On Feb. 22, the Assembly Consumer Affairs and Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens committees heard various bills related to student health and safety.

Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee

The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee discussed but did not vote on:

Mercury Floors Task Force A-3018 would establish a Task Force on Mercury Exposure in Schools and Child Care Centers in the New Jersey Department of Health. The task force would be charged with, among other duties, developing best practices for testing school floors for mercury and establishing remediation standards. It would be comprised of 15 members, including the commissioners of Health, Environmental Protection, Education, Community Affairs and Children and Families, alongside experts appointed by the governor and legislative leadership. Within one year, the task force would be required to submit a report of findings and recommendations to the governor. The New Jersey School Boards Association supports the bill.

Mercury Floor Removal A-3019 would require applicants for construction permits for the construction, reconstruction, alternation, conversion, repair, or upgrade of flooring in any building in a school or child care center to present a certification issued by the manufacturer that the flooring to be used in the project is free of mercury and compounds containing mercury. Regarding projects for existing flooring, the applicant must either present a certification that the existing flooring is free of mercury and compounds containing mercury or certify that the flooring will be removed. The bill would further require the New Jersey Department of Health to establish regulations for evaluation, assessment, and removal of flooring material, and to create an application process for the bill’s required certifications that school floors are mercury-free. The NJSBA testified that, while supporting the intent of the bill and its provisions regarding new floors and bolstering Department of Health supports, the portion of the bill regarding removal of existing flooring raised concern. Specifically, the NJSBA cited potential inconsistencies with the New Jersey Department of Health’s February 2020 guidance Evaluation and Management of Mercury-Containing Floors in New Jersey Schools, particularly its recommendations for exposure mitigation strategies that schools can implement based on levels of airborne mercury relative to the NJDOH’s recommended maximum contaminant level of 0.8 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The NJSBA recommended amendments to allow school districts to certify adherence with NJDOH’s guidance as an alternative to full removal of existing flooring during a flooring project.

The Senate Health, Human and Senior Services Committee discussed:

Expansion of Defibrillator availability S-1210 requires automatic external defibrillators to be on-site at certain places of public assembly and youth athletic events.  The bill requires that, in addition to any other requirements, a “place of public assembly” must also have an AED available as well as persons on-site with training to use it. Specifically, S-1210 requires that an AED be available in any indoor or outdoor facility capable of holding at least 1,000 people that is being used for sporting events or any concert hall, recital hall, theater, indoor or outdoor amphitheater, or other auditorium space used for the presentation of musical renditions or concerts. Current law for school districts requires AEDs be available “during the school day and any other time when a school-sponsored athletic event or team practice is taking place in which pupils of the district or nonpublic school are participating.” N.J.S.A. 18A:40-41a. S-1210 also requires at least one trained employee or volunteer to be available during the event to respond to a cardiac event.  The NJSBA sought amendments to the bill seeking adequate funding for any additional AEDs that may need to be purchased and to cover the cost for additional staff training to meet these new requirements.

To view the full text of any of the bills summarized above, please visit the New Jersey Legislature’s website.