April 2, 2012
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. The government affairs department of the association compiles the report. 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.
The following is a status report on NJSBA high-priority bills that have seen legislative action in the last month.
NJSBA Action in Trenton
FILING FEES/COURT TECHNOLOGY/LEGAL SERVICES
A-763 (Barnes) (NJSBA opposes) Authorizes the Judiciary to revise and supplement court filing fees and other statutory fees to fund a statewide digital e-court information system, to fund Legal Services of New Jersey, and to fund other justice-related programs. NJSBA President Susan A. Feeney testified in opposition to this legislation before the Assembly Judiciary Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee on March 8 and March 12, respectively. On March 15, the bill passed in the Assembly (64-14-1). The NJSBA will continue its advocacy efforts and updates will be posted on the association’s website at www.njsba.com.
S-1/A-1 (Weinberg/Oliver) (NJSBA supports) Enacts the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act. On Jan. 30, Richard H. Steen, NJSBA immediate past president, and Thomas J. Snyder, immediate past chair of the NJSBA Family Law Section, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of S-1, which was released from committee. Also testifying in support of the bill were NJSBA Trustees Thomas H. Prol and Daniel L. Weiss (with his partner John T. Grant). On Feb. 2, Snyder, Weiss and Grant also testified before the Assembly Judiciary Committee in support of A-1, which was released from committee. On Feb. 16, S-1 substituted for A-1, passed in the Assembly (42-33) and was sent to the governor. On Feb. 21, the governor’s conditional veto was received in the Senate.
Rutgers-Rowan Merger (PDF) (NJSBA opposes) On Feb. 24, the NJSBA Board of Trustees adopted a resolution opposing the proposed merger of Rutgers-Camden University and Rowan University. The board believes the merger will be harmful to the future of legal education in New Jersey and the viability of the bar in the southern part of the state. Moreover, it will disserve the citizens if Camden County, as the school’s clinics and pro bono programs serve the varied and important needs of the region’s poorest residents. The resolution was distributed to Governor Chris Christie, the full Legislature, Rutgers’ Board of Governors, and Rutgers’ Board of Trustees. A position statement was also distributed to the Assembly and Senate Higher Education Committees in advance of their consideration of the proposal on March 19.
S-1388/A-685 (Scutari/Kean) (NJSBA opposes) Provides for modification of child support and certain alimony payments due to changed circumstances. These pieces of legislation are out of the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees, respectively. S-1338 has been double-referenced to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. NJSBA President Susan A. Feeney submitted an op-ed article to the Asbury Park Press clarifying that there is no “permanent alimony” in New Jersey.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ELECTRONIC MONITORING
A-321 (Singleton) (NJSBA opposes) Provides for electronic monitoring of domestic violence offenders and notification to the victim; designated as Lisa's Law. On Feb. 6, Andrea Beth White, current Family Law Section chair, and Thomas J. Snyder, immediate past chair, testified before the Assembly Judiciary Committee in opposition to A-321, which was released from committee with amendments. On March 16, Family Law Section officer Amanda S. Trigg met with Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D7) to discuss the NJSBA’s concerns with this legislation. Assemblyman Singleton is working with the NJSBA, Department of Law and Public Safety, and the Administrative Office of the Courts to address all concerns.
S-1051 (Connors) (NJSBA supports) Concerns custody and parenting time for military parents. On March 5, Michael J. Pasquale, immediate past chair of the Military Law and Veterans Affairs Section, and Patricia E. Apy, international family law expert on child custody, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill was held pending the adoption of amendments requested by the NJSBA. The bill is expected to be considered on a future agenda of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
MUNICIPAL COURT CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE PROGRAM
S-1128 (Turner) (NJSBA supports) Establishes a conditional intervention program in municipal court for certain first-time offenders. On Feb. 13, Steve Williams, chair of the Municipal Court Practice Section, testified in support of the bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill was held pending amendments by the Administrative Office of the Courts to conform it to New Jersey court practices and procedures. On Feb. 16, the bill was released from committee with amendments and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
REVISED UNIFORM LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY ACT
S-742/A-1543 (Sarlo/Burzichelli) (NJSBA supports) Establishes the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act. The bills have been released from the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee, respectively, with the assistance of Gianfranco A. Pietrafesa, Business Law Section chair, and section members Ira Marcus and Denise Walsh. Both bills have been amended to address concerns expressed by various independent parties, with the last amendments occurring Match 15 in the Assembly. The legislation is expected to be scheduled for passage shortly.
TRANSFER OF PROBATION
ACR-116 (Johnson) (NJSBA opposes) Proposes a constitutional amendment authorizing a statute transferring probation functions from the Judiciary to the State Parole Board. On March 5, the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee voted to hold the bill as a result of anticipated Administrative Office of the Courts and NJSBA opposition to be expressed by James J. Gerrow, former Criminal Law Section chair.
UNIFORM TRUST CODE
S-80 (Bateman) (NJSBA supports) Creates the Uniform Trust Code. On Feb. 22, Miles S. Winder III and Andrew J. DeMaio, both, former chairs of the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section, met with bill sponsor Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R16) to discuss the progress of the legislation, which was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 10.
DePascale v. State of New Jersey (PDF), Supreme Court Docket No. 69,401—This case questions whether the Pension and Health Care Benefits Act, as applied to sitting judges and justices, violates the New Jersey Constitution. On March 26, NJSBA President Susan A. Feeney presented oral argument on behalf of amicus curiae NJSBA, arguing that the act is unconstitutional as applied to sitting judges and justices, and threatens the independence of the Judiciary.