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Gusciora & Oliver Bill to Authorize Local Governments to Enact Higher Wage Standards Gains Panel Approval

Legislation Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora and Sheila Oliver sponsored to allow New Jersey counties and towns to set local base wage standards above the statewide minimum wage was advanced Thursday by an Assembly panel.

“Cities throughout the nation have put forth proposals to increase the minimum wage for their residents, because they recognize that the cost of living in their particular region may exceed the average cost elsewhere in the state,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “This legislation simply acknowledges that local governments are best qualified to make that kind of determination.”

The bill (A-3912) would amend the “New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law” to clarify that no state or federal minimum wage law shall be construed as preventing a county or municipality from establishing and enforcing a higher wage standard unless the state or federal law expressly prohibits the county or municipality from adopting such a change.

“Authorizing counties and municipalities to raise their wage floors will help enable more mothers and fathers to provide for their families and live where they work,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “Local units can account for the cost of living in their individual wage proposals, giving hard-working lower-wage employees the opportunity to make ends meet.”

The measure affirms longstanding home rule powers of local governments to regulate labor conditions in a manner consistent with local circumstances and needs, provided there is no explicit intent by the legislature to preempt such standards, Oliver said.

Although current law expressly protects the rights of counties and municipalities to set higher wage standards for employees of their vendors and contractors, it does not address wage standards for any other employees.

The measure was advanced by the Assembly Labor Committee.