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

Capitol Report

December 6, 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.

Regulatory Matters

Below please find proposed regulations with a deadline for comment of Jan. 14, 2011, unless otherwise noted:

Criminal Law

N.J.A.C. 10A:31 Provides changes to Department of Corrections rules regarding adult county correctional facilities.

Elder and Disability Law

N.J.A.C. 13:15 Proposes readoption of Division of Civil Rights rules regarding housing for older persons.

Health and Hospital Law

N.J.A.C. 8:64 The Medicinal Marijuana Program of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Services of the Department of Health and Senior Services (Department) is proposing rules to implement N.J.S.A. 24:6I-1, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. The department will hold a public hearing on the proposed new rules between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Dec. 6, 2010, at the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, First Floor Auditorium, Health and Agriculture Building, 369 South Warren Street (at Market Street), Trenton, 08608.

N.J.A.C. 13:35-7A Proposes new Division of Consumer Affairs rules on requirements for physicians who wish to authorize the medical use of marijuana for their patients under the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, N.J.S.A. 24:6I-1 et seq. The act authorizes the use of marijuana to treat or alleviate pain or other symptoms associated with certain specifically identified debilitating medical conditions. Under the act, a physician must certify that a patient suffers from a debilitating medical condition and, therefore, is qualified to be registered with the Department of Health and Senior Services to obtain and use marijuana for medicinal purposes. In addition, a patient's physician must provide written instructions for the patient's medical use of marijuana, which are to be transmitted to an alternative treatment center authorized by the department to dispense marijuana. The department has proposed rules, published elsewhere in this edition of the New Jersey Register, that establish the process through which qualifying patients or their primary caregivers, and patients' physicians may register with the department in order to avail themselves of the benefits of the act.

N.J.A.C. 13:45A-33 Proposes new Division of Consumer Affairs rules that will require physicians and alternative treatment centers participating in the distribution of medical marijuana under the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, P.L. 2009, c. 307, to report certain information to the division. The division is proposing these new rules consistent with Section 11 of the act, codified at N.J.S.A. 45:1-45.1, which requires the division to collect information from physicians and alternative treatment centers in order to monitor the dispensation of marijuana for medical use in the state.

Higher Education

N.J.A.C. 9A:11-1.2, 2.2, 2.6, 2.9, 6.1, 6.3 and 6.11 Proposes amendments to the Commission on Higher Education's rules regarding the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program, which provides students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds with financial aid and other support services while attending participating New Jersey colleges and universities.

Insurance Law

N.J.A.C. 11:3-16.12 and 11:4-29 Proposes repeals to Department of Banking and Insurance rules requiring all private passenger automobile insurers to semi-annually file individually and as a member of an insurance holding company group a report showing the total statewide written exposures and primary classification distribution of policies written. The primary classification data that companies are required to report according to this rule was primarily used in rating during the 1980s and 1990s. The department has determined that due to the complexity of current rating systems, many of the primary class codes once used in rating systems are now obsolete. Accordingly, the department proposes to repeal this rule. The department is also proposing to repeal in its entirety N.J.A.C. 11:4-29. This subchapter requires the submission of data by insurers concerning premiums on personal homeowners, tenant and/or condominium coverage to enable the department to compile an annual homeowners insurance price comparison guide for use by the general public. The department has determined that due to the complexity of current homeowners rating systems, it is difficult to specify representative sample policies that are meaningful to individual prospective insureds. Accordingly, the department has determined that the premium data insurers are required to report is no longer useful.

N.J.A.C. 11:3-20.3, 20.4 and 20.5, and 11:3-20 Appendix Proposes amendments to Department of Banking and Insurance rules for reporting financial disclosure and excess profits.

Military Law and Veterans Affairs

N.J.A.C. 5A:11 Proposes new Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs rules regarding confidentiality of records and criteria for requesting records and information. In January 2002, P.L. 2001, c. 404, known as the Open Public Records Act, was enacted and became effective on July 7, 2002. This law expands the public's right of access to government records and facilitates the way in which that access is provided by the custodian of those records. Section 18 of the law authorizes public agencies to take anticipatory administrative action in advance, as may be necessary for the smooth and efficient implementation of the act. The Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs proposes rules establishing the process by which members of the public may seek access to government records in the possession or control of the department or agencies within the department under the revised law.

School Law

N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-1.2 and 3.1 Proposes amendments to Department of Education rules regarding fiscal accountability, efficiency and budgeting procedures.

Real Property Trust and Estate Law

N.J.A.C. 13:9 Proposes changes to Division of Civil Rights rules regarding advertising relating to real property.

The following rules were recently adopted:

Local Government Law

N.J.A.C 5:41 Readopts Department of Community Affairs, Division of Housing and Community Resources rules regarding the Homelessness Prevention Program. Under this program people who are homeless or in imminent danger of homelessness may receive temporary assistance to enable them to find or retain housing that they will, with the temporary assistance, be able to keep once the period of assistance has passed. Unlike the public welfare system, this program is not designed to help those who are chronically in need of assistance, and is not funded at a level that would provide the help that such persons are likely to require. The rules include program eligibility requirements and habitability standards.

N.J.A.C 5:42 Readopts Department of Community Affairs, Division of Housing and Community Resources, rules regarding the State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP). This program requires the commissioner of community affairs to establish a rental assistance program for low-income individuals and households. The program is intended to provide rental assistance grants comparable to the federal Section 8 program to state residents who are not currently holders of federal Section 8 vouchers.

N.J.A.C.5:43 Readopts Department of Community Affairs, Division of Housing and Community Resources, rules regarding the Neighborhood Preservation Balanced Housing Program, which is funded by the Neighborhood Preservation Nonlapsing Revolving Fund. This fund is used to provide grants and loans for low- and moderate-income housing programs and projects in municipalities in one of the following categories: 1) those with housing elements with substantive certification from the Council on Affordable Housing; 2) those receiving Urban Aid under P.L. 1978, c. 14; 3) those subject to a builder's remedy, as defined in Section 28 of the Fair Housing Act; and 4) those that are receiving municipalities under an approved regional contribution agreement. Projects must have written support from the municipal governing body in order to be eligible for funding.

Elder and Disability Law

N.J.A.C. 8:20 Readopts Department of Health and Senior Services rules establishes the Birth Defects Registry. The purpose of these rules is to continue the birth defects registry, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 26:8-40.21, which contains a confidential record of all children with birth defects that are identified within the first five years of life. Additionally, these rules would continue the Autism Registry, which contains a confidential record of all children diagnosed through age 21 as having any of the Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Birth Defects and Autism Registries would also continue to contain any other information the department deems necessary and appropriate in order to conduct thorough and complete epidemiological surveys of birth defects, and to plan for services needed by the children and their families.

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.