The Senate unanimously passed a version of the bill Thursday before the changes. The measure had the support of a range of education groups, including teachers' unions and an organization made up of school board members. Gov. Christie has championed the cause of overhauling tenure requirements.
In the Assembly on Thursday, a bill that would put a one-year moratorium on approvals of more "virtual" charter schools passed, 46-31, with one abstention.
The legislation, which has no companion in the Senate, also would create a task force to study the schools, in which some or all instruction is provided online, and would draft recommendations to regulate them.
The state must "ensure that these schools meet strict standards for delivering a quality education," Diegnan said.
Two such schools - including the New Jersey Virtual Charter, which will draw students from Camden, Perth Amboy, Neptune, and Paterson - are to open in the fall, pending final state approval. Also scheduled to open are three hybrid schools that will combine classroom and Internet instruction.
Four of the five virtual schools list Newark as their host district.
The state's 1995 charter school law does not specifically address virtual charters. The New Jersey School Boards Association and the Education Law Center, which has represented poor urban districts, have expressed support for a moratorium.
Action was taken Thursday on a range of other bills:
A measure that would tighten requirements for young people seeking driver's licenses was approved by the Assembly, though Christie vetoed an identical bill this year. Under the bill, those younger than 18 who apply for learner's or exam permits - and at least one of their parents - must complete a teen-driver program. Those younger than 21 would have to log at least 50 hours of practice driving before getting a probationary license. And drivers 16 to 20 would have a permit for a year, rather than six months.
The Assembly voted unanimously to make it easier to convict drivers of vehicular homicide or assault by auto if they kill or injure someone while using a cellphone. The legislation classifies the illegal use of a handheld cellphone as driving recklessly, one factor in finding a person guilty of vehicular homicide or assault. The Senate must still vote on the measure.
The Senate approved a measure expanding and making permanent the state's sterile syringe program. The measure provides clean needles to drug users in the hope of containing the spread of HIV and other diseases. The state's Bloodborne Disease Harm Reduction Act, approved in 2006, is a demonstration program that was authorized in six cities, including Camden. The new measure would allow any municipality to operate a program. The Assembly has yet to consider the measure.
Democrats in both houses advanced a bill to return tens of millions in energy tax money to municipalities. The Assembly and Senate Budget panels forwarded the measure along party-line votes. The state has been withholding the money, which utility companies pay to put power lines and infrastructure in cities and towns. The measure would cost the state $66 million in the next fiscal year. Mayors of both parties say the money is needed to help stabilize property taxes. Christie does not support it.
Inquirer staff writer Rita Giordano contributed to this article.