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

Capitol Report

September 12, 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

The NJSBA’s Legislative Committee will meet on September 19 to review the following legislation:

CONSUMER PROTECTION

A-3579 (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes and enhances certain insurance fraud prevention measures. The bill broadens the scope of information sharing between insurance carriers and law enforcement; makes “reverse rate evasion” a violation of the New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prevention Act, P.L.1983, c.320 (C.17:33A-1 et seq.); and provides for certain additional anti-fraud measures to be added to the New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prevention Act. On Dec. 6, 2010, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

CRIMINAL LAW

S-539 (Kean/Johnson) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes the crimes of dog fighting and leader of a dog fighting network. Currently, N.J.S.A. 4:22-24 prohibits animal fighting in general. This bill would also add the crime of leader of a dog fighting network to the list of offenses considered “racketeering activity” under New Jersey’s anti-racketeering law (RICO). On Sept. 16, 2010, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

ACR-55 (Girgenti/Johnson) (Under review by the NJSBA) Proposes a constitutional amendment to authorize the Legislature to enact a statute to establish a Bureau of Probation in the State Parole Board. The constitutional amendment transfers all of the functions, powers, duties and responsibilities concerning probation, and the probation officers and other professional supervisors, case workers, and case-related employees who perform probation functions from the Judiciary to this new Bureau of Probation. On June 13, the resolution was released from the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee with amendments and is awaiting Assembly vote. The committee amendments made clarifying and technical amendments to the concurrent resolution to enhance the public understanding of the purpose of the constitutional question.

A-244 (Vandervalk) (Under review by the NJSBA) Makes it a crime of the third degree to practice psychology, marriage and family therapy, chiropractic or state-certified psychoanalysis without the appropriate license or certification. On Jan. 12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.          

FAMILY LAW

S-2820 (Weinberg) (Under review by the NJSBA) Permits certain victims of domestic violence or stalking, and members of the victim’s immediate family, to register to vote without disclosing their street address and cast a provisional ballot at any election district under certain circumstances. On April 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.

HEALTH AND HOSPITAL LAW

A-4098 (Conaway) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides for designation of surrogates to make healthcare decisions for certain patients and the decision-making process for patients without surrogates; establishes a demonstration program for transition of isolated patients from inpatient care to post-acute care. On June 13, the bill was released from the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee and is awaiting Assembly vote.

S-2892 (Weinberg) (Under review by the NJSBA) Expands the New Jersey Parentage Act to include the donation of egg or sperm; repeals the artificial insemination provision. This bill would repeal Section 7 of P.L.1983, c.17 (C.9:17-44) of the New Jersey Parentage Act, which provides that a husband is treated in the law as the parent of a child who is conceived by artificial insemination when his wife is artificially inseminated with semen donated by another man. The law is silent with regard to a child being conceived by egg donation. On May 19, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

INSURANCE LAW

S-3008 (Sacco) (Under review by the NJSBA) Clarifies that medical fee schedules promulgated by the commissioner of banking and insurance for the reimbursement of healthcare providers  in connection with personal injury protection insurance coverage shall not include or apply to fees charged by a hospital that is a licensed healthcare facility pursuant to P.L.1971, c.136 (C.26:2H-1 et seq.).On July 12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION

A-4197 (Barnes) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides for new and increased court and application fees to fund Legal Services of New Jersey and to fund the Judiciary's computerized court information systems. On June 27, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

MUNICIPAL COURT PRACTICE

S-2952 (Van Drew) (Under review by the NJSBA) Establishes a per se standard for driving under the influence of drugs. Specifically, a person is deemed to be under the influence of an intoxicating narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug under the bill if there is any amount of a Schedule I, II, III, or IV chemical or controlled dangerous substance in the person’s blood, saliva, urine, or any other bodily fluid. On June 13, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

CLASS ACTIONS

A-4135 (Chiusano) (Under review by the NJSBA) This bill would permit litigants contesting a judicial determination regarding the certification or decertification of a class of plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit to immediately appeal that ruling to the Appellate Division of the superior court as of right. Under the existing system, litigants who wish to challenge a determination regarding class certification must either request leave to file an interlocutory appeal or litigate the matter to a final judgment. If a motion for leave to file an interlocutory appeal is not granted, the litigant is generally left with a choice between incurring the expense of litigating the matter to a final judgment or settling the case without the benefit of a judicial ruling. On June 20, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

NOTICES

The New Jersey Law Revision Commission will meet on Thursday, Sept. 15 to review the following agenda:

1. Landlord and Tenant Law—Consideration of a draft revised tentative report (PDF).

2. Pejorative Terms Regarding Persons who are Mentally Incapacitated—Consideration of a draft final report (PDF) and a memorandum (PDF) regarding one outstanding issue.

3. N.J.S. 14A:5-28 Books and Records (Rights of Inspection)—Consideration of a draft final report. (PDF)

4. Workers' Compensation Claims—Consideration of a proposed project (PDF).

5. New Jersey Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act—Brief update regarding the status of this project, which has been released as a tentative report.

6. Equine Act—Consideration of a proposed project (PDF).

7. Collateral Consequences of Convictions—Consideration of an updated memorandum (PDF) with information regarding the status of this project.

8. Recording of Mortgage Assignments—Consideration of a memorandum (PDF) containing draft language incorporating proposed revisions to a NCCUSL Act previously adopted in New Jersey.

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.