Preview – Six Senate Committees Meet On Monday

TRENTON – Six Senate committees are scheduled to meet on Monday to consider issues ranging from the plight of the working poor to the restoration of “Ladies Nights” in bars and restaurants to bans on lawsuits by people claiming fast food restaurants made them fat.

Other bills up for consideration before the Senate panels involve municipal sanctions against landlords who rent so-called “Animal Houses” near colleges and in resort areas, the coordination of emergency response teams and disclosure requirements of staffing levels at nursing homes.

The Senate Labor Committee has several expert speakers lined up to testify at a public hearing about conditions of the working poor, including representatives of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Catholic Charities, the Business and Industry Association and the State Chamber of Commerce.

Senator Stephen M. Sweeney, the Labor panel chairman, said he is focused on the need to increase the minimum wage and how workers with multiple low-paying jobs still lack health insurance for their families.

“It’s a disgrace that people who work every day are still not able to make ends meet,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider legislation to ban suits against fast food restaurants by those who claim the food at such establishments made them obese. At the same time, Senator John H. Adler, said the measure he is co-sponsoring, S-1462, would allow suits if food manufacturers fail to abide by the state and federal nutrition standards they claim to be following.

The Judiciary panel also will consider the bill restoring “Ladies Nights” at bars and restaurants after they were found to be in violation of the law against discrimination. Supporters of the legislation say it is crafted so promotional events designed to spur an important industry in New Jersey can be carried out and so the Attorney General’s office can focus its enforcement efforts on thwarting discrimination in the workplace based on race, gender, age and sexual orientation.

The full agendas for the Senate committees have been distributed to the State House media.