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

Capitol Report

October 18, 2010

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 New Jersey State Bar Association 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.

Executive Orders

Executive Order No. 42 Creates a New Jersey Educator Effectiveness Task Force for school and district-level education professionals.

Executive Order No. 44 Rescinds Executive Order No. 21 (1994), which reconstituted the Governor's Employee Relations Policy Council and Office of Employee Relations within the Department of Personnel; rescinds Executive Order No. 33 (1995), which ordered and directed the transfer of the Office of Employee Relations from the Department of Personnel to the Office of the Governor.

Pending Legislation

Consumer Protection

A-3332 (McKeon) (Under review by the NJSBA) Revises the New Jersey Money Transmitters Act to require licensed money transmitters and their delegates to provide more reporting, record keeping and consumer disclosures. On Oct. 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

Criminal Law

A-3318 (Munoz) (Under review by the NJSBA) Increases the penalties for harboring or concealing a sex offender. Under the provisions of the bill, a violation of N.J.S. 2C:29-3, Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution, would constitute a crime of the third degree, with a mandatory minimum term of three years without eligibility for parole, if the person harbored or concealed a person who has been convicted, adjudicated delinquent or found not guilty by reason of insanity for the commission of a sex offense. A crime of the third degree is punishable by imprisonment for three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. On Oct. 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

A-3355 (Schaer) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides the parole board with discretion to reconsider parole eligibility for certain crimes after a certain period of time. Under this bill, the state parole board would be permitted to set a future eligibility date within 10 years for persons convicting of first-degree crimes. On Oct. 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

S-2308 (Sarlo) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides the parole board with discretion to reconsider parole eligibility for certain crimes after a certain period of time. On Oct. 7, the bill was released from the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee with committee amendments and is awaiting vote in the Senate.

Environmental Law

A-3336 (McKeon) (NJSBA opposes) Establishes a special environmental prosecutor, in but not of, the Department of Law and Public Safety. The function of the special environmental prosecutor would be to prosecute civil and criminal violations of the environmental laws of the state. The special environmental prosecutor would be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, and would serve during the term of the office of the governor. On Oct. 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.

Family Law

A-3339 (McKeon) (NJSBA supports) Clarifies procedures for closing active child protective services cases. Under the bill, these cases cannot be closed by a Division of Youth and Family Services caseworker unless the caseworker: 1) conducts a home visit and meets directly with the child who is the subject of the case; 2) verifies that the child's parent, guardian or caregiver does not pose an immediate threat to the child's safety; and 3) verifies that the child's emotional, physical, healthcare and educational needs are being met by the child's parent, guardian or caregiver. On Oct. 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Human Services Committee.

A-3369 (Riley) (Under review by the NJSBA) Expands the domestic violence statutes to encompass minors aged 16 and older. Under current law, a domestic violence restraining order may be issued only under certain circumstances, which include: if the victim is at least 18 years old; is an emancipated minor; has had a dating relationship with the defendant; has a child in common with the defendant; or anticipates having a child in common if one of the parties is pregnant. A restraining order may be issued against a defendant only if the defendant is at least 18 years old or is an emancipated minor. Under the bill, any victim who is at least 16 years old could apply for a domestic violence restraining order, and any defendant who is at least 16 could be subject to such an order. On Oct. 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

S-1487 (Rice) (NJSBA opposes) Authorizes a party to a final divorce judgment or judgment for the dissolution of a civil union to request name change without notifying the opposing party. On Oct. 7, the bill was received in the Assembly and referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Government and Public Sector

S-2327 (Van Drew) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides that a public servant is guilty of official misconduct if he or she knowingly obtains, arranges or provides a "no-show" job for him or herself or another. On Oct. 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Health and Hospital Law

S-515 (Weinberg) (Under review by the NJSBA) Permits physicians and veterinarians to earn continuing education credits by providing certain free medical or veterinary services. On Oct. 7, the bill was received in the Assembly and is awaiting vote in the Assembly to concur with the governor's recommendations.

Higher Education

S-2319 (Ruiz) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires New Jersey institutions of higher education to disseminate fire safety information about their facilities to students, parents or guardians, and employees. On Oct. 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Education Committee.

S-2337 (Kean) (Under review by the NJSBA) Amends state college law to allow boards of trustees to conduct collective bargaining. On Oct. 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Education Committee.

Insurance Law

S-175 (Rodriguez) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Compact to promote and protect the interest of consumers of individual and group annuity, life insurance, disability income, and long-term care insurance products. On Oct. 7, the bill was released from the Senate Commerce Committee with committee amendments and is awaiting vote in the Senate.

S-191 (Scutari) (Under review by the NJSBA) Concerns priority of claims against certain insured tortfeasors as between an insurer paying personal injury protection (PIP) benefits and an injured party. On Oct. 7, the bill was released from the Senate Commerce Committee and is awaiting vote in the Senate.

Military Law and Veterans Affairs

S-309 (Allen) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides unemployment benefits for certain spouses of National Guard members. On Oct. 7, the bill was received in the Assembly and referred to Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee.

School Law

A-3309 (Wisniewski) (Under review by the NJSBA) Expands the education and practice requirements for special learner's and examination permits. On Oct. 7, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Transportation and Public Works Committee.

Amicus Matters

He v. Miller, Docket No. 65,337-The issue in this case is whether the trial court erred in remitting the plaintiff's jury verdict for pain and suffering, and what criteria should properly be used by trial judges in remitting verdicts. On October 12, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments and reserved decision. Gerald H. Baker presented argument for the NJSBA.

Nominations

The following nominations were referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 7:

JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT
Philip Haines, of Juliustown

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.