Taxation and Economic Development, Andrew Musick
Changing the Business Employment Incentive Program from Grants to Refundable Tax Credits
January 11, 2016 (S-3232/A-4834)
Governor Chris Christie signed legislation that allows outstanding Business Employment Incentive Program (BEIP) grant commitments to be converted into refundable tax credits, providing businesses with more certainty and predictability in difficult budget times. NJBIA supported the bill as these changes will allow New Jersey to meet its grant obligations to the companies that committed to the state through job creation and capital investment.
Tax Increases Vetoed June 29, 2015 (A-4602/S-2918 and 4603/S-3102)
Legislation increasing taxes by more than $1 billion was vetoed. The two bills would have increased the income tax rate to 10.75 percent and imposed a 15 percent corporate business tax surcharge. NJBIA strongly opposed both increases.
Anti-Inversion Bills Expire January 11, 2016 (A-3624/S-2361)
Legislation that withholds state contracts or economic development grants from companies that utilize corporate inversions expired. NJBIA opposed the bills because withholding grants and contracts would likely cost New Jersey jobs.
Hotel Tax Vetoed January 19, 2016 (A-4772/S-1034)
Governor Christie pocket vetoed legislation that would have allowed counties to impose a 1 percent tax on hotel rooms. NJBIA opposed the bill. The proposed tax would have been in addition to the 7 percent state sales tax on rooms and, at most hotels, a 5 percent state occupancy fee. On top of that, some municipalities also impose a municipal occupancy tax of up to 3 percent.
Dedicating Gas Tax to Transportation Trust Fund January 11, 2016 (ACR-1/SCR-190)
The Legislature approved an amendment to the state’s constitution requiring all of the funds raised from the motor-fuels tax to be allocated to the Transportation Trust Fund. The amendment may be placed on the November ballot. NJBIA supports dedicating funds for the TTF.
Tax Expenditure Bill Conditionally Vetoed May 11, 2015 (A-939/S-1403)
This bill would have placed burdensome requirements on businesses in reporting currently confidential tax information. NJBIA opposed the bill.
Savings from Business Tax Reforms June 29, 2015 (A-4600/S-2016)
The FY 2016 Budget included the final year of the five-year phase-in of $2.3 billion in business tax cuts and reforms. These reforms included net-loss carry-forward for small businesses, extension of the R&D tax credit and several other reforms backed by NJBIA. While the reforms were enacted in 2012, NJBIA worked to make sure they were fully phased-in.
Labor and Employment, Michael Wallace
Opportunity to Compete Act (Ban the Box) August 11, 2014 (A-1999/S-2124)
A new law limiting employers’ ability to conduct criminal background checks is much less onerous thanks to approval of amendments that NJBIA had requested. The law prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from making an oral or written inquiry into an applicant’s criminal record until after the initial interview. The original version of the bill that would have prohibited employers from making a criminal history inquiry until after a conditional job offer was given.
Paid Sick Leave Mandate Expires January 12, 2016 (A-2354/S-785)
A bill mandating that all businesses provide between five and nine days of paid sick leave to each employee annually and comply with numerous new regulations expired on January 12 after it was not posted for a full Assembly vote. NJBIA opposed the bill, as it would punish the 70 percent of New Jersey businesses already offering paid sick leave with new regulations, paperwork and legal liabilities.
Voluntary Savings Plan January 11, 2016 (A-4275)
Lawmakers concurred with Governor Christie’s conditional veto of legislation setting up IRA-style employee savings plans. NJBIA opposed the bill in its original form as a mandatory statute, and instead fought to make savings plans voluntary. Christie’s veto did just that. Now the program will be voluntary for both employers and employees, allowing businesses with fewer than 100 employees to participate.
Webpage Dedicated to Employee Leave January 19, 2016 (A-4728/S-3129)
Employers and employees will benefit from a dedicated webpage that provides comprehensive information on the state’s leave laws, thanks to an NJBIA initiative that has become law. Most of the information has been spread out over various state websites, employee handbooks and workplace posters. Now, the information will be consolidated on the Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s website.
Limiting Employers’ Ability to Check Credit of Employees January 12, 2016 (A-2298/S524)
Legislation that would have prohibited employers from reviewing job applicants’ credit history unless it was a bona fide qualification for a position expired when the session ended. NJBIA opposed the bill because it does not reflect current workplace dynamics and could lead to frivolous lawsuits against businesses.
Workers’ Compensation Surcharge Vetoed November 9, 2015 (A-1908/S-929)
Governor Christie vetoed legislation that imposed an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) on workers ’ compensation benefit rates for certain disability cases that occurred after 1980. NJBIA opposed the bill and supported the Governor’s veto, because S-929 would have increased surcharges on employers, eventually costing them $59.5 million.
Monthly Wage Reporting Mandate January 12, 2016 (A-3156)
A bill requiring monthly wage contribution reports, creating an unnecessary cost and administrative burden for employers, expired on January 12. NJBIA opposed the bill, and offered a less burdensome alternative.
Health and Legal Affairs, Mary Beaumont
Helping Businesses Find More Affordable Healthcare Plans December 9, 2015 (A-3421/S-2220)
Governor Christie signed legislation governing Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs), which allow groups of employers to pool contributions to purchase health insurance for their employees. NJBIA supported the bill as MEWAs help smaller employers get group health insurance rates and other insurance benefits, an essential for providing affordable health benefits.
Out-of-Network Reform Amendment December 3, 2015 (A-4444)
Legislation to reform how institutions handle payments of out-of-network services was amended to permit self-funded businesses to “opt-in” to the peer mediation binding arbitration and consumer protections from “surprise” bills, and establish binding arbitration for individuals in self-funded plans that do not “opt-in.” While this bill did not receive a final vote and will likely come up again, getting these amendments was an important step for those businesses that self-insure.
Health Insurance Mandate Vetoed January 11, 2016 (A-4271/S-3036)
Governor Christie vetoed legislation that would have required health insurers to cover abuse-deterrent opioid analgesic drug medications and capped patient cost-sharing for these medications regardless of their cost. NJBIA generally opposes legislative coverage mandates that do not have a documented benefit that outweighs the cost to insurers and, ultimately, the businesses and employees who pay the insurance premiums. This bill had not been reviewed by the Mandated Health Benefits Commission and would have driven up the cost of health insurance. With the cost of health coverage steadily climbing and coverage continually eroding, the impact of all mandates should be carefully evaluated.
Energy and Environment, Sara Bluhm
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative January 12, 2016 (SCR 125/ ACR 189)
NJBIA has consistently opposed New Jersey joining this regional cap-and-trade program since it was first proposed nearly 10 years ago. New Jersey left RGGI after Christie took office, and NJBIA has been battling legislative initiatives to put us back into the program ever since. In the last session, legislation to require DEP to promulgate rules related to RGGI as well as efforts to have the state rejoin the program expired. NJBIA opposes RGGI because it would provide virtually no environmental benefit but increase costs for New Jersey ratepayers.
Fracking Ban January 19, 2016 (S-1041/A-2108)
The Governor vetoed legislation that would have prohibited New Jersey businesses from participating in natural gas exploration or production process called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” While New Jersey has little natural resources for fracking, New Jersey businesses can contribute in processing the byproducts. NJBIA has opposed efforts to discourage innovation and opportunity to capitalize on the growing industry in neighboring states.
Permit Extension Act, December 26, 2014 (S-2551/ A3815)
Recognizing that some businesses needed additional time to get projects off the ground, this law extended for one year the expiration dates of certain permits pursuant to the "Permit Extension Act of 2008." The original law suspended the running of certain government approvals until July 1, 2010. A 2012 law extended the end date to Dec. 31, 2014. This bill would further extend the date to Dec. 31, 2015.
Public Access January 19, 2016 (A-4927/ S-3321)
In response to a court decision that invalidated the DEP’s public access rules, this bill would confirm the authority of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to require, as a condition of (1) an approval issued pursuant to R.S.12:5-3 (regulating waterfront development), or (2) a permit issued pursuant to the “Coastal Area Facility Review Act,” that the applicant provide on-site public access to the waterfront and adjacent shoreline, or off-site public access if the department determines that on-site public access is not feasible. NJBIA supported the bill, but sought amendments that were not successful in exempting critical infrastructure.
Education and Workforce Development, Tyler Seville
Career Readiness Indicators on New Jersey School Report Card December 3, 2014 (A-3334)
A-3334 requires the New Jersey School Report Card, which grades individual schools, to include indicators of student career readiness. Including these annual indicators will help to reinforce the importance of developing student career readiness, as well as college readiness.
Requires Career Readiness Coursework in Teacher and Counselor Preparation Programs December 3, 2014 (A-3335)
A-3335 requires new teachers and new school counselors to complete coursework to support improved student career readiness in order to obtain a teaching or school counselor license. This will prepare teachers and guidance counselors to help students increase their knowledge of career options, help students develop employability skills, and understand the value of career and technical education for all types of students.
Establishes the County Vocational School District Partnership Grant Program December 3, 2014 (A-3337)
A-3337 creates the County Vocational School District Partnership Grant Program. A-3337, combined with $3 million appropriated by Governor Christie in the FY2015 Budget, will help to encourage vocational schools to partner with local high schools and county colleges to create career programs in existing facilities. Ultimately, this will expand access to quality career and technical education programs, give more students the skills needed to launch a successful career and ensure that employers will have a skilled and trained pipeline of employees to hire from.
Encourages Dual Enrollment Agreements December 3, 2014 (A-3338)
A-3338 allows school districts and requires public colleges to enter into dual enrollment agreements to provide college-level instruction to high school students through courses offered on college or high school campuses. Dual enrollment agreements have the potential to reduce the time and cost of a college degree, improve completion rates, and challenge high school students. Ultimately, these dual enrollment agreements help meet employer demand for a highly skilled and trained workforce.
Encourages Work-Based Learning Experiences & Addresses Short-Term Space Shortages December 3, 2014 (A-3339)
A-3339 clarifies that a career and technical education program, taught in an industry setting, is not subject to school facilities regulations. This legislation will help to encourage employers to host programs and offer work-based learning experiences. Ultimately, more students can have access to career and technical education programs, as programs can be offered in workplace settings.
Supporting a BiLingual Workforce January 19, 2016 (A-4415/S-3279)
Students obtaining a high proficiency in a foreign language will be recognized by the state, under the State Seal of Biliteracy. This program encourages mastery in more than one language, which can signal to employers that job applicants who earned the seal are able to effectively communicate with a wider variety of consumers. NJBIA supported the bill to continue to meet employer demands of a highly educated, highly skilled workforce.
Improving Vocation Training for Inmates January 19, 2016 (S-2787/A-4273)
NJBIA, along with others, will be evaluating and improving how the New Jersey Department of Corrections provides career and technical education to inmates through a Vocational Training Pilot Program. Inmates chosen to participate in this pilot program will receive supplemental classes in trades, computer literacy courses and courses for earning a high school diploma. NJBIA supported the legislation.
Annual Reporting on State Workforce Progress January 19, 2016 (S-1531/A-3019)
Legislation was signed to codify the State Employment and Training Commission’s (SETC) annual reporting of the state’s workforce needs. The commission, which NJBIA serves on, will continue to share information on the demand for various kinds of trained workers across all industry sectors, the number of individuals receiving the credentials necessary to meet the demand, and the workforce training programs available for individuals to receive the necessary credentials.
Exploring College Affordability February 5, 2015 (S-979/A-2236)
New Jersey established a College Affordability Study Commission to examine issues and develop recommendations to increase the affordability of higher education in New Jersey. NJBIA supported the bill to help New Jersey’s future workforce receive an affordable world-class education and training at the state’s higher education institutions.
Innovation and Technology, Tyler Seville
Crowdfunding Regulations Eased November 9, 2015 (S-712/A-2073)
Small, privately owned businesses can now raise money through crowdfunding web portals, thanks to an NJBIA-backed deregulation bill signed into law. Specifically, companies that want to offer intrastate crowdfunding investment opportunities no longer have to register with the NJ Bureau of Securities, provided that the total investment does not exceed $1 million. The investment from any single purchaser is capped at $5,000.
Building an Information Technology Research Workforce January 19, 2016 (S-2442/A-3891)
A new law dedicating a portion of workforce development funding to the New Jersey Innovation and Research Fellowship Program will increase technological research and bolster the state’s innovation ecosystem. NJBIA supported the bill because it would support research fellowships for employers.
Bolstering Computer Science Education January 19, 2016 (A-3440/S-2032) and (A-2597/S-2161)
The State Board of Education is now charged with developing rigorous computer science standards for students in middle school and high school. Additionally, students taking Advanced Placement Computer Science courses can now earn credit for high school graduation. The two laws will help increase the emphasis and importance of computer science classes and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. NJBIA supported the bill, because it encourages schools to meet the demands of our high tech industries.