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

Capitol Report

September 2, 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 a complete copy of the Capitol Report and/or retrieve a former Capitol Report, please visit our website at www.njsba.com

NJSBA RECENT ACTION IN TRENTON

Elder and Disability Law

S-2052 (Singer) (NJSBA supports) Establishes a bill of rights for continuing care retirement community residents. On Aug. 19, 2013, the bill passed (37-0) in the Senate and was sent to the governor.

The New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee and Elder and Disability Law Section voted to support this legislation, believing it is important for seniors who live in continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) in New Jersey to know they have rights that can be monitored and enforced through the long-term care ombudsman regardless of what “setting” the resident is residing in. Currently, if an individual is in the independent living section of a CCRC, the ombudsperson would not be able to get involved in their case, even though there may be inappropriate pressure from the community to move to a higher level of care within the CCRC, such as assisted living or nursing home care. CCRC contracts are complicated, and the programs themselves are expensive and fraught with financial uncertainty. This legislation gives a voice to seniors facing decisions relating to levels of care.

Privacy Law

A-2878 (Burzichelli) (NJSBA supports) Prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to disclose his or her user name, password, or other means for accessing an account or service through an electronic communications device. On Aug. 19, 2013, the bill passed (36-0) in the Senate and was sent to the governor.

The New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees and Labor and Employment Law Section voted to support this legislation, believing it is necessary to protect the privacy rights of all employees in an emerging technologically connected era. Employees’ personal social network accounts contain personal information—information an employer is prohibited from asking about (i.e., marital status, religion, sexual orientation, etc.). The NJSBA believes gaining access to this information through social media accounts could lead to discriminatory decisions during the hiring process. Additionally, this bill protects employees’ rights in the current job market. It ensures that employees are not put in the unfair situation of being forced to give up their privacy rights in return for a certain job.

Workers’ Compensation

S-1778 (Greenstein) (NJSBA opposes) Creates the Thomas P. Canzanella Twenty First Century First Responders Protection Act; concerns workers' compensation for public safety workers. On Aug. 19, 2013, the bill was vetoed and defeated in the Senate (22-14). 

The New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee and Workers’ Compensation Section voted to oppose this legislation, believing the cost factors associated with the bill are unknown. While the NJSBA supports first responders and is sensitive to the potential risks they face, the state bar feels this bill misses the mark. Funding was made available for other pieces of legislation, such as special legislation for 9/11 victims, but with this bill, no such funding information has been forthcoming.

The legal burdens of proof and rebuttable presumptions are changed for the group of individuals defined in this bill. The workers' compensation statute and system already has defined burdens of proof that must be met with respect to all petitioners, which are fair and equal, so that a highly skilled workers' compensation bench may weigh all factors and reach a fair conclusion.

PENDING LEGISLATION

Higher Education

S-1191 (Lesniak)/A-2974 (Mosquera) Allows establishment of a county-wide purchasing system for certain school district services; offers employment protections for certain food or custodial services employees; and regulates subcontracting by districts and public higher education institutions. On Aug. 19, 2013, the governor’s veto was received in the Senate.

Insurance Law

S-1253 (Vitale)/A-1665 (Johnson) Requires the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) and the School Employees Health Benefits Program (SHEBP) to cover treatment for alcoholism, other substance-use disorders, and non-biologically based mental illnesses under the same terms and conditions as other diseases or illnesses. On Aug. 19, 2013, the governor’s veto was received in the Senate.

Real Property, Trust and Estate Law

A-2596 (Wisniewski) Removes the requirement that one- and two-family residences be equipped with a portable fire extinguisher. On Aug. 19, 2013, the bill passed (31-3) in the Senate and was sent to the governor, who conditionally vetoed the bill and recommended the Department of Community Affairs undertake a study of fire extinguishment requirements in homes. 

 

Taxation Law

S-2912 (Oroho)/A-946 (Riley) Permits a farm income-averaging credit under the New Jersey gross income tax. On July 29, 2013, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. 

 

CHAPTER BILLS: RECENT LEGISLATION SIGNED INTO LAW 

P.L.2013, c.136 Revises statutes and enhances penalties for offenses involving child pornography; makes the crime of causing a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act subject to the No Early Release Act. On June 24, 2013, the bill passed (40-0) in the Senate and was sent to the governor. On Aug. 14, 2013, the bill was signed into law.  (S-2493 O’Toole/A-3735 Mainor) 

P.L.2013, c.137 Creates the crime of threatening the life of certain animals; designated as Dano and Valder’s Law. On June 27, the bill passed (74-0-0) in the Assembly and was sent to the governor. On Aug. 14, 2013, the bill was signed into law. (S-79 Sarlo/A-495 Albano)