Weekly Advance: Week of Dec. 3

TRENTON – Minimum wage was debated for nearly two hours on the Senate floor last week and will kick things off Monday when it heads back to the Assembly chambers during a full voting session.

It will be the second time the Assembly votes on the bill that would increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 and would link future increases to the annual cost of living.

The proposal cleared the Senate after Republican lawmakers argued that the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy was no time to impose a bigger burden on Jersey shore businesses that will be struggling to survive in the months ahead. Democrats said the increase is long overdue for the state’s working poor and characterized their counterparts’ storm argument as “offensive,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

The bill passed the Assembly 46-33 in May. At the time, Republican lawmakers argued the increased cost on businesses would leave employers no choice but to reduce their workforce. They said business will either reduce the number of employees or pass the increased cost of doing business to their customers – New Jersey residents.

It’s unknown how long the debate will last on the Assembly floor. But what’s possibly more predictable is the governor’s reaction to the proposal.

Gov. Chris Christie has been a public critic of any plan that would give way to automatic increases and has said that little has been done by lawmakers to sit down with him and hash out a viable option. And if GOP lawmakers’ “no” vote against the measure on both floors is any additional indication, the proposal is likely to get a swipe of the governor’s pen or, at the very least, a conditional veto.

Speaker Sheila Oliver has refrained from saying publicly what Assembly Democrats would do if the bill is conditionally vetoed and sent back to both chambers, but Sweeney has effectively drawn a line in the sand and has told the governor to sign the bill or prepare to let voters decide the issue in 2013.

However, the path to a constitutional amendment – which would require New Jersey voter approval – is yet to be paved.

Assembly lawmakers must first hold a public hearing on the proposal before sending it to the floor for a vote before the end of the year. Both houses would then need to vote on the proposal again in 2013.

If Democrats in both houses come together and lay the groundwork for a ballot question in 2013, voters will be deciding the issue as they cast their ballots for who they want to see as governor after Christie’s first term expires.

 

Monday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Senate

11:30 a.m., Budget and Appropriations Committee, Meadowlands Racetrack, Pegasus Floor East, 50 Route 120, East Rutherford Assembly

Assembly

1 p.m., Voting session, Assembly chambers, Statehouse, Trenton Boards and Commissions

Boards and Commissions

2 p.m., Board of Public Utilities, 44 S. Clinton Ave., Trenton 4:30 p.m., Site Remediation Professional Licensing Board, Department of Environmental Protection, 401 E. State St., Trenton

7 p.m., Atlantic Coast Shellfisheries Council, Nacote Creek Law Enforcement Office, 360 New York Road, Port Republic Daily Events

 9 a.m., N.J. League of Municipalities, The Fundamentals of Procurement Cards and Local Public Contracts Law, Robert Meyner Reception Center at PNC Arts Center, Holmdel

 

Tuesday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Nothing scheduled

Boards and Commissions

10 a.m., State Ethics Commission, fifth floor, 28 W. State St., Trenton 10 a.m., Health Care Facilities Financing Authority, Building 4, Station Plaza, South Clinton Avenue, Trenton

 

Wednesday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

10 a.m., Assembly Budget Committee hearing on proposal to privatize the New Jersey State Lottery, Rm. 11, Statehouse Annex

11 a.m., Joint Committee on the Public Schools, Rm. 11, Statehouse Annex, Trenton Boards and Commissions

 9 a.m., Schools Development Authority, 1 W. State St., Trenton 10 a.m., Tidelands Resource Council, 44 S. Clinton Ave., Trenton

11 a.m., Delaware River Basin Commission, conference session, 25 State Police Drive, West Trenton 1:30 p.m., Delaware River Basin Commission, public hearing, 25 State Police Drive, West Trenton

 

Thursday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Senate

12 p.m., Quorum, Senate chambers, Statehouse, Trenton Assembly TBA, Quorum, Assembly chambers, Statehouse, Trenton Boards and Commissions 10 a.m., N.J. Historical Commission, Rm. 1, fourth floor, 225 W. State St., Trenton

4 p.m., Highlands Council, 100 North Road, Chester

 

Friday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Nothing scheduled

Weekly Advance: Week of Dec. 3