– Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Clinton Calabrese and Mila Jasey to provide business assistance to LGBT, veteran and disabled residents was advanced out of the General Assembly on Thursday by a vote of 54-12-6.
The bill (A-3162) would allow the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) and the state Division of Revenue to provide assistance to businesses owned by lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals, disabled individuals, and veterans, just as it does to other minority owned businesses in the state.
“LGBT individuals, people with disabilities, and veterans very often face discrimination and bias in the workplace,” said Calabrese (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This legislation would encourage prospective business owners in these groups and help them overcome certain discriminations by ensuring access to business assistance programs currently afforded to other minority communities in the state.”
The bill establishes a number of vital assistance programs and services for LGBT, disabled and veteran-owned businesses, including:
? Establishing a loan referral and packing program for eligible businesses;
? Allowing the governing body of a county, municipality or school board to establish set-aside programs for qualified LGBT businesses, as is already allowed for veteran, disabled and other minority owned businesses;
? Compiling lists of qualified professionals in specific areas of expertise to be disseminated to eligible businesses and to be used in making referrals;
? Approving third-party agencies to perform certification and verification of eligible businesses; and
? Waiving bonding requirements in whole or in part if an eligible business has been rejected by two surety companies authorized to do business in New Jersey.
“Encouraging entrepreneurs and providing viable opportunities for them to start a business is a key to economic growth throughout the state,” said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). “This legislation aims to help residents from these particular communities, for whom starting their own business is one way to earn a living free from workplace discrimination. It helps to even the playing field for all residents.”
The bill was previously advanced by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee on May 7 and the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 17. The bill will now go to the State Senate for further consideration.