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

Capitol Report

May 16, 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.

On the Governor's Desk

S-114 (Connors) Allows municipalities to provide free or reduced-fee beach badges to active military and New Jersey National Guard personnel. On May 9, the bill substituted for A-2299, passed in the Assembly (74-0-1) and was sent to the governor.

S-125 (Connors) Establishes the New Jersey Alzheimer's Disease Study Commission. On May 9, the bill substituted for A-322, passed in the Assembly (76-0) and was sent to the governor.

S-799 (Vitale) (NJSBA opposes) Permits adoptees and certain others access to the adoptee's original birth certificate and other related information. On May 9, the bill substituted for A-1406, passed in the Assembly (45-26-2) and was sent to the governor.

S-1730 (Norcross) Requires certain public officers and employees to reside in state. On May 9, the bill passed in the Assembly (70-5-1) and was sent to the governor.

S-2006 (Smith) Prohibits municipal zoning ordinances from regulating solar panels under certain circumstances; limits fees for certain renewable energy installations. On May 9, the bill substituted for A-3125, passed in the Assembly (64-10-2) and was sent to the governor.

S-2065 (Norcross) Provides for development of a searchable Bulletin NJ local public bidding and employment database. On May 9, the Assembly (75-0-1) voted to concur with the governor's veto.

S-2308 (Sarlo) (NJSBA opposes) Provides a parole board with discretion to reconsider parole eligibility for certain crimes after a certain period of time. On May 9, the Assembly (76-0) voted to concur with the governor's veto.

S-2541 (Madden) Enhances the penalty for killing a police dog or dog engaged in search and rescue efforts. On May 9, the bill passed in the Assembly (63-2-7) and was sent to the governor.

S-2756 (Beach) Permits registered voters to receive mail-in ballots automatically for all future elections. On May 9, the bill passed in the Assembly (44-32) and was sent to the governor.

A-444 (Green) Disqualifies a member of a board of education or a member of a charter school board of trustees for conviction of certain crimes, and requires the member to undergo a criminal history background investigation. On May 9, the Assembly (76-0) voted to concur with the governor's veto.

A-2173 (Vainieri Huttle) Requires the Department of State to establish and maintain a website to provide a clearinghouse of information for nonprofits. On May 9, the Assembly (76-0) voted to concur with the governor's veto.

NJSBA Action in Trenton

A-3723 (Quijano) (NJSBA supports) (NJSBA-drafted) Clarifies a trustee's discretionary authority concerning income tax liability. On May 9, Richard H. Greenberg, of Greenberg & Schulman, testified before the Assembly Judiciary Committee on behalf of the NJSBA in support of this legislation, which was drafted by the NJSBA's Real Property Trust & Estate Law Section. The bill is intended to clarify New Jersey law in a fashion comparable to a change made by the state of New York in 2005. The bill passed in the Assembly (76-0).

Pending Legislation

Animal Law

A-3975 (Wisniewski) Authorizes immediate euthanasia of impounded stray animals that are injured or ill beyond hope of recovery. On May 9, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

Banking Law

A-3537 (Coughlin) Requires the owner of a foreclosed property to file contact information with the municipality. On May 9, the bill passed in the Assembly (74-2).

Children's Rights

A-3659 (Angelini) Requires the Department of Children and Families to develop and adopt a statewide youth suicide prevention plan. On May 9, the bill passed in the Assembly (75-0).

Consumer Protection

A-3434 (Moriarty) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires review of arbitration agreements for unconscionability. On May 9, the bill was amended on the Assembly floor and is awaiting Assembly vote.

A-3435 (Diegnan) (NJSBA supports) Establishes certain consumer protections related to arbitration organizations. On May 9, the bill was amended on the Assembly floor and is awaiting Assembly vote.

A-3770 (Benson) Prohibits automatic renewal of service contracts. On May 9, the bill passed in the Assembly (69-5-2).

Amicus Matters

TANNEN V. TANNEN, DOCKET NO. 66,951
On April 21, the NJSBA's motion for leave to participate as an amicus curiae party in the Supreme Court was granted. The case questions whether, under the circumstances, it is proper to impute income to the defendant based on her beneficial interest in a discretionary trust for purposes of determining the plaintiff's alimony and child support obligations. The NJSBA brief was drafted by Martin L. Bearg, Lawrence A. Friedman, Richard H. Greenberg, Stephanie F. Hagan, Glenn A. Henkel, Richard Kahn, Jeralyn L. Lawrence, Daniel M. Serviss and Thomas J. Snyder. In its brief, the NJSBA urges that existing trust law be followed, as opposed to adopting new trust principles. The NJSBA further argues that, under existing law, third-party trusts cannot be compelled to make distributions, but imputation of income on assets can be considered by courts in making support determinations.

GERE V. LOUIS, DOCKET NO. 66,926
On May 2, the NJSBA filed a motion for leave to participate as an amicus curiae party in the Supreme Court. The case questions whether the plaintiff's legal malpractice claim is barred under Puder v. Buechel, where she resolved a property dispute with her former spouse by entering into a settlement agreement that included a reservation of rights to sue her former attorney. The proposed NJSBA brief was drafted by Robert Hille, Christopher Carey, Theodore Hilke, John Kavaney and Amirali Haidri. The NJSBA argues in its brief that Puder should apply to bar malpractice claims in appropriate cases, such as this.

Nominations

The following nominations received advice and consent by the Senate on April 28:

JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT
Jeffrey D. Light, of Ventnor City, NJSBA member
Kevin T. Smith, of Wenonah

JUDGE OF THE WESTVILLE NATIONAL PARK JOINT MUNICIPAL COURT
Thomas M. North, of Mullica Hill

The following nominations were referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 28:

JUDGE OF THE WOOLWICH JOINT MUNICIPAL COURT
William J. Golden, of Mullica Hill

The following nominations were reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 28:

JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT
Jeffrey D. Light, of Ventnor City, NJSBA member
Kevin T. Smith, of Wenonah

JUDGE OF THE WESTVILLE NATIONAL PARK JOINT MUNICIPAL COURT
Thomas M. North, of Mullica Hill

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.