Volume 6/Issue 2

  • Lame Duck Legislative Wrap-up
  • Wawa Announces Company-wide Increase in Minimum Wage
  • New Legislator Profile: Nicholas Chiaravalloti

Lame Duck Legislative Wrap-up 

The Senate and Assembly completed the 216th Legislature last week.

The highest profile issue during the lame duck session was legislation to allow for the expansion of 2 new casinos outside of Atlantic City and into North Jersey for the first time.  The final bill took several weeks of contentious negotiations between Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to work out, with the Governor helping to negotiate the compromise in the eleventh hour.

The end product contains the Senate President’s provision that current Atlantic City Casino operators be given the first opportunity to run the new North Jersey facilities, while containing the Speaker’s requirement that any operator seeking a casino license must invest at least $1 billion into their project. In order for this to be on the ballot in 2016, the ballot amendment will require a 3/5ths favorable vote by both houses (because the legislature did not pass in 2016, it requires 3/5th vote in one year to go on the ballot).

The Legislature also completed the first vote of a two-step process on Speaker Prieto’s legislation to mandate that all revenue from the state’s gas taxes permanently go to the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) and on the Senate President’s bill to require the state to make its pension payments on a quarterly basis, rather than on the last day of the fiscal year.  The latter is vehemently opposed by Governor Christie, citing a $3 billion cost. Both measures require one more simple majority vote (21 in the Senate, 41 in the Assembly) in order to send each to the voters for approval.

Over 140 bills were sent Governor Christie’s desk. 82 were signed into law, while 63 were “pocket-vetoed.”  Under the State Constitution, a “pocket veto” can only be used by the Governor at the end of a session. It allows him to terminate the bill by taking no action whatsoever.  Some of the high profile measures that were pocket vetoed include:

  • A bill to require non-profit hospitals that have for-profit operations make Community Service Contributions directly to their municipalities to help pay for property tax relief and police, fire or emergency services;
  • Legislation to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products and electronic smoking devices from 19 to 21
  • Legislation establishing innovation zones surrounding research institutions in the Camden, New Brunswick and Newark, that would allow the NJ Economic Development Authority (NJ EDA) to give bonuses or other enhanced incentives to high-technology businesses that locate in such centers

Most notable among the bills that Governor Christie signed was legislation to provide up to $25 million in NJ EDA tax credits to Rutgers University to upgrade their athletic facilities.  The Governor also signed legislation directing the Department of Environmental Protection to update the State’s flood maps more frequently, to keep state and local officials and property owners of changing flood risks.  

Wawa Announces Company-wide Raise in Minimum Wage   

Wawa, a client of River Crossing Strategy Group, recently announced that it was raising its minimum wage for customer service associates company-wide to $10 per hour.  The minimum wage for the State of New Jersey is $8.38 per hour.

The raise coincides with a 5 percent increase for all Wawa employees.  Wawa employs 22,000 associates throughout portions of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.  

New Legislator Profile: Nicholas Chiaravalloti

Nicholas Chiaravalloti is the new Assemblyman from the 31st Legislative District representing Bayonne and Jersey City.   

Born and raised in Bayonne, Assemblyman Chiaravalloti previously served as City’s Director of Policy and Planning and as the executive director of its redevelopment authority, where he led negotiations overseeing the transfer of the Military Ocean Terminal to the municipality.

The Assemblyman also worked as the state director for U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, where he oversaw policy and programmatic initiatives and as the Senator’s liaison to various elected officials and state agencies.

He is currently the executive director for the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership at St. Peter’s University.   

The Assemblyman’s legislative priorities include property tax relief, renewing the TTF and fostering economic development.