N.J. Legislature votes to make Juneteenth a state holiday

State lawmakers voted Thursday to designate Juneteenth, the day commemorating the end of slavery, a state holiday.

The legislation establishes the third Friday in June as Juneteenth Day, and must be signed by Gov. Phil Murphy to become law.

It was on June 19, 1865, that Union soldiers brought news of the Emancipation Proclamation to enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, and declared that all people held in slavery must be freed.

“Over 150 years after the first celebration of Juneteenth, I am glad this holiday is finally getting the recognition it deserves,” state Sen. Sandra Cunningham, D-Hudson, a bill sponsor, has said of the measure.

“By formally recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday, we can inspire more people to learn about its meaning and help them gain a better understanding of just how slow progress has been for the Black community.”

Juneteenth is not a federal holiday.

After the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer and the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests that ensued, a number of businesses, including Target, Twitter and Uber, made Juneteenth company holidays.

Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Ralph Northam of Virginia recognized June 19 this year as a paid holiday for state government employees and said they would propose legislation marking the day as a formal state holiday.

A new state holiday in New Jersey carries a more than $3 million price tag annually through increased overtime costs, according to a fiscal analysis of the bill. No cost estimate was available for local government employers.

The bill (S19) passed 62-0 with 12 abstentions in the Assembly and 34-3 in the Senate.

Assemblyman Hal Wirths, R-Sussex, who abstained on the bill, said he supports the creation of the state holiday but the state should remove a holiday in exchange to mitigate the increased costs.

Source: NJ.com, https://www.nj.com/politics/2020/07/nj-legislature-votes-to-make-juneteenth-a-state-holiday.html?utm_content=nj_facebook_njcom&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=njcom_sf&fbclid=IwAR094K2MWDx-T5frthXOAL0euMnGTFmhl4Bpj021LopRoR3iULU4LewBWig