In Our Community

Assemblywoman Mosquera on Resolutions Promoting Awareness and Involvement in 2020 Census

n an effort to raise awareness about the 2020 Census, Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester) has sponsored two resolutions that would encourage increased participation throughout the state.

On Monday, the Assembly Women and Children Committee – which Assemblywoman Mosquera chairs – received testimony from various experts regarding how the Census will impact New Jersey residents. Advocates for Children of New Jersey, the regional director of the Census Bureau and the New Jersey Secretary of State were among the guests who spoke.

The committee also advanced a resolution (AR-79) to designate March 12th – 22nd as “Get out the Count Week” and another resolution (AR-78) to urge counties and municipalities to form Complete Count Committees. These committees would be comprised of government and community leaders who would create an awareness campaign encouraging participation in the Census, based on their understanding of the community.

Upon the resolutions advancing, Assemblywoman Mosquera released the following statement:

“Many people don’t realize just how important the Census is to their community and how it will impact various aspects of their lives. We need to make our residents more aware of how the data gathered during the Census will affect their friends and family.

“The number of people recorded within a region influences federal allocation of funding for various social programs, including Medicare and SNAP. It also affects funding for school programs and infrastructure improvements, while determining the amount of Congressional delegates that will represent New Jersey.

“Business owners, non-profit organizations and lawmakers alike use the collected data to determine what daily services, products and support will be provided to communities.

“An awareness campaign with the help of county and municipal committees can help spread this information to get more residents involved in the Census.”

The resolutions will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.

Assembly Panel Advances Assemblywoman Mosquera Bill to Allow Public to Submit Complaints on State Websites

Each New Jersey government department, agency and authority would be required to feature a link on its website for the public to submit complaints under legislation (A-1296) approved Monday by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee.

Complaints concerning the entity’s performance, customer service or similar matter of interest to the entity would be periodically reviewed by the head of the agency to assess appropriate action.

Bill sponsors, Assembly Democrats Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester), Carol Murphy (D-Burlington) and Joe Danielsen (D-Middlesex, Somerset) released the following joint statement:

“New Jersey residents deserve an outlet to voice their concerns when necessary. There may be a contact form on its website or phone number to call, but it often isn’t specific to complaints and their query may get lost in the shuffle. Providing a convenient avenue to submit complaints on websites can be a more direct, and even more expedient, way for State agencies to manage grievances.”

Assemblyman Moriarty’s Bill to Protect Consumers in Forced Arbitration Proceedings Becomes Law

You may not know it, but if you bought a car recently, have a credit card or bank account, or use a cell phone, you probably agreed not to sue the company you got it from. Hidden in the terms and conditions on your phone, car sales agreements, and even employee contracts are forced arbitration clauses that require you to take all disputes with the company to that company’s hand-picked arbitration organization.

However, thanks to a new law (P.L.2019, c.493) sponsored by Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty, New Jerseyans will soon have guaranteed protections and transparency in arbitration proceedings.

“Every American has a right to their day in court; if a company does not hold up their end of the bargain, you deserve a fair process to fight back,” the Assemblyman said. “Forced arbitration provisions can be used by companies to rig the system against a consumer. Without this law, companies could choose one of their investors as their arbitrator, and they could win every time, and we would never know.”

The law, which goes into effect May 1st, will prohibit arbitrators from handling arbitration proceedings involving a party in which they have a financial interest. In the case of forced arbitrations, consumers will not be charged the fees or costs incurred by the business, and poorer consumers will not have to pay any other associated fees.

Additionally, the law will bring transparency to the process by requiring larger arbitration organizations to publish information such as the result of each dispute, the type of dispute, and the number of times a company has been involved in arbitration on its website quarterly.

Assemblyman Moriarty believes this law is a good step towards guaranteeing consumers an unbiased process. “This law will shine a much-needed light on a secretive process that may turn up unseen issues. For every issue, we must be ready to take  swift action to protect consumers.”

Sixteen bills sponsored by Senator Madden Signed Into Law During 2018-2019 Legislative Session

January 13 marked the end of the 2018-2019 legislative session. For a bill to become law in New Jersey, it must pass through committee in the Assembly and Senate and pass both houses before it can be signed by the Governor. Sessions of the New Jersey Legislature last for two years, and if a bill is not passed in this time, its progress is reset.

Senator Madden was the Senate sponsor of 16 bills that were signed into law in the last legislative session. The following bills are highlights of the Senator’s work in Trenton:

S376 – Under current law, the State will pay full tuition in the case of a public institution of higher education or full or partial tuition in the case of a private institution of higher education for the spouse of a public safety worker, such as a police officer or firefighter, killed in the performance of his or her duties. Previously, this benefit was available for a period of eight years following the death of the worker, but after the passage of this bill, the time limit was eliminated.

S2898 – Prior to this law, fire and EMS professionals experiencing mental anguish did not have an appropriate and easy means to seek help. They had the option of calling the already existing Cop2Cop hotline, but the staff at the hotline was not properly equipped to deal with the unique stresses that fire and EMS professionals face. This law calls for the creation of a Fire and EMS Hotline to help these professionals cope with the stresses of their jobs.

S4226, S4229, and S4230 – These bills were part of a misclassification package of bills that were drafted following the report from Governor Murphy’s Task Force on Employee Misclassification. Misclassification is the illegal practice of misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees. Businesses that misclassify their workers cheat them out of benefits including earned sick leave, Temporary Disability, Workers’ Compensation, Family Leave, and more. Further, the State loses millions in tax revenue each year that such businesses would otherwise be responsible for paying. These bills, now law, target unscrupulous employers by allowing the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development: after adjudication, to post a list of employers who misclassify their employees; to issue a stop work order against employers who misclassify their employees; and, to provide the Department for funding its audits, assess a misclassification penalty against employers who misclassify their employees.

This is only a small cross section of Senator Madden’s bill that were signed last session. In addition to the above mentioned bills, S393, S2245, S2416, S2454, S2510, S2511, S2715, S3043, S3071, S392, and S4336 were also signed into law.

 

Assemblyman Moriarty Bill to Require Dealers to Pay Off Consumer Debt On A Trade Vehicle Within 15 Days Approved By Assembly Panel

To avoid leaving customers on the hook for thousands of dollars and potentially having their credit score damaged, dealerships would be required to resolve a customer’s trade-in loan within 15 days of accepting the trade-in under a measure sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D- Camden, Gloucester). The bill was approved by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee on Monday.

ABC’s “7 On Your Side” recently aired a story featuring two consumers who were saddled with a combined $32,093.77 in debt after their dealers defaulted on their trade-in loans instead of making the payouts.

“Consumers deserve better protection from dealers who refuse to pay off their car loan as promised,” said Moriarty. “A customer goes into a dealership, conducts a proper transaction and rides out with a brand new car believing the dealer will hold up their end of the bargain. A few months down the line, the buyer finds out the loan has not been paid and now they are responsible for two car payments. It’s unfair and, quite frankly, bad business.”

Moriarty’s bill (A-1483), which has the support of both consumers and the industry, would also require the dealer to provide proof of the payment to the customer upon request. A dealer who violates these provisions is subject to a penalty of up to $1,000 for the first offense and up to $2,000 for each subsequent offense.

“Closing the window of time for dealers to pay off trade-in loans helps both car customers and the industry,” continued Moriarty.  “Customers won’t have to wait for an extended period of time for their loan to be paid off and dealers can resell these vehicles more quickly since the loan is settled. It’s a win-win.”

Additionally, the measure would require a secured party to release the title within 15 days of receipt of payment from the motor vehicle dealer. When the balance is paid by non-certified check, the secured parties are required to release the title within 15 days from the date the check is credited to their account. A secured party who fails to comply with these time requirements is to be subject to a civil penalty of up to $500 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

It will now go to the Speaker for further review.

Assembly Democrat-Sponsored Bill Package to Discourage Misclassification of Employees In NJ Signed Into Law

Six measures addressing the unlawful practice of improperly classifying workers as independent contractors, rather than as employees, were signed into law Monday.

The laws stem from recommendations made by the Governor’s Task Force on Employee Misclassification in July. According to the report, misclassification of employees by employers has increased 40 percent in the last ten years and has become a growing problem throughout the country.

Misclassification not only hurts workers and law-abiding businesses, it also hurts the State. Based on a 2000 U.S. Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) study of misclassification in construction in New Jersey referenced in the report, the failure to properly classify construction employees resulted in state income taxes not being paid for up to $11 million in off-the-books employment and nearly $9 million from employment of misclassified workers.

Assembly members Wayne DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex), Paul Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester), Linda Carter (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union), Clinton Calabrese (D-Bergen, Passaic), Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson), Shanique Speight (D-Essex), Anthony Verrelli (Mercer, Hunterdon), Joe Danielsen (D-Middlesex, Somerset) and Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth) are the sponsors of the bills signed by the Governor.

The laws address the following concerns:

  • A-5838 (DeAngelo/Danielsen/Houghtaling) Concerns stop-work orders related to Misclassification of Employees;
  • A-5839 (Moriarty/Verrelli/DeAngelo) Requires employer to pay misclassification penalties if found to have violated State wage, benefit, and tax laws;
  • A-5840 (Carter/Moriarty) Concerns joint liability for payment of employer tax law;
  • A-5841 (Calabrese/Verrelli/Moriarty) Creates a new list for employers found in violation;
  • A-5842 (Chiaravalloti/Moriarty) Concerns tax data sharing between State Treasury and DOLWD;

and

  • A-5843 (Speight/Verrelli/Moriarty) Requires employers to post notice for employees on employee misclassification.

The sponsors issued the following joint statement:

“Classifying workers as independent contractors as an alternative to full or part-time employment has been a grossly misused practice of misclassification.

“It hurts employees and their families who do not have access to critical benefits and protections they are entitled to by law, including minimum wage, overtime compensation, family and medical leave and unemployment insurance. It also hurts each of the taxpayers and businesses paying their fair share while others avoid their tax duties.

“These laws will work in concert to stem the practice of misclassification together with expanding stop work orders beyond those for construction trades and prevailing wage, and requiring tax data to be shared between the state Department of Treasury and Labor to support more comprehensive.”