N.J. Legislature Passes Secure Choice Retirement Plan

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By Leslie A. Pappas

Jan. 8 — The New Jersey Senate gave final legislative approval to a bill that would require most employers in the state to create a retirement savings program for employees.

The Senate voted 30-6 in favor of the bill (S.B. 2831), also known as the New Jersey Secure Choice Savings Program Act, on Jan. 7.

Identical legislation (A.B. 4275) was approved by the Assembly on Dec. 3.

The measure would create a retirement savings program for employees of companies with at least 25 workers who don't currently have an employer-provided plan, by requiring employers to facilitate automatic payroll deductions into individual retirement accounts.

Gov. Chris Christie (R) hasn't said whether he'll sign or veto the bill. Christie's spokesman Brian T. Murray told Bloomberg BNA on Jan. 8 that the governor's office doesn't comment on pending legislation until the governor has had adequate time to review it.

The move comes after the Obama administration released guidance and new rules in November that were designed to relieve concerns that state-directed retirement programs could be preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

States including Massachusetts, California and Illinois have considered or passed similar measures.

More than 1.7 million people in New Jersey, or 53.5 percent of the state's workers, don't currently have access to a workplace retirement savings plan, according to the AARP New Jersey, which supported the bill.

The New Jersey Business & Industry Association opposed the measure, saying that while it supports automatic payroll deduction IRA programs for employees, it thinks such programs should be “completely voluntary” for both employers and workers.

According to New Jersey law, a bill passed within the last 10 days of the two-year legislative session will become law only upon the governor’s signature. Christie has until Jan. 19, or seven days after the session ends, to sign the bill. If he doesn't sign it, the bill will be “pocket vetoed,” meaning that it's vetoed without being sent back to the legislature for a possible override vote.

To contact the reporter on this story: Leslie A. Pappas in Philadelphia at lpappas@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bna.com