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

Capitol Report

June 7, 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.

AMICUS MATTERS

Guido v. Duane Morris, LLP - The NJSBA participated in this case as an amicus curiae party, arguing that a legal malpractice claim based on a negligent settlement should be barred. The Supreme Court held, however, that when a client alleges he entered into a settlement based on negligent advice from his lawyers, he need not first seek to vacate the settlement, but may proceed directly against those lawyers the plaintiff asserts provided the negligent advice that culminated in the settlement. The NJSBA brief can be viewed at www.njsba.com, and the Court's decision can be viewed at www.njcourtsonline.com.

Pending Legislation

Animal Law

S-1970 (Haines) (Under review by the NJSBA) Designated as the Dogfighting Zero Tolerance Act of 2010. This bill increases the degree of crime for animal fighting offenses to a crime of the second degree, and requires a minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a minimum fine of $5,000 for a first offense. The bill also provides for the seizure and forfeiture of assets or property connected with the enumerated animal fighting offenses and establishes certain offenses as animal fighting offenses and crimes of the second degree in addition to the offenses already enumerated in the law. On May 27, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

Children's Rights

A-2137 (Conners) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides for educational stability of children placed in resource family homes and that the school district of residence for the child shall be the present district of residence of the parent or guardian. On May 27, the bill was released from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and is awaiting Senate vote.

Criminal Law

S-778 (Madden) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires the attorney general, on or before March 30th of each year, to conduct a review of all persons who were released from incarceration or involuntary commitment in the previous calendar year and who are required to register as a sex offender. The review is to determine whether such persons actually did register and whether they were tiered by the county prosecutors. On May 27, the bill was released from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and is awaiting Senate vote.

S-1979 (Weinberg) (Under review by the NJSBA) Makes changes to certain time and other limitations on compensation claims by victims of crime. Under current law, victims or victims' dependants must apply to the Victims of Crime Compensation Office for compensation within two years from when the personal injury or death occurred unless they can establish good cause for a delayed filing, and they also must have filed a police report within three months of when the offense occurred. Under the bill, the victims or their dependents would have up to three years to apply to the office for compensation and have up to nine months to file a police report. The bill specifies that if the victim is under 18 years of age, the three-year period for filing shall commence on the victim's 18th birthday. The bill further provides that a law enforcement officer, a prosecuting agency, or a member of the criminal justice system's failure to inform the victim or victim's dependants of the benefits offered by the office constitutes good cause for a delayed filing. On May 27, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

Elder and Disability Law

S-358 (Weinberg) (Under review by the NJSBA) Ensures that persons with disabilities, who have health insurance through a managed care plan, have reasonable access to primary care and specialist providers whose professional offices are accessible in accordance with the federal Americans with Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) standards for accessible design. The provisions of the substitute apply to individual, small employer and larger employer health benefits plans, and plans issued by the State Health Benefits Program and the School Employees' Health Benefits Program. Specifically, the substitute requires a carrier that offers a managed care plan to establish procedures to ensure that persons with disabilities have reasonable access to primary and specialty care providers whose professional offices are accessible to persons with disabilities in accordance with the ADA standards for accessible design published by the United States Department of Justice pursuant to 28 CFR Part 36. On May 27, the bill was released from the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee with a committee substitute and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

S-941 (Bateman) (Under review by the NJSBA) Amends Section 5 of P.L.1977, c.82 (C.30:6D-5), which protects persons with developmental disabilities when they are participants in medical research. This law requires informed consent and requires a court-appointed guardian ad litem to represent a minor, incompetent adult, or person administratively determined to be mentally deficient. The law prohibits certain research that is not directly related to the specific goals of the individual's treatment program. On May 27, the bill was released from the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee with amendments and is awaiting Senate vote.

Health and Hospital Law

S-817 (Vitale) (Under review by the NJSBA) Amends the Health Care Facility-Associated Infection Reporting and Prevention Act, P.L. 2007, C.196 (C.26:2H-12.39 et seq.) to allow for the transmission of data that identifies patients, thereby enabling the Department of Health and Senior Services to independently verify data submitted by hospitals. On May 27, the bill was released from the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and is awaiting Senate vote.

S-1712 (Turner) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires hospitals to report to the local law enforcement agency, as well as to the State Police, every case of a wound, burn or any other injury arising from or caused by a firearm, destructive device, explosive or weapon. On May 27, the bill was released from the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee with amendments and is awaiting Senate vote.

S-2009 (Vitale) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires the Department of Health and Senior Services to compile the data submitted annually by each general hospital from its pediatric emergency medicine registry, as required pursuant to N.J.A.C.8:43G-12.4, and include in the New Jersey Hospital Performance Report issued annually by the department hospital-specific data from the individual hospital registries. The department is to select those data elements from the hospital registries it deems most relevant for inclusion in the report. On May 27, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

Insurance Law

S-2010 (Kean) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes the Reinsurance and Surplus Lines Stimulus and Enhancement Act, providing incentives for surplus lines insurers and reinsurers that are financially sound to do business in New Jersey. The bill establishes a process, under the oversight of the commissioner of banking and insurance, for a domestic insurer with policyholder surplus in excess of $15,000,000 to be designated as a domestic surplus lines insurer. Under this designation, a domestic surplus lines insurer could only insure New Jersey risks procured from a surplus lines producer in accordance with the provisions of "the surplus lines law," P.L.1960, c.32 (C. 17:22-6.40 et seq.). A domestic surplus lines insurer could not issue policies of private passenger automobile insurance, workers' compensation or workers' occupational disease insurance. On May 27, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

Municipal Court Practice

S-1969 (Haines) (Under review by the NJSBA) Clarifies procedures for admission to an intoxication treatment program in lieu of prosecution for certain disorderly persons offenses; establishes a fee for application to the program. On May 27, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

S-1991 (Van Drew) (Under review by the NJSBA) Amends Kyleigh's Law to remove the requirement that certain drivers display a decal. On May 27, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

Regulated Professions

S-2008 (Scutari) (Under review by the NJSBA) Revises the Notaries Public Act of 1979. The bill establishes guidelines to be employed by notaries public in confirming the identity of individuals seeking to have their signatures notarized. The bill requires that a notary public shall not perform a notarial act unless the person seeking the notarial act is personally known to the notary public or provides satisfactory evidence of his or her identity. On May 27, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

School Law

S-1974 (Sacco) (Under review by the NJSBA) Allows school districts to charge tuition under certain circumstances for summer school courses. The school district would be allowed to charge full tuition for a remedial or advanced course to a student from a household with a household income that exceeds the household income limit for the reduced price lunch program. If the student is from a household that is at or below the most recent federal poverty guidelines, the district may not charge any tuition. On May 27, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Education Committee.

S-1983 (Lesniak) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides that if the Department of Education finds a school district has expended public funds for unnecessary legal fees, and the department reduces state aid to that district as a consequence of that finding, the attorney or the firm that was the recipient of those legal fees must provide a refund to the school district. The amount of the refund must equal the total amount of non-allowable costs for legal services identified by the department. On May 27, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Nominations

The following nominations were referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 27:

JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT:
Joseph Charles, of Jersey City
Frank Ciuffani, of Monroe Township, NJSBA member
Bernadette DeCastro, of Watchung, NJSBA member
Honora Kilgallen, of Manasquan
Julie Marino, of Hillsborough, NJSBA member
Raymond Reddin, of Totowa
Ramona Santiago, of Newark, NJSBA member

NEW JERSEY PUBLIC BROADCASTING AUTHORITY:
John P. Inglesino, of Rockaway, NJSBA member

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.