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

Capitol Report

June 11, 2012

 

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. The government affairs department of the association 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.

 

Pending Legislation

 

CASINO LAW

S-2049 (PDF) (Whelan) Authorizes the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) to enter into certain cooperative purchasing agreements with local government entities. Currently, under the Local Public Contracts Law, P.L.1971, c.198 (C.40A-11-1 et seq.), a state authority, such as the CRDA, is not considered a “contracting unit,” and is therefore ineligible to enter into cooperative purchasing agreements with local entities. This bill would amend the law to allow the CRDA to engage in such contracts for the limited purpose of purchasing fuel sold by local entities. On June 4, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.

 

CRIMINAL LAW     

S-380 (PDF) (Allen) Enacts the Jessica Lunsford Act, which would impose mandatory terms of imprisonment on persons convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a child under the age of 13. On June 4, the bill was released from the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee with a substitute and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

 

SCR-107 (PDF) (Norcross) Proposes an amendment to the New Jersey Constitution that would enhance the safety of the public, the integrity of the criminal justice process, and reduce reliance on monetary bail, by modifying the constitutional right to bail. On June 4, the bill was released from the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee with amendments and is awaiting Senate vote. Currently, under the constitution, all persons are entitled to bail before conviction, except certain persons charged with capital crimes, which are punishable by death. Because New Jersey has eliminated the death penalty, all persons are entitled to bail. This amendment authorizes courts, under certain conditions, to deny pretrial release of certain offenders. In order to deny pretrial release, the court would be required to find that no amount of bail, pretrial release conditions, or combination of bail and conditions would assure the defendant’s appearance for trial. The court also could deny pretrial release to protect the safety of any person or the community, or to prevent the defendant from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process. The amendment further authorizes the Legislature to enact laws establishing procedures, terms, and conditions applicable to releasing defendants prior to trial and denial of pretrial release.

 

ELDER AND DISABILITY LAW

S-2052 (PDF) (Singer) Establishes the Bill of Rights for Continuing Care Retirement Community Residents in Independent Living, to clarify the rights of residents living in continuing care retirement communities. The rights involved cover entry into continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), occupancy, transfer from an independent living environment, communication between the facility and the resident, financial issues, termination of service, and penalties for facilities that violate the provisions of this bill and the Continuing Care Retirement Community Regulation and Financial Disclosure Act, N.J.S.A.52:27D-330 et seq. On June 4, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

 

ELECTION LAW

S-1378 (PDF) (Turner) Permits voter registration up to 14 days before an election. On June 4, the bill was released from the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee with amendments and is awaiting Senate vote. The committee amended the bill to replace sections 1 and 14 of the bill to incorporate the most recent versions of current law, as amended by the passage of P.L.2011, c.202 and P.L.2011, c.134.

 

GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE SECTOR

S-927 (PDF) (Van Drew) Requires state auditor review of certain Department of Corrections privatization contracts. On June 4, the bill was released from the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee with amendments and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. As amended, this bill requires the state auditor to conduct a post-audit of privatization contracts for more than $100,000 between the Department of Corrections and a private business entity, and to issue an annual report to the governor and the Legislature regarding the contract, which must include an evaluation of the actual net reduction of in-house costs, the actual entire cost of the contract, and the actual aggregate cost savings of the contract. If the state auditor finds the contract yielded no actual net reduction of in-house costs, the commissioner of corrections cannot contract with a private business entity for such services in the future, and instead must use state employees to perform the service. Finally, the bill requires the state auditor to report any malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance of the Department of Corrections or any officer of the Department of Corrections in connection with a contract that is disclosed by any audit or investigation.

 

MUNICIPAL COURT PRACTICE

S-69 (PDF) (Codey) Increases the fine and imposes license suspension for talking or texting on a hand-held device while driving. On June 4, the bill was released from the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee with amendments and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The committee amended the bill to include a provision that requires the fines imposed on violators to be used for a public education program to inform motorists of the dangers of texting while driving.

 

SCHOOL LAW

S-600 (PDF) (Beck) Establishes the Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students for the purpose of studying various issues related to improving the funding, delivery, and effectiveness of special education programs and services for public school students. Under the bill, the task force will examine issues including, but not limited to: the evaluation of practices for classifying and educating students who are eligible for special education; the development of best practices for education professionals working with special education students; strategies to reduce the costs associated with the placement of eligible students in out-of-district public schools or private schools, including the development of in-district special education programs and services; and the development of standards and appropriate oversight to ensure programs and services address the needs of students, focus on student achievement, and assess the effectiveness of programs and services. On June 4, the bill was released from the Senate Education Committee and is awaiting Senate vote.

 

S-2057 (PDF) (Norcross) Establishes the Anti-Big Brother Act, which requires a school district that furnishes a student with a laptop computer, cellular telephone, or other electronic device to provide the student with written notice that the electronic device may record or collect information on the student’s activity, or the student’s use of the device if it is equipped with a camera, global positioning system, or other feature capable of recording or collecting information. The notice is required to include an attached form that provides for a parent or guardian signature acknowledging receipt of the form. The bill requires that the school district retain the signed form as long as the student uses the electronic device. A school district that fails to provide the written notification required by this bill would be subject to a fine of $250. On June 4, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.