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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Governor Christie Vetoes First Responder Workers' Compensation Bill

NJ Governor Chris Christie has vetoed legislation that would would have created a presumption that of compensability for first responders who contracted cancer. He calls NJ workers' compensation system "successful" as is.

S-1778/A-1196 (Greenstein/Stender, Egan, O’Donnell, Wimberly) – ABSOLUTE -  ‟Thomas P. Canzanella Twenty First Century First Responders Protection Act”; concerns workers’ compensation for public safety workers.

July 18, 2013 
(First Reprint) 
To the Senate: 
 Pursuant to Article V, Section I, Paragraph 14 of the New 
Jersey Constitution, I am returning Senate Bill No. 1778 (First 
Reprint) without my approval. 
 Since New Jersey’s workers’ compensation law was enacted 
more than a century ago, the unique circumstances surrounding 
workplace injuries of all employees – including our State’s 
public safety workers – have been considered in the context of 
the fact-sensitive circumstances surrounding each incident. 
This time-tested process appropriately balances all facts 
necessary to determine a proper compensation award. In 
contrast, this bill alters that careful balance by providing 
public safety workers with a presumption to workers’ 
compensation, rebuttable only by clear and convincing evidence. 
This sweeping new standard would apply to disabilities 
associated with an array of enumerated incidents and, in some 
cases, disabilities not tethered to any work-related incident at 
As a State, we must continually recognize the selfless 
contributions of our first responders. Day in and day out, 
these brave women and men make enormous sacrifices in order to 
ensure our collective safety, health, and well-being against all 
manner of threats. That essential public service, and the costs 
associated with the injuries those duties may cause, must be 
administered in a responsible manner that matches our public 
resources. Although this measure would likely have a 
significant impact on State, local, and municipal government 
budgets, the bill’s sponsors refused to obtain a fiscal analysis 
or refer the bill to either house’s respective budget  
committees. Regrettably, the Legislature’s failure to pursue 
the responsible course of thoroughly reviewing the significant 
changes to a successful and long-standing system, and the 
corresponding impact of this proposal on taxpayers, prevent my 
Our public safety workers are vital to our State and I am 
committed to ensuring their well-being and protection. Reasoned 
suggestions for improving those practices should be openly and 
honestly evaluated. While I welcome a discussion on new ways to 
enhance the lives of emergency responders, the truncated and 
insufficient manner in which this proposal was prepared and 
passed is not consistent with our responsibility as elected 
representatives of all citizens. 
 Accordingly, I herewith return Senate Bill No. 1778 (First 
Reprint) without my approval. 
 [seal] /s/ Chris Christie 
/s/ Charles B. McKenna 

Chief Counsel to the Governor 

Read more about workers compensation and Governor Christie
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“'We're going to be coming up with a package of proposals that's going to work both sides of that,' Christie told a caller on his monthly NJ 101.5 FM radio show tonight. 'The employers who may not be stepping up and meeting ...
For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman  1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.