The Senate gave final legislative approval today to legislation that will help the state cope with the coronavirus pandemic by boosting funding for individuals suffering lost wages and employers paying employees who quarantined, and approving what amounts to waivers of standard procedures because of the emergency.
What’s not in the package are the tax holidays and tax adjustments Senate President Stephen Sweeney suggested over the weekend that would provide immediate relief. While the ideas have been discussed extensively and appear to have support in the Legislature, no draft bills have been made available. NJBIA is urging lawmakers to temporarily suspend sales and payroll tax payments as a way to immediately free up more money for businesses to stay afloat.
“We are appreciative of the Senate for expediting these bills at this critical and unprecedented time. While these bills that are designed to bring relief to New Jersey employees are not perfect, as is often the case in expedited legislation, they will provide some assistance to some of our struggling workforce, said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka.
NJBIA supports the responsive initiatives but does have concerns about some of the details of specific proposals, which have been communicated to lawmakers. Here are what some of key provisions from the package do:
- Concerns family leave and disability benefits during epidemic-related emergencies (S-2304 (Sweeney).
- Create the “Temporary Lost Wage Unemployment Program;” allows persons to claim for lost wages due to coronavirus disease 2019, and employers to pay wages to workers ordered under quarantine by licensed healthcare practitioner; appropriates $20,000,000 (A-3846 / S-2293 (Sumter / Chaparro / Quijano / Madden / Lagana).
- Automatically extend time to file gross income tax or corporation business tax return if federal government extends filing or payment due date for federal returns. (A-3841 / S-2300 (Pintor Marin / Bramnick / Chiaravalloti / Diegnan / Sarlo).
- Require health insurance and Medicaid coverage for testing of coronavirus disease 2019 and for telemedicine and telehealth during coronavirus disease 2019 state of emergency (A-3843 / S-2283 (McKeon / Bramnick / Chaparro / Vitale / Lagana).
- Authorize EDA to make grants during periods of emergency declared by Governor and for duration of economic disruptions due to emergency; allows EDA to grant certain business documentation submission deadline extensions. (A-3845 / S-2284 (Freiman / Greenwald / Dancer / Stack).
- Concern time off from work in connection with infectious disease (A-3848 / S-2301 (Lopez / Munoz / Downey / Weinberg).
- Authorize all licensed health care facilities and laboratories to collect specimens to test for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); allows waiver of staffing ratio requirements (A-3854 / S-2286 (Conaway / Munoz / Benson / Vitale / Gill).
- Allow conduct of state business and legislative sessions at locations other than Trenton during periods of emergency or other exigency; allows conduct of legislative business using electronic means (A-3852 / S-2296 (Coughlin / Bramnick / Sweeney / Kean).
- Establishes certain requirements to use telemedicine and telehealth to respond to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (A-3860 / S-2289 (Pinkin / DeCroce / Benson / Vitale)).
- Supplemental appropriations of $10 million for healthcare and residential facility sanitation (A-3856 / S-2297 (Downey / Wimberly / Gopal)), and $15 million for grants to food banks A-3857 / S-2275 (Coughlin / Quijano / Speight / Cryan).
- Permit corporations to hold shareholders’ meetings in part or solely by means of remote communication during state of emergency (A-3861 / S-2290 (Karabinchak / Johnson / Greenwald / Diegnan).
- Permit professional and occupational licensing boards to expedite licensure of certain individuals during state of emergency or public health emergency (A-3862 / S-2298 (Giblin / Armato / Houghtaling / Pou / Kean).