TRENTON – With word that New Jersey will soon be the only state with a guaranteed severance-pay law, there’s plenty of mixed emotion. No doubt, it’s a great win for workers at companies with more than 100 full-time employees, who would get severance if there was a mass layoff of at least 50 workers. But one would also assume such companies are financially destitute, like the failed Toys 'R Us, requiring such draconian cuts. Also factored into the equation are the many, many other state mandates for New Jersey businesses, with this new law – likely to be signed by the governor – sitting at the top of a pile that appears ready to tilt. Remember: the goal is to woo companies, not send them scurrying.

TRENTON – When it comes to establishing new policy, somebody, somewhere needs to pay. In the case of paid family leave, the bill is being handed to the New Jersey worker. NJ.com reports that new parents and caregivers now receive up to six weeks of benefits equal to two-thirds of their pay, capped at $667 a week. Beginning July 1, those benefits extend to 12 weeks, with the payout rising to $881 a week. All great, right? But New Jersey workers will now pay up to $567 from their paychecks this year — a sixfold increase over last year’s maximum contribution — to fund the big expansion of paid family leave, as well as the temporary disability program. Beginning Jan. 1, that breaks down to $350.74 for paid family leave and $215.84 to expand temporary disability. Exactly who pays what depends on what you earn, with lower-paid workers paying less. Consider this another sobering lesson that nothing, ever, is free in New Jersey.

TRENTON – So, what happens to all those bills that New Jersey legislators were churning out in the dying days of the 218th Legislature, which ended at noon on Tuesday? What happens to them now? Do the lawmakers take all the reams of paper home and finally wallpaper that extra bedroom? You wouldn’t believe some of the convolutions involved — a countdown of days and all manner of potential vetoes (absolute veto, conditional veto, pocket veto). NJ Spotlight sorts it all out today.

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BRIEFING BREATHER: The Ramses condom is named after a pharaoh who fathered more than 160 children.

ROADSIDE – It remains unclear where New Jerseyans will now buy scented candles, decorative baskets and “indoor” pillows, following word that Pier 1 will close 450 stores around the country, including those in Woodbridge, Princeton, Cherry Hill, Edgewater, East Hanover and Paramus. In fact, only 16 of the Pier 1 stores will remain in the Garden State, as a third-party liquidator begins combing through all those vases with floral stems, wicker rocking chairs, artificial topiaries and reed diffusers. Pier 1 is the latest in a string of retail stores to steadily vanish from our highway strip malls, as all these must-have household items are now easily available online, with coupon code READJAFFE.

SAYREVILLE – It’s been six, sad days since eastern Middlesex County lost its favorite all-nude bar, yet the owners are vowing to reopen the place in just two months. Firefighters are describing the blaze at XXXV Gentleman’s Club – fondly known throughout the strip joint circuit as just “Club 35” – as a “freak accident,” stemming from construction work across the highway, with power lines connected to Club 35. There was a spark and then a boom, as the roof caught ablaze. As both G strings and Bud Lights flew, assume patrons threw their $25 buckets of ice at the fire before fleeing. Borough firefighters bared it all, expertly extinguishing the blaze and hopefully salvaging many of the water-clogged, single-dollar bills still stuck to the bar. It was awe-inspiring, just like the words on the club’s roadside message board, which vowed “We Will Be Back” and “XXXV Strong.” 

ON TWITTER - Congrats to Politico for catching this funny Twitter exchange between NJ and NY:

@NYCGov: "What say you, New York City? #NationalBagelDay"

@NJGov: "we say JERSEY BAGELS all day"

@NYPD19Pct: "New Jersey is cancelled."

@NJGov: "stick to donuts"

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

TORONTO – A friendly Public Service Announcement: In an emergency, stay in your car and wait for first responders. A clueless driver, fresh from a collision, was caught on camera causing another accident - strolling across the third-busiest freeway in North America in broad daylight, CTV Toronto reports. A commuter with a dash-cam had to slam on the brakes to avoid turning this guy into roadkill and then got rear-ended by a Porsche SUV. A police spokesman offered this advice: "If you are in a collision, stay in your car, do not risk injury as a pedestrian, and get off the highway as fast as you can.”

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was 100 years ago, today, that the 18th Amendment was enacted, supposedly removing alcohol from the American landscape. It was designed to finally get Americans off the sauce, with the average person drinking a few gallons of booze every year. Now, a century later, the Morning Brew is suggesting that we may be entering a new era of voluntary Prohibition. Say, what? Apparently, America’s wine consumption dropped last year for the first time in 25 years, while beer and cider consumption is also down a couple of percentage points. And we just assumed the trend was swinging the other way, as everyone knows you can’t be sober to watch cable news.

WORD OF THE DAY

Convoke – [kən-VOHK] – verb

Definition: To call together to a meeting

Example: “I convoked all the third graders to show them that India shares a border with China.”

WIT OF THE DAY

“I get to go to overseas places, like Canada.”

― Britney Spears

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“It’s not like you’ve got China on your border.”

- Donald J. Trump to Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India (which shares 2,500 miles of border with China)

WEATHER IN A WORD

Plummeting

THE NEW 60

A Jaffe Briefing Exclusive

by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun