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

Capitol Report

April 25, 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.

Pending Legislation

Civil Trial Bar

S-2824 (Vitale) Clarifies the effective date of the New Jersey False Claims Act. The False Claims Act imposes civil penalties on any person who submits a claim to the state that he or she knows or should know is false. The act also authorizes the attorney general, on behalf of the state, to bring a civil action against the person to recover any funds fraudulently obtained. In addition, the act allows a private individual who has knowledge of the fraud to bring the civil action. Depending on the circumstances, the private individual may be entitled to receive a percentage of the funds collected. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Consumer Protection

S-2818 (Whelan) Establishes the Consumer Credit Fairness Act. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

S-2823 (Vitale) Requires all personal audio players distributed in New Jersey to contain a warning about volume and hearing loss. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

S-2828 (Gill) (NJSBA opposes) Protects consumers and clarifies the rights and responsibilities of consumers and merchants by defining and regulating rental-purchase agreements involving personal property used for personal, family, or household purposes. The bill further defines these agreements by providing that they are not governed by certain other statutes, including usury statutes. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

Criminal Law

S-2814 (Allen) Repeals the early release program for certain inmates established under P.L.2009, c.330. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

S-2815 (Beck) Upgrades the penalties for certain criminal offenses committed against elderly and disabled persons. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

S-2829 (Girgenti) Establishes Pamela's Law; criminalizes possession and sale of mephedrone and methylenedioxpyrovalerone, commonly known as MDPV or 'bath salts'. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

Environmental Law

SR-110 (Norcross) Memorializes Congress to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act in order to ensure chemicals are safe for their intended use. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

Family Law

S-2820 (Weinberg) Permits certain victims of domestic violence or stalking, and members of their immediate family, to register to vote without disclosing their street address, and to cast a provisional ballot at any election under certain circumstances. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.

Government and Public Sector

SCR-152 (Turner) Amends the constitution to require legislative consent for any state approval of a trade agreement. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.

Health and Hospital Law

SCR-151 (Scutari) Prohibits adoption of the Department of Health and Senior Services proposed medicinal marijuana rules. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

Judicial Administration

SCR-154 (Van Drew) (NJSBA supports) Proposes a constitutional amendment removing gubernatorial appointment of certain municipal court judges. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Labor and Employment Law

S-2827 (Kean) Concerns eligibility for unemployment compensation benefits for certain seasonal employees. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Labor Committee.

Public Utilities

S-2810 (Van Drew) Requires the Board of Public Utilities to issue a decision within 180 days after receipt of a petition by public utilities to sell certain real property. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

Regulated Professions

S-2822 (Beach) Prohibits former employees at the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control in the Department of Law and Public Safety from holding any interest in the manufacture, sale, or distribution of alcoholic beverages in the two years following termination of employment. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

Renewable Energy, Cleantech and Climate Change

S-2811 (Smith) Includes energy produced by certain geothermal heat pumps as class I renewable energy. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

School Law

S-2821 (Beach) Establishes the School Bus Safety and Child Protection Act; requires periodic criminal background checks for certain school employees; and prohibits interference with school bus monitoring devices. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Education Committee.

Taxation

SCR-153 (Turner) Amends the state constitution to provide a 10.75 percent marginal personal income tax rate on annual taxable income exceeding $1,000,000 and dedicates an amount equal to the revenue derived from the tax rate to direct real property tax relief. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

SCR-155 (Van Drew) Proposes a constitutional amendment to grant total property tax exemption to honorably discharged permanently and totally disabled peacetime veterans. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

Workers' Compensation

S-2826 (Gordon) Concerns workers' compensation insurance requirements for certain corporations. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Labor Committee.

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.