There’s been a lot of action (and inaction) on arts bills currently under consideration by the New Jersey state legislature.
On January 31:
– Governor Murphy conditionally vetoed A1220, which would license drama therapists and dance/movement therapists. The veto was based on reluctance to add yet another regulatory body in the Division of Consumer Affairs, and requested a change that would add licensing for these professions under the title of “Creative Arts Therapies.” It is uncertain if those proposing licensure are willing to comply with the terms of the conditional veto. Stay tuned!
– A3832, which would allow local governments to create a dedicated tax levy for local artistic and cultural projects by voter approval, passed the N.J. Assembly and was referred to the N.J. Senate (S2459) for second reading. The bill permits a municipality to submit a proposition to voters to authorize an annual levy, in an amount or at a rate that the governing body deems appropriate, to be established for the purpose of supporting arts and culture, broadly defined, and deposited into an “arts and culture trust fund.”
This proposition may be voted upon in a general or special election, and the bill also authorizes a public question requiring a petition signed by the voters of the municipality equal in number to at least 15 percent of the votes cast at the last preceding general election.
This is an exciting proposal for new government support on a local level, but, when and if passed, the bill will require extensive grassroots support and will take at least two years to become a reality. S2459 is certainly worthy of support, and local arts councils and commissions should take note and consider planning now for potential future implementation.
The following bills were considered by the Assembly Tourism, Gaming, and Arts Committee on February 7:
– A4378 would require the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to establish an “Artist District” designation for municipalities, to establish criteria for the designation, and to work with the Division of Travel and Tourism to promote any Artist District as a destination for artists and visitors.
– A4500 directs the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to create, update, and disseminate a guide containing the “best practices” for arts programs for youth at risk of juvenile delinquency.
– A4501 requires the Juvenile Justice Commission to establish an arts education pilot program for juvenile offenders in New Jersey. According to the bill, the commission would oversee the development, operation, administration, and evaluation of the pilot program in consultation with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
– AJR159 designates the first full week of June as “Children’s Art Week” in New Jersey.
ArtPride New Jersey’s Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, Ann Marie Miller, testified to the Assembly Committee, noting that without additional appropriations, instituting such worthy programs would either not be possible or would require to the N.J. State Council on the Arts staff to redirect efforts from its current grantmaking responsibilities. This provided an opportunity to mention that another bill, A3101, could provide such support and that sufficient funding currently exists through the Council’s dedicated funding source, the N.J. Hotel/Motel Occupancy Fee.
While revenue from the Hotel/Motel tax has increased over the past nine years, the appropriations to the arts, history, and tourism has not. A3101 would increase the minimum amount annually appropriated, and requires NO NEW REVENUE for support.
A3101 currently has 18 N.J. Assembly sponsors. Check ArtPride’s PDF with talking points to see the sponsors, and if your Assembly representatives are not listed, ask them to co-sponsor this bill. The bill’s N.J. Senate version, S247, passed unanimously last February, yet the N.J. Assembly has not taken action since the bill was introduced more than a year ago.