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Trenton Watch - August 12, 2014

Tracking Legislation and Other Items Important to the Business Community:

Environment
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Open Space Constitutional Amendment
SCR-84 (Smith/D-17; Bateman/R-16)

Assembly passed 58-9-1 and filed with the Secretary of State. Dedicates 6 percent of the Corporation Business Tax 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. The State Chamber opposes reallocating dedicated CBT funds, for example the funds used by the state Department of Environmental Protection for site remediation. We remain concerned about the uncertainty of what the CBT will produce and bring to our state in the outlying years. We encourage the Legislature to review ways to reduce our Corporation Business Tax to make our state more competitive.

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Ban on Fracking
S-1041 / A-2108 (Gordon/D-38; Bateman/R-16; Gusciora/D-15; Vainieri Huttle/D-37; Caride/D-36; Garcia/D-33; Watson Coleman/D-15)

The Governor issued an absolute veto on August 8. The bill would prohibit the treatment, discharge, disposal or storage of any wastewater, wastewater solids, sludge, drill cuttings or other byproducts resulting from hydraulic fracturing for the purpose of natural gas exploration or production in any state. This bill would have set a bad precedent by limiting opportunities for those in the field of energy production, and economically isolates our state by placing an embargo on out-of-state commerce, which directly violates the dormant Commerce Clause.

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Labor
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"Ban the Box"
A-1999 / S-2124 (Watson Coleman/D-15; Green/D-22; Spencer/D-29; Wimberly/D-35; Sumter/D-35; Cunningham/D-31; Lesniak/D-20; Ruiz/D-29)

The Governor signed the bill into law on August 11. The legislation prohibits an employer in the initial job application process from asking job candidates about criminal history. The State Chamber recognizes and appreciates the stakeholder process initiated by Senator Cunningham and her efforts to work closely with the business community during the last two years in addressing our concerns. The State Chamber, however, remains opposed to this measure based on principle and the intervention on business operations and the hiring process.

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Creates New Requirement for State Contracts
S-1038 / A-2345 (Lampitt/D-6; Weinberg/D-37 Mosquera/D-4; Johnson/D-37; Watson Coleman/D-15)

The Governor issued an absolute veto on August 8. The bill would require 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 was concerned that the mandates requiring employers to supply sensitive and private information to the State could jeopardize identity protection of employees.

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Wage Recovery
S-783 / A-2349 (Weinberg/D-37; Lampitt/D-6; Mosquera/D-4; Watson Coleman/D-15; Garcia/D-33)

The Governor issued a conditional veto on August 8, recommending changes to the legislation that will provide for strict adherence to the federal law. The bill calls for expanding 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 the bill's attempt to address pay disparity is laudable, the State Chamber believes this legislation should not have expanded the current statute of limitations for the recovery of lost wages.

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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)

The Governor issued an absolute veto on August 8. This bill would impose 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 would have created impediments and hurdles, thereby complicating and stifling the current system.

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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.