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

Capitol Report

May 20, 2013

 

This is a status report provided by the New Jersey State Bar Association 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 obtain learn more, visit njsba.com. 

 

NJSBA RECENT ACTION IN TRENTON

Real Property, Trust and Estate Law

A-1551 (Wisniewski) (NJSBA supports) Concerns time frames for establishing or enforcing property rights related to adverse possession. On April 29, the bill passed in the Assembly (57-16-1). 

 

The New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee and Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section all voted to support this legislation, believing New Jersey’s adverse possession law allows an adverse possessor to acquire title to land after 30 years of uninterrupted possession of the property, or 60 years in the case of woodlands or uncultivated land. However, New Jersey has a 20-year statute of limitations applicable to actions concerning real property, such as an action to recover possession of property by a record owner. This conflict between the 20-year statute of limitations and the 30 years of possession required for title to vest through adverse possession has resulted in conflict and confusion.

 

Through case precedent, state courts have allowed title to vest after 20 years of adverse possession. More recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court, in J&M Land Company v. First Union National Bank, held that an adverse possessor does not acquire title after 20 years, although an adverse possessor may defeat an action by a record owner to recover possession.

 

Workers’ Compensation

A-1196 (Stender) (NJSBA opposes) Creates the Thomas P. Canzanella Twenty-First Century First Responders Protection Act; concerns Workers' Compensation for public safety workers. On April 29, the bill was amended on the Assembly floor and is awaiting Assembly vote.

 

The New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee and Workers' Compensation Section all voted to oppose this legislation. While the NJSBA supports first responders and is sensitive to the potential risks they face, the state bar believes this bill misses the mark, although it has obvious good intent.

 

The NJSBA notes that there are no cost factors associated with this legislation and additionally, the legal burdens of proof and rebuttable presumptions are changed for the group of individuals defined in the bill. The Workers' Compensation statute and system already have defined burdens of proof that must be met with respect to all petitioners, which are fair and equal, and thus a highly skilled Workers' Compensation bench may weigh all factors and reach a fair conclusion.

 

S-1469 (Madden) (NJSBA opposes) Provides surviving spouses of certain fire and police personnel who die in the line of duty with Workers' Compensation for the entire period of survivorship. On April 29, the bill was substituted for A-2756 (Quijano), passed in the Assembly (71-5-0) and was sent to the governor. 

 

The New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee and Workers’ Compensation Section all voted to oppose this legislation, believing the group of people defined in the bill already receive additional benefits that other petitioners may not receive, including pension benefits and federal benefits, so that this group of individuals is currently well protected.

 

Additionally, this bill is a ‘carve out’ for a specific group of people, which places that group in a special category over and above all other petitioners in the state of New Jersey. This creates an imbalance with regard to the rights among all other petitioners. Thus, the NJSBA believes fairness dictates the law should remain as it is.

 

Finally, the NJSBA feels that while well meaning, a carve out for this or any other group of people for unique treatment under the Workers' Compensation statute weakens the economic integrity of the Workers’ Compensation system in the state of New Jersey.

 

PENDING LEGISLATION

 

Banking Law

S-2144 (Gill)/A-3616 (Schaer) Repeals and replaces Chapters 1 and 7 of the Uniform Commercial Code and revises various additional provisions of the code. On April 29, the bill was substituted for A-3616 and passed in the Assembly (76-0-0) and sent to the governor. 

 

Criminal Law

A-2204 (DeAngelo) Includes reverse rate evasion as a form of insurance fraud and provides for civil and criminal penalties. On April 29, the bill passed in the Assembly (76-0-0).

 

S-2705 (Kean) Enacts the Jessica Lunsford Act; imposes a mandatory term of imprisonment; provides for negotiated reduction of a mandatory term under certain circumstances. On April 25, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 

Family Law

A-735 (Eustace) Permits a child who moves out of a school district due to a family crisis to remain enrolled in that district until the end of the school year. On April 29, the bill passed in the Assembly (74-1-1).

 

A-2835 (Riley) Provides that the Probation Division would file a child support judgment as a lien only when the amount of the judgment equals or exceeds the amount of child support due for a one-month period. On April 29, the bill passed in the Assembly (76-0-0).

 

Judicial Administration

A-3329 (Wisniewski) Authorizes a special Ancient Order of Hibernians license plate. On April 29, the bill passed in the Assembly (76-0-0).

 

Labor and Employment Law

A-1273 (Coughlin) Requires the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) to provide certain information to participating public employers. On April 29, the bill passed in the Assembly (58-16-3).

 

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights

S-2399 (Scutari)/A-3845 (Greenwald) Provides, under certain circumstances, for immediate issuance of marriage and civil union licenses at the time license application is made. On April 29, the bill was substituted for A-3845, passed in the Assembly (52-22-2) and sent to the governor. 

 

Local Government Law

S-316 (Whelan) Permits certain county boards of chosen freeholders to publish notices of proposed or amended ordinances by title and summary. On April 29, the bill was substituted for A-3725, amended on the Assembly floor and is awaiting Assembly vote.

 

S-1451 (Weinberg) Revises the law concerning meetings of public bodies to provide the public with greater access to meetings and information about meetings. On April 29, the bill was withdrawn from the files. 

 

S-1452 (Weinberg) Makes certain changes to the Open Public Records Act; establishes a state public finance website and creates a program for development of local websites. On April 29, the bill was withdrawn from the files.

 

Municipal Court Practice

A-354 (Gusciora) Requires all lamps and lighting devices on motor vehicles be kept in working order. On April 29, the bill passed in the Assembly (75-0-0).

 

S-2710 (Ruiz) Creates the New Jersey Social Innovation Act; establishes a social innovation pilot program and study commission within the Economic Development Authority. On April 25, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee.