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Pou, Ruiz Legislation to Certify LGBTQ+ Businesses Clears Commerce Committee

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Trenton – In a move towards greater inclusivity in New Jersey’s business ranks, the Senate Commerce Committee advanced legislation that would authorize the Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services, in the Department of the Treasury to certify businesses owned by LGBTQ+ individuals in the same way that the Department provides for the certification of minority and women’s businesses.


Under the bill, sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou and Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz, businesses eligible to earn the certification would be required to be a sole proprietorship, partnership, joint venture, corporation, or other business entity authorized pursuant to the laws of the United States, which is at least 51 percent owned, operated, and controlled by persons who identify as LGBTQ+.


“Businesses owned in whole or in part by LGBTQ+ individuals touch all aspects of the economy and add to the commercial diversity that is part of our shared social identity,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen), Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee. “This legislation affirms the vital role those businesses play, and will continue to play in the civic and economic future of our state.”


This bill would codify the program established by Governor Murphy in Executive Order No. 295 (2022) into law. The Division of Revenue in the Department of the Treasury already provides the opportunity for minority owned, women owned, veteran owned, and disabled-veteran owned businesses to apply for certification as such, but no such mechanism existed in New Jersey for LGBTQ+ businesses prior to EO295.


“Like other underrepresented communities, LGBTQ+ residents contribute mightily to the economic, civic and social life of New Jersey. Enabling this certification will assure that LGBTQ+ – owned businesses, just like minority- and women -owned businesses, will be given every chance to succeed,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex).


The bill, S-3460, was released from committee by a vote of 4-0.