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

Capitol Report

March 14, 2011

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.

Pending Legislation

Criminal Law

A-3536 (Coughlin) Clarifies that criminal impersonation committed by any means including electronic communications or Internet website shall be subject to criminal penalties. On March 7, the bill was released from the Assembly Judiciary Committee with amendments and is awaiting Assembly vote.

A-3886 (McKeon) Upgrades the penalties for eluding a police officer if a stolen vehicle is involved. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

A-3890 (McKeon) Requires mandatory incarceration for motor vehicle theft offenses. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Environmental Law

A-3653 (Wagner) Establishes a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for the purpose of natural gas exploration or production until certain conditions are met. On March 7, the bill was released from the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee with amendments and is awaiting Assembly vote.

Family Law

A-412 (Diegnan) (NJSBA supports w/ amendments) Limits actions against court-appointed psychologists and psychiatrists in certain family court matters. On March 7, the bill was released from the Assembly Judiciary Committee with amendments and is awaiting Assembly vote.

Health and Hospital Law

A-3732 (Quijano) Establishes assisted-living facility and comprehensive personal care home resident rights. On March 7, the bill was released from the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee and is awaiting Assembly vote.

A-3744 (O'Donnell) Requires birthing facilities to screen newborns for congenital heart defects prior to discharge. On March 7, the bill was released from the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee and is awaiting Assembly vote.

Insurance Law

A-1982 (Conaway) (NJSBA opposes) Revises the statute of limitations, restricts the use of experts and requires verdict review by a judge in medical malpractice actions. On March 7, the bill was released from the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee with amendments and was referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

A-3872 (Wilson) Allows private passenger automobile usage information as a rating factor in insurance underwriting. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

Internet and Computer Law

A-3877 (Fuentes) Establishes the Internet Service Provider Customer Bill of Rights. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.

Labor and Employment Law

A-3885 (McKeon) Requires certain employers to plan and implement traffic reduction programs for employees. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee.

A-3889 (McKeon) Requires a criminal history background check for owners and employees of home service enterprises. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.

Land Use Law

A-3884 (McKeon) Creates the Highlands Conservation Trust to preserve land in the Highlands Region, and authorizes a Highlands conservation license plate to raise trust revenue. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.

A-3887 (McKeon) Establishes a 14-day grace period for a consumer to cancel a contract for cellular telephone service. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.

Local Government Law

A-3859 (Coutinho) Requires approval of extending special improvement districts every 10 years by a majority of the affected property owners. On March 7, the bill was released from the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee with amendments and is awaiting Assembly vote.

A-3892 (McKeon) (NJSBA supports) Establishes an additional $2 fee upon the issuance of any permit under the Uniform Construction Code, which would be dedicated to the Community Law Health Project, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the provision of critical advocacy and representation for persons with severe disabilities, including children and frail senior citizens. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

Municipal Court Practice

A-1061 (Gusciora) (NJSBA opposes) Authorizes the use of automated motor vehicle identification systems to enforce motor vehicle laws on certain local streets. On March 7, the bill was released from the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee and is awaiting Assembly vote.

A-3154 (Quijano) Increases the fine and imposes license suspension for talking or texting on a hand-held device while driving. On March 7, the bill was released from the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee with amendments and was referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

A-3880 (Biondi) Decreases certain motor vehicle fines. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

A-3888 (McKeon) Requires a court appearance for certain motor vehicle offenses that occur in a school zone. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

Renewable Energy, Cleantech and Climate Change

A-3893 (Chivukula) Establishes uniform real property taxation for commercial renewable energy systems and eliminates municipal construction permit fees for non-commercial renewable energy systems. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.

A-3902 (McKeon) Provides corporation business tax credits and gross income tax credits for the purchase of fuel cell vehicles. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.

A-3903 (McKeon) Establishes a public-private pilot program for level three electric vehicle charging stations. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee.

A-3904 (McKeon) Provides corporation business tax credits and gross income tax credits for the purchase of compressed natural gas vehicles. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.

Taxation

A-3871 (McKeon) Increases the gross income tax rate on income exceeding $1,000,000, and dedicates revenue from the tax rate increase for direct real property tax relief for taxpayers. On March 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Appropriations 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.