Measure Would Grandfather Current Employees, Give New Hires One Year to Meet Residency Requirement
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Donald Norcross, D-Camden and Gloucester, requiring all future public employees to live in New Jersey was approved today by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.
“This bill makes the simple and reasonable request that anyone wishing to accept a job as a public employee in New Jersey live in the state,” said Senator Norcross. “New Jersey’s taxpayers pay their salaries and subsidize their very generous health and pension benefits. It’s only fair to ask public workers to live by the rules they enforce, and to pay into the tax system that pays their salaries.”
The “New Jersey First Act” would require all newly hired public employees to live in New Jersey or to move to the state within one year of taking a position. This means an employee would have to establish their principal residence in New Jersey, making it their legal residence for the purposes of voting and paying taxes.
Current employees would be exempt from the residency requirement, as long as they remained in their existing place of employment.
“This legislation would not punish the public workers who already live out of state. I believe it would be unfair to retroactively change the terms of their agreement with New Jersey,” said Senator Norcross. “However, it does say that if they want to take another public job in a different agency, they will have to make their home here.”
The legislation, a Senate Committee Substitute for S-1730, would cover all state, county and municipal employees as well as anyone working for political subdivisions of the state. Employees of public authorities, boards, agencies and commissions would also be subject to the measure. Additionally, the bill would cover all employees working within the educational system, including state colleges and universities.
As originally proposed, the measure would have applied the residency requirement to all public employees, without grandfathering current workers, and given new hires four months to establish their principal residence in New Jersey.
Senator Norcross agreed to amend the bill after meeting with public employee representatives and considering concerns expressed by a number of individuals.
“After hearing the valid concerns of union representatives and other stakeholders, I agreed that it was appropriate to revise this legislation,” said Senator Norcross.
To further ensure no employee experiences undue hardship as a result of the requirement, Senator Norcross included a mechanism for exemptions. Under the legislation, a three-member committee, with one person each appointed by the Governor, Senate President and Assembly Speaker, would review individual applications for exemption.
The bill cleared the committee by a vote of 4-0-1. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.