New Jersey

Christie Deadline Looming on Gender-Equality Legislation

The next chapter in an ongoing disagreement between Republican Gov. Chris Christie and the Democrat-led Legislature over gender equality legislation is about to be written.

Christie faces a Monday deadline to act on legislation that requires New Jersey employers to pay workers who do a substantially similar same job equally, regardless of their sex. Christie can sign, veto or send the measure back to lawmakers with changes.
In 2014, he rejected two separate gender-pay bills. One measure required equal pay for equal work by state contractors and called for them to report to the state about wages, gender and race for every worker on each contract. Christie said that requirement was burdensome on business and wouldn't end discrimination.
He sent back another gender-pay bill with changes. Under the lawmakers' bill, the statute of limitations for workers to pursue pay discrimination claims would restart with each paycheck. Christie said the bill conformed to the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but omitted a two-year limit on when damages could be applied.

The bill before Christie includes both of those provisions.
The issue, which gained national prominence when President Barack Obama signed the Ledbetter legislation in 2009, has continued to be a political lightning rod in New Jersey. Democratic lawmakers and liberal groups back the legislation.
Republicans have been split, with Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick voting against and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. supporting it. The influential, typically Republican-aligned New Jersey Business and Industry Association opposed the measure, saying it would put ``onerous'' reporting requirements on small businesses.
Christie faces Monday deadlines on other bills too, including:
This legislation would ban hunters from importing or exporting big game trophy animals as well as threatened species.
Christie pocket vetoed the same pair of measures from the previous legislative session.
Lawmakers have said the idea for the bills came in response to the killing of Cecil, a Zimbabwean lion, whose death sparked protests last summer.

The measures are designed to protect a number of animals, including the African elephant, African leopard, African lion, and black and white rhinoceroses, as well as any endangered or threatened animals.
If enacted, a violation of the measure banning big game trophy transport could result in a $100,000 fine and prison time of up to 18 months. Violating the measure banning transporting endangered species would carry a criminal penalty of between $5,000 and $50,000, a civil penalty of up to $25,000 and other penalties.
Lawmakers say they hope the bill would discourage hunters from killing endangered animals for sport.
Christie faces a late-May deadlines on a bill to reform the Port Authority. He has already said he favors a bill approved in New York, rather than the measure New Jersey lawmakers have sent him. The biggest difference between the bills is that the New Jersey measure requires direct legislative oversight of the agency. The legislation aims to reform the agency known for dysfunction. The reforms include provisions to protect whistleblowers and the creation of a rotating chairmanship between the states.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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