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Trenton Watch - March 31, 2014 (2)

Tracking Legislation and Other Items Important to the Business Community:

Commerce
Assembly Labor Committee
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Resolution to Support Port Competitiveness
AJR-61 (Rumana/R-40; Quijano/D-20; Sumter/D-35; Garcia/D-33; Wimberly/D-35; Cryan/D-20; Johnson/D-37; Egan/D-17)

Assembly passed 72-0. Assembly committee passed. Urges the Governor and Legislature of the State of New York to enact legislation substantially similar to P.L.2007, c.167, a law requiring the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor to accept any application for the inclusion of new employees in the longshoremen's register of the Port of New York District. A healthy and vibrant port adds good, permanent jobs to New Jersey's workforce resulting in an efficient operation, advancing industries such as trucking, logistics, manufacturing, and retail.

Assembly Labor Committee AJR-61 Vote: Egan, Joseph V. (C) - Yes; Sumter, Shovanda E. (VC) - Yes; Coughlin, Craig J. - Not Voting; Dancer, Ronald S. - Yes; McHose, Alison Littell - Yes; Mukherji, Raj - Yes; O'Donnell, Jason - Yes; Quijano, Annette - Yes; Webber, Jay - Yes

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Economic Development
Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee
Thumbs Up

Economic Opportunity Act of 2014 (EO14)
S-928 (Lesniak/D-20; Pou/D-35)

Senate passed 34-2. Senate committee passed. EO14 increases the Economic Redevelopment and Growth (ERG) incentives cap from $600 million to $850 million by creating a new $250 million tax credit subprogram for affordable housing. Additionally, the bill allows certain municipalities with qualified projects to set a minimum affordable housing percentage requirement below the current 20 percent rate. Lastly, the bill extends from July 28, 2015 to July 28, 2018 the date by which eligible residential redevelopment projects must have temporary certificates of occupancy. This measure will allow greater flexibility and accessibility to the state's newly revamped economic incentives.

Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee S-928 Vote: Sarlo, Paul A. (C) - Yes; Stack, Brian P. (VC) - Not Voting; Beach, James - Yes; Beck, Jennifer - Yes; Bucco, Anthony R. - Yes; Greenstein, Linda R. - Yes; Lesniak, Raymond J. - Yes; O'Toole, Kevin J. - Not Voting; Oroho, Steven V. - Yes; Pou, Nellie - Yes; Ruiz, M. Teresa - Yes; Thompson, Samuel D. - Yes; Van Drew, Jeff - Yes

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Energy
Senate Environment and Energy Committee
Thumbs Down

Ban on Fracking
S-1376 (Beck/R-11; Bateman/R-16)

Senate committee passed. Establishes a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. This bill sets a bad precedent by limiting opportunities for those in the field of energy production. Natural gas provides a clean, safe and affordable energy source to both residents and business owners. Placing a statewide ban sends the wrong message both regionally and globally.

Senate Environment and Energy Committee S-1376 Vote: Smith, Bob (C) - Yes; Greenstein, Linda R. (VC) - Yes; Bateman, Christopher - Yes; Sweeney, Stephen M. - Yes; Thompson, Samuel D. - Abstain

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Senate Environment and Energy Committee
Thumbs Down

RGGI
S-151 (Sweeney/D-3; Smith/D-17; Barnes/D-18)

Senate committee passed. Requires participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The State Chamber opposes this measure because the RGGI program was not effective in cutting emissions of carbon dioxide and the program ultimately contributed to higher energy prices for residents and businesses in New Jersey. Additionally, only ten northeastern states were part of RGGI, while states like our neighboring Pennsylvania declined.

Senate Environment and Energy Committee S-151 Vote: Smith, Bob (C) - Yes; Greenstein, Linda R. (VC) - Yes; Bateman, Christopher - Yes; Sweeney, Stephen M. - Yes; Thompson, Samuel D. - No

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Government Reform
Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee
Thumbs Up

Review Permits to Expedite
S-360 (Oroho/R-24; Stack/D-33)

Senate committee passed. Directs every state agency to identify permits that may be expedited by issuance of a general permit. This reform measure implements one of the findings of the "Red Tape Review Commission Findings and Recommendations" report, issued February 2012.

Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee S-360 Vote: Whelan, Jim (C) - Yes; Turner, Shirley K. (VC) - Yes; Barnes, Peter J. III - Yes; Oroho, Steven V. - Yes; Thompson, Samuel D. - Yes

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Labor
Assembly Labor Committee
Thumbs Down

Minimum Wage Hike for Tipped Workers
A-857 (Sumter/D-35; Caride/D-36; Egan/D-17; O'Donnell/D-31; Mosquera/D-4)

Assembly committee passed. Increases the minimum hourly wage that must be paid to employees who customarily and regularly receive gratuities or tips. The bill provides that, after December 31, 2014, an employer may claim a credit for gratuities or tips received by an employee against the hourly wage rate paid to the employee in an amount not to exceed 60 percent of the minimum hourly wage rate required by law or Article I, paragraph 23 of the New Jersey constitution, whichever is greater, and after December 31, 2015, an employer may claim a credit for gratuities and tips in an amount not to exceed 31 percent of the minimum hourly wage rate. The proposed increase will have a detrimental impact on restaurants and other related industries. Employers will ultimately have to make difficult economic decisions to meet their bottom line by either passing costs on to consumers, scaling back the hours of current employees or not hiring additional employees.

Assembly Labor Committee A-857 Vote: Egan, Joseph V. (C) - Yes; Sumter, Shovanda E. (VC) - Yes; Coughlin, Craig J. - Not Voting; Dancer, Ronald S. - No; McHose, Alison Littell - No; Mukherji, Raj - Yes; O'Donnell, Jason - Yes; Quijano, Annette - Yes; Webber, Jay - No

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Thumbs Down

Wage Recovery Act
S-783 (Weinberg/D-37)

Senate passed 22-13. 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.

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Thumbs Down

Creates New Requirements for State Contracts
S-1038 (Weinberg/D-37)

Senate passed 21-15. Requires state contractors that are not subject to prevailing wage requirements to submit information to the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development regarding the gender, race, job title, occupational category and total compensation of their employees working on the project. This bill raises privacy concerns, imposes excessive requirements and will potentially drive up contracting costs.

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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.