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

Capitol Report

May 17, 2010

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.

NJSBA ACTION IN TRENTON

A-1064 (Gusciora) (NJSBA opposes) Provides that attorneys' fees, filing fees and the costs of the suit shall not be awarded for a technical violation of the Consumer Fraud Act. On May 6, Consumer Protection Law Committee member Henry P. Wolfe, of Galex Wolf, LLC, appeared before the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee to express the NJSBA's objections to this bill, which was released from committee with amendments and is now awaiting Assembly vote.

PENDING LEGISLATION

Criminal Law

A-2597 (Quijano) (Under review by the NJSBA) Clarifies that sexual assault victims are not responsible for any costs of forensic sexual assault examinations or related services. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Elder and Disability Law

A-2604 (McKeon) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires assisted-living residences to have standby emergency power generators. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

A-2605 (McKeon) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides a $3,000 gross income tax deduction for certain taxpayers providing home care for an elderly relative. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

Environmental Law

A-2601 (McKeon) (NJSBA opposes) Establishes specific provisions and procedures for any government records request made pursuant to P.L.1963, c.73 (C.47:1A-1 et seq.) as amended and supplemented, and commonly known as the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.

Health and Hospital Law

A-1990 (Conaway) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides immunity from civil liability to certain retired physicians providing patient care or treatment at nonprofit free-standing clinics and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) on a volunteer basis, and also provides immunity to these clinics and FQHCs with respect to the care or treatment provided by the physicians. On May 6, the bill was released from the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee and is awaiting Assembly vote.

Higher Education

A-2405 (Lampitt) (Under review by the NJSBA) Directs each institution of higher education to develop and coordinate a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan that will ensure the continuity of essential institution functions under all circumstances. On May 6, the bill was released from the Assembly Higher Education Committee and is awaiting Assembly vote.

Insurance Law

A-2608 (Bucco) (Under review by the NJSBA) Clarifies insurance coverage for certain home and healthcare agency employees under their own private passenger automobile insurance. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

Labor and Employment Law

A-2600 (Dancer) (Under review by the NJSBA) Prohibits the employment of unauthorized aliens, and requires employers to use the E-Verify program. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

A-2618 (O'Scanlon) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires small employer health benefits plan carriers to offer a basic and essential plan. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

A-2627 (DeCroce) (Under review by the NJSBA) Reduces unemployment benefits and employer unemployment taxes. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

Land Use Law

(Quijano) (Under review by the NJSBA) Revises certain provisions of the farmland assessment law. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

Local Government Law

A-2619 (O'Scanlon) (Under review by the NJSBA) Revises the public contracting process required to be used by local contracting units and boards of education for the provision or performance of any goods or services, the cost of which in the aggregate exceeds the bid threshold. Under current law, such a contract must be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, unless the local contracting unit or the board of education has had prior negative experience with the lowest responsible bidder, in which case there exists a statutory mechanism to disqualify the lowest responsible bidder. Clearly, the intent of this requirement is to benefit the taxpaying public by requiring that a local public entity must award the bid to the lowest responsible bidder under all circumstances, except when there has been a prior negative experience with that bidder. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

A-2621 (O'Scanlon) (Under review by the NJSBA) Modifies the calculation of adjusted tax levy for municipalities and counties to allow two-year levy cap banking and eliminate levy cap penalty when debt servicing expenditures are reduced. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

Military Law and Veterans' Affairs

A-2616 (Conners) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes the Veteran to Veteran Peer Support Program telephone helpline; makes appropriation. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Municipal Court Practice

A-2542 (DeCroce) (Under review by the NJSBA) Exempts the use of citizen's band and two-way radios by operators of commercial motor vehicles from the prohibition on the use of hand-held wireless telephone or electronic communication devices while driving. On May 6, the bill was released from the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee and is awaiting Assembly vote.

A-2610 (Lampitt) (Under review by the NJSBA) Directs the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to implement certain state auditor recommendations to enhance the integrity of the driver database. A recent audit of the MVC by the Office of the State Auditor uncovered certain weaknesses and flaws in the commission's driver history database, including instances of invalid Social Security numbers, an inability to determine whether a licensee has died, licenses issued to deceased persons, and cases where individuals applied for and received an uncommon number of duplicated drivers' licenses. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee.

A-2615 (Caputo) (Under review by the NJSBA) Require lessors of vehicles to respond to safety-related recalls on the vehicles they lease within 60 days. Under this bill, whenever a safety-related recall is issued on a leased vehicle, the lessor would have to make or arrange for the necessary repairs within 60 days of initially becoming aware of the recall. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.

School Law

A-2622 (Chivukula) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides for the submission to voters in each county a binding referendum on the establishment of a county administrative school district to govern and operate all public schools in the county. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Education Committee.

A-2623 (Chivukula) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes a governance structure for county administrative school districts. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Education Committee.

A-2624 (Egan) (Under review by the NJSBA) Reduces employer unemployment taxes during fiscal year 2011. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

Taxation Law

A-2626 (Wagner) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires sellers collecting New Jersey sales tax for locations in New Jersey to record and report on their returns the amount of sales tax collected within each municipality in New Jersey. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

PUBLIC NOTICES

The New Jersey Law Revision Commission met on May 13 to discuss the following agenda:

  1. Title 39—The commission considered an updated memorandum including new draft language and explanatory material in response to commission requests at the last meeting.

  2. Durable Power of Attorney—The commission considered a final report memorandum including new draft language.

  3. N.J.S. 48:2-27 Extension of Facilities—The commission considered a memorandum requesting action to make a very limited change to a section of the statute in response to court decisions interpreting that section.

  4. N.J.S. 54:3-27 Payment of Tax Pending Appeal—The commission considered a memorandum requesting action to modify an ambiguous section of the statute in response to a court decision interpreting that section.

  5. Title 9 Custody—The commission considered a draft final report on the custody chapter.

  6. Landlord Tenant—The commission considered a draft tentative report on the eviction chapter.

Material for the above agenda can be obtained online from the New Jersey Law Revision Commission's website at http://www.lawrev.state.nj.us/agenda.html.