a requirement that gas station owners post their prices for both cash and credit-card transactions, and A-861, which would suspend the license of medical professionals or medical waste facilities, transporters and generators that illegally or improperly dump waste.

Another bill, A-812, would promote signs directing tourists to agricultural sites. These signs would highlight recreational and educational activities about the state's farming heritage, as well as activities like hay rides and winery tours. And yet another measure, A-3366, requires the Board of Public Utilities to establish a website where companies can upload any documents that the board requires them to file.

However, Republican legislators attacked the day's agenda for failing to address pension reform and Christie's so-called toolkit to give local governments more control over spending.

"Taxpayers want a solution to pension and benefit problems," said Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Whippany), pointing to bills making changes to civil service and sick leave payouts that Christie conditionally vetoed. He repeatedly described the opposing party as "do-nothing Democrats."

Democratic officials have questioned whether the toolkit would truly curb rising property taxes, noting that the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services found the remaining toolkit bills would reduce spending by a total of $288,000. Republicans said the Democrats were using the numbers selectively.

E-mail Andrew Kitchenman at akitchenman@njbiz.com

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