TODAY IN THE STATE HOUSE, MARCH 19, 2020
Today the State Senate passed over two dozen bills to assist residents, workers and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Of particular interest to the New Jersey State AFL-CIO and its members are bills assisting workers.
The below coronavirus-related bills, which have passed the Assembly, passed the Senate unanimously. They are:
- S-2293 (Madden / Lagana): The bill establishes the “Temporary Lost Wage Unemployment Program.” The bill allows workers to claim for lost wages due to coronavirus disease & employers to pay wages to workers ordered under quarantine by a licensed healthcare practitioner. The bill appropriates $20 million.
The program will provide, to the extent funds are available, replacement of lost wages in an amount equal to their average weekly pay from the past calendar year. This wage replacement is not allowed for workers that have full paid leave. Workers will not be eligible for this wage replacement if they are receiving unemployment benefits. Workers and businesses are required to file claims no later than three months after the end of a declaration of a state of emergency due to the coronavirus.
- S-2285 (Singleton): The bill allows local government employees (not state employees) in the state that have to miss work due to the coronavirus (either diagnosed or ordered to quarantine or they’re choosing to isolate) to receive full pay paid without using any of their sick leave time. The public employee could also qualify for paid leave to stay home with a child whose school or daycare is closed. The bill is retroactive to March 9, 2020.
- S-2301 (Weinberg): The bill seeks to prohibits employers in the state from firing an employee or refusing to reinstate an employee who takes time off work on the recommendation of their health care provider because the employee has or may have the novel coronavirus. The bill passed unanimously.
- S-2288 (Greenstein / Vitale): The bill allows the state to pay additional cash assistance to recipients under the Work First New Jersey program in addition to monetary benefits already being received. The supplemental payments will only be made if the Commissioner of Health decides current benefit levels are inadequate. The supplemental payments shall be in an amount equal to a recipient’s monthly benefit amount for the most recent complete month.
- S-2284 (Cruz-Perez / Stack): Allows the state’s Economic Development Authority to offer business grants during a declared emergency to go toward “the planning, designing, acquiring, constructing, reconstructing, improving, equipping, furnishing of a program,” including grants for working capital and meeting payroll.
Three non-coronavirus-related bills important to our members also were passed. They are:
- S-2303 (Bucco / Singleton): Restricts subcontracting of public employee jobs in public school districts. The bill passed by a vote of 31-3.
- S-2273 (Sweeney / Cryan): Reduces health care costs for taxpayers and enrollees of the SEHBP and creates new plans. The bill passed unanimously.
- S-993 (Greenstein / Singleton): Establishes binding arbitration for non-teaching staff for disciplinary actions in public schools. The bill passed 32-2.
The New Jersey State AFL-CIO thanks the sponsors of these bills for their leadership and thanks all of the affiliated unions that have worked to support these measures throughout the legislative process.