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

Capitol Report

February 15, 2010

This is a status report on recently passed and pending legislation, regulations, gubernatorial nominations and/or appointments 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. Full and previous versions of the Capitol Report, with links to related text, are available online at www.njsba.com.

NJSBA ACTION IN TRENTON

S-82/A-437 (Rice/Green) (NJSBA supports) Modifies the development application process under the Municipal Land Use Law. On Feb. 4, S-82 was released from the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee and is awaiting Senate vote.

David J. Frizell, former chair of the NJSBA's Land Use Law Section and the author of the New Jersey Practice Manual's Third Edition "Land Use Law," testified in support of S-82. The NJSBA supports this bill because it would provide a much greater degree of certainty to the municipal land use process, by allowing applicants to rely on ordinances that were in effect at the time of the application and with which the application complies. The bill would eliminate the fundamentally unfair and inequitable result of midstream or last-minute ordinance changes that undermine applications after the expenditure of significant time and funds in reliance on existing ordinances. New Jersey is at a competitive disadvantage with the neighboring states of Pennsylvania and Delaware, which do not allow the rules to be changed after an application has been filed.

S-895 (Gill) (NJSBA supports) Eliminates the 10-day advance notification of the proposed effective date of certain shareholder action. On Feb. 4, the bill was released from the Senate Commerce Committee and is awaiting Senate vote.

The NJSBA offered its strong support for S-895. The NJSBA adopted the recommendation of its Business Law Section because the 10-day notice period required for certain shareholder actions under N.J.S.A. 14A:5-6 unnecessarily delays the ability to complete transactions not involving mergers and acquisitions, and, as a result, should be eliminated. The NJSBA further believes that making the New Jersey statute similar to the comparable statute in Delaware is in the best interest of New Jersey corporations.

PENDING LEGISLATION

Consumer Protection

A-2051 (DeAngelo) (NJSBA supports with amendments) Invalidates consumer contracts that require a waiver of right to file a consumer complaint. On Feb. 8, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.

Criminal Law

S-1256/A-627 (Madden/Moriarty) (Under review by the NJSBA) Empowers federal air marshals to make arrests for certain violations of New Jersey law. On Feb. 8, S-1256 was introduced and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

S-1316 (Turner) (NJSBA opposes) Authorizes the court to issue restraining orders to defendants charged with a crime as a condition of release on bail. On Feb. 8, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A-1921 (Burzichelli) (NJSBA takes no position) Authorizes the release of sex offender registration information to the Department of Human Services and county welfare agencies. On Feb. 8, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Dispute Resolution

S-1346 (Vitale) (NJSBA supports) Requires a policy on the use of alternative dispute resolution for state agencies; expands the duties of the Dispute Settlement Office of the Department of Public Advocate. On Feb. 8, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Elder and Disability Law

S-125/A-322 (Connors/Rumpf) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes the New Jersey Alzheimer's Disease Study Commission. On Feb. 4, S-125 was released from the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee with amendments and is awaiting Senate vote.

S-825/A-2038 (Sweeney/Fuentes) (NJSBA supports) Establishes in the Department of Human Services a registry of offenders of individuals with developmental disabilities. On Feb. 8, A-2038 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Human Services Committee.

Family Law

S-1331/A-1295 (Ciesla/Holzapel) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires the family part, under certain circumstances, to dispose of a charge of contempt of a domestic violence order on an emergency basis, without setting bail. On Feb. 8, S-1331 was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

S-951/A-1957 (Vitale/Conners) (Under review by the NJSBA) Expands the means to obtain a protective order for a minor. On Feb. 8, A-1957 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Government and Public Sector

S-1212/A-559 (Weinberg/Cryan) (NJSBA supports) Decreases certain public document copy fees to up to $0.10 or less per letter-size page and up to $0.15 or less per legal-size page. On Feb. 8, S-1212 was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.

A-1908 (Gusciora) (NJSBA opposes) Authorizes the adoption of timed-growth ordinances by municipalities. On Feb. 8, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

Health and Hospital Law

S-369/A-656/A-1354 (Weinberg/Moriarty/Angelini) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires each hospital board of trustees to adopt a written policy governing conflicts of interest. On Feb. 8, A-656 was released from the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee with amendments and is awaiting Assembly vote.

S-911/A-1512 (Girgenti) (NJSBA opposes) Upgrades penalties for assaulting certain healthcare professionals and workers. On Feb. 4, S-911 was released from the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee with amendments and is awaiting Senate vote.

Internet and Computer Law

S-1217 (Weinberg) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides that reports and publications produced by the state be primarily available on the Internet, provides for notice of availability of reports and publications. On Feb. 8, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.

A-1922 (Johnson) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes the New Jersey Spam Deterrence Act. On Feb. 8, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.

Judicial Administration

SJR-25/AJR-27 (Sarlo/Watson Coleman)) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides for a forfeiture by wrongdoing exception to the hearsay rule by amending the Rules of Evidence. On Feb. 8, SJR-25 was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Medical Malpractice

S-760/A-1982 (Beck/Conaway) (Under review by the NJSBA) Concerns liability, standards of care, and insurance coverage for medical malpractice actions. On Feb. 8, A-1982 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

A-1998 (Conaway) (Under review by the NJSBA) Revises the standards for expert witnesses in medical malpractice actions. On Feb. 8, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

Military Law and Veterans' Affairs

A-1956 (Conners) (NJSBA supports with amendments) Prohibits the permanent change of child custody during a period of active military service; provides that absence due to active military duty, by itself, is insufficient justification to modify a child custody or visitation order. On Feb. 8, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee.

A-1964 (Conners) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides that post-traumatic stress disorder from military service during combat may be a mitigating factor during sentencing. On Feb. 8, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Minorities in the Profession

S-104/A-1758 (Rice/Watson Coleman) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires state entities to examine the opportunity of minority- and women-owned financial institutions to serve as senior managing underwriters, imposes reporting requirements, and enables the establishment of aspirational levels of utilization and relative compensation. On Feb. 8, S-104 was released from the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee with amendments and is awaiting Senate vote.

Municipal Court Practice

S-1211/A-1011 (Weinberg/Spencer) (NJSBA opposes) Provides enhanced penalties for drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.17 percent or greater. On Feb. 8, S-1211 was introduced and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

Workers' Compensation

S-1203 (Connors) (Under review by the NJSBA) Prevents intoxicated employees from receiving workers' compensation. On Feb. 8, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Labor Committee.

S-1252 (Madden) (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 Feb. 8, 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.