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

Capitol Report

July 12, 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 New Jersey State Bar Association representatives before legislative committees, and the involvement of the association as amicus in appellate court matters. The state bar association's government affairs department compiles the report. 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

P.L.2010, c.37 (Madden) Reduces the unemployment insurance (UI) tax rates that will be imposed on employers during fiscal year 2011 by setting them based on the "C" column of the UI tax table in R.S.43:21-7. The UI tax rate that is being charged to employers during FY 2010 is based on column "B" of the tax table. Because the UI trust fund is currently in deficit, the tax rate, under current law, would increase, starting on July 1, 2010, to the highest tax rates set by the law, the rates found in the "E" column plus an additional 10 percent surcharge. The bill reduces the UI tax burden on employers by providing that the "C" schedule will stay in effect throughout FY 2011. On July 2, S-1813 was signed by the governor.

Pending Legislation

Animal Law

A-3082 (DiCicco) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes the New Jersey Animal Abuser Registry, which would require the continuing registration of animal abuse offenders and allow for the public disclosure of certain information pertaining to those offenders. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

Criminal Law

S-2166/ A-3080(Connors/Gove) (Under review by the NJSBA) Creates a new offense of theft by financial exploitation of a vulnerable person. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees.

A-3086 (Barnes) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes a civil cause of action for gender-motivated violence. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

A-3100 (Johnson) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires inmates be provided with a comprehensive medical discharge summary before their release. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

A-3110 (Albano) (Under review by the NJSBA) Increases the minimum penalty for aggravated manslaughter from between 10 to 30 years to between 15 to 30 years. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

A-3117 (Conaway) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes Dirk's Law. Establishes death by auto as first-degree crime in certain circumstances. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

Election Law

A-3103 (Cryan) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes penalties for willful and intentional violation of certain campaign reporting requirements. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly State Government Committee.

Family Law

A-3085 (Chiusano) (Under review by the NJSBA) Creates the Abortion Mandate Opt-Out Act; prohibits certain qualified health plans that provide abortion coverage from participating in health benefits exchanges in the state. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

A-3089 (Bucco) (Under review by the NJSBA) Eliminates the one-year residency requirement in the case of extreme cruelty involving an act of domestic violence, thereby permitting earlier filings by persons, including those fleeing into New Jersey from another state. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

A-3096 (Conners) (NJSBA supports) Concerns custody and parenting time issues for military parents. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. (NJSBA drafted)

A-3129 (Quijano) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires counseling for certain domestic violence offenders. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

A-3137 (Giblin) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes Monica's Law, concerning the domestic violence risk assessment pilot program. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Environmental Law

A-3124 (Quijano) (Under review by the NJSBA) Increases the limitation on liability pursuant to the Spill Compensation and Control Act for the owner or operator of a major facility from $50 million to $1 billion.

SR-77/AR-104 (Van Drew/Albano) (Under review by the NJSBA) Urges the Department of Environmental Protection to develop contingency plans dealing with the Gulf oil spill and accidents to New Jersey oil refineries. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.

Judicial Administration

S-2184 (Cardinale) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes judicial pre-litigation screening panels to determine whether certain causes of action against public entities are frivolous in an expeditious manner. This bill expands the current statutory provisions concerning frivolous lawsuits and codifies certain court rules concerning frivolous action sanctions with regard to cases involving public entities. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A-3134 (Watson Coleman) (Under review by the NJSBA) Expands the category of lists from which a single juror source list is compiled to include recipients of cash assistance or food stamps. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Labor and Employment Law

A-3136 (Spencer) (Under review by the NJSBA) Clarifies the definition of "managerial executives" and "confidential employees" in the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act for the purposes of collective labor negotiations. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

Land Use Law

S-2188 (Van Drew) (Under review by the NJSBA) Amends the Relocation Assistance Act to increase the amount of money a taking agency must pay to a displaced homeowner whose residence is taken by way of eminent domain. The bill would increase the compensation provided to a displaced individual for moving expenses related to entering a new home. The bill also increases the amount of compensation for lost earnings to be paid to business owners who must relocate their business due to a taking through eminent domain. The bill requires that the taking agency compensate the displaced person for all closing cost related to the purchase of a new home, such as attorney's fees, title fees, and recording fees. Finally, the bill requires that the taking agency reimburse the displaced person no later than 30 days after the submission of the request for reimbursement by the displaced person. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

Local Government Law

S-2165 (Madden) (Under review by the NJSBA) Allows municipalities adjacent to one or more municipalities containing urban enterprise zones and a county where a reduced sales tax is assessed on retail sales to qualify for New Jersey Redevelopment Authority financing assistance. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

Military Law and Veterans Affairs

A-3114 (Albano) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides for an increase and annual adjustment in the allowance paid to veterans with certain wartime service-connected disabilities. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Municipal Court Practice

S-2167 (Kean) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes the Blue Ribbon Panel to Review New Jersey's Driver License Suspension Laws. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Transportation Committee.

S-2181 (Codey) (Under review by the NJSBA) Increases the fine and imposes license suspension for talking or texting on a hand-held device while driving. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

A-3135 (Watson Coleman) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires procedures for plea bargaining by mail for certain motor vehicle violations. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Public Utilities

A-3109 (DeAngelo) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes a 30-day grace period for a consumer to cancel a contract for telephone or cable service. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.

School Law

A-3122 (Quijano) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes the Anti-Big Brother Act; requires a school district furnishing a student with a laptop, cell phone, or other electronic devices to provide written notice that the device may record or collect information on the student's activity or use if the device has a camera, global positioning system, or other data-collecting features. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.

Taxation Law

S-2183 (Norcross) (Under review by the NJSBA) Extends the eligibility of investors in certain business or housing projects for tax credits under the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Act and New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act of 2009. On July 1, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

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.