Opponents of the legislation, including the New Jersey Builders Association, said at a budget committee hearing Monday that the state should focus its energy on ensuring that smoke detectors are installed in each home.
As many as 25 percent of houses do not have working smoke detectors, association spokesman Jeff Kolakowski testified. He also said the cost of installing a system could run much higher than supporters suggested.
State Sen. Brian Stack (D., Hudson) said cost was a secondary concern. "Whatever the cost is, it's worth it when it comes down to somebody's life," he said.
The bill heads to the full Senate.
In other legislative action, the budget committee advanced a bill that would require municipal police departments to install video recording systems in vehicles used primarily for traffic stops. State patrol cars already are equipped with cameras.
In the Assembly, the bill was sponsored by Paul Moriarty (D., Gloucester), who was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in July 2012. The charges were dismissed after he obtained video footage from a patrol car camera that showed him driving normally and appearing to pass sobriety tests easily.
Also Monday, the Assembly passed legislation that would establish the parameters within which police and fire departments could use unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.
Law enforcement agencies would be authorized to use drones for search-and-rescue operations such as finding missing persons. Police departments would have to obtain a warrant to use drones in most circumstances.
Drones could be used to monitor fires or natural disasters. The bill heads to the Senate for consideration of new amendments.