New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

Capitol Report

April 18, 2011

This is a status report on recently passed and pending legislation, regulations, gubernatorial nominations and/or appointments of interest to lawyers. The report may also include information about appearances of NJSBA representatives before legislative committees, and the involvement of the NJSBA as amicus in appellate court matters. It is compiled by the government affairs department of the New Jersey State Bar Association. Following each bill number is the sponsor's name, the NJSBA position, if any, bill description and status. Full and previous versions of the Capitol Report with links to related text are available online at www.njsba.com.

Executive Orders

Executive Order No. 58 Creates New Jersey Education Transformation Task Force charged with completing a comprehensive and thorough review of all current administrative regulations that affect public education. The task force will evaluate all such regulations to determine the extent to which they increase the quality of instruction for students, improve the academic achievement of students, improve teaching effectiveness within schools or improve the safety and wellbeing of students. The task force will also review the statutes supporting these administrative regulations and prepare recommendations to the governor and commissioner of education regarding all statutes and regulations affecting public education that are overly prescriptive.

Pending Legislation

Criminal Law

S-189 (Haines) Establishes penalties for use of a bump key to commit certain crimes. On April 11, the governor's conditional veto was received in the Senate.

S-1841 (Singer) Clarifies that Department of Corrections investigators are police officers. On April 11, the governor's conditional veto was received in the Senate.

S-2308 (Sarlo) (NJSBA opposes) Provides the parole board with discretion to reconsider parole eligibility for certain crimes after a certain period of time. On April 11, the governor's conditional veto was received in the Senate.

S-2801 (Norcross) Establishes the crime of negligent vehicular homicide. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

S-2803 (Van Drew) Revises qualifications for a handgun permit; establishes crimes for certain handgun use; establishes an annual fee of $100. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

Municipal Court Practice

S-2797 (Addiego) Creates Melanie A. Cantwell Law; requires the Motor Vehicle Commission to issue a modified license to a person convicted of driving under the influence. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

S-2806 (Van Drew) (NJSBA supports) Provides for the appointment of certain municipal court judges at the local or county level. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Professional Malpractice

S-2800 (Beck) Concerns liability and insurance coverage for medical malpractice actions. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

Regulated Professions

S-2805 (Van Drew) Permits issuance of home inspectors' licenses to certain code enforcement officials. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

School Law

S-1940 (Van Drew) Requires that the monetary equivalent of any wage or benefit concession agreed to by a collective bargaining unit be used by the school district to offset any reduction in force initiated for economic reasons. On April 11, the governor's conditional veto was received in the Senate.

S-2796 (Rice) Establishes the Private Investment in Public Education Fund, which will consist of: 1) any monies privately donated to school districts that are under partial or full state intervention, including any unspent monies donated to such a school district prior to the effective date of the bill; and 2) all interest and investment earnings received on monies in the fund. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Education Committee.

Amicus Matters

PRIME ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT V. TOWNSHIP OF CARNEY'S POINT
Docket No. A-004994-09T4
On April 5, 2011, Tom Olson of McKirdy & Riskin, PA, presented oral argument before the Appellate Division on behalf of the New Jersey State Bar Association. At issue in the case is whether a tax appeal was properly dismissed when the entity in the township's tax rolls was named as the plaintiff and it was later discovered that entity was not the actual record owner of the property. The NJSBA argued that the right to appeal taxes is of constitutional dimension and should not be dismissed on procedural grounds, that tax attorneys have historically relied upon a municipality's records in filing tax appeals, that the municipality in this case had previously recognized the plaintiff as the property owner, and that there would have been no prejudice to the municipality to permit the amending of the complaint. The court reserved decision.

TANNEN V. TANNEN
Docket No. 66,951
On March 31, 2011, the NJSBA filed a motion for leave to participate as an amicus curiae party in the Supreme Court. The case questions whether, under the circumstances, it is proper to impute income to the defendant based on her beneficial interest in a discretionary trust for purposes of determining the plaintiff's alimony and child support obligations. The proposed NJSBA brief was drafted by Martin L. Bearg, Lawrence A. Friedman, Richard H. Greenberg, Stephanie F. Hagan, Glenn A. Henkel, Richard Kahn, Jeralyn L. Lawrence, Daniel M. Serviss and Thomas J. Snyder. The NJSBA urged that existing trust law be followed, as opposed to adopting new trust principles. The NJSBA further argued that, under existing law, third-party trusts cannot be compelled to make distributions, but imputation of income on assets can be considered by courts in making support determinations.

Nominations

The following nominations referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 11:

JUDGE OF THE BETHLEHEM/BLOOMSBURY JOINT MUNICIPAL COURT
Robert L. Alexander, of Bethlehem Township, NJSBA member

JUDGE OF THE BUENA VISTA JOINT MUNICIPAL COURT
William S. Cappuccio, of Hammonton, NJSBA member

JUDGE OF THE DOVER JOINT MUNICIPAL COURT
Michael M. Luther, of Mount Tabor

JUDGE OF THE FRANKFORD JOINT MUNICIPAL COURT
James G. Devine, of Scotch Plains

JUDGE OF THE GREEN/FREDON/ANDOVER/HAMPTON JOINT MUNICIPAL COURT
Craig U. Dana, of Hardwick, NJSBA member

JUDGE OF THE NORTH WARREN JOINT MUNICIPAL COURT
Craig U. Dana, of Hardwick, NJSBA member

JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT
Jeffrey D. Light, of Ventnor City, NJSBA member
Janet L. Zoltanski Smith, of Cinnaminson, NJSBA member
Kevin T. Smith, of Wenonah

JUDGE OF THE WANTAGE/SUSSEX/STILLWATER JOINT MUNICIPAL COURT
Craig U. Dana, of Hardwick, NJSBA member

JUDGE OF THE WESTVILLE NATIONAL PARK JOINT MUNICIPAL COURT
Thomas M. North

NEW JERSEY HALL OF FAME ADVISORY COMMISSION
Douglas J. Steinhardt, of Phillipsburg, NJSBA member

Note: "Under review by the NJSBA" means that the bill is currently being examined by NJSBA sections, committees and/or Board of Trustees and a final position has not yet been reached on the measure.