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

Capitol Report

October 31, 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. 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

Below is a status update of legislation the NJSBA supports as a high priority:

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW

S-2666/A-2722 (Oroho/Burzichelli) (NJSBA supports) Modifies the process for contested case hearings by Office of Administrative Law with regard to telephone and video conferences, delegation of final decision authority, oral decisions, checklist decision, electronic filings, and settlements. On Feb. 17, A-2722 passed in the Assembly. S-2666 was released from the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee with amendments on March 10 and is awaiting Senate vote.

AUTO REPARATIONS
S-177/A-774 (Scutari/Bramnick) (NJSBA supports) Provides that the limitation on lawsuit option does not apply in an accident caused by a drunk driver. On Jan. 12, 2010, both bills were introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee and the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee respectively.

CHILD WELFARE

A-238 (Vandervalk) (NJSBA supports) Revises the New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act and other related laws. On Jan. 12, 2010, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Human Services Committee.

CIVIL TRIAL BAR
S-188/A-2745 (Scutari/Oliver) (NJSBA supports) Amends New Jersey’s wrongful death statute. On Jan. 12, 2010, A-188 was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. A-2745 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee on May 13, 2010.

CONSUMER PROTECTION

S-250/A-1700 (Van Drew/Burzichelli) (NJSBA supports w/ amendments) Establishes the New Jersey Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to eliminate abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts, promotes fair debt collection and provides consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information in order to ensure that information's accuracy. On Jan. 12, 2010, S-250 was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. A-1700 passed in the Assembly (55-22) on June 28, 2010.

S-2440/A-3434 (Weinberg/Moriarty) (NJSBA supports) Requires the review of arbitration agreements for unconscionability. On Nov. 22, 2010, S-2440 was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. A-3434 was amended on the Assembly floor on May 9 and is awaiting Assembly vote.

A-3433 (Barnes) (NJSBA supports) Limits the forum of consumer contract disputes to New Jersey. On Nov. 8, 2010, the bill was released from the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee and is awaiting Assembly vote.

ELECTION LAW

S-557/A-1015 (Cunningham/Spencer) (NJSBA supports) Allows individuals on parole and probation to vote; provides registration assistance to individuals on probation, parolees, and individuals completing sentences. On Jan. 12, 2010, A-1015 was introduced and referred to the Assembly State Government Committee. S-557 was transferred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on Nov. 8, 2010.

FAMILY LAW

S-1812/A-2292 (Whelan/Ramos) (NJSBA supports) Authorizes the Office of Public Defender to provide legal representation for a child in proceedings after parental rights have been terminated. On Feb. 18, 2010, A-2292 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. S-1812 was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 16, 2010.

HEALTH AND HOSPITAL LAW

S-2197/A-3475 (Ruiz/Quijano) (NJSBA supports) Creates the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment Act; provides for use of physician orders for life-sustaining treatment forms and requires physicians and advanced practice nurses to pursue continuing education in end-of-life care. On Sept. 26, the Senate voted (37-0) to concur with the governor’s recommendations.

JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION

S-883 (Gill) (NJSBA supports) Establishes the Administrative Law Judges Retirement System. On Feb. 1, 2010, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.

S-2806/A-2865 (Van Drew/Wisniewski) (NJSBA supports) Provides for the appointment of certain municipal court judges at the local or county level. On Jan. 24, A-2865 was released from the Assembly Judiciary Committee and is awaiting Assembly vote. S-2806 was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 11.

A-1704 (Burzichelli) (NJSBA supports) Creates eight additional judgeships; increases certain court fees to fund judgeships and to supplement funding for Legal Services of New Jersey. On Jan. 12, 2010, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT LAW

S-2587/A-3726 (Greenstein/DeAngelo) (NJSBA supports) Provides workers' compensation coverage for participants of the Back to Work NJ Program. On Dec. 30, 2010, S-2587 was introduced and referred to the Senate Labor Committee. A-3726 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee on Jan. 11.

MUNICIPAL COURT PRACTICE

S-1820/A-2422 (Turner/Cryan) (NJSBA supports) Establishes the Restricted Use License Program; permits certain motor vehicle offenders to apply for a restricted use license. On March 4, 2010, A-2422 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. S-1820 was introduced and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on March 22, 2010.

S-2460/A-3759 (Scutari/Gusciora) (NJSBA supports) Requires an ignition interlock device to be installed on a vehicle owned or leased by a drunk driver only after a period of driver's license suspension. On Dec. 6, 2010, S-2460 was introduced and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. A-3759 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee on Feb. 3.

S-2634/A-3053 (Turner/Gusciora) (NJSBA supports) Establishes a conditional intervention program in municipal court for certain first-time offenders. On Jan. 11, S-2634 was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. A-3053 passed in the Assembly (61-15-1) on Feb. 17.

REAL PROPERTY TRUST AND ESTATE LAW

S-243 (Scutari) (NJSBA supports) Enacts the Uniform Trust Code, which provides clarity in areas of New Jersey trust law that are unclear; creates certainty by codifying areas where New Jersey trust law has gaps, while generally adhering to existing New Jersey trust case law. On Jan. 12, 2010, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

S-2778/A-4043 (Kyrillos/McHose) (NJSBA supports with amendments) Increases the filing threshold for the New Jersey estate tax to $1,000,000. On March 10, S-2778 was introduced and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. A-4043 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Budget Committee on May 19.

REGULATED PROFESSIONS

S-184/A-1050 (Scutari/Quijano) (NJSBA supports) Upgrades offenses of engaging in unauthorized practice of law; creates a civil action; provides that an individual convicted of the offenses is barred from appointment as a notary public. On March 10, S-184 was referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. A-1050 passed in the Assembly (78-0) on May 20.

TAXATION

S-1150 (Kyrillos) (NJSBA supports) Allows a corporation business taxpayer recognizing income, gain or loss pursuant to a plan of complete liquidation to deduct its net operating loss carryovers, notwithstanding the limitations on such deductions during the 2002-2005 tax years. On Feb. 4, 2010, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

S-689 (Sarlo) (NJSBA supports) Amends the state fiscal year 2009 appropriations provision to remove the prohibition on the payment of a scheduled salary increase for judges of the Division of Workers' Compensation. On Jan. 12, 2010, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Budget and 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.