Senate and Assembly committees met in Trenton on Monday. Here is a summary of the day’s legislative action:
Pay Equity (S-992/A-2750). The Assembly State and Local Government Committee advanced a bill designed to strengthen protections against employment discrimination and promote equal pay for women.
The New Jersey State AFL-CIO has been a long-time advocate of equal pay for equal work, and we expressed our support for this bill in committee today. The party-line vote was 3 to 2. Democratic Assembly members Troy Singleton, Pam Lampitt and Nicholas Chiaravalloti voted yes. Republican Assembly members Michael Patrick Carroll and Jay Webber voted no.
The bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate last month.
Earned Sick Days (S-799). This bill requiring all employers to allow workers to accrue paid time off for illness is good for workers and good for business. Without a law to guarantee sick leave, 1.2 million workers in New Jersey, mostly in low-income jobs, are being treated as second-class citizens. Who wants sick employees to report to work because they cannot afford to take the day off? Who wants sick children in school because their parents had to go to work?
The bill specifies that one hour of sick time would be earned for each 30 hours worked. It moved through the Senate Budget Committee by a vote of 7 to 6, following supporting testimony from the New Jersey State AFL-CIO and our progressive allies. The bill is sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney (LD-3) and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (LD-37).
Democratic Sens. Linda Greenstein, Peter Barnes, Nellie Pou, Teresa Ruiz, Sandra Cunningham, Paul Sarlo and Brian Stack voted yes. Republican Sens. Jennifer Beck, Anthony Bucco, Sam Thompson, Steven Oroho, and Kevin O’Toole voted no, as did Democrat Jeff Van Drew.
In the prior legislative session, an identical bill passed the Senate but was not voted on by the Assembly.
Earned Income Tax Credit (A-40). Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto’s bill would increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers on the lower rungs of the wage scale to 40 percent of the federal benefit amount beginning in the next tax year. The state and federal EITC programs are designed to “make work pay” by offsetting the burden of paying payroll taxes for low- and moderate-income workers. The Assembly Appropriations Committee advanced the bill by a vote of 8-2. This was the bill’s first public hearing.
The vote breakdown is as follows: Democratic Assembly members John Burzichelli, Grace Spencer, Herb Conaway, Joseph Lagana, Pam Lampitt, Gabriela Mosquera, Annette Quijano and Gary Schaer voted yes. Republican Assembly members John DiMaio and Gail Phoebus voted no.