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

Capitol Report

December 13, 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.

New Laws

Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law

P.L.2010, c. 94 (Diegnan) Requires development of an interscholastic athletic head injury safety training program; requires certain measures to protect student athletes with concussions; and requires continuing education for athletic trainers. On Dec. 7, A-2743 was signed by the governor.

Pending Legislation

Animal Law

A-3554 (Albano) (Under review by the NJSBA) Prohibits cruel restraint of dogs. On Dec. 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

A-3555 (Albano) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes the criminal offense of animal cruelty in the presence of a child. On Dec. 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

A-3565 (Albano) (Under review by the NJSBA) Clarifies that animal cruelty investigations may be conducted by the county sheriff's office. Currently, each municipality appoints certified animal control officers to enforce the animal welfare and cruelty laws of the state. Many municipalities appoint shelter staff as animal control officers. This bill clarifies that municipalities are free to select animal control officers from the sheriff's office, provided the county sheriff's office has designated a law enforcement officer to enforce animal welfare laws. Having law enforcement investigate cruelty issues has been successful in other states. Under the provisions of this bill, all animal control officers working within the same jurisdiction are required to coordinate services. Under the provisions of this bill, $100,000 is appropriated to each county's sheriff department where its use would be restricted to improving the animal welfare system. On Dec. 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

A-3576 (Albano) (Under review by the NJSBA) Permits municipalities to contract with animal and humane societies that engage in animal foster care. Currently, municipalities may only contract for such services with a pound maintained by a humane society or other similar association, not organized for pecuniary profit, which shall have continuously maintained the pound for at least one year. The bill permits municipalities to contract with either a pound or a pet foster care organization, or both organizations simultaneously. On Dec. 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

Business Law

S-2170 (Ruiz) (Under review by the NJSBA) Concerns the creation of benefit corporations. The purpose of a benefit corporation is to create a general public benefit, defined as a material positive impact on society and the environment, through activities that promote some combination of specific public benefits. On Dec. 6, the bill was transferred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee

Consumer Protection

S-2456 (Scutari) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes the New Jersey Trade Secrets Act. The bill sets forth the remedies that are available to the holder of a trade secret that has been misappropriated, which the bill defines as acquired by improper means or improperly disclosed. On Dec. 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

Criminal Law

A-3552 (Albano) (Under review by the NJSBA) Allows a judge to admit evidence of prior sexual offenses in current sexual offense actions. On Dec. 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

A-3562 (Albano) (NJSBA opposes) Requires inmates with sufficient means to pay their incarceration costs. This bill would require the commissioner of corrections to establish and collect a fee each year from inmates in state correctional facilities to pay for the costs of their incarceration. Under the bill, an inmate whose income level is less than $150,000 per year is exempt from paying the fee. The calculation of the inmate's income level would be based on the average of both taxable and nontaxable income earned in the four years immediately preceding the inmate's incarceration. On Dec. 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

Elder and Disability Law

S-1028 (Connors) (NJSBA supports) Increases the personal needs allowance (PNA) to $50 for those persons currently residing in nursing facilities, state hospitals or state developmental centers. The PNA is used by these persons to purchase personal items such as clothing, grooming aids, newspapers, and other items that are not regularly provided by the facility in which they reside. On Dec. 6, the bill was released from the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and was referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Insurance Law

S-168 (Gill) (Under review by the NJSBA) Regulates captive insurers. This bill, as amended, permits a captive insurance company to be licensed by the Department of Banking and Insurance to do business in the state in any of the lines of insurance in subtitle 3 of Title 17 of the Revised Statutes (R.S.17:17-1 et seq.) or Title 17B of the New Jersey Statutes (N.J.S.17B:17-1 et seq.), generally including contracts or policies of life insurance, health insurance, annuities, indemnity, property and casualty, fidelity, surety, guaranty and title insurance, and reinsurance, provided the captive meets certain requirements. On Dec. 6, the bill was released from the Senate Commerce Committee with committee amendments and was referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee

A-3559 (Albano) (NJSBA takes no position) Concerns homeowners insurance coverage with respect to dogs. This bill provides that: 1) an insurer shall not deny, cancel, or non-renew a homeowners insurance policy solely on the basis of the type or specific breed of dog harbored upon the insured property; 2) notwithstanding this prohibition, an insurer may offer or issue a policy that contains an exclusion against covering any liability for a dog, or on the basis of the type or specific breed of dog, harbored upon the insured property; and 3) whenever an insurer offers or issues a policy, or rider, endorsement, or other amendment to the policy, which includes liability or other coverage for a dog, nothing within the bill shall prohibit the use of underwriting guidelines, risk classifications, or other rules of any rating system that establish rates and premiums for that coverage on the basis of the type or specific breed of dog harbored upon the property. On Dec. 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

A-3582 (Burzichelli) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires assessment of an administrative penalty amount by an administrative law judge for environmental violations. In addition, the bill would require that these assessed penalties be deposited into the general fund. This bill would eliminate the conflict that is created when the assessor of the penalty uses those funds for the operations of the department. Under this process, the administrative penalties assessed by the department are excessive. This excess is fueled by the incentives created to levy outrageous penalties by returning those monies to the department for its day-to-day operations. On Dec. 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.

Land Use Law

A-3447 (Green) (NJSBA opposes) Reforms procedures concerning provision of affordable housing. As amended, this bill would modify the Fair Housing Act, P.L.1985, c.222, and other laws related to affordable housing development in New Jersey. If enacted, this legislation would abolish the Council on Affordable Housing and would permit municipalities to control planning for affordable housing within their boundaries while ensuring that municipalities "make realistically possible an appropriate variety and choice of housing," Mt. Laurel I, 67 N.J. 168, 174 (1973). This legislation also modifies the Statewide Non-Residential Development Fee Act, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-8.1 et seq., and provides for transfers from the New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund to the Urban Housing Assistance Fund established by P.L. 2008, c.46. On Dec. 6, the bill was transferred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee

Taxation Law

A-3527 (Milam) (Under review by the NJSBA) Permits the chief financial officer of a municipality to recommend reduced appropriation for reserve for uncollected taxes in certain circumstances. On Dec. 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Budget Committee.

A-3535 (Greenwald) (Under review by the NJSBA) Consolidates certain business-related categories of gross income and provides a 20-year carry forward of certain net losses under the gross income tax. On Dec. 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Budget Committee.

Public Notices

The New Jersey Law Revision Commission will meet on Dec. 16 to discuss the following agenda:

  1. Door-to-Door Sales — Consideration of a draft tentative report containing revisions of the relevant state statute to reflect federal regulations and avoid preemption.
  2. Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act — Consideration of a revised draft tentative report.
  3. Effect of Abstentions — Consideration of a draft tentative report regarding the effect of the abstention from voting by a member of a public body.
  4. Elective Spousal Share — Consideration of a draft tentative report proposing revisions to N.J.S. 2A:34-23h. and N.J.S. 3B:8-1, addressing problems that arise when a litigant dies in the midst of a divorce proceeding.
  5. Title 39 - State v. Moran  — Consideration of a memorandum prepared in response to Professor Bell's concerns about the language approved by the commission at the last meeting.
  6. New Jersey Debt Management Services Act — Distribution of this draft tentative report is for information only so that the commission has the latest draft of this project.

Documents related to this agenda can be obtained at http://www.lawrev.state.nj.us/agenda.html.

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.