In 2014, the introduction and passage of paid sick leave laws was one of the most popular issues among state and local legislatures around the United States. There has been significant debate among employee and employer-interest groups regarding the efficacy of these laws. It appears, based upon a report from the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, that this debate was similarly active among New Jersey lobbying groups.
In light of an apparent heightened interest among New Jersey municipalities in enacting paid sick leave laws (to date, nine have done so), the New Jersey Assembly and Senate introduced legislation in 2014 which would require employers to provide paid sick leave time to their employees. If enacted, this law would preempt all previously enacted paid sick leave ordinances in New Jersey. Since its introduction, it appears New Jersey lobbying groups have dug in their heels in support of their respective positions.
According to a recent report from a Rutgers University doctoral student interning at the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, this pending legislation was the most heavily lobbied bill in 2014. The paid sick leave lobbying efforts exceeded efforts regarding, among other things, legislation regarding heroin/opiate abuse and legislation which would allow a terminally ill patient to end his or her life.
Similarly, following the passage of the paid sick leave ordinance in Trenton, a coalition of business groups filed a complaint challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance. In April 2015, a New Jersey Superior Court Judge threw out this petition, landing a significant blow to employer-interest lobbying efforts on the municipal-level.
Nevertheless, based upon this interest and debate among lobbying groups in New Jersey, the questions of whether a paid sick leave law will be enacted on a state level is poised to be a hotly-contested issue as we move towards the 2016 elections, especially in light of questions surrounding Governor Chris Christie and his potential bid for the United States presidency. Stay tuned.