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Senate President Steve Sweeney addresses the full Senate for the first time in the 216th Legislature.

TRENTON – Several bills sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney that would require the purchase of U.S.A. made goods for public contracts cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.  The “Made in America” bills are part of an ongoing effort by the Senate President to create jobs and spur economic growth in New Jersey.

The first bill, S1811, would require vendors contracting with state agencies, including state colleges, to purchase manufactured goods in the United States to fulfill their contracts. It would also require businesses that contract with the state or that receive economic development assistance to disclose job outsourcing information.

“We should be taking every measure possible to help jumpstart the economy, and requiring the purchase of U.S.A. made goods is just a common sense step,” said Sweeney.  “President Obama has made tremendous strides in getting the country out of the economic mess he inherited.  But, we still have ground to gain and can always do what is needed to ensure our family and friends have jobs.”

Currently, New Jersey requires the purchase of goods manufactured in the United States for the fulfillment of public works contracts, local public contracts, state construction contracts and local school contracts.  This bill would add to that requirement contracts by state agencies and state colleges, including state universities. The bill would allow for a waiver in case the products are not manufactured in the Unites States or they are too costly (the waiver will be made public). Penalties could be imposed on a contractor who knowingly supplies products that are not manufactured in the United States.

S1811 was accompanied by four other bills that would require the use of certain U.S.A. manufactured products.  S2045 would require it for the Delaware River Joint Toll Commission; S2048 would require it for the Delaware River and Bay Authority; S2061 would require it for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and S2062 would require it for the Delaware River Port Authority.  Recent media reports have highlighted how projects, like the raising of the Bayonne Bridge, are utilizing steel made in other countries.

At a press conference held earlier today, the Senate President was joined by representatives of the NJ AFL-CIO and United Steelworkers, all of whom support the legislation. Also joining with Senator Sweeney at the press conference was Senator Kevin J. O’Toole, co-sponsor of S-2061. Sponsoring the parallel bill in the New York State Legislature are Senator John A. DeFrancesco, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Assemblyman Joseph D. Morrelle, the Democratic Assembly Majority Leader.  Senate President Sweeney is seeking similar parallel legislation from members of the Pennsylvania and Delaware Legislatures.

The bills now all head to the Senate floor.

This legislation is just part of a series of bills Senate President Sweeney has sponsored to jumpstart the state’s sagging economy.  He has sponsored, S153, the “New Jobs for New Jersey” tax credit program, which would provide incentives to small private sector employers who increase their workforce by hiring unemployed workers.  He has also sponsored S1621, which would give priority in terms of state-administered training programs to those who have suffered from long term unemployment.  At least 50% of the training funds for displaced workers would be reserved for training and employment programs at community colleges for laid off workers who have exhausted all UI benefits.

“These bills are the perfect way to get people who’ve been unemployed the longest back into the workforce,” said Sweeney. “People who have been out of work for long periods are simply giving up. That does not mean, however, that they and their families just find another way to provide for themselves. It’s not just about creating opportunities, but about finding jobs as soon as possible for those that have been unemployed the longest,” said Sweeney.

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