An income tax increase for millionaires, a minimum-wage hike and an effort to legalize recreational marijuana will likely be atop New Jersey officials’ agenda in 2018.
Governor Elect Murphy and the Democrat-controlled state Legislature are expected to pursue marijuana legalization as well as the so-called millionaire’s tax and an increase in New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Two other potential measures may be legislation that bans nondisclosure agreements in cases of sexual harassment and other misconduct, and a bill limiting noncompete agreements between businesses and employees.
Here’s a roundup of the legislation and regulation to keep an eye on in 2018.
One of the initial challenges facing State officials this year will be finding the dollars to plug a projected deficit and cover new spending priorities in a balanced state budget — a feat that will likely involve seeking additional revenue from a millionaire’s tax.
Just as the legislature will try to institute the millionaire’s tax, they are expected to pursue the minimum-wage hike previously rejected by Chris Christie.
In 2016 he vetoed Democrat-backed legislation — Assembly Bill A-15 — which would have raised the then-rate of $8.38 an hour to $10.10 at the start of 2017, with incremental, annual boosts from 2018 to 2021 until the minimum hourly wage reached $15. After 2021 the wage would have increased by any upward change in the consumer price index.
Based on a referendum approved by voters in 2013, which approved annual adjustments to the state’s minimum wage based on the consumer price index, the minimum wage increased last year to $8.44 per hour, and the rate is slated to jump to $8.60 on Jan. 1.
Murphy has expressed support for gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Nearly eight years since New Jersey officials approved legislation authorizing the medical use of marijuana, Murphy and state lawmakers are eyeing the legalization of the drug for recreational purposes. But cannabis is projected by many experts to be a tougher business than people want to credit citing the upfront costs and the amount of time before such enterprises turn a profit.
Banning Nondisclosure Agreements
In the wake of sexual harassment and related claims sweeping across various parts of American society, New Jersey officials have been considering a legislative measure that would ban nondisclosure agreements in such cases.
Under that legislation — introduced last month as Senate Bill S-3581 and Assembly Bill A-5287 — “a provision in any employment contract or agreement which has the purpose or effect of concealing the details relating to a claim of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment shall be deemed against public policy and unenforceable.”
Citing cases involving disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and other high-profile figures, Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, the sponsor of the Senate bill, said in a Dec. 4 statement: “Banning nondisclosure agreements related to sexual harassment and other misconduct is critical. The intent is to prevent perpetrators from using these agreements to silence victims and to cover up offenses that often they end up committing again.”
The legislation will likely be reintroduced in the upcoming legislative session.
Limiting Noncompete Agreements
Another legislative measure that may resurface in the next session is a proposal that would limit the types of workers that could be subject to noncompete agreements as well as the scope of those restrictive covenants.
Among other provisions, that legislation — introduced over the past two months as Senate Bill S-3518 and Assembly Bill A-5261 — states that noncompetes would be unenforceable against an employee who worked at a business for less than a year and that the agreements could only prevent an employee from working for a competitor for a year after being terminated by a company.
Under the legislation, the agreements also could not prohibit a worker from seeking employment in other states.
Martin J. Milita
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