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

Capitol Report

January 5, 2009

By Valerie L. Brown and Tamika Wilson

This is a status report on recently passed and pending legislation and regulations, gubernatorial nominations and appointments of interest to lawyers. It is compiled by the legislative department of the New Jersey State Bar Association. Following each bill is the number, sponsor's name, NJSBA position, if any, bill description and status.

On The Governor's Desk

HEALTH & HOSPITAL LAW

A-3389 (Barnes) (Under review by the NJSBA) Concerns hospital asset transformation program. On Dec. 15, 2008, A-3389 substituted for S-2352, passed in the Senate (25-11) and was sent to the Governor.

LABOR & EMPLOYMENT

A-3457 (Burzichelli) (Under review by the NJSBA) Eliminates cancellation of charges against employer UI accounts for benefits exceeding 50% of total base year, base week wages. On Dec. 15, 2008, A-3457 substituted for S-2348, passed in the Assembly (59-8-11) and was sent to the Governor.

MILITARY LAW & VETERAN'S AFFAIRS

A-2613 (Conners) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides veterans' organizations right to receive unclaimed veterans' remains after one year. On December 15, 2008, the bill passed in the Senate (38-0) and was sent to the Governor.

MUNICIPAL COURT PRACTICE

S-180 (Bucco) (NJSBA opposes) Imposes conditions on drivers approaching stopped emergency vehicles, tow trucks or highway maintenance vehicles displaying flashing lights. On Dec. 15, 2008, S-180 substituted for A-1179, passed in the Assembly (76-0-1) and was sent to the Governor.

Pending Legislation

ANIMAL LAW

A-3539 (Chiappone) (Under review by the NJSBA) Prohibits cruel restraint of dogs. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

A-3552 (Casagrande) (Under review by the NJSBA) Prohibits persons violating animal cruelty law from owning, keeping, or harboring animals; requires DHSS establish and maintain website list of such persons. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

BUSINESS LAW

S-1022/A-1992 (Weinberg/Johnson) (NJSBA takes no position) Requires individual to be at least 21 years of age to enter into contract for the use of a credit card under certain circumstance. On Dec. 11, 2008, S-1022 combined with S-1259.

S-2438/A-3547 (Turner) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires filing of report comparing investment returns earned by private money managers and by State employees for public employee retirement funds and State of New Jersey Cash Management Fund. On Dec. 15, 2008, A-3547 was introduced and referred to the Assembly State Government Committee.

CONSUMER PROTECTION

S-1053 (Singer) (NJSBA takes no position) Clarifies Bureau of Security jurisdiction over securities, including hedge funds. On Dec. 11, 2008, the bill was released from the Senate Commerce Committee with a substitute and is awaiting Senate vote.

A-2734 (Caputo) (Under review by the NJSBA) Prohibits sale of certain products using advertisements alluding to controlled dangerous substances or analogs. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill passed in the Assembly (71-6), was received in the Senate, and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

CASINO LAW

A-3523 (Polistina) (Under review by the NJSBA) Prohibits casino licensees from entering into certain agreements. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Tourism and Gaming Committee.

CIVIL TRIAL BAR

A-3525 (Webber) (Under review by the NJSBA) Prohibits wrongful life/birth suits. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

CRIMINAL LAW

S-119/A-804 (Scutari/Gusciora) (NJSBA takes no position) Establishes "New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act." On Dec. 15, 2008, S-119 was released from the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee with amendments and is awaiting Senate vote.

A-3526 (McKeon) (Under review by the NJSBA) Increases penalties for the crime of jury tampering. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

ELDER & DISABILITY LAW

S-2445 (Codey) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires DHS to establish standardized admission protocols and medical clearance criteria for admission to State or county psychiatric hospital or short-term care facilities. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

S-2446 (Codey) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires Division of Mental Health Services to identify available mental health services and perform needs assessment. On Dec. 11, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

ELECTION LAW

A-2451 (Quigley) (Under review by the NJSBA) The Vote By Mail Law. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was amended on the Senate floor and is awaiting Senate vote.

S-2380/A-3458/A-3566 (Sweeney/Quigley/Burzichelli) (Under review by the NJSBA) Creates voter-verified paper record pilot program; removes requirement that voting machines produce voter-verified paper record by January 1, 2009. On Dec. 8, 2008, A-3458 was released from the Assembly Appropriations Committee with amendments and is awaiting Assembly vote.

FAMILY LAW

A-2321 (Scalera) (NJSBA opposes) Requires three forms of identification when requesting birth certificate. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill passed in the Assembly (77-0), was received in the Senate, and was referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

S-1984/A-2901 (Ruiz/Evans) (Under review by the NJSBA) Revises membership of New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect. On Dec. 15, 2008, A-2901 was amended on the Assembly floor and is awaiting Assembly vote.

GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL & TRANSGENDER RIGHTS

A-3544 (Webber) (Under review by the NJSBA) Makes certain changes to New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

GENERAL PRACTICE

A-3565 (Rudder) (Under review by the NJSBA) Revises and expands duties and responsibilities of State Auditor in performance of certain audits and reviews. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly State Government Committee.

HEALTH & HOSPITAL LAW

S-1863/A-3527 (Weinberg/Angelini) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires each hospital board of trustees to adopt a written policy governing conflicts of interest. On Dec. 15, 2008, A-3527 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

S-2040/A-3103 (Vitale/Schaer) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires practitioners to disclose business relationship with out-of-state facilities when making patient referrals to those facilities. On Dec. 15, 2008, S-2040 was released from the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and is awaiting Senate vote.

HIGHER EDUCATION

A-3563 (Lampitt) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires public institution of higher education to notify the parents of certain dependent students, without prior consent of the student, when student receives mental health treatment at the institution. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

A-3564 (Lampitt) (Under review by the NJSBA) Allows an institution of higher education to require the mental health records of a student committed to attend the institution. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

INSURANCE LAW

S-2431/A-1878 (Bateman/Conners) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires insurance producers to notify Commissioner of Banking and Insurance of any disciplinary action taken by non-governmental regulatory authority. On Dec. 11, 2008, S-2431 was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

A-3528 (Vainieri Huttle) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides for assignment of certain homeowners insurance policies under certain circumstances. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION

S-1420/A-2707 (Cardinale/Conners) (Under review by the NJSBA) Makes permanent the previously temporary authority of the Administrative Director of the Courts to set certain fees for the service of process by mail. On Dec. 15, 2008, S-1420 substituted for A-2707, passed in the Assembly (56-21), and the Senate concurred (29-5) with the Assembly bill by amendment.

S-2350/A-2336 (Scutari/Johnson) (Under review by the NJSBA) Repeals statutory limitation on outside employment of assistant prosecutors. On Dec. 15, 2008, A-2336 was amended on the Assembly floor and is awaiting Assembly vote.

A-3560 (Carroll) Bars defamation suits against persons who fairly report the contents of a judicial proceeding or court record. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT LAW

S-1769/A-2650 (Gordon/Schaer) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes requirements concerning certain public contracts with private firms. On Dec. 15, 2008, A-2650 passed in the Assembly (77-0), was received in the Senate and referred to the Senate State Government Committee.

MILITARY LAW & VETERANS AFFAIRS

S-2297/A-2640 (Allen/Smith) (Under review by the NJSBA) Enacts "Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children." On Dec. 15, 2008, A-2640 passed in the Assembly (76-1), was received in the Senate and referred to the Senate Education Committee.

MUNICIPAL COURT PRACTICE

S-2064/A-3304 (Stack/Wisniewski) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides increased time frame for issuing summons pursuant to traffic control signal monitoring systems and for destruction of records; establishes certain payment methods. On Dec. 15, 2008, A-3304 passed in the Assembly (50-26-1), was received in the Senate without committee reference, and is awaiting Senate vote.

PUBLIC UTILITY LAW

A-3302 (Scalera) (Under review by the NJSBA) Criminalizes certain actions in or on utility company's property. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill passed in the Assembly (77-0), was received in the Senate and referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

REAL PROPERTY TRUST & ESTATE LAW

A-3522 (Rumana) (Under review by the NJSBA) Creates temporary suspension of certain rules of Council on Affordable Housing under certain economic conditions. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

A-3534 (Vainieri Huttle) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides that a property owner who negligently contaminates or neglects property shall be assessed property taxes at value of property without consideration of effects of contamination or neglect. On Dec. 15, 2008, the bill was introduced and referred to Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

Notice

The selection of Lisa Jackson to be the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month set off a series of staff changes in Gov. Jon Corzine's front office since she had been his Chief of Staff.

On Dec. 15, Corzine announces several staff appointments:

Edward McBride, who had been Chief Counsel, was named Chief of Staff
William Castner became Chief Counsel
Diane Legreide became Deputy Chief of Staff to replace Maggie Moran
Michellene Davis became Chief Policy Counsel
Albert Alvarez became Deputy Chief of Staff
Jaimee Gilmartin became Director of Operations to replace Jose Lozano
Josh Zeitz became a Senior Policy Advisor

In the new year, NJSBA looks forward to working with these and other members of the Governor's staff on issues affecting Bar members.

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.

Valerie Brown is legislative counsel, and Tamika Wilson is a legislative associate for the New Jersey State Bar Association.