As reported by nj.com, Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law that will require public workers hired after September 1, from teachers and cops to all local, county and state work employees, to live in New Jersey. New hires outside the state’s borders will have a year from getting a job to pack up and move. Current public workers will not be affected.
New Jersey is the first state in the nation to enact a law mandating a residency requirement for its public employees, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pennsylvania law requires only its civil service employees to live within the state, according to the New Jersey Senate Majority officials.
“With this law we are simply saying that as matter of policy, when it comes to providing public employment opportunities in New Jersey, we are looking to put our own residents first,” said Senator Donald Norcross, one of the bill’s sponsors. “This will help support our workforce, while at the same time keeping our tax dollars in the state. This is not only sound public policy, but it makes good economic sense.”
Christie vetoed an earlier version of the bill in February, but only to seek some technical changes. In his veto message, he noted: “I commend the sponsors for their efforts to increase employment opportunities for New Jersey residents, by ensuring that citizens throughout the state enjoy access to public positions in their communities.”
Lawmakers agreed with the Governor’s changes to delay the effective date of the law until four months after its enactment, and expand the panel to review hardship requests seeking an exemption from the residency requirement from three to five people.
The law would apply to all public employees, including state, county and municipal governments, boards, agencies, commissions, public schools and universities. But some exemptions will be granted, such as for visiting college professors and other employees “requiring special expertise or extraordinary qualifications in an academic, scientific, technical, professional, or medical field or in administration.” Employees who are required to spend a majority of their time outside New Jersey would also get a pass on the law. Other public employees could apply to a committee for an exemption because of a “critical need or hardship.”
As of mid-January, 5,814, or 8 percent, of the state’s 71,953 employees lived out of state, according to the Department of Treasury, although the law will not apply to anyone who held a job before the measure was enacted. No figures were available for all public workers.