Legislature’s return creates bill signing deadlines for Governor Murphy

By: - September 14, 2022 6:53 am

Bills enacting temp worker protections and new rules for sheriff's sales are among the measures waiting for Murphy's pen. (Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor’s Office)

Constitutional deadlines will prompt Gov. Phil Murphy in coming days to sign or veto a spate of bills, including measures that would establish new protections for temp workers, bar a testing requirement for teacher certifications, and set a strict timetable for unemployment insurance payments.

Under the New Jersey Constitution, bills that sit on the governor’s desk for 45 days become law at noon on the day the chamber they originated in next meets for a quorum.

The Assembly will convene for a quorum and a set of committee hearings on Thursday, forcing the governor to act on 12 bills and three Assembly joint resolutions. Quorums in both chambers on Sept. 22 will force his hand on six bills that originated in the upper chamber, plus the bill creating new protections for temporary workers.

That measure would require temp agencies to register with the state and keep detailed records about their workers and the jobs assigned to them, or face fines and civil suits over retaliation. It would also bar temp agencies from interfering if one of their workers receives a permanent job offer from a firm to which they were temporarily assigned.

One Senate bill Murphy must consider by next week would ban the state Board of Education from requiring teaching candidates to complete a test, including the Educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA), to obtain their teaching certificates. The measure is a bid to address New Jersey’s longstanding shortage of educators.

Another piece of legislation that originated in the upper chamber would impose strict timelines for the payment of unemployment insurance benefits that would require state unemployment officials to make an initial determination on an individual claim within three weeks.

Existing law allows the division an additional two weeks to obtain information missing from an individual claim, but the bill would remove that provision while also allowing jobless claimants to keep overpayments if they were made because of errors by their former employer or the division.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have griped that New Jersey’s unemployment system was a fiasco during the pandemic, with scores of jobless residents saying they spent months or even years trying to collect unemployment aid.

Murphy will also need to decide what to do with a bill giving foreclosed-upon residents and their families first right of refusal over their home when it goes up at a sheriff’s sale. The bill would also drop the amount of money such bidders must make as a down payment from 20% to 3.5%, provided the bidder lives in the house as their primary residence for 84 months.

Housing advocates have urged Murphy to sign the bill, saying it would help families build wealth and keep homes out of the hands of out-of-town investors.

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.