Senate Labor releases worker compensation COLA

TRENTON – Senate lawmakers moved legislation that would increase worker compensation benefits for certain workers.

The Senate Labor Committee voted 3-0 on the bill, with Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego, (R-8), Evesham, abstaining, to release the bill sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney.

Sweeney’s bill, S613, provides people receiving worker compensation benefits an annual cost of living adjustment, COLA, for any worker who has become totally and permanently disabled from a workplace injury.

The bill would make the COLA retroactive to July 2011 and benefit disabled workers injured any time after Dec. 31, 1979, according to the legislation.

The New Jersey Business and Industry Association and the New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company both oppose the bill, saying it represents a 6 percent rate increase and would cost an additional $150 million annually following the bill’s three-year phase in period.

The groups cited the significant cost to New Jersey businesses.

The New Jersey Advisory Council on Safety and Health and the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police advocate in favor of the legislation, saying the estimated cost following the three-year phase in would be less than $100 million.

The surviving spouse of a New Jersey State Police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty also spoke in favor of the bill, saying it would correct a major flaw in the state’s worker compensation system. She argued surviving spouses who lost loved ones before 1980 receive COLAs and that those who lost a spouse after 1980 do not.

Corporation business tax credit

The committee also released Senate bill 1263 following a 3-1 vote.

The legislation would allow corporation business tax credits and gross income tax credits for certain wages paid to qualified interns in tax years 2012 and 2013.

Unemployment benefits for former service members

Committee members unanimously released bill S1712, which grants supplemental unemployment benefits to former service members. Senate Labor releases worker compensation COLA