In Our Community

NOW LAW: New Jersey Signs Legislation Raising Minimum Wage to $15 by 2024, Moving Toward Economic Fairness for Working Families

(TRENTON) – Setting gradual minimum wage thresholds to reach $15 in five years, the bill (A-15), sponsored by Gabriela Mosquera and Paul Moriarty was signed into law Monday.

The bill establishes an oversight panel and takes into account concerns of New Jersey businesses.

A study by the United Way ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) project found that through 2016, out of New Jersey’s over 3 million households, 10.5 percent earn below the Federal Poverty Level (334,182 households) and 28 (895,879 households) percent qualify as ALICE households. The total number of New Jersey households that cannot afford basic needs increased 15 percent between 2010 and 2016.

The cost of basic household expenses–which United Way calls the “Household Survival Budget”–in New Jersey increased steadily to $74,748 for a family of four and $26,640 for a single adult. The cost of a family budget saw an increase of 28 percent from 2010 to 2016.

“Raising New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is key to reducing overall poverty and giving working people the ability to make enough money to provide for their families,” said Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester). “We realize that New Jersey is still slowly emerging from the Great Recession. This is the boost working families sorely need. In a time where wages remained stagnate, providing economic security is important to our residents.”

“Setting New Jersey on the path toward a higher minimum wage will go a long way to help even the playing field in an ever-changing economy for our hard-working residents,” said Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Today is a win for New Jersey families.”

The new state mandate will gradually and fairly raises the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour, providing further increases in the minimum wage beyond what is required by the state constitution:

· Increases Minimum Wage from the current $8.85 to $15 per hour for the majority of workers over a 5-year period beginning July 2019.

· Addresses New Jersey business concerns by establishing a moderate time table for a select group of workers over a period of 7 years beginning January 2020. The select group includes workers of very small businesses (less than 6 employees), farm workers, and seasonal workers.

· Increases the state’s tipped minimum wage from $2.13 to $5.13 over a period of 5 years beginning January 2019. It has been two and half decades since the last tipped wage increase.

· Establishes the “Task Force on Wages and State Benefits” to annually report about the impact of the minimum wage on eligibility for state services and benefits and the impact working families.

· Establishes a Training Wage As of, January 1, 2020, the law establishes a training wage of not less than 90% of the minimum wage for the first 120 hours to be paid to an employee enrolled in a qualified training program.

· Does not interrupt minimum wage increases provided by the Constitution based on CPI-W increases will continue to be applied in all cases in any year in which the increase set by the new law are less than the CPI-W increase, including all years after 2024. It also provides, as a constitutional provision, that if the federal minimum wage exceeds the state minimum wage it will be adopted as the new minimum for the state subject to CPI increases.

Moving NJ Toward Economic Fairness, Bolstering NJ’s Workforce, Bill Raising NJ Minimum Wage to $15 by 2024 Clears Legislature

Turning Minimum Wage into a “Livable NJ Wage,” Measure Provides Incremental Increases for Workers

The bi-partisan- and administration -supported measure setting gradual minimum wage thresholds to reach $15 in five years was approved by the full Assembly 52-25 and the Senate 23-16 Thursday. The bill awaits the Governor’s signature.

The bill (A-15) establishes an oversight panel and takes into account concerns of New Jersey businesses.

A study by the United Way ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) project found that through 2016, out of New Jersey’s over 3 million households, 10.5 percent earn below the Federal Poverty Level (334,182 households) and 28 (895,879 households) percent qualify as ALICE households. The total number of New Jersey households that cannot afford basic needs increased 15 percent between 2010 and 2016.

The cost of basic household expenses–which United Way calls the “Household Survival Budget”–in New Jersey increased steadily to $74,748 for a family of four and $26,640 for a single adult. The cost of a family budget saw an increase of 28 percent from 2010 to 2016.

“Raising New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is key to reducing overall poverty and giving working people the ability to make enough money to provide for their families,” said Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester). “We realize that New Jersey is still slowly emerging from the Great Recession. This is the boost working families sorely need. In a time where wages remain stagnate, providing economic security is important to our residents.”

The bill gradually and fairly raises the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour, providing further increases in the minimum wage beyond what is required by the state constitution:

· Minimum Wage from the current $8.85 to $15 per hour for the majority of workers over a 5-year period beginning July 2019.

· Addresses New Jersey business concerns by establishing a moderate time table for a select group of workers over a period of 7 years beginning January 2020. The select group includes workers of very small businesses (less than 6 employees), farm workers, and seasonal workers.

· Increases the state’s tipped minimum wage from $2.13 to $5.13 over a period of 5 years beginning January 2019. It has been two and half decades since the last tipped wage increase.

· Establishes the “Task Force on Wages and State Benefits” to annually report about the impact of the minimum wage on eligibility for state services and benefits and the impact working families.

· Establishes a Training Wage As of, January 1, 2020, the bill would establish a training wage of not less than 90% of the minimum wage for the first 120 hours to be paid to an employee enrolled in a qualified training program.

· Does not interrupt minimum wage increases provided by the Constitution based on CPI-W increases will continue to be applied in all cases in any year in which the increase set by the bill are less than the CPI-W increase, including all years after 2024. It also provides, as a constitutional provision, that if the federal minimum wage exceeds the state minimum wage it will be adopted as the new minimum for the state subject to CPI increases.

Assemblywoman Mosquera Bill Requiring Hotels to have AEDs in Populated Locations Clears Assembly

To protect the lives of New Jersey’s hotel patrons, Assembly Member Gabriela Mosquera has sponsored legislation ensuring hotels have automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in the most populated areas of hotels. The bill cleared the full Assembly Thursday by a 72-2-0 vote.

The bill (A-4486) would require every hotel in New Jersey to have an AED in each lobby, meeting room, banquet hall and fitness center, as well as on every residential floor within one year of the bill’s effective date.

“By placing AEDs and trained professionals in hotels, we can prevent further tragedy,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “In honor of Mr. Fornicola, we must ensure that this never happens again in our state.”

The bill is to be named “Michael Anthony Fornicola’s law,” in honor of Mr. Fornicola, who passed away on May 29, 2012 due to cardiac arrests at Harrah’s Resorts in Atlantic City. The family believes that his life could have been saved if an AED was available on his floor.

The bill defines “hotel” as any hotel, inn, boarding house, motel or other establishment whose proprietor offers and accepts payment for rooms, sleeping accommodations or board and lodging and retains the right of access to, and control of, the premises which are let.

The AEDs would have to be stored and maintained in a central, unlocked location that is known and accessible to employees and marked with a clear, prominent sign. Hotels would be required to have at least one employee or volunteer with up-to-date certifications from the American Red Cross, American Heart Association or other training program recognized by the Department of Health in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and the use of an AED on premises when a public or private event or activity is taking place at the hotel.

The bill ensures that the owners and/or operators, along with the employees and volunteers at the hotel are immune from civil liability in association with the acquisition and use of an AED. They are also immune from civil or criminal liability resulting from the malfunctioning of an AED as long as it has been maintained and tested in accordance with the manufacturer’s operational guidelines.

The bill initially cleared the Assembly Gaming, Tourism and the Arts Committee on December 3 and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Senator Madden Sponsors Legislation to Make Housing More Affordable for Seniors and Disabled Citizens

Senator Madden is the sponsor of legislation that would make housing more affordable for many seniors and disabled citizens who are eligible for the homestead property tax reimbursement program, more commonly known as the PTR program.

Currently to be eligible, a senior or disabled citizen would have to have lived in New Jersey continuously for ten years and in the same house for three years; be 65 or older or receiving Social Security Disability; and as of the most recent program year, make under $87,007. The first year that an applicant is eligible for the program is called a “base year.” Each year, as long as the applicant is still eligible, he or she will receive the difference between the prior year’s property taxes and the property taxes paid during the base year. If the applicant is a married couple, only one person must meet the age/disability and residency criteria.

For example, if a taxpayer’s property taxes were $6,000 in their base year of 2009 and $7,000 in 2018, his or her reimbursement this year would be $1,000.

If a taxpayer who applies for and is eligible for the program moves, he or she is only eligible to reapply after two full calendar years in his or her new home. At this point, he or she would apply and establish a new base year, which would be the property taxes paid in the first full calendar year in the home.

The bill, S1111, would revise the criteria used to establish a base year. Under this legislation, a taxpayer would retain his or her base year (which would be the property taxes paid on the new home in the year that the taxpayer first became eligible for the program), and he or she would be eligible to apply for the reimbursement immediately.

Following the example above, if the same eligible taxpayer moves to a new home, he or she would establish a new base year amount, which would be the property tax bill on the new home from 2009.

The current system encourages seniors to stay in homes that might be too big rather than downsize to a home that might have lower property taxes. Passing this bill would remove this disincentive to move by allowing seniors to maintain their base year, thereby making downsizing more practical to many seniors.

 

The General Assembly Approves Moriarty’s Resolution to Honor Anthony Bourdain

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, inspired millions of people as he explored local cuisine throughout the world. The New Jersey native’s unexpected death last June, at the age of 61, left many fans searching for the right way to honor him. Now, thanks to Assemblyman Moriarty’s sponsored resolution (AR-173) his home state may soon honor our best-known chef with the “Anthony Bourdain Food Trail.” In January, with overwhelming support, the General Assembly approved the resolution to call on the Division of Tourism to establish the food trail.

Anthony Bourdain was born in Leonia, Bergen County, New Jersey. Bourdain began his improbable career as a dishwasher in a clam shack in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He worked his way up to become a head chef in some of the country’s best restaurants, including the Rainbow Room and Les Halles in New York City.

Following his industry success, Anthony Bourdain wrote several best selling books about his experience as a chef at a world-renowned restaurant including “Kitchen Confidential.” Later in life, Bourdain would become an international celebrity by traveling the world to explore local cuisine on his television shows “No Reservation” and “Parts Unknown.”

Even though Bourdain traveled the world, grew to international fame and even dined with President Obama he never forgot his Jersey roots.  Anthony Bourdain was proud of his home state and during a 2015 episode of “Parts Unkown,” he showcased ten of his favorite places to eat across the State of New Jersey.

In honor of this episode, the resolution specifies that the “Anthony Bourdain Food Trail” would include the eateries Bourdain visited in 2015. The locations featured in that episode include: Kubel’s in Barnegat Light; Hiram’s Roadstand in Fort Lee; Knife and Fork in Atlantic City; Dock’s Oyster House in Atlantic City; Tony’s Baltimore Grill in Atlantic City; Tony and Ruth Steaks in Camden; Donkey’s Place in Camden; Lucille’s Country Cooking in Barnegat; Frank’s Deli in Asbury Park and James’ Salt Water Taffy in Atlantic City.

Now that the General Assembly has passed the resolution, the Assembly Clerk will send copies of the resolution to the director of the Division of Travel and Tourism. The Division can then begin work to establish the food trail. Additionally, they will have the authority to add more locations to the trail as they see fit.

Assemblyman Moriarty knows that it was heartbreaking for fans across New Jersey when Anthony Bourdain died. To the people of our state, Anthony Bourdain became a New Jersey food icon. New Jerseyans admired that Bourdain brought his homegrown wit, charm, and sense of humanity to everything he did in life. The Assemblyman believes that the “Anthony Bourdain Food Trail” will give fans a fitting way to pay tribute to New Jersey’s best-known chef.

Assemblyman Moriarty Bill to Protect Consumers from Deceptive Used Car Dealers Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Prompted by a report from the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) detailing abuses in the wholesale used car industry, legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty to strengthen protection for used car buyers was approved in committee on January 17th. New Jersey needs to do better by consumers and the used car industry. By strengthening consumer protections and more clearly defining the industry we can create a system that works better for everyone.

The SCI report, “Gaming the System II: Abuses in the Used Car Industry,” released earlier this month is a follow-up to a 2015 review by the agency, which examined issues plaguing New Jersey’s used car industry. Both reports found wholesale dealerships in the state continue to participate in illicit activities such as tax evasion and insurance fraud at multi-dealer locations.

Additionally, dozens of consumers spent thousands of dollars for vehicles which turned out to be of poor quality, and buyers could not receive refunds because the cars were sold “as is” and were responsible for covering repair costs under New Jersey law, according to the report.

Under current law, warranty protections only cover vehicles purchased from New Jersey-licensed dealers for a minimum of $3,000 that are less than seven years old and have fewer than 100,000 miles.

Both SCI reports recommended that the Legislature consider advancing bills to target abuses in the used car industry and strengthen the rights of consumers.
The bill (A-4770), known as the “Used Car Buyers’ Bill of Rights,” prohibits “as is” sales of used cars, requires dealers to offer contract cancellation option agreements for certain used vehicles, and prohibits dealers from selling cars deemed “certified” or other descriptive terms which imply the vehicle meets certain standards if the dealer knows of repair issues, among other guidelines.

Similar legislation has been adopted in New York and California, which requires dealers to certify that a used vehicle meets certain requirements.

A violation would be punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 for the first offense and up to $20,000 for any subsequent offense.

Another measure (A-4771), the “Used Motor Vehicle Licensing Act,” -sponsored by Assemblyman Moriarty would establish an eight-member State Board of Used Motor Vehicle Dealers in the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety, which will be responsible for licensing used car dealers who meet eligibility requirements. Prior to licensure, applicants would be required to complete a criminal background check. Licensure is currently administered by the Motor Vehicle Commission.

The act is a consumer protection measure which aims to address longtime concerns of used car buyers. No buyer should walk away from a purchase feeling as if they were taken advantage of and they should have some recourse if the car dealer misrepresented the quality of the vehicle.

Both bills were originally introduced in the 2016-2017 legislative session following SCI’s initial report.