February 4, 2013
This is a status report provided by the New Jersey State Bar Association on recently passed and pending legislation, regulations, gubernatorial nominations and appointments of interest to lawyers, as well as the involvement of the NJSBA as amicus in appellate court matters. To obtain a complete copy of the Capitol Report or retrieve a former Capitol Report, please visit our website at www.njsba.com.
BILLS SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR
S-1051 (PDF) (Connors)/A-634 (PDF) (Gove) Concernsed child custody and parenting time arrangements related to certain military absences. On Jan. 25, 2013, the bill, which was introduced by Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove, was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie.
The New Jersey State Bar Association strongly supported S-1051, which revised New Jersey’s law with regard to military custody for servicepersons. The NJSBA believed this is in the best interest of both the parents and the minor children involved.
The NJSBA Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee, Family Law Section and Military and Veterans’ Affairs Section worked to develop this legislation to make certain New Jersey law did not mandate that servicepersons who were also custodial spouses were not required to surrender permanent custody of their children as a result of multiple or periodic deployments. From a family law perspective, this legislation corrects a number of perceived ambiguities, which the NJSBA believed would create complex and expensive litigation in the family courts, and thus present a tremendous burden to military members and their families attempting to retain custody of their children. The bill combined the best of the North Carolina, Washington and Virginia statutes, while insuring the statute reflected the substantive provisions of New Jersey law and practice.
The NJSBA believed this legislation would balance the interests of New Jersey children in having a secure and stable environment against the need for persons in the military to defend their country by participating in training and in some cases lengthy or multiple deployments.
NJSBA RECENT ACTION IN TRENTON
A-700 (PDF) (Ramos) Authorizes the Office of Public Defender to provide legal representation for a child in proceedings after parental rights have been terminated. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill passed in the Assembly (75-0-0).
The NJSBA strongly supports this legislation because a number of children are awaiting permanent placement. Unfortunately, after termination of parental rights, children are legal orphans until adopted. This legislation will allow legal guardians to assist with protecting the child’s interest of formalizing placement even if an appeal is taken or new legal issues arise while pending placement.
Municipal Court Practice
S-2427 (PDF) (Scutari) Requires a court to order a convicted drunk driver to install an ignition interlock device or to suspend the offender's driver's license. On Jan. 28, 2013, former Municipal Court Practice Section Chair Kenneth Vercammen testified in support of the legislation as it was introduced. He noted that the NJSBA still had to review amendments proposed that morning. The bill was released from the Senate Judiciary Committee with amendments and is awaiting Senate vote.
The NJSBA’s Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee and Municipal Court Practice Section voted to support this legislation because the interlock law, as it now stands, has created confusion and consternation among the bench, bar and public. It currently requires an interlock during suspension. The NJSBA’s position on the original law was that it is not rational unless related to a work license. That did not occur. This amendment would cure the two problem areas of the law: 1) that an interlock must be installed even though the defendant’s license is suspended, and 2) that it pertains to vehicles that a defendant does not own. This amendment imposes the interlock only after suspension, and only upon vehicles owned or leased by the defendant.
Real Property, Trust and Estate Law
A-3728 (PDF) (Wagner) Requires the owner of a building who is advised of a structural safety concern during a private inspection notify the municipal code official and the Department of Community Affairs; provides for emergency inspection. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.
The New Jersey State Bar Association, along with the Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Section, has concerns with this legislation. This bill would unintentionally discourage private inspections, and should only apply to buildings that contain more than two residences, not two family residential buildings.
A-3321 (PDF) (Burzichelli)/S-2507 (Whelan) Amends the Administrative Procedure Act to require state agencies to use various electronic technologies in rule-making procedures. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill was released from the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee and is awaiting Senate vote.
Civil Trial Bar
A-746 (PDF) (Barnes III) Establishes a civil cause of action for gender-motivated violence. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill passed in the Assembly (55-17-2).
A-762 (PDF) (Barnes, III) Creates a civil cause of action for stalking. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill passed in the Assembly (74-0-0).
Consumer Protection Law
A-3710 (PDF) (Stender) Establishes the Consumer Protection Act of 2012. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.
S-2157 (PDF) (Lesniak) Establishes the New Jersey Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act. On Jan. 28, 2013, Governor Christie’s conditional veto was received in the Senate.
S-2202 (PDF) (Lesniak) Requires the Housing Mortgage and Finance Agency to expand participation in the New Jersey HomeKeeper Program. On Jan. 28, 2013, Governor Christie’s conditional veto was received in the Senate.
A-2131 (PDF) (Burzichelli)/S-1946 (PDF) (Greenstein) Authorizes the release of sex offender registration information to the Department of Human Services and county welfare agencies. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill was released from the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee with amendments and is awaiting Senate vote.
A-2204 (PDF) (DeAngelo) Includes reverse rate evasion as a form of insurance fraud and provides for civil and criminal penalties. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill was amended on the floor and is awaiting Assembly vote.
A-2919 (PDF) (Fuentes) Creates the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill was amended on the floor and is awaiting Assembly vote.
S-2092 (PDF) (Pennacchio) Creates certain new criminal offenses aimed at theft from carriers; amends theft statutes. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill was released from Senate Judiciary Committee with amendments and is awaiting Senate vote.
A-3219 (PDF) (Riley) Permits certain witnesses under the age of 16 and victims of any age to testify by closed-circuit television in prosecutions for crimes or offenses involving domestic violence. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill passed in the Assembly (74-1-0).
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Rights
S-2399 (PDF) (Scutari) Provides, under certain circumstances, for immediate issuance of marriage and civil union licenses at the time license application is made. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill was released from the Senate Judiciary Committee with amendments and is awaiting Senate vote.
Real Property, Trust and Estate Law
A-3052 (PDF) (Diegnan) Creates the Residential Mortgage Satisfaction Act; places certain requirements on the issuance of mortgage pay-off letters; provides an additional process for discharging mortgages of record. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill was amended on the floor and is awaiting Assembly vote.
Renewable Energy, Cleantech and Climate Change
A-710 (PDF) (Ramos) Requires certain state departments, divisions, commissions, and authorities to consider use of a green or blue roof in the construction of certain new state buildings, facilities, and structures. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill was passed in the Assembly (70-3-2).
A-711 (PDF) (Ramos) Requires adoption of certain rules and regulations by the Department of Community Affairs and the Department of Environmental Protection concerning blue roofs and green roofs. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill passed in the Assembly (61-14-0).
Solo and Small Firm
S-2473 (PDF) (Whelan) Establishes a small business loan guarantee program in the Economic Development Authority, allowing certain small businesses to receive loan guarantees to support their capital purchases and operating expenses. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill was released from the Senate Economic Growth Committee and transferred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
A-1196 (PDF) (Stender) Creates the Thomas P. Canzanella Twenty-First Century First Responders Protection Act; concerns workers' compensation for public safety workers. On Jan. 28, 2013, the bill was amended on the floor and is awaiting Assembly vote.