TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester) that would require all future public employees to live in New Jersey received final approval today in the Assembly, sending it to Governor Christie for his signature.
“At a time when the job market is limited and thousands of New Jerseyans are out of work, we should be looking to give our residents here at home employment opportunities,” said Senator Norcross. “This bill is simply about putting New Jerseyans first – it’s about keeping our residents employed, working to keep tax dollars in the state and making the state’s economic health a priority.”
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 employees must establish their principal residence in the state. Current employees living over state lines would be exempt from the residency requirement.
“While I believe all public workers should be living and paying taxes in New Jersey, this bill was carefully crafted to ensure that no one experiences undue hardship,” said Senator Norcross. “This legislation would not harm public workers who currently live out of state, but it would require that, going forward, we make a concerted effort to support our own residents in their attempt to obtain employment. We have a pool of the most talented people in the country right here in New Jersey. We should have no problem getting qualified applicants for our public positions.”
The measure (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 apply to employees working within the educational system. However, it would provide some flexibility to institutions of higher education to ensure they are able to compete with similarly situated colleges and universities in other states. It also would not apply to individuals whose position requires them to spend the majority of their working hours out of state.
Under the bill, public employees could apply to a five-member committee for an exemption from the residency requirement in cases involving extreme hardship or other unique circumstances.
The Senate gave final approval to the Legislation in March, when by a vote of 29-6 it approved recommended changes by the Governor. The Assembly approved the bill’s changes today by a vote of 70-5-1. It now heads back to the Governor’s desk. The measure would take effect on the first day of the fourth month after enactment.