It's another blockbuster Thursday in New Jersey, with big business news expected within and beyond the Capitol dome. Here's a rundown of the top stories:
- Minimum wage. Today comes the final legislative step in Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney's (D-West Deptford) effort to change the state constitution to raise the minimum wage by one dollar and institute automatic future increases based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. The Assembly is scheduled to vote on SCR-1 when it convenes at 1 p.m. today. If the resolution passes, the measure heads to November's ballot. Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-East Orange) say low-wage workers need the extra income to afford living in the high-cost state. Business groups, and Gov. Chris Christie, have expressed openness to a phased-in minimum wage increase, but say it's wrong to enshrine wage legislation in the state constitution. UPDATE: The resolution passed 46-31.
- Sports betting. Judge Michael A. Shipp hears oral arguments at 1 p.m. today in the sports betting lawsuit filed by the four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA. The sports leagues want Shipp to strike down the Garden State's legalization of sports betting and affirm the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which limits sports betting to four states. New Jersey officials hope sports betting will become a major revenue source for the state's casinos and race tracks.
- Miss America. When State Street broke the news Tuesday that New Jersey was pushing hard to bring the pageant back to the Jersey Shore, spokespeople for Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and the Business Action Center wouldn't return our calls. Now we know why. Guadagno announced this morning that those efforts were successful. The pageant returns to A.C. this September. The pageant was held in Atlantic City for more than eight decades before moving to Las Vegas in 2006. UP
- Credit surcharges. Finally, the Assembly is set to vote on S-2533, which would prohibit retailers from adding surcharges to credit card transactions. The bill would counteract a policy change by Visa and MasterCard that for the first time will let retailers pass their interchange fees on to consumers. If passed as-is, the bill would go to Gov. Chris Christie's desk, but look for a possible amendment to clarify that cash discounts – as opposed to credit card surcharges – will remain legal under the law.
for updates on these stories throughout the day.