Tracking Legislation and Other Items Important to the Business Community:
"Made in America" Requirement
S-1811 ((Sweeney/D-3; O'Toole/R-40)/ A-3059 (Egan/D-17; Rible/R-30; Diegnan/D-18)/ A-3221 (Lagana/D-38; Mosquera/D-4; Eustace/D-38)/ A-3279 (Mosquera/D-4; Lagana D-38)/ A-3280 (Mosquera/D-4; Lagana/D-38)/ A-3281 (Mosquera/D-4; Lagana/D-38)
Senate passed 36-1. Assembly committee passed. Requires vendors receiving contracts and economic incentives from state entities, state higher education institutions, and all major transportation authorities to purchase goods manufactured in the United States to fulfill those contracts. This package of bills would slow down public works and add dramatically to compliance costs in the private sector. Additionally, these requirements would create more red tape, stall decisions and could jeopardize our relations with the international trade community.
Assembly Labor Committee A-3059/A-3221/A-3279/A-3280/A-3281 Vote: Sumter, Shavonda E. (VC) - Yes; Coughlin, Craig J. - Yes; Dancer, Ronald S. - Abstain; Eustace, Timothy J. - Yes; Lagana, Joseph A. - Yes; Mukherji, Raj - Yes; Quijano, Annette - Yes; Space, Parker - Abstain; Webber, Jay - Abstain
Moratorium on Non-Residential Fees
S-1011 (Lesniak/D-20; Beck/R-11) and A-1907 (Burzichelli/D-3; Bramnick/R-21; Singleton/D-7; DeCroce, B. /R-26; Lampitt/D-6; Wimberly/D-35)
Senate committee passed. Assembly committee passed. Reinstates the moratorium on fees for non-residential construction projects that expired on July 1, 2013, and continues the moratorium through December 31, 2014. This bill sends a message that New Jersey is focused on enhancing economic growth, creating jobs and strengthening the economy.
Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee S-1011 Vote: Sarlo, Paul A. (C) - Yes; Stack, Brian P. (VC) - No; Barnes, Peter J.,III - Not Voting; Beck, Jennifer - Yes; Bucco, Anthony R. - Yes; Cunningham, Sandra B. - No; Greenstein, Linda R. - Yes; O'Toole, Kevin J. - Yes; Oroho, Steven V. - Yes; Pou, Nellie - Yes; Ruiz, M. Teresa - Abstain; Thompson, Samuel D. - Yes; Van Drew, Jeff - Yes
Assembly Budget Committee A-1907 Vote: Schaer, Gary S. (C) - Yes; Burzichelli, John J. (VC) - Yes; Brown, Christopher J. - Yes; Bucco, Anthony M. - Yes; Cryan, Joseph - Yes; Johnson, Gordon M. - Yes; Mukherji, Raj - Yes; O'Scanlon, Declan J., Jr. - Yes; Pintor Marin, Eliana - Yes; Singleton, Troy - Yes; Webber, Jay - Yes; Wimberly, Benjie E. - Yes
Common Core Standards Oversight
S-2154 (Van Drew/D-1; Gordon/D-38)
For Discussion Only. Establishes the Education Reform Review Task Force to analyze the implementation and adoption of common core education standards, the use of assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC assessments), and the implementation and effects of the teacher evaluation system, including the use of certain student data. The State Chamber supports the implementation of the Common Core and the PARCC assessments and opposes any effort to delay deployment of the new system. To do so would put students at a severe disadvantage in the ultra-competitive world of employment and college admissions, since both the SAT and ACT assessments will be aligned to the Common Core. Additionally, the state would be at risk in losing potential revenue through federal funding.
Open Space Constitutional Amendment
SCR-84 (Smith/D-17; Bateman/R-16)
Public Testimony Only. Dedicates 6 percent of the Corporation Business Tax (CBT) revenues annually for the next 30 years (from Fiscal Year 2016 through Fiscal Year 2045) to finance the State's open space, farmland and historic preservation programs. Although the State Chamber recognizes the importance of open space funding, we oppose the prospect of shifting funds from the CBT that now support DEP-related programs, such as site remediation, which assists in the cleanup of contaminated properties. The State Chamber also is concerned on how this proposal would impact CBT revenue and allocation in the outlying years.
Assembly passed 47-31; sent to Governor. Requires any state contractor that is not subject to the prevailing wage requirement to report - to the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development - information regarding the gender, race, job title, occupational category and total compensation of every employee working in connection with the contract. The State Chamber is concerned that the mandates requiring employers to supply sensitive and private information to the State could jeopardize identity protection of employees.
Worker's Compensation Attorney's Fees
S-374 (Scutari/D-22; Beck/R-11)
Senate committee passed with amendments. The bill seeks to amend the formula for calculating attorneys' fees to be awarded in workers compensation cases in a manner that discourages settlement and encourages parties to take cases that could be resolved outside the already overburdened judicial system to trial. The existing statute provides for fees based only on the portion of the judgment in excess of whatever compensation was promptly offered and paid to an employee. The proposed amendment would instead base the formula for attorneys' fees on the full amount of the recovery, regardless of how much of that recovery was achieved absent any attorney involvement, and would actually deduct that full amount from the employee's recovery. The existing formula fosters good public policy and encourages prompt, good faith payments to injured employees. The State Chamber recognizes and appreciates the work of the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute regarding this legislation. NJCJI advocates for reforms that will ensure that New Jersey's civil justice system treats all parties fairly and discourages lawsuit abuse.
Senate Judiciary Committee S-374 Vote: Scutari, Nicholas P. (C) - Yes; Bateman, Christopher - No; Cardinale, Gerald - No; Doherty, Michael J. - No; Kyrillos, Joseph M. - No; Lesniak, Raymond J. - Yes; O'Toole, Kevin J. - No; Pou, Nellie - Yes; Sarlo, Paul A. - Yes; Smith, Bob - Yes; Stack, Brian P. - Yes; Sweeney, Stephen M. - Yes; Weinberg, Loretta - Yes
Assembly passed 49-26-3; sent to Governor. Expands the statute of limitations governing discriminatory compensation claims under the "Law Against Discrimination". This bill goes beyond the scope of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 that caps the statute of limitations at two years. While this bill's attempt to address pay disparity is laudable, the State Chamber believes this legislation should not expand the current statute of limitations for the recovery of lost wages.
Impeding Privatization - S-770/ A-2873 (Weinberg/D-37; Turner/D-15; Sweeney/D-3; Vainieri Huttle/D-37; Moriarty/D-4; Mosquera/D-4; Benson/D-14): Assembly passed 48-30; sent to Governor. This bill imposes additional requirements and procedures on public service privatization contracts. The State Chamber believes the goal of privatization is to provide the best services at the lowest price, which equates to cost savings for New Jersey taxpayers. Provisions in this bill will create impediments and hurdles, thereby complicating and stifling the current system.
Thumbs up and down indicates the Chamber's support or opposition to issues. Call the New Jersey Chamber Government Relations Department at (609) 989-7888 with questions or comments.