Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Gordon Johnson, Mila Jasey and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to provide business assistance to LGBT, veteran and disabled residents gained final legislative approval from the Senate on Friday and now heads to the governor’s desk.
“LGBT individuals, people with disabilities, and veterans often face discrimination and bias in the workplace and transgender individuals, in particular, are disproportionately unemployed due to discrimination,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This legislation would help them overcome certain discriminations by providing access to business assistance programs that are currently provided to other minority communities in the state.”
“These particular business sectors face unique challenges or even outright discrimination,” said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). “Similar assistance programs have proven useful in helping other business groups gain a foothold. We want the economy to grow and stabilize and we can only do that by supporting all businesses regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.”
The bill (A-3891), which was approved by the Assembly in May, 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.
“These types of business assistance programs have proven successful in giving other minority owned businesses a leg up to overcome certain inherent biases and succeed,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “If we can apply them to help LGBT, veteran and disabled residents do the same, then by all means, we should.”
“LGBT individuals, persons with a disability, and veterans have faced discrimination and bias far too often in the workplace and in business,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “To ensure everyone access to business assistance in this state, we need to make sure state programs are identifying and directing resources to businesses that have had a history of exclusion in some way and ensure they are included in state surveys and assistance programs.”
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.