Acting Director of Communications
Legislative Department Plans Series of Spring Lobby-Related Efforts
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The New Jersey State Bar Association’s Legislative Department has a series of lobby-related initiatives planned for the spring, which will be of interest to the state’s legal community. The first initiative relates to New Jersey’s new Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) rules concerning lobbyists and governmental affairs agents. The second focuses on national issues that will be under consideration at the American Bar Association’s (ABA’s) annual Lobby Day.
Advisory Opinion Meeting
On April 26, the NJSBA Legislative Department will hold a meeting to draft a request for an advisory opinion related to the new ELEC rules concerning lobbyists and governmental affairs agents. The recently adopted rules became effective Jan. 1, 2006, and can be reviewed at ELEC’s website at www.elec.state.nj.us/LegalResources/reg adoptions.htm.
The Legislative Department is presently soliciting questions regarding the rules for inclusion in a comprehensive request for an advisory opinion the NJSBA will submit to ELEC. Interested individuals are invited to attend a meeting at the New Jersey Law Center at 6 p.m. on April 26 to discuss what issues should be addressed in the advisory opinion request.
The new rules were a year in the making, and the NJSBA was actively involved in the rule-making process due to their potential impact on the legal community. As originally proposed, the rules could have required many attorneys engaged in the practice of law to register as lobbyists and comply with ELEC reporting requirements. As a result of testimony and comment ELEC received, including that of Paul Josephson, Esq., who testified before ELEC on behalf of the NJSBA, the commission determined its proposed lobbying rules required significant changes. The revised proposal exempted “communications by an attorney representing a client in the regular course of routine litigation or administrative proceeding with the state, or in the course of a quasi-judicial civil or administrative proceeding with the state” from activity that triggers compliance with ELEC’s reporting requirements.
Despite the inclusion of this exemption in the revised rules, questions remain regarding the application of the new rules to members of the legal profession. This need for further clarification has prompted the NJSBA to pursue a request for an advisory opinion from ELEC.
To register to attend the meeting, contact the NJSBA Meetings Department at 732-249-5000. For more information, contact Laurie Weresow at 732-937-7540.
ABA Lobby Day
Lobbying plans for ABA Lobby Day 2006 are still being finalized, but the efforts of the NJSBA’s delegation — which will include Stuart Hoberman, Wayne Positan, Lynn Fontaine Newsome, Valerie Brown and NJSBA ABA Delegate Tom Curtain — will focus on several legislative issues of concern to the state’s legal community.
Last year’s issues discussed with Congressional leaders included:
Support for adequate Legal Services Corporation funding;
Opposition to preemption of the state tort laws by enactment of federal legislation in the area of medical professional liability;
Support for the amendment of Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code to allow the pre-tax payment of student loans through employee benefit plans;
Opposition to the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act;
Opposition to imposing new liability and regulations on bankruptcy debtor attorneys;
Support of an ABA resolution urging Congress to enact legislation to amend the Medicare Secondary Payer Act to improve the disposition and settlement of workers’ compensation claimed caused by the Medicare set-aside process;
Support of the prompt filling of judicial vacancies, adequate Congressional funding of the federal courts and an increase in judicial pay as a means of protecting judicial independence; and
Support of the Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005, designed to preserve the ability of associations and businesses to fax important information to their members under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.
Looking Toward the Future
The NJSBA Legislative Department is also planning several programs later in the year. Along with the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, the department is planning to sponsor an informative seminar titled “Lobbying for Lawyers” on Sept. 12. Additionally, plans are underway for three legislative training sessions later in the year.
Let Your Voice Be Heard
In the meantime, NJSBA members have the opportunity to let their voices be heard in both the Legislature and the Court by joining the association’s Key Contact Network. Signing up for the network is free, and allows participants the opportunity to contact government officials throughout the year via phone, email or fax to convey their support for or opposition to pending legislation that impacts the practice of law. The Key Contact Network is an integral part of the NJSBA’s efforts to enhance the practice of law while protecting the public interest.
The Key Contact Network has been part of the NJSBA’s grassroots advocacy efforts for over 20 years. In fact, the network was recently selected to be part of the American Bar Association’s publication titled Best of the Best Projects.
To join the network, visit the NJSBA’s website at njsba.com and scroll toward the bottom of the home page. A Key Contact Network form is available under the “Legislative Links” heading. The network registration form also can be found by selecting “Committees, Divisions and Sections,” clicking on any listed section, selecting “Newsletters” and then scrolling down to “NJSBA News and Updates.” Members must log in using their member ID numbers to access the form using the second option.
The New Jersey State Bar Association, incorporated in 1899, is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public, to reforming and improving the legal system and to aiding in the administration of justice.
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