Residency requirement bill up for Senate vote again

A bill that would establish residency requirements for public employees that was conditionally vetoed by the governor will be up for a vote again in the Senate Monday.

The measure, S1730, which would require all future public employees to live in New Jersey, was temporarily set aside in February by Gov. Chris Christie primarily over concerns about a provision that would establish a three-member panel to rule on hardship requests.

In his veto, Christie said he was concerned that such a small panel would not be able to rule on exemption requests in a timely fashion, and he felt that due to the volume of such requests that may arise, the effective date of the bill should be pushed back.

Christie recommended a five-member panel, which will be composed of three gubernatorial appointees, and one each by the Senate president and Assembly speaker. In addition, the bill if approved would not take effect until after three months.

An Assembly version, A2478, was approved in that chamber in December.

Primary sponsor Donald Norcross, (D-5), Camden, had said earlier: “If you want to work in New Jersey and have your salary paid by the taxpayers, you’ll have to live here, too. This bill will ensure that public workers live by the rules they enforce and pay into the tax system that pays their salaries and supports their benefits.”

The bill requires that all new hires move into the state within one year of being employed. It essentially covers all state, county, and municipal employees, as well as employees of public agencies, boards, or commissions. Although the bill also covers those in education, there is some leeway regarding higher education.

Norcross said Thursday that there are no concerns that over the long haul the legislation might cost the state some quality workers squeezed between the state’s high cost of living and the administration’s attempts to reduce employee expenses.

“I reject it outright,’’ he said, expressing confidence the state will have no trouble attracting qualified employees.

Previously there had been some opposition expressed by Pennsylvania lawmakers, but Norcross pointed out other states as well as towns in those states have residency rules. “I am here for New Jersey residents first,’’ he said.