NJBIA Legislative Successes
NJBIA's Vision for a Better Business Climate in New Jersey is a plan for building a strong private-sector economy—an economy that will compete nationally, help employers expand and create jobs. NJBIA's Government Affairs staff is a driven group of experts that fight to make the Vision a reality, keeping a vigilant watch over state government. During the past six months alone, the Government Affairs staff has made great progress in supporting our members and the greater business community. The following list is the recent policy successes broken down into the three tenets of our Vision: 1) reducing the cost of doing business, 2) creating jobs and growing the economy and 3) streamlining government processes.
Reducing the Cost of Doing Business
Government leaders have worked hard to reduce the cost of doing business in New Jersey, but costs are still among the highest in the nation. A growing economy requires the continued support of government to reduce these burdens in order to maintain a competitive and vibrant private sector.
Employment & Labor
State labor laws must be reasonable and balanced for employers and employees, permitting New Jersey employers to compete on equal footing with businesses in other states.
Averts 10 percent Unemployment Surcharge – NJBIA successfully lobbied for the passage of S-2404 (Madden, Oroho) /A-4112 (Eustace, Singleton) to suspend the 10 percent automatic unemployment surcharge until FY 2015. The legislation was signed by the Governor and took effect on June 28. Depending on a business’s experience ratings, employers already pay between $370 and $2,200 per employee in state unemployment insurance taxes. As a result of insolvency in the UI Trust Fund, these rates would have increased by an additional 10 percent on July1, 2013 if no action had been taken, imposing the highest UI tax rates allowed by law. For more information, contact Stefanie Riehl.
Blocked Monthly Wage Reporting – NJBIA successfully lobbied against A-3810 (DeAngelo, Benson)/S-2629 (Madden, Codey), which would have required employers to file wage reports on a monthly basis instead of quarterly. The legislation would have also shortened the time frame for the submission of the reports from 30 days at the end of the calendar quarter to 20 days at the end of the month. Complying with this legislation would have been difficult as employers must report up to 50 types of taxable compensation and benefits. The bill was scheduled for a floor vote but was held at the request of NJBIA, in recognition of the significant burdens it would impose. For more information, contact Stefanie Riehl.
Amended “New Jersey Employer Identity Disclosure” Act – NJBIA secured a series of significant amendments to legislation that would have imposed unduly burdensome requirements on employers to provide extensive information to job seekers. Originally, A-3365 (Eustace, Jimenez) would have made employers disclose the full legal name of the employer, the location of the job and other information at the request of a potential employee. The amendments secured by NJBIA require an employer to only disclose the information if it is requested by the job seeker upon an offer of employment and if it is available at the time of the request. The Association was also able to remove language that would impose damages and disorderly persons’ charges on employers who failed to comply. For more information, contact Stefanie Riehl.
Amended 20-Day Leave Bill – A-2919 (Fuentes, Mosquera)/ S-2177 (Madden, Beach) provides 20 days of protected leave time to domestic or sexual violence victims. During the legislative process, the legislation was amended to: limit the legislation to companies with 25 or more employees, ensure that the leave would be unpaid, set a threshold on how long an employee must have worked for an employer to be eligible (12 months for at least 1,000 base hours), provide that leave must be taken within one year of a qualifying event and ensure that the 20-day leave would run concurrent with other leave entitlements, along with other changes. The legislation was signed into law by the Governor in July 2013, but will not start until October 2013. For more information, contact Stefanie Riehl.
Prevented the Expansion of Project Labor Agreements – S-2425 (Sweeney, Norcross)/A-3679 (Egan, DeAngelo) would have expanded project labor agreements (PLAs) to highways, bridges, pumping stations, and water and sewage treatment plants. NJBIA expressed concerns that the legislation could deny small contractors the chance to win contracts from state, county and municipal governments as the requirements to participate in PLAs often involve hiring a majority of union workers for a given public project. The Governor absolute vetoed this bill in response to concerns expressed by many in the business community, including NJBIA. For more information, contact Stefanie Riehl.
Amended Facebook Legislation – A-2878 (Burzichelli, Greenwald)/ S-1915 (Sweeney) prohibits employers from requiring current or prospective employees to disclose their user names or passwords for social networking sites. The Association helped to secure a conditional veto of the legislation to eliminate provisions that could have triggered a lawsuit if an employer even asked if a prospective employee had a personal social media account. The changes also provide greater protections for employers seeking to protect their proprietary information and investigate misconduct. Prior to the bill reaching the Governor’s desk, NJBIA worked closely with Assemblyman Burzichelli to get a series of amendments to allow employers to: investigate instances of misconduct (like online sexual harassment) on social networking sites; investigate social networking done on company time or using company devices; gain access to user names and passwords on company-sponsored social networking sites; and adjust social media policies prior to the implementation of the law. For more information, contact Stefanie Riehl.
Call Center Outsourcing Veto – NJBIA successfully lobbied against S-2188 (Gordon, Weinberg)/A-3775 (Wagner, Eustace), which would require employers moving call center jobs overseas to provide 90 days’ notice to the NJ Department of Labor or risk a $7,500 per day fine. Companies relocating jobs would also have to remit any unused grants, loans, tax benefits, or other financial support back to the state. NJBIA was able to secure amendments to ensure the legislation did not apply to grants and other resources to train or place workers before it reached the Governor. However, the bill still exceeded federal standards. NJBIA communicated these concerns to Governor Christie who vetoed the legislation in 2013. For more information, contact Stefanie Riehl.
Vetoed the “Canzanella Public Safety” Bill – It is important to provide a safe working environment, however our workers’ compensation system should not be burdened with claims for injuries and illness that did not occur on the job. NJBIA opposed against S-1778 (Greenstein, Stender, Egan), which would have shifted the burden of proof to the employer to prove the injury did not occur at work. Although the legislation only pertained to certain catastrophic circumstances, the shift in causation would have been unprecedented. In July 2013, the Governor vetoed the bill. For more information, contact Christine Stearns.
New Jersey power rates are among the highest within the 14-state power grid. NJBIA pushes for state policies that better reflect the impact of high costs on ratepayers.
Holding off on Increases in Electric Prices – While NJBIA supports energy efficiency; the Association believes it can be done in a cost-effective manner. A-1383 (Chivukula) /S-2700 (Smith) would potentially increase electric prices through the establishment of an energy efficiency credit. The bill will increase the cost of electricity and add additional incentives when there are already existing incentive programs through the Board of Public Utilities’ Clean Energy Programs and utility based programs. NJBIA testified against the legislation, which currently is in the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. For more information, contact Sara Bluhm.
NJBIA fights for common sense laws and regulations that provide meaningful protection for the environment while minimizing the burden on businesses.
Defeated a Water Tax - NJBIA aggressively lobbied against legislation that would create a tax on water use. This tax would impact water intensive companies such as food processing, manufacturing and utilities companies. The Association was able to stop the release of A-3830 (Spencer, Ramos)/S-813 (Smith) from committee. The tax on water consumption would have brought additional costs to commercial and industrial ratepayers, who consume the majority of the water in the state. For more information, contact Sara Bluhm.
Upholding Exemptions in Site Remediation - Over the past several decades, the site remediation program has evolved to the current Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA). The existing law provides a De Minimis Quantity Exemption ("DQE") to owners or operators that have stored or handled small quantities of hazardous substances that are below specified regulatory thresholds. A-3367 (Spencer, Chivukula)/S-2332 (Greenstein) would require the owner or operator of an industrial establishment to have additional certification with the Department of Environmental Protection. NJBIA lobbied against the legislation and stopped a final vote during June in the Assembly. For more information, contact Sara Bluhm.
NJBIA believes it is essential to focus on ensuring that we build an efficient, effective, accessible and accountable healthcare delivery system that delivers patient-centered coordinated care.
Removed Private Employers From a Health Insurance Mandate - With the cost of health having increased more than 80% in the last ten years according to the Kaiser Family Fund, NJBIA has consistently opposed any measure that would mandate increased health benefits unless it has been reviewed by the Mandated Health Benefits Advisory Commission. S-1253 (Vitale, Gordon) / A-1665 (Johnson, Huttle) were amended to remove all references to private employers. The legislation was later vetoed by the Governor in August 2013. For more information, contact Christine Stearns.
New Jersey’s corporate liability laws must be transparent, logical and comprehensible, giving companies a sense of predictability so that they can effectively manage their risks and create jobs.
Corporate Package Signed - Governor Christie signed a NJBIA-backed three-bill corporate reform package that would make changes to the state's corporate business laws. This was a huge victory for business and New Jersey, as makes the state more business friendly as well as globally competitive. The bills will increase the value of plaintiffs’ shareholdings required to avoid the need to post security, and strengthening a corporation’s ability to avoid derivative suits. It would allow a corporation to opt into a statutory regime that would eliminate the futility excuse to the demand requirement and empower it to task an independent body with determining whether or not a derivative proceeding is in the best interests of the corporation. In particular, A-3050 (Diegnan, Burzichelli) /S-2327(Gill) allowed corporate shareholder to meet remotely and clarified remedies for dissenting shareholders. Similarly, A-3123 (Chivukula, Diegnan) /S-2326 (Gill) revised the law concerning derivative proceedings and shareholder class action lawsuits. While A-3049 (Diegnan, Burzichelli)/S-2328 (Gill) allows certain business combinations between resident domestic corporations and interested stockholders. For more information, contact Christine Stearns.
Opposed a “Bad Faith” Bill – Laws should be consistent, so businesses practices can be consistent. The “Consumer Protection Act of 2012” would result in all New Jersey insurance customers, including businesses which purchase commercial insurance, paying higher insurance premiums. NJBIA lobbied hard against A-3710 (Stender, Eustace) /S-2460 (Scutari, Beck), which would create a new cause-of-action for policyholders to file suit against insurers for 'bad faith.' The legislation goes beyond current case law as well as would permit policyholders to recover damages in excess of the terms of their insurance contract. The legislation creates a new cause-of-action for policyholders to file suit against insurers for 'bad faith’, which is likely to add uncertainty and greater costs to New Jersey's insurance market. The bill currently is in the Assembly and Senate. For more information, contact Christine Stearns.
Held Standard Form Contracts – The New Jersey Standard Form Contracts Act would replace case law with a legislatively defined set of rules to govern the validity of non-negotiated terms in contracts. Standard form contracts are pre-printed forms that are frequently used in a variety of settings. As drafted, A-3745 (Barnes, Schaer) would have far reaching implications and NJBIA shared its concerns with the sponsor. The bill was later removed from the agenda of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Additionally, NJBIA worked with some of its members to draft a detailed letter to the sponsor explaining the Association’s concerns. For more information, contact Christine Stearns.
Modernizing the Uniform Commercial Code - NJBIA successfully lobbied in favor of A-3613 (Schaer)/S2144 (Gill), which was signed into law in June. The legislation revises various provisions of New Jersey’s Uniform Commercial Code, without hurting businesses. Hearing the concerns of its members, the Association sought amendments to ensure that the choice of law provision in the UCC remains unchanged as the Legislature sought to update provision within the code. Passing both Houses, the legislation was signed by the Governor. For more information, contact Christine Stearns.
Modernizing the LLC Act - The “Revised Uniform Limited Liability Act” modernizes the State’s existing LLC law, a victory for New Jersey businesses. A-1543(Burzichelli, Rumana)/ S-742(Sarlo, Oroho) repeals the “New Jersey Limited Liability Company Act,” and replaces it with a more modern regulatory scheme for the creation and operation of limited liability companies in New Jersey. Signed into law by the Governor, the legislation provides a comprehensive, fully integrated “second generation” LLC statute that takes into account the best elements of “first generation” and two decades of legal developments in the field. For more information, contact Christine Stearns.
Penalizing Cigarette Smuggling - NJBIA successfully supported legislation increasing penalties on illegal cigarette smuggling and avoiding the payment of the appropriate tax on cigarettes. A-3278 (Handlin, Barnes) / S-2516 (Norcross, Oroho) currently stiffens the penalties for offenses such as selling cigarettes without a license, purchasing or selling unstamped cigarettes or refusing to produce business records pertaining to the purchase, sale or transportation of cigarettes. When passed, those convicted will face greater fines and jail sentences. The Governor signed the law in August 2013. For more information, contact Christine Stearns.
Creating Jobs & Growing the Economy
The state must pursue policies to further encourage economic growth and investment, and incentivize the creation of private-sector jobs.
Encouraging Economic Development
NJBIA has been successful at advocating for pro-business tax policies that make New Jersey more competitive and lowers costs for employers. In 2011 alone, businesses saved over $185 million in taxes thanks to NJBIA-backed tax legislation. When fully implemented, these reforms will result in an annual savings of $660 million per year in perpetuity.
Instituting an Angel Investor Tax Credit — NJBIA successfully lobbied for A-1084 (Quijano, Schaer)/S-581 (Madden, Weinberg) to help support investments in New Jersey technology businesses. The bill provides a refundable tax credit equal to 10 percent of a qualified investment in an emerging technology company with fewer than 225 employees. The maximum investment is $500k, which must go towards research expenses, manufacturing or technology commercialization. NJBIA remained persistent in its efforts to advocate for the bill and lauded the Governor for signing it into law on January 31, 2013. For more information, contact David Brogan.
Expanding and Enhancing State Incentive Programs – NJBIA successfully lobbied for A-3680 (Coutinho, Singleton) /S-2583 (Lesniak, Kyrillos), which would overhaul all of New Jersey’s major incentive programs. The law combined the five major incentive programs offered by the State into two, more comprehensive and streamlined programs. The bill also lowers the investment thresholds dramatically, as well as the new employee and retained employee thresholds. Specifically, the law phases out the Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Grant Program, the Business Employment Incentive Program, and the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Program. At the same time, the law expands the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program (Grow NJ) and the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant (ERG) Program. In doing so, there are two major components of the legislation: job creation and retention (new Grow NJ Program); and, incentives for development (enhanced ERG program). The bill was signed into law on September 18, 2013. For more information, contact David Brogan.
Stopping Burdensome Disclosure for Companies – NJBIA successfully lobbied against A-3678 (Singleton), which would have required certain corporations to disclose certain tax incentives they receive. Specifically, the legislation would have made businesses provide an annual statement of their net income, net operating losses, the corporation’s allocation factor, the amount of all incentives provided by the state, as well as other information. NJBIA believed that the burdensome requirements would discourage companies to avail themselves of tax incentives offered by the state. That, in turn, would result in less in-state investment and would negatively affect job creation. The Association established a coalition to fight against the bill. For more information, contact David Brogan.
Reforming Local Redevelopment and Housing Law – A-3615 (Coutinho, Bucco)/S-2447 Van Drew, Rice) would amend the "Local Redevelopment and Housing Law" to clarify the need of redevelopment and the use of eminent domain based on recent New Jersey State Supreme Court rulings. NJBIA supported the legislation because it statutorily limits the justification for municipalities to acquire property based solely upon their determination that it is “underutilized.” Under this bill, such property must meet a higher standard before eminent domain can be used. The Association testified in favor of the bill in both the Senate and Assembly committees, and it has passed both houses. The bill is on the Governor’s desk. For more information, contact David Brogan.
Reforming Local Redevelopment and Housing Law – A-3615 (Coutinho, Bucco)/S-2447 Van Drew, Rice) amends the "Local Redevelopment and Housing Law" to clarify the use of eminent domain based on recent New Jersey State Supreme Court rulings. NJBIA supported the legislation because it statutorily limits the justification for municipalities to acquire property based solely upon their determination that it is “underutilized.” Under the new law, such property must meet a higher standard before eminent domain can be used, and adequate notification must be provided to affected property owners. The Association testified in favor of the bill in both the Senate and Assembly committees, and it has passed both houses. The bill was signed into law on September 6, 2013. For more information, contact David Brogan.
Stopped Restriction on Subtracting Agreements - Subcontracting agreements allow public school districts and higher education institutions to provide necessary services, while effectively managing a budget. NJBIA opposed S-1191 (Lesniak), which would have severely restricted the ability of school districts, county colleges and state colleges and universities to enter into subcontracting agreements. NJBIA opposed the legislation because subcontracting agreements help to stem an increase in property taxes and control the cost of tuition at New Jersey’s institutions of higher education. Additionally, the provisions in the bill would have created less competition in the search for public sector or private sector service providers. Governor Christie vetoed the bill, on August 19, 2013. For more information, contact Andrew Musick.
Streamlining Government Processes
The state must streamline all levels of government to better serve the needs of business and ensure that all taxpayers receive affordable, efficient government services.
Prior to the Christie Administration, New Jersey was generally viewed as being unfriendly to business. New Jersey businesses pay some of the highest fees in the nation, abide by some of the strictest permitting requirements, and struggle to comply with tens of thousands of pages of regulatory requirements. When Governor Christie came into office, he created the Red Tape Review Commission to assess the regulatory problems and report back to the Legislature and the Governor. NJBIA has provided continuous input to the Commission and supports its efforts to reform New Jersey’s regulatory structure.
Stopping an Anti-privatization Bill – The goal of privatization is to provide the taxpayers with the same or better level of service at a lower cost. NJBIA successfully lobbied against S-968 (Weinberg, Turner) /A-998 (Huttle, Coleman), which would have made the privatization of the public sector nearly impossible. This legislation would have created additional unnecessary hurdles toward privatization and any effective benefit of privatization. Specifically, the bill required bidding companies to pay the same wages and benefits as the public employees it would have replaced. Furthermore, payroll information was required to be provided to the public employee unions upon request. NJBIA believes that creating hurdles toward privatization that negate any expected cost savings or make it so prohibitively burdensome for companies to bid on such services is antithetical to the privatization process. The bill was absolute vetoed by the Governor on June 28th. For more information, contact David Brogan.
Stopping Additional Notification Requirements - In an effort to streamline government, NJBIA lobbied against A-2852 (McKeon, Spencer) /S-831 (Smith, Scutari), which would establish notification requirements for combined sewer overflows. This is redundant legislation would codify actions the Department Environmental Protection is already implementing. The legislation has passed the Senate and is awaiting Assembly action. For more information, contact Sara Bluhm.
Stopping Excessive Bureaucracy – A-3836 (Spencer, Giblin) / S-962 (Weinberg, Codey) would require a municipal ordinance to be passed before any state environmental permit could be finalized in an urban area with a minority population. This legislation would add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and pointlessly delay valid permits. Additionally, since this legislation would impact permit renewals as well as new permits it has the potential to impact many of our urban centers where the state is trying to encourage business relocation and expansion. NJBIA is leading the fight against the legislation, which has so far received no action. For more information, contact Sara Bluhm.
Implementing the Waiver Rule – The NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approved a waiver rule last March, and it took effect August 1. The rule allows DEP to waive strict, rigid compliance with regulations on a case-by-case basis if it determines that the rule conflicts with other rules. NJBIA strongly supports the waiver rule because it gives the DEP the flexibility to use much-needed common sense in enforcing its regulations. For more information, contact Sara Bluhm.
Supporting a Sandy Recovery
Incentives for the Sandy Recovery - On April 30, 2013, the US Department Housing and Urban Development approved Governor Chris Christie’s $1.8 billion Action Plan for Sandy Recovery. NJBIA worked with the Economic Development Authority to prepare for the announcement. When the announcement was made, NJBIA was ready to put pertinent information on our website and send email blasts to our members. NJBIA continues to assist members with questions about the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for Sandy relief. For more information, contact David Brogan.
General Permit for Emergency Generators - For many years, NJBIA has advocated for general permits for our members. Such permits reduce the amount of paperwork, uncertainty and cost for a company. The NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) proposed a General Permit for Emergency Generators for large facilities. Following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, many building owners in the Garden State are installing temporary generators to provide emergency power. DEP requires general air-quality permits to operate such devices. NJBIA supports this effort because it allows a Title V facility to add an emergency generator at a facility without reopening up any of the air permits or SIP plans. For more information, contact Sara Bluhm.