Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski (D-New City) and 25 Assembly colleagues sent a letter to Governor Chris Christie expressing their strong opposition to the New Jersey First Act and asking him to repeal it. The New Jersey First Act is the first statewide residency requirement that applies to all public employees.
“The NJ First Act is a discriminatory policy that puts New Yorkers at an economic disadvantage when seeking employment,” said Zebrowski. “It is beneficial to both states to have open borders in respect to all employment opportunities.”
The NJ First Act has already been law for nine months. It became effective on September 1, 2011 and requires all state and local government employees to reside in the State of New Jersey. All employees who were employed on or before September 1, 2011 are grandfathered in. However, if an employee changes positions he or she could be in danger of losing that grandfathered status. This law will place a statewide requirement on all public employment including teachers, administrators and all other government positions.
“This bill sets a dangerous precedent by impeding the flow of human capital between New York and New Jersey,” said Zebrowski. “Many New Yorkers who live only a few miles from a prospective New Jersey employer are denied employment based on where they call home; not on their qualifications for the job.”
The bipartisan letter sent on May 29 stated the signers’ strong opposition to the law and requested that Governor Christie seek to repeal it. The signers also stated that inaction by the governor would result in New York seeking a similar residency requirement to protect its constituencies, which is already underway. Assemblyman Zebrowski has already introduced a bill to institute a residency requirement (A.10618).
“This unprecedented law will have a negative impact on the regional economy and will force surrounding states to pursue similar public employment restrictions in order to level the playing field for our residents,” stated Zebrowski. “Our letter makes it very clear; open the borders for employment or we will push our own residency requirement.”
The State of New Jersey Civil Service Commission provides the following information on its website.
The “New Jersey First Act,” , N.J.S.A. 52:14-7 (L. 2011, Chapter 70) effective September 1, 2011, contains new residency requirements for public officers and employees, unless exempted under the law. Current, new or prospective employees should be aware of the following:
Effective September 1, 2011, all employees of State and local government must reside in the State of New Jersey, unless exempted under the law. If you already work for State or local government as of September 1, 2011, and you do not live in New Jersey, you are not required to move to New Jersey. However, if you begin your office, position or employment on September 1, 2011 or later, you must reside in New Jersey. If you do not reside in New Jersey, you have one year after the date you take your office, position or employment to relocate your residence to New Jersey. If you do not do so, you are subject to removal from your office, position or employment.
An application for exemption is also available on the website.