Assembly Sends ‘Buy American’ Bills to Christie on Mostly Party-line Votes

The New Jersey Legislature wrapped up 2014 with voting sessions in the Senate and Assembly. Here is a summary of Thursday’s legislative action:

Buy American bills: The state Assembly passed a five-bill package requiring American-made materials to be used for public projects whenever possible. The bills enjoyed near-unanimous bipartisan support in the Senate, but were approved mostly along party lines in the Assembly. The main bill (S-1811/A-3059) passed by a vote of 43-25 with 6 abstentions and 6 not voting. Republican Assemblymen Chris A. Brown, Sam Fiocchi and Sean Kean supported labor and voted yes, while Democrats Gordon Johnson and Cleopatra Tucker voted no. Two other Democrats, John McKeon and Sheila Oliver, are among those who abstained.

The other bills, which cover bi-state agencies were approved by similar margins. Vote tallies for each of the five Buy American bills are available below:

S-1811/A-3059 Requires use of US-made goods to fulfill public contracts

S-2045/A-3280 Applies to Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission

S-2048/A-3281 Applies to the Delaware River Bay Authority

S-2061/A-3221 Applies to Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

S-2062/A-3279 Applies to Delaware River Port Authority

“We want to thank our legislators who voted for this jobs creation package,” said New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech. “Buy American laws are essential for New Jersey manufacturers to remain competitive with foreign companies that are subsidized by foreign governments. It’s now up to Gov. Christie to do the right thing for New Jersey employers and manufacturers and sign these bills into law without delay.”

Privatization Override: The Democratic-led Senate failed to override Christie’s veto of S-770, a bill creating much-needed oversight when government services are privatized. The party-line vote was 24-13, three votes shy of the number needed. The legislation would have required government agencies to show that privatizing a government service would save taxpayer dollars, and would have given displaced workers the chance to work for the new operator. Deals that turned over the New Jersey lottery to a politically connected private vendor would not have happened if this bill were law.

Require Quarterly Pension Payments: The Senate also failed to override a veto of a bill requiring the state to make its annual pension payment in four quarterly installments. This common-sense bill (S-2265) sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Sen. Bob Gordon would have increased the likelihood of the state honoring the law and allowed more time for the money to earn dividends.

Invalidate Civil Service Job Banding Rule: The Senate approved a resolution (ACR-192/SCR-147) to invalidate the Civil Service Commission’s job banding rule. The resolution was sponsored by Sens. Bob Gordon and Linda Greenstein and by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora and Assemblywoman Linda Stender.

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