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

Capitol Report

June 10, 2013

 

This is a status report on recently passed and pending legislation, regulations, gubernatorial nominations and/or appointments of interest to lawyers, as well as the involvement of the NJSBA as amicus in appellate court matters. To learn more, visit njsba.com.

 

NJSBA RECENT ACTION IN TRENTON

 

Family Law

S-2814 (Vitale) (NJSBA opposes) Permits adoptees and certain others to obtain adoptee's original birth certificate and other related information. On May 31, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

 

The association’s Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee and Family Law Section have serious concerns with this legislation because the bill disregards the psychological impact of adoption and conflicts with the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act. Under the New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, a person may safely and anonymously surrender custody of an unwanted infant who is under thirty (30) days old at any time without notice, no questions asked. The purpose of the Safe Haven Act is to protect unwanted infants from being abused, abandoned or killed.  

 

Although the bill continuously refers to birth “parents” it’s requirements clearly impact birth mothers much more than the birth father given that a woman who places her baby for adoption usually does so because she is single and the biological father is out of the picture. The requirements of this legislation will create one more factor to terminate a pregnancy and the appeal of immediate closure from an abortion will often outweigh the thought of having to relive the painful decision of placing their child for adoption. This is particularly troubling given that more and more families are choosing to adopt children.

 

Furthermore, the state will have a hard time persuading birth parents who live outside New Jersey to comply with our state’s laws in order to avoid such invasion of privacy as the bill’s requirements are difficult to follow and in essence, would invade the birth mother’s privacy.

 

A better approach is to create a confidential intermediary who can protect the interests of the birth parent and the adoptee as they work toward building a relationship on mutually agreed upon terms. This is why alternative legislation, A-3746 (Barnes) is favorable.

 

Privacy Law

A-2878 (Burzichelli) / S-1915 (Sweeney) / S-1898 (O’Toole) (NJSBA supports) Prohibits requirement to disclose user name, password, or other means for accessing account or service through electronic communications device by employers. On May 6, Gov. Chris Christie’s conditional veto was received in the Assembly and on May 20, the bill passed in the Assembly (77-0-0).

 

The NJSBA Board of Trustees voted to support this legislation because it believes it is of paramount concern to protect the privacy interests of employees in their social media. Enabling an employer to secure access to social media accounts as a prerequisite to employment, or as a condition of continued employment is too invasive. The Legislature is acting in a reasonable manner to try and safeguard this personal employee information.

 

RECENT GUBERNATORIAL ACTION IN TRENTON

 

Criminal Law

S-1219 (Codey) Increases compensation for wrongful imprisonment. On March 21, the bill was substituted for A-1640 (Watson Coleman) / A-3066 (Watson Coleman), passed in the Assembly (52-22-2) and sent to Gov. Christie and on May 9, his conditional veto was received in the Senate. 

                         

The New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee and Criminal Law Section voted to support with amendments this legislation because there are cases where people are wrongfully imprisoned because of false evidence and other factors. 

 

PENDING LEGISLATION

 

Animal

S-1303 (Kean) Revises penalties for animal cruelty, increasing degree of certain offenses; designated as Patrick's Law. On May 20, the bill passed in the Assembly (76-0-0).

 

Banking

S-2512 (Weinberg) Makes certain access changes to open public records act; establishes state public finance website and creates program for development of local websites; makes appropriation. On May 30, the bill was amended on the Senate floor (24-1) and is now awaiting a vote.

 

Business

A-1271 (Coughlin) Allows corporation business tax credit and gross income tax credit for certain wages paid to qualified interns in tax years 2013 and 2014. On May 20, the bill passed in the Assembly (66-12-0) and on May 30, the bill passed in the Senate (38-1) and was sent to Gov. Christie. 

 

A-1887 (Milam) Prohibits imposition of corporation business tax on certain foreign corporations carrying passengers into and out of State in motor vehicle or motorbus.  On May 30, the bill was substituted for S-1094 (Van Drew), passed in the Senate (39-0) and sent to Gov. Christie.

 

Business

A-3818 (Singleton) Clarifies that the "Uniform Electronic Transactions Act" applies to real estate transactions. On May 20, the bill passed in the Assembly (76-1-0).

 

Criminal

A-3659 (Barnes) / S-2178 (Lesniak) Revises definition of destructive device to include certain weapons of 50 caliber or greater. On May 5, the bill was released from the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee with amendments, on May 13, the bill was amended on the Senate floor (21-0) and is awaiting the Senate vote. On May 30, the bill was substituted for S-2178 (Lesniak) and passed in the Senate (23-16).

 

A-4039 (Bramnick) Revises various provisions of Megan's Law and enhances penalties for certain violations. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

 

S-1279 (Turner) Upgrades penalty for unlawfully transferring a firearm to an underage person; permits transfer for instruction and training. On May 30, the bill passed in the Senate (39-0). 

 

S-2177 (Madden) Creates the "New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act" to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. On May 20, the bill was substituted for A-2919 (Fuentes), passed in the Assembly (77-0-0) and sent to Gov. Christie.

 

S-2456 (Turner) Criminalizes purchase or possession of firearms ammunition by persons convicted of certain crimes. On May 1, the bill was combined with S-2723 (Sweeney) / A-657 (Rumpf) and A-2465 (Conaway) at the preliminary committee meeting.

 

Dispute Resolution

S-2163 (Lesniak) Concerns arbitration of disciplinary charges involving certain non-teaching school staff. On May 20, the bill was substituted for A-3696 (Mosquera), passed in the Assembly (51-26-1) and sent to Gov. Christie.

 

Elder and Disability

S-2515 (Norcross) Provides gross income tax credit for certain expenses paid or incurred for care and support of qualifying senior family member; designated as Caregiver's Assistance Act. On June 3, the bill was released from the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and is awaiting Senate vote.


Family

S-2177 Creates the "New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act" to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. On May 13, the bill passed in the Senate (38-0).

 

Health

S-2813 (Allen) Requires certain disclosures in advertisements by health care professionals. On May 31, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. 

 

Higher Education

A-4101 (Wimberly) / S-2291 Eliminates requirement that full-time students at an institution of higher education in New Jersey maintain health insurance coverage. On May 6, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Higher Education Committee and on May 13, the bill passed in the Senate (33-0) and was sent to Gov. Christie.