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Senate set to vote on expedited foreclosures, health benefits exchange

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The state Senate is set to vote this afternoon on a series of business-related bills, including measures that would expedite the process for foreclosing on abandoned homes and for setting a statewide health benefit exchange.

New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Michael Egenton said the organization favors the foreclosure bill, but opposes the benefit exchange.

The foreclosure bill, S-2156, is sponsored by Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union) and has a narrower focus than the Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act, which was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.

"We feel that the bill has a lot of potential, and will provide a lot of necessary tools to eliminate the backlog of foreclosures," Egenton said.

The measure has drawn a wide range of business supporters, from builders to bankers, as well as housing advocates.

However, the Health Benefit Exchange Act, S-2135, is receiving a more skeptical response from business groups. Christie vetoed an earlier version of the measure, sponsored by Sens. Nia H. Gill (D-Montclair) and Joseph F. Vitale (D-Woodbridge).

"The main concern that the state chamber has is about the uncertain impact of the act on the business community," Egenton said. "We don't know the administration's plans yet. We still don't know what it's going to mean to the bottom line to business, particularly small businesses. There are a lot of unanswered questions there."

Other bills up for the 2 p.m. Senate voting session include a measure that would establish a "clean car" commission and another that would bar workers compensation claimants from being billed for approved medical services.

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