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

Capitol Report

October 12, 2009

By Tamika Wilson

This special edition of the Capitol Report focuses on workers' compensation bills in light of the upcoming 20th Annual Workers' Compensation Bench-Bar Conference on Dec. 9, 2009. This report includes passed and pending legislation of interest to lawyers. 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.

New Laws

P.L.2009, c.87 (Egan) Concerns stop-work orders and certain violations of workers' compensation requirements. A-3569 was signed by the governor on July 10.

P.L.2008, c.121 (Sarlo) (NJSBA supports) Requires an insurance fraud prosecutor to establish a liaison with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and authorizes its investigation of cases of failure to provide workers' compensation coverage. S-1918 was signed by the governor on Dec. 19, 2008.

Pending Legislation

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW AND JUDGES

S-386 (Gill) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides for a residency requirement for administrative law and workers' compensation judges. On Jan. 8, 2008, S-386 was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

S-1443 (Cardinale) (NJSBA opposes) Requires completion of workers' compensation cases 120 days from the end of a hearing in certain cases. On March 6, 2008, S-1443 was introduced and referred to the Senate Labor Committee.

S-1982 (Sweeney) (NJSBA opposes) Establishes an ombudsman for injured workers in, but not of, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. On June 16, 2008, A-1982 was introduced and referred to the Senate Labor Committee.

S-2420 (Kean) (Under review by the NJSBA) Permits workers' compensation judges to close workers' compensation courts in times of severe weather. On Dec. 28, 2008, S-2420 was introduced and referred to the Senate Labor Committee.

A-3438 (DeAngelo) (Under review by the NJSBA) Creates the Review Commission on Workers' Compensation. On Nov. 13, 2008, A-3438 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

BENEFITS, INSURANCE AND PENSIONS

S-785/A-2846 (Sweeney/Greenstein) (Under review by the NJSBA) Concerns certain workers' compensation supplemental benefits. On May 4, S-785 was released from the Senate Labor Committee with committee amendments, and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

S-1892 (Kean) (Under review by the NJSBA) Concerns repayment of workers' compensation by pension recipients. On May 18, S-1892 was released from the Senate Labor Committee with committee amendments, referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, and is currently awaiting vote in the Senate.

S-2189/A-3353 (Van Drew/Albano) (NJSBA opposes) Authorizes establishment through collective bargaining of alternative workers' compensation programs and group self-insurance plans. On Oct. 28, 2008, A-3353 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

S-2495/A-3669 (Madden/Quijano) (NJSBA supports) Concerns court actions against uninsured employers for nonpayment of workers' compensation. On May 21, A-3669 passed in the Assembly (76-0).

S-2865/A-4168 (Sarlo) (Under review by the NJSBA) Transfers management, administration and duties of the workers' compensation security fund to the New Jersey Property-Liability Insurance Guaranty Association. On May 21, S-2865 was introduced and referred to the Senate Labor Committee.

A-920 (Scalera) (Under review by the NJSBA) Changes the calculation of average weekly wage for temporary disability insurance benefits. On Jan. 8, 2008, A-920 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

A-1163 (Oliver) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides family leave insurance. On Jan. 8, 2008, A-1163 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

A-1172 (Oliver) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes a cause of action for the intentional failure of an employer to follow or correct known health or safety violations or standards. On Jan. 8, 2008, A-1172 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

A-1174 (Oliver) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides benefits for family temporary disability leave. On Jan. 8, 2008, A-1174 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

A-1484 (Sweeney/Burzichelli) (Under review by the NJSBA) Concerns certain workers' compensation supplemental benefits. On Jan. 8, 2008, A-1484 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

A-1802 (Milam) (NJSBA opposes) Concerns certain workers' compensation survivor benefits and certain supplemental benefits. On Jan 24, 2008, A-1802 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

A-2499 (Egan) (Under review by the NJSBA) Increases certain workers' compensation benefits. On March 13, 2008, A-2499 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

A-2787 (Rudder) (Under review by the NJSBA) Repeals the law providing benefits for family temporary disability leave. On May 22, 2008, A-2787 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

EXEMPTIONS

S-649 (Sarlo) (NJSBA opposes) Exempts direct sellers from workers' compensation law. On Jan. 8, 2008, S-649 was introduced and referred to the Senate Labor Committee.

S-1674/A-2482 (Connors/Rumpf) (Under review by the NJSBA) Prevents intoxicated employees from receiving workers' compensation. On May 5, 2008, S-1674 was introduced and referred to the Senate Labor Committee.

ILLNESS AND INJURIES

S-639/A-1581 (Sarlo/Egan) (NJSBA supports) Increases workers' compensation for loss of a hand or foot. On June 12, 2008, A-1581 was released from the Assembly Labor Committee with committee amendments and referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

S-1407/A-2724 (Lesniak/Greenstein) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides jurisdiction to the Division of Workers' Compensation to adjudicate certain employment discrimination claims arising from workplace injury or disease. On May 19, 2008, A-2724 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

A-3926 (Carroll) (Under review by the NJSBA) Concerns compensability of certain injuries or illnesses under workers' compensation. On May 11, A-3926 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

PUBLIC SAFETY WORKERS

S-569/A-1330 (Stender) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes the Thomas P. Canzanella Twenty First Century First Responders Protection Act; concerns workers' compensation for public safety workers. On Jan. 8, 2008, both bills were introduced and referred to the Senate and Assembly Labor Committees.

S-668/A-2058 (Sweeney/Burzichelli) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides surviving spouses of certain fire and police personnel who die in the line of duty with workers' compensation for the entire period of survivorship. On March 12, A-2058 was released from the Assembly Appropriations Committee and referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee.

S-1576 (Van Drew) (Under review by the NJSBA) Assures workers' compensation benefits to police, fire and emergency personnel rendering aid under certain emergency circumstances. On April 7, 2008, S-1576 was introduced and referred to the Senate Labor Committee.

S-2558/A-4034 (Milam/Whelan) (NJSBA opposes) Concerns timeliness of certain workers' compensation claims filed by surviving dependents of certain law enforcement personnel. On June 4, S-2558 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.