TRENTON, N.J. – A playful tampering of the machine vote for Assemblymen Brandon Umba and Michael Torrissi’s bill on Thursday marked a return to a lighthearted Trenton tradition that hasn’t been seen in the Statehouse since pre-Covid times.
After Umba moved the bill, Speaker Craig Coughlin said, “Assemblyman, this is your first bill, isn’t it? Madam Clerk, please open the machine for a vote.”
The green yes votes that lit up the board rapidly changed to red noes and then back again before settling on a passing vote of 78-1. Both sides of the aisle erupted into applause in celebration of the bill’s passage and bipartisan jest.
“Mike and I are honored to be the reason we have a little fun back under the gold dome,” Umba (R-Burlington) said. “Tense discussions were put on pause for a moment so that all 80 members of the Assembly could share a laugh. For me, it will be a memorable lawmaking milestone.”
The bill (A281) allows authorized Department of Labor employees to give guidance to employers about possible overtime violations.
“It is a privilege to be able to serve the people of New Jersey in this capacity and have some fun while doing it,” Torrissi (R-Burlington) said. “I am used to seeing my name on the side of trucks, but this is the first time I got to see my name on legislation that made it through the Assembly and will hopefully make it to the governor’s desk.”
The bill was written in response to a court ruling that found Cream-O-Land Dairy broke overtime wage laws, even after it obtained guidance from Department of Labor supervisors to the contrary. Currently, guidance must be memorialized by the Department of Labor commissioner or director of the Division of Wage and Hour, not a Labor Department employee. Under the assemblymen’s bill, authorized employees will be permitted to interpret labor law and employer compliance on the commissioner’s behalf.
The Senate counterpart bill (S91), sponsored by Sen. Jean Stanfield, has been referred to the Labor Committee.