N.J. Assembly committee delays vote on bill to offer all workers paid sick days
October 9, 2014
Matt Friedman
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The state Assembly Labor Committee is delaying a vote on high profile, controversial legislation that would allow all workers in New Jersey to earn paid sick days.

The committee had been planning to vote on the bill today, and dozens of supporters and opponents showed up to testify on it.

But at the beginning of the committee’s hearing, which lasted more than two hours, the bill’s top sponsor, Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden), requested that the committee hold off on the vote and merely discuss the proposal while she considers amendments.

“This continues to be just the beginning phase of earned sick leave. My hope is that over the next few months we continue to hear from all aspects about the employees/employers about the requested amendments to this piece of legislation,” Lampitt said. “I apologize for having to do this twice… But I also thought it was fair to you as all of the members to not vote on a piece of legislation that was not actually fully completed.”

Lampitt did not say what amendments she plans to introduce, but suggested they would involve whether the size of businesses the law would apply to, take into account whether the businesses operate on a fiscal or calendar year, and whether employees should be required to supply doctors' notes.

Bills to Prevent Animal Cruelty Gain NJ Assembly Panel Approval

Planet Princeton
October 9, 2014
Krystal Knapp
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Five animal welfare bills sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, Daniel Benson, Gilbert Wilson, Pamela Lampitt and Bob Andrzejczak to crack down on animal cruelty were unanimously approved by a New Jersey Assembly panel on Thursday.

A-201, sponsored by Gusciora, Benson and Wilson, would authorize the courts to issue an animal protection order against anyone found guilty of abusing an animal or otherwise violating the state animal cruelty laws. The animal protection order would require the person to refrain from interacting with an animal permanently or for a period of time specified by the court.

“As a humane society, we should not tolerate abuses against animals any more than we would against a person,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Sadly, there have been a number of high-profile animal abuse cases in recent years, a good number of which arise from domestic disputes, lending even more support for this legislation. Whether it’s indirect abuse, like starvation, direct abuse such as physical violence or the anger of a disgruntled spouse or partner, this bill will help protect innocent animals.”

Assembly panel takes testimony on paid sick leave, but does not vote

October 9, 2014
Andrew George
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The Assembly Labor Committee turned its attention to statewide paid sick leave legislation Thursday, drawing testimony from business owners and groups on both sides of the issue.

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Voorhees), the bill’s sponsor, announced at the start of the committee hearing that the day’s purpose was solely to gather testimony, and no voting on the legislation would take place.

“This continues to be just the beginning phase of earned sick leave,” Lampitt said.

The bill, as currently proposed, would permit full- and part-time employees to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. There is a 72-hour-per-year cap for businesses with 10 or more employees and a 40-hour-per-year cap for businesses with nine or fewer workers. Employees would begin accruing sick time 90 days after being hired unless an employer chooses to begin providing paid sick days beforehand.

The push for statewide paid sick leave legislation, long in the works, comes on the heels of similar ordinances drafted and passed at the municipal level in cities like Jersey City, Newark, East Orange and others.

New Jersey lawmakers looking at paid sick leave

October 10, 2014
Michael Catalini
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TRENTON - The push to make New Jersey employers offer paid sick leave attracted a standing-room-only crowd at a legislative committee hearing Thursday and touched off an hours-long debate after a vote was postponed.
Labor and trade associations spoke in favor of the bill, arguing that low-wage workers face economic hardships when they take off from work due to sickness but do not get paid.

"An earned-sick-day standard will boost our state's working families' economic and personal health," Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of the labor-aligned NJ Citizen Action group, said in a statement.

Employers' organizations, including the New Jersey Restaurant Association, support paid sick leave but suggest amending the bill to prevent workers from exploiting it.

Others, such as the right-leaning advocacy group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), oppose the measure, saying it would drive up costs for employers and stifle competition.

"It is not that AFP is against [the concept]. We are against the mandate of it. It is mandates like these that make me question opening a business of my own in New Jersey," said Danielle Cyr of the New Jersey branch of AFP.


September 12, 2014
John Mooney
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The Legislature will soon get back to work on a range of significant education bills, ranging from charter schools to teacher preparation, but yesterday it started out by tackling an unexpected topic: school lunch.

As the Assembly education committee held its first hearings since the summer, it took up four relatively routine bills covering matters including school-bus driver training and reserve accounts for certain federal aid.

But there was considerable interest and testimony regarding a bill that would require middle schools and high schools to set up “food services advisory committees” – with half of the membership comprised of students -- to address students concerns about the breakfasts and lunches they are served each day.

Much has changed in the last decade when it comes to school food, with new federal and state nutrition requirements -- some of which are more popular than others with the students eating the food.

The bill in question is specifically aimed at students who are vegetarian or vegan, said the primary sponsor, giving them a way to press their school districts’ food services to provide more varied dietary options.