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Trenton Watch - March 20, 2014

 

FIRST REPORT OF THE 216th LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Tracking Legislation and Other Items Important to the Business Community:

Environment
Senate Environment and Energy Committee
Thumbs Down

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

Senate committee passed. 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 shifting funds from various DEP-related programs and encourages the Legislature to review ways to reduce our Corporation Business Tax to make our state more competitive.

Senate Environment and Energy Committee SCR-84 Vote: Smith, Bob (C) - Yes; Greenstein, Linda R. - Yes; Bateman, Christopher - Yes; Codey, Richard J. - Yes; Thompson, Samuel D. - No

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Energy
Senate Environment and Energy Committee
Thumbs Down

Ban on Fracking
S-1041 (Gordon/D-38; Bateman/R-16)

Senate committee passed. Prohibits 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 sets 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.

Senate Environment and Energy Committee S-1041 Vote: Smith, Bob (C) - Yes; Greenstein, Linda R. - Yes; Bateman, Christopher - Yes; Codey, Richard J. - Yes; Thompson, Samuel D. - No

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Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee
Thumbs Down

RGGI
AR-48 (Chivukula/D-17; McKeon/D-27; Gusciora/D-15; Mosquera/D-4; Vainieri Huttle/D-37)

Assembly committee passed. This resolution urges the Governor to participate 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.

Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee AR-48 Vote: Spencer, L. Grace (C) - Yes; McKeon, John F. (VC) - Yes; Benson, Daniel R. - Yes; Rumana, Scott T. - No; Wisniewski, John S. - Yes; Wolfe, David W. - Not Voting

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Health
Assembly Women and Children Committee
Under Review

Mandated Health Coverage
A-2682 (Lampitt/D-6; Benson/D-14; Pinkin/D-18)

Assembly committee passed. Extends the time period in which newly born children are covered under their parent's health benefits coverage from the current 30 days to 90 days. The State Chamber requested that the bill be referred to the Mandated Health Benefits Advisory Commission for further consideration and evaluation. The New Jersey Mandated Health Benefits Advisory Commission responds to requests from the State Legislature, providing an objective, independent analysis of the medical, financial and social impacts of proposed health insurance benefit mandates.

Assembly Women and Children Committee A-2682 Vote: Lampitt, Pamela R. (C) - Yes; Mosquera, Gabriela M. (VC) - Yes; Casagrande, Caroline- Yes; Munoz, Nancy F. - Abstain; Schaer, Gary S. - Yes; Spencer, L. Grace - Yes

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Labor
Senate Labor Committee
Thumbs Down

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

Senate committee passed. 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.

Senate Labor Committee S-783 Vote: Madden, Fred H. (C) - Yes; Vitale, Joseph F. (VC) - Yes; Addiego, Dawn Marie - Abstain; Bucco, Anthony R. - Yes; Cunningham, Sandra B. - Yes

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Senate Labor Committee
Thumbs Down

Increase in Workers' Compensation Payments
S-929 (Sweeney/D-3; Madden/D-4)

Senate committee passed. Imposes a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) on workers' compensation benefit rates for certain cases that occurred after 1980. While the intent of the legislation is admirable, the State Chamber cannot disregard the $165 million per year cost associated with full implementation. Calculations estimate that paying a nearly 34-year COLA in just three years will produce an estimated 6 percent increase in workers' compensation premiums.

Senate Labor Committee S-929 Vote: Madden, Fred H. (C) - Yes; Vitale, Joseph F. (VC) - Yes; Addiego, Dawn Marie - Abstain; Bucco, Anthony R. - No; Cunningham, Sandra B. - Yes

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

Senate committee passed. 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.

Senate Labor Committee S-1038 Vote: Madden, Fred H. (C) - Yes; Vitale, Joseph F. (VC) - Yes; Addiego, Dawn Marie - No; Bucco, Anthony R. - No; Cunningham, Sandra B. - Yes

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Senate Labor Committee
Thumbs Down

Regulates Hiring Practices
S-1440 (Barnes, III/D-18; Whelan/D-2)

Senate committee passed. Prohibits employers from basing employment decisions on the fact that an applicant is, or has been, unemployed. The State Chamber is concerned that this legislation will lead to unnecessary fines on the employer community based on the voluntary information that may be disclosed during the job-hiring process.

Senate Labor Committee S-1440 Vote: Madden, Fred H. (C) - Yes; Vitale, Joseph F. (VC) - Yes; Addiego, Dawn Marie - No; Bucco, Anthony R. - No; Cunningham, Sandra B. - Yes

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Telecommunications
Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee
Thumbs Down

Moratorium on New Communications Technologies
A-2459 (Benson/D-14; Chivukula/D-17; Ciattarelli/R-16; McGuckin/R-10): )

Assembly committee passed. Establishes a one-year moratorium on the replacement of copper-based landline telephone service with wireless service. Our telecommunication companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to bring state-of-the-art communications technologies to our state. To ensure that the business community can continue to access the best products on the market, communications providers must be free to innovate and invest here without unnecessary government delays and red tape.

Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee A-2459 Vote: Chivukula, Upendra J. (C) - Yes; DeAngelo, Wayne P. (VC) - Yes; Egan, Joseph V. - Yes; Fiocchi, Samuel L. - Yes; Pintor Marin, Eliana - Yes; Simon, Donna M. - Abstain; Wimberly, Benjie E. - Yes

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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.