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UPDATED: Kean calls for action on bills after 'blockade' ends

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A week after Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-West Deptford) said he would end his blockade of Republican bills, his GOP counterpart is calling for swift passage of a number of Republican-sponsored measures, including several of note to the business community.

Sen. Stephen M. Sweeney (D-West Deptford)

"Now that Senator Sweeney is finally ending his 50-day partisan ban on Republican solutions, hopefully he allows this Senate to come together and start advancing the people's reforms," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield).

Kean specifically pointed to bills related to protections for children and families, civil service reforms, and some business-related mechanisms.

In particular, Kean wants Sweeney to post a bill (S-2505) sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Red Bank) to give the Department of Banking and Insurance more power to ensure state-licensed flood insurers provide prompt and fair settlement of claims.

"Let's do something to learn from and better prepare for the next superstorm Sandy," he said. "There's more we need to do now to help people recover."

Kean also asked Sweeney to allow action on bills relating pay-to-play reforms, cutting pensions for workers who take another public job while receiving a pension and ensuring insurance producers meet certain criteria before they get public funds.

Sweeney removed all GOP-sponsored legislation from committee agendas in May, saying the move was the result of hyper-partisanship on Kean's part.

Sweeney last week announced he would lift the ban, though it's unclear when the Senate will next meet. The body had been set to hold a voting session Monday, but that session was canceled.

Chris Donnelly, a spokesman for Sweeney, said he couldn't say when or if specific bills would move forward.

"We have yet to determine which bills will be taken up in the coming weeks, but we appreciate the Minority Leader's call for bipartisanship," Donnelly said. "We hope this means that he has finally decided to allow his caucus members to vote their conscience on marriage equality."

Sweeney, a proponent of same-sex marriage, is hoping a handful of Republican votes will help him override a gubernatorial veto of same-sex marriage legislation. He accused GOP leaders last week of ordering Republican lawmakers to vote "no" on the override attempt.

Reporter Jared Kaltwasser is @JaredKaltwasser on Twitter.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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