(Trenton, NJ) -- Legislation Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker and Gordon Johnson sponsored to ensure fair treatment of freelance workers was advanced Thursday by the Assembly Appropriations panel.
The bill (A-4410) provides that a freelance worker must be paid the compensation earned according to work terms agreed to by the freelance worker and its client, and requires the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to act as a regulatory agency regarding these work agreements.
"Freelance workers aren't free," said Zwicker (D-Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon/Middlesex). "Freelance workers must be paid the compensation they've earned, and we need to ensure this basic fairness afforded to every other worker. Freelancers are a valuable part of our workforce, and they provide many services, but too often they lack basic protections. This bill will ensure they're treated fairly, benefiting our economy and, in the end, everyone."
"Freelance workers are invaluable," said Johnson (D-Bergen). "Many businesses rely on them for all types of work, and that's great, but these workers deserve equal protections under the law. This bill is fairness, plain and simple."
The bill defines "client" as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, association or other business entity or a nonprofit organization contracting with a freelance worker for compensation equal to or greater than $600.
Under the bill, a freelance worker must be paid the compensation earned in accordance with the agreed work terms, which must be reduced to writing. If a freelance worker and client did not agree on a date for payment of compensation earned or a mechanism by which that date is determined, then the freelance worker must be paid the compensation earned not later than 30 days after the completion of the freelance worker's services under the written contract. The bill also provides that the contract must be signed by the freelance worker, kept on file by the client for a period of not less than six years, and made available to the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development upon request.
It is a violation of the bill if a client is found to threaten, intimidate, discipline, harass, deny a work opportunity to or discriminate against a freelance worker, or take any other action that penalizes a freelance worker for, or is reasonably likely to deter a freelance worker from, exercising or attempting to exercise any right provided under this act, or from obtaining a future work opportunity because the freelance worker has done so.
The bill provides that any freelance worker may file with the commissioner a complaint regarding a violation of the provisions of the bill by a client, for an investigation of the complaint and a statement setting the appropriate remedy, if any. The bill provides that the commissioner may bring any legal action necessary, including administrative action, on behalf of any freelance worker that alleges a violation of the provisions of the bill. The commissioner may also assess against the client an amount as liquidated damages, unless the client proves a good faith basis for believing that its violation was in compliance with the provisions of the bill. Liquidated damages must be calculated by the commissioner as no more than 100 percent of the total amount of the underlying contract.
The bill also provides that if the Commissioner determines that a client has failed to pay the compensation of its freelance workers, the commissioner shall issue to the client an order directing payment, which will describe particularly the nature of the alleged failure to pay.
Each freelance worker who files a complaint regarding a violation of a provision of this bill will be provided with a description of the anticipated processing of the complaint, including the investigation, case conference, potential civil and criminal penalties, and collection procedures by the commissioner, in addition to a referral to a navigation program established by the commissioner. Each freelance worker and the representative of the freelance worker, if any, will be notified in a timely manner by the commissioner of the following:
- any case conference before it is held, with the opportunity to attend; and
- any award, collection of back compensation, civil penalties, any intent to seek criminal penalties, and, in the event that criminal penalties are sought, a notification of the outcome of prosecution.
The bill provides that any client who does not pay the compensation of all of its freelance workers in accordance with the provisions of this bill, and the officers, agents, or representatives of any client who knowingly permit the client to violate the provisions of this bill, will be guilty of a disorderly persons offense for a first offense, and in the event that any second or subsequent offense occurs within six years of the date of conviction for a prior offense, will be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. A disorderly persons offense is punishable by a term of imprisonment up to six months or a fine not to exceed $1,000, or both. A crime of the fourth degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment up to 18 months or a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both.
The bill also provides that a freelance worker alleging a violation of a provision of the bill may bring an action in any court of competent jurisdiction for certain damages. The remedies provided by the bill with respect to a private action brought by a freelance worker, and any other remedies provided in the bill, may be enforced simultaneously or consecutively so far as not inconsistent with each other.
Finally, the navigation program established by the commissioner under the bill must include assistance from a natural person by phone and electronic mail and shall also include information accessible via an Internet website maintained by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The navigation program must provide the following: general court information and information about procedures under the bill; information about available templates and relevant court forms; general information about classifying persons as employees or freelance workers; information about obtaining translation and interpretation services and other courtroom services; a list of organizations that can be used for the identification of attorneys; and other relevant information, as determined by the commissioner, related to the submission of a complaint by a freelance worker or the commencement of a civil action under the provisions of the bill by a freelance worker.
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto has appointed Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker to the New Jersey State Beach Erosion Commission.
"Like so many others, my children grew up going to the Jersey Shore every summer. After the devastation caused by major weather events in recent years, it's more important than ever for New Jersey to restore and preserve its beaches," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). "The threats posed to our coastline by climate change require an innovative, scientific approach to protecting coastal communities."
Originally established in 1949, the 12-member bipartisan State Beach Erosion Commission is responsible for investigating and studying the preservation and protection of New Jersey's beaches and shores from erosion and other damage.
"The preservation of our coast is both an environmental imperative and an economic one. Thousands of homes and businesses in New Jersey depend on the ongoing safety and viability of our beaches," said Zwicker. "I look forward to contributing to this commission's important work. The health of our entire state's economy relies heavily on the preservation of our beautiful, unique Jersey Shore."
Eustace, Zwicker, Vainieri Huttle, Gusciora, Kennedy & Benson Bill to Require NJ's Full Participation in RGGI Clears Assembly
(Trenton, NJ) -- Legislation Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Andrew Zwicker, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Reed Gusciora, James Kennedy and Daniel Benson sponsored to require New Jersey's full participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative gained General Assembly approval on Monday.
The bill (A-4701) would require the state's full participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cooperative effort among nine states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Gov. Chris Christie withdrew from the program early in his first term.
"From the very beginning, we believed that entering into agreements with other states would further the purposes of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Global Warming Response Act," said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). "The governor's withdrawal from RGGI blatantly disregarded the importance of our participation in RGGI to reducing greenhouse gas emission in our state. A return to the RGGI pact with full participation will get New Jersey back on the right environmental track."
"There are many benefits to our full participation in RGGI," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/ Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). "New Jersey would benefit, as other states have, from a carbon dioxide emissions allowance trading program with incentives that will reduce emissions at their sources and the generation and emission of greenhouse gases. Reducing carbon emissions translates to less pollution and cleaner air for future generations."
"Backing out of the RGGI almost eight years ago was not the best path to take for New Jersey," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Funding consumer benefit purposes would have resulted in reduced costs to New Jersey consumers, decreased energy use, decreased greenhouse gas emissions, and substantial and tangible benefits to the energy-using business sector. Other states have benefitted from their participation. Why shouldn't New Jersey?"
"New Jersey's participation in RGGI was a manifestation of a larger commitment to a clean energy economy and an effort to stem the tide of climate change," said Gusciora (D-Mercer). "In order for our state to live up to its values regarding the environment, New Jersey must rejoin RGGI."
"Beyond the intrinsic value of participating in RGGI being good for the environment, the efficiency programs put in place to reduce carbon emissions ultimately reduce energy costs, which is helpful for household budgets," said Kennedy (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). "Returning to RGGI only would stand to benefit the state of New Jersey."
"While neighboring states collectively are taking action to limit their carbon footprints and introduce green jobs to their economies, New Jersey is on the sidelines," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "A cleaner, more efficient, more competitive New Jersey is possible with a return to RGGI."
The RGGI-implementing law was enacted to further the purposes of the "Global Warming Response Act" (GWRA). The law partially implements the policies of the GWRA by creating an emissions auction and trading mechanism to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide. Current New Jersey law recognizes the state's participation in RGGI by setting forth the parameters to be followed for allowance auctions, creating the "Global Warming Solutions Fund," and dedicating all proceeds received from the sale, exchange or other conveyance of allowances through a greenhouse gas emissions allowance trading program to the fund.
The measure, which the Assembly approved 46-27-1, now awaits further Senate consideration.
Americans who recently thronged the Washington D.C. and Trenton Marches for Science weren’t just calling attention to the need to protect our health and safety and preserve the planet. Their presence also was a statement about the economic value of science and technology.
There is a strong connection between jobs and science and it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. For that, we pay a price.
Those who deny climate change and denigrate science threaten the nation’s economic wellbeing because history shows good jobs come from innovation and invention, not from ignoring realities our world faces.
Clean energy technology offers tremendous potential to promote prosperity in New Jersey. Today, 32,000 New Jerseyans work in what is broadly defined as energy efficiency, according to a recent analysis by Environmental Entrepreneurs, a national group of business leaders, investors, and advocates for policies that help the economy and the environment.
Most of these energy efficiency jobs are in the construction trades — easing fears that moving to clean, affordable energy sources is a job killer in that area. We’re talking about jobs manufacturing EnergyStar appliances, making and distributing LED lighting, and building and installing more cost-effective heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
Clean-vehicle technology offers even more opportunities. Nationwide, 259,000 people work on the design and manufacture of hybrid and plug-in cars to driverless vehicles. With a little effort to date, 4,000 New Jerseyans work with alternative fuel vehicles and fuel efficiency. As a major transportation hub and a repository for unwanted diesel and other automobile emissions, New Jersey is an ideal place to be the hub of innovation for transportation. Our state would benefit from cleaner air, improved health, and an explosion of new clean-vehicle jobs.
Other common sense initiatives would make New Jersey’s clean energy job future even brighter.
Measure Follows Trump Repeal of Federal Broadband Confidentiality Rules
(Trenton, NJ) -- Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker has introduced legislation to prohibit Internet service providers from selling or otherwise disclosing a subscriber’s online browsing history and personal information.
“In today’s world, using the Internet is essential to everyday life, which means that Internet service providers have unparalleled access to a great deal of information about their subscribers’ highly personal habits, preferences, even medical issues,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “That private data should not be up for sale to the highest bidder without subscribers’ knowledge or consent.”
The bill (A-4800) would require ISPs like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T to keep their subscribers’ personally identifiable information confidential unless a subscriber expressly authorizes the ISP to disclose the information. The legislation comes after President Donald Trump signed legislation last month rescinding Federal Communications Commission protections intended to prohibit ISPs from selling their subscribers’ personal data.
“Technology is advancing, but the fundamental principle that consumers have a right to privacy over their information remains unchanged,” said Zwicker. “It is more important than ever to ensure that consumers can be sure that their personal information is confidential and that they are protected from the potential harm caused by unpermitted disclosure.”
With the introduction of A-4800, New Jersey joins more than a dozen other states that have introduced similar bills since the federal privacy protections rollback in early April.
“This is not a political issue. It’s a consumer protection issue,” Zwicker explained, noting that data suggests that a vast majority of Americans across party lines are very concerned about their data privacy and support Internet user privacy protections.
The measure defines “personally identifiable information” as any information that personally identifies, describes or is able to be associated with a subscriber or users of a subscriber’s account, including, but not limited to:
- name, address, precise geolocation, Social Security number or telephone number;
- requests for specific materials or services from an ISP;
- Internet protocol (IP) addresses or information concerning the access or use of online services;
- information identifying a device used primarily or exclusively by the subscriber or users of the subscriber’s account; financial or billing information;
- demographic data;
- medical information;
- browser cache or history;
- the contents of a subscriber’s communications or data-storage devices; or
- any information pertaining to children.
Under the legislation, subscribers who wish to disclose their information must declare so using a form separate from their contract for Internet service. An ISP would be required to provide written notice of this requirement to each subscriber upon his or her first applying for service and when the subscriber renews a contract for service. The subscriber may revoke, in writing, the authorization at any time.
The measure states that there shall be no penalty, either financially or in the quality or speed of delivery of service, for a subscriber prohibiting an ISP from disclosing his or her information.
Appropriates $59.5M in Funds to Protect Land, Prevent Damage in Flood-Prone Areas
(Trenton, NJ) -- A bipartisan bill, sponsored by Assembly Andrew Zwicker, among others, to fund open space preservation is now law. The appropriation is the result of a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2014 to allow the state to use corporation business taxes to establish a stable source of financial support for open space preservation.
“The people of New Jersey cast their vote in 2014 and overwhelmingly supported open space preservation,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “By appropriating nearly $60 million in funding to protect land and water, the state is making sure that today’s residents, as well as future generations, can fully enjoy the character and beauty of New Jersey.”
The new law (A-4597) appropriates $59.5 million to the Department of Environmental Protection to fund state acquisition of land for recreation and conservation purposes, including for Blue Acres projects, and for capital projects and park development on lands administered by the Division of Parks and Forestry and the Division of Fish and Wildlife pursuant to the “Preserve New Jersey Act.”
In addition to funds for outdoor recreation and protection of flood-prone areas, the measure provides funding for preservation endeavors. Projects within the 16th Legislative District that received funding under the new law include:
- Crossroads of the American Revolution sites in Delaware, Flemington, Raritan, Readington, and Stockton in Hunterdon County, Princeton Borough in Mercer County and Branchburg, Hillsborough, Manville, Millstone, Montgomery, Rocky Hill and Somerville in Somerset County;
- the Delaware and Raritan Canal Greenway;
- the Delaware River Bluffs;
- the Nishisakawick Greenway;
- the Lincoln Grove Preserve;
- the Sourland Mountains; and
- the Princeton Battlefield
The “Preserve New Jersey Act,” implements for fiscal years 2017 through 2019 the constitutional dedication of CBT revenues for open space, farmland and historic preservation. The act dictates that of the 60 percent of dedicated CBT revenues allocated each year for the Green Acres program:
- 55 percent would be used for open space acquisition and development projects divided equally between open space and development projects
- 38 percent would be used for grants and loans to fund local government open space acquisition and development projects and
- 7 percent would be used for grants to fund open space acquisition and development projects undertaken by qualifying tax-exempt nonprofit organizations.
All projects and appropriations have been approved by the DEP and the Garden State Preservation Trust. The measure was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie on Monday.
New Law Allows Tax Credits for Investments in Businesses Working to Fight Climate Change
(Trenton, NJ) -- Legislation that Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Gary Schear, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Andrew Zwicker, Raj Mukherji, Joseph Danielsen and Eliana Pintor Marin sponsored to encourage innovation among New Jersey small and mid-size businesses working to fight climate change was signed into law by the Governer on Monday.
The new law (A-3631) amends the “New Jersey Angel Investor Tax Credit Act” to include investments in businesses that conduct technology commercialization in carbon footprint reduction technology. The act allows a tax credit equal to 10 percent of the qualified investment against the corporation business tax and the gross income tax for qualified investments in a New Jersey emerging technology business.
“Our state can – and should – take advantage of opportunities to grow our economy and stem the tide of climate change at the same time,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Incentivizing investments in carbon footprint reduction technology ultimately will allow New Jersey to reduce emissions and create green jobs.”
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority defines a “New Jersey emerging technology business" as a company with fewer than 225 employees that is doing business, employing or owning capital or property, or maintaining an office in this state and has qualified research expenses paid or incurred for research conducted in New Jersey, conducts pilot scale manufacturing in New Jersey, or conducts technology commercialization in New Jersey in the fields of advanced computing, advanced materials, biotechnology, electronic device technology, information technology, life sciences, medical device technology, mobile communications technology, renewable energy technology or, as of the enactment of the new law, carbon footprint reduction technology.
The new law also expands eligibility for tax credits to include investors in the holding company of an emerging technology business, thus allowing indirect investment in a qualified business through the holding company that controls it. Previously, investments by holding companies did not qualify for the program.
“Regardless of whether an investment goes directly to a business or first goes to a holding company that then transfers funds to the business, it’s supporting economic growth and job creation in New Jersey,” said Zwicker. “Eliminating this distinction will encourage investors who may not otherwise put money into an emerging technology business to consider funding these ventures.”
(Trenton, NJ) -- Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker issued the following statement Monday afternoon after receiving testimony from Amtrak and New Jersey Transit executives during a joint legislative hearing on rail maintenance, repairs, contingency planning and commuter delays on Friday:
“Our infrastructure, which is our roads, buses and of course our trains are crucial to our economic vitality. We know that every dollar invested in public transportation yields four dollars in economic returns. Investing in making the Northeast Corridor a safer, reliable option for commuters, is of paramount importance to our state’s economy and the livelihood of our residents.
“Over the long term, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature in urging New Jersey’s congressional delegation to secure funds for the Gateway Project as soon as possible. The last month has been a wake-up call for those who have underestimated the amount of stress put on just two antiquated rail tunnels every single day. The current system simply is unsustainable, and New Jersey residents deserve a continued effort to hold Amtrak, NJ Transit, the governor and federal officials accountable.”
Unprecedented "Resistance Coalition" to counter federal attacks on women, immigrants, the environment; other Trump targets
(Trenton, NJ) -- Activists and community leaders joined Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver as well as Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Assemblywoman Liz Muoio, and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker to launch the statewide "Resistance Coalition" to protect New Jersey residents from the Trump agenda, which is putting women, immigrants, and working families at risk.
The coalition -- which is unprecedented in New Jersey politics -- will champion a legislative and policy agenda to counter the Trump administration. The legislators in the Resistance Coalition will introduce state legislative measures to protect rights that New Jersey's working families need to live and prosper, including funding health care, upholding fair labor standards, and proactively protecting our immigrant communities.
For months, activists have employed town halls, vigils, protests and public forums to push against Trump administration initiatives, including immigration bans, mass deportations, repeal of the Affordable Care Act, roll backs of environmental protections, and other attacks on our democracy. Hundreds of activists and dozens of local organizations have now enlisted state legislators to play a key role in the resistance movement.
"The policies and pronouncements coming out of the Trump Administration are dangerous. From the president's inhumane attack on immigrants and refugees to his commitment to repeal the landmark healthcare law, he has put forth policies that are contrary to New Jersey values and the values of this country," said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg . "We have a responsibility to fight on behalf of our residents and protect them from the impact of the harmful actions that are taken in Washington. We are committed to doing that through legislation and advocacy that will resist the Trump agenda and help to protect our state."
Initial legislation will include measures to ensure voting rights; ban the use of dangerous pesticides; protect online privacy; advance workers' rights; and divest pension investments from companies that help build Donald Trump's border wall.
"I am proud to stand with the Working Families Alliance and allies, and to join with Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg in locking arms and exerting legislative muscle to our Resistance Movement," said Assembly Speaker Emeritus Oliver (D-Essex, Passaic)." When I think about all the sacrifices made by New Jerseyans as well as people throughout the country to ensure that there is liberty and justice for all, I know that as a legislator, civic leader and grassroots representative, I must be in the line of defense against the horror being perpetrated by Trump and his" Billionaires Boys Club" that has invaded our nation's capital. As the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm proclaimed many decades ago, " You can't stand on the sidelines whimpering and complaining, if you don't have a seat at the table, then bring a folding chair! Today we proclaim that we are ready, armed with our folding chairs?"
"We need to be here. We need to call this administration out every time it attacks our values and our safety. And we need to take action on the state level to make up for the lack of moral leadership coming from Washington. I'm proud of my colleagues here today and know that together we will do everything we can to right this president's wrongs where we can," said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union).
The coalition is organized by the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, a nonpartisan organization that has spearheaded a progressive policy agenda in the state, in collaboration with grassroots partners and allies.
(Branchburg, NJ) – Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker joined Raritan Valley Community College President Michael J. McDonough on Thursday, April 27th in hosting a roundtable discussion on fostering the growth of advanced manufacturing and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) businesses in New Jersey.
“In order for New Jersey to thrive and meet the demands of the 21st-century global economy, we must take advantage of the many new opportunities that breakthroughs in the STEM fields have made available. This requires our state to recognize and understand the needs of the modern workforce and make investments that prepare our residents for high-quality, high-paying jobs,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Innovation has spurred a revitalization in the manufacturing sector that New Jersey must celebrate and support in its effort to remain competitive.”
During the roundtable, representatives from Betar Inc., CompuSecure, McIntosh Industries Inc., Symrise Inc., and UTC Aerospace discussed the importance of workforce development as well as ways to strengthen and support local manufacturing in the state.
“Trained machinists are difficult to find, as we have a 30-year skills gap of training workers. It is great to have community colleges and the state working together and involving manufacturing companies to develop training programs,” said John M. Lohse, president at Betar Inc. “Every company has immediate openings, and trained people can enter the workforce making a sustainable wage in an exciting career.”
“McIntosh Industries has been a proud and grateful employer-partner of the state of New Jersey since the inception of the Community College Consortium and the Advanced Manufacturing Program,” said Sonia Frontera, McIntosh Industries co-owner. “These partnerships result in win-win situations for employers and job seekers and have been a lead source of talent in our competitive market.”
Somerset County Business Partnership President and CEO Michael Kerwin and representatives from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the New Jersey Business Action Center also provided insights on how New Jersey can prosper in an innovation economy.
Prior to the roundtable, Zwicker and the other participants were given a tour of RVCC’s workforce training center. The center, which opened last summer, partners with local industry leaders to design a curriculum that prepares students for careers in various sectors, including advanced manufacturing, automotive technology and heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology.
“Community colleges in our state are doing their part to train students for success in the new economy, but the extraordinary work happening on their campuses is just one piece of the puzzle,” said Zwicker. “Government has the capacity to invest in research and development, foster public-private partnerships and attract capital investment that will drive long-term economic growth. By cooperating with, and building upon the efforts of, New Jersey’s community colleges, our state can be a pioneer in the innovation economy while also increasing the availability of good jobs that allow people to put food on the table and keep a roof over their families’ heads.”