SENATE, No. 2356

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED APRIL 5, 2018

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  ANTHONY R. BUCCO

District 25 (Morris and Somerset)

Senator  LINDA R. GREENSTEIN

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires annual evaluation reports by Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development on survey responses to be obtained from certain employers that end operations in this State.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act requiring annual evaluation reports by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development on survey responses to be obtained from certain employers that end operations in this State, supplementing P.L.2007, c.212 (C.34:21-1 et seq.) and Title 34 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    The public policy of this State, already established by P.L.2007, c.212 (C.34:21-1et seq.), is to provide fair warning to employees regarding the termination of operations in this State or the transfer of operations to another State by their employers. There are many anecdotes relating why people, employers, and businesses cease operations in this State and leave to conduct business in other states. These anecdotes also touch on the reasons why businesses struggle to grow their operations or retain their workforce. However, beyond these anecdotes, there is a dearth of information to help guide the State in understanding and responding to instances in which businesses terminate their operations or transfer their operations to another state. This State must move past anecdote and begin gathering as much data as possible to understand why businesses struggle or fail.

     A system of gathering this important data is hereby established so that this State might better understand the reasons for the struggles that businesses have faced in this State since the recent Great Recession and continue to face in this State, and potentially to prevent those struggles by enhancing the assistance the State may offer struggling businesses before a cessation of operations or transfer of operations takes place.

 

     2.    a.  The Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development shall require every employer required to provide notification pursuant to subsection a. of section 2 of P.L.2007, c.212 (C.34:21-2), concerning a termination of operations or transfer of operations outside of this State, to respond to a survey regarding the reasons for any termination or transfer of operations by the employer. The survey shall be developed by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development in consultation with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. The survey shall evaluate the factors that cause employers to cease operations in this State or transfer operations to another state, including, but not limited to, taxes and fees imposed on employers, including the impact of any recent changes in tax policy; the cost of living or cost of conducting business; labor costs; labor laws and regulations; environmental laws and regulations; workforce quality, including the level of State investment in higher education; the quality of life for employees, including the level of State investment in primary and secondary education and access to higher education; access to transportation and transportation logistics, including the level of State investment in transportation and related infrastructure; and the cost of health insurance and other types of insurance.

     (1)   The survey shall further evaluate any factors related to laws and regulations including the following additional information:

     (a)   the specific law or regulation that the employer found problematic;

     (b)   any contact the employer had with State departments or agencies to address that law or regulation;

     (c)   if the employer had contact with State departments or agencies, whether the State department or agency provided the employer with any assistance to help resolve the concerns with the law or regulation;

     (d)   any contact the employer had with the New Jersey Business Action Center or the New Jersey Economic Development Authority;

     (e)   the employer’s evaluation of  the quality of the assistance received from the State department or agency;

     (f)   whether the State department or agency requested the employer’s input on any effort to reduce red tape or to amend a law or regulation perceived by the employer as problematic or overly restrictive.

     (2)   The survey shall also include:

     (a)   whether the employer benefited from any economic development or jobs retention incentive offered under State law, and whether such an incentive was offered prior to the employer’s decision to terminate operations in the State or transfer operations to another state;

     (b)   the reasons why the employer, if it was offered an economic incentive to remain in the State, did not accept the incentive;

     (c)   whether the State’s credit ratings contributed to its decision.

     (3)   The commissioner shall make the survey available to employers in a written form and the employer responses to the survey shall be in writing and collected by the department. Nothing in this act shall be construed as prohibiting the commissioner from making the survey available to employers in a digital format, or any other format that is conducive to effectively and efficiently obtaining results to the survey from the employers.

     b.    The commissioner shall annually, on a State fiscal year basis, compile data collected from all surveys conducted pursuant to subsection a. of this section and prepare a report including, but not limited to, the following:

     (1)   a copy of the survey developed pursuant to subsection a. of this section;

     (2)   a copy of responses to the survey for every employer; and

     (3)   an analysis of the survey responses, including any trends or outliers and year-to-year comparison of any trends, and a ranking of the survey responses regarding obstacles to business in this State based on the number of responses for each obstacle.

For purposes of preparing the annual report required pursuant to this subsection, the commissioner shall ensure the anonymity of any employer that provides survey responses. The commissioner shall submit each annual report to the Governor, and to the Legislature as provided under section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), and shall prominently display a link to a digital copy of each annual report on the department’s Internet website. The report shall be submitted as soon after the end of the fiscal year as possible, but no later than October 1 of the following fiscal year.

 

     3.    a.  The Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development shall require every employer that was required to provide notification pursuant to subsection a. of section 2 of P.L.2007, c.212 (C.34:21-2), concerning a termination of operations or transfer of operations outside of this State that occurred on or after January 1, 2009, until the date of enactment of this act, P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), to respond to a survey regarding the reasons for the termination or transfer of operations by the employer.  The survey shall be developed by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development in consultation with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.  The survey shall evaluate the factors that caused employers to cease operations in this State or transfer operations to another state, including, but not limited to, taxes and fees imposed on employers, including the impact of any changes in tax policy; the cost of living or cost of conducting business; labor costs;  labor laws and regulations; environmental laws and regulations; workforce quality, including the level of State investment in higher education; the quality of life for employees, including the level of State investment in primary and secondary education and access to higher education; access to transportation and transportation logistics, including the level of State investment in transportation and related infrastructure; and the cost of health insurance and other types of insurance.

     (1)   The survey shall further evaluate any factors related to laws and regulations including the following additional information:

     (a)   the specific law or regulation that the employer found problematic;

     (b)   any contact the employer had with State departments or agencies to address that law or regulation;

     (c)   if the employer had contact with State departments or agencies, whether the State department or agency provided the employer with any assistance to help resolve the concerns with the law or regulation;

     (d)   any contact the employer had with the New Jersey Business Action Center or the New Jersey Economic Development Authority;

     (e)   the employer’s evaluation of  the quality of the assistance received from the State department or agency;

     (f)   whether the State department or agency requested the employer’s input on any effort to reduce red tape or to amend a law or regulation perceived by the employer as problematic or overly restrictive.

     (2)   The survey shall also include:

     (a)   whether the employer benefited from any economic development or jobs retention incentive offered under State law, and whether such an incentive was offered prior to the employer’s decision to terminate operations in the State or transfer operations to another state;

     (b)   the reasons why the employer, if it was offered an economic incentive to remain in the State, did not accept the incentive;

     (c)   whether the State’s credit ratings contributed to its decision.

     (3)   The commissioner shall make the survey available to employers in a written form and the employer responses to the survey shall be in writing and collected by the department.  Nothing in this act shall be construed as prohibiting the commissioner from making the survey available to employers in a digital format, or any other format that is conducive to effectively and efficiently obtaining results to the survey from the employers.

     b.    The commissioner shall compile data collected from all surveys conducted pursuant to subsection a. of this section and prepare a report including, but not limited to, the following:

     (1)   a copy of the survey developed pursuant to subsection a. of this section;

     (2)   a copy of responses to the survey for every employer; and

     (3)   an analysis of the survey responses, including any trends or outliers and year-to-year comparison of any trends, and a ranking of the survey responses regarding obstacles to business in this State based on the number of responses for each obstacle.

For purposes of preparing the annual report required pursuant to this subsection, the commissioner shall ensure the anonymity of any employer that provides survey responses.  The commissioner shall submit the report as a separate portion of each annual report required pursuant to section 2 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), and submit the report to the Governor, and to the Legislature as provided under section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), and shall prominently display a link to a digital copy of each report on the department’s Internet website. The separate portion of the report required pursuant to this section shall be submitted as part of the annual report submitted pursuant to section 2 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) as soon after the end of the fiscal year as possible, but no later than October 1 of the following fiscal year.

 

     4.    This act shall take effect immediately.

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development to provide annual evaluation reports on survey responses to be obtained from certain employers that end operations in this State. The commissioner will conduct surveys of employers who, subject to the notification requirements under P.L.2007, c.212 (C.34:21-1 et seq.), commonly referred to as the State WARN Act in deference to the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, terminate operations in this State or transfer operations outside of this State to determine the reasons for that termination or transfer. The bill, as amended, also requires employers that gave State WARN Act notifications between January 1, 2009 and the enactment of the bill, to respond to surveys from the commissioner who will also evaluate and report on these workplace terminations that occurred prior to enactment.

     The bill directs the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to create the employer survey in consultation with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. The survey must be available to employers in a written form and the employer responses to the survey must be in writing, or any other form that is conducive to obtaining results to the survey, with the results to be collected by the department.

     The bill also requires the commissioner to annually prepare a report to provide an analysis of the survey responses. For purposes of preparing the annual report, the commissioner must ensure the anonymity of any employer that provides responses to the survey. The annual report must be submitted to the Governor and the Legislature and a link to a digital copy of the report must be prominently displayed on the department’s Internet website