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

Capitol Report

November 24, 2014

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 learn more, visit njsba.com.

NOTICE TO THE BAR: COMPLEX BUSINESS LITIGATION

Last week, the Supreme Court approved the implementation of the Complex Business Litigation Program for the handling of complex business, commercial and construction cases, which will commence on Jan. 1, 2015. Incorporating recommendations made by the Supreme Court’s Working Group on Business Litigation, the program will benefit New Jersey’s business community, with dedicated judges managing complex disputes, streamlined and expedited services, and development of a body of authoritative case law aiding parties in business litigation. The NJSBA has long advocated for specialized treatment of complex business matters to establish predictability, reduce litigation delay and promote the robust development of business jurisprudence. For more information on the program, visit the Court’s website at njcourtsonline.com.

NEW CHAPTER LAWS

A measure aimed at improving the quality of care delivered to patients after they leave the hospital became law last week when the governor signed P.L.2014, c.68. Sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, the new law requires acute care hospitals to provide patients and legal guardians with after-care assistance following discharge from the hospital, letting patients continue their care at home. In addition, four other bills were signed into law last week by the governor, impacting firefighters, dam restoration projects, “breakfast after the bell” programs, and nursing services in public schools. For a complete list of chapter laws, visit njleg.state.nj.us. 

NEW JERSEY AID IN DYING FOR THE TERMINALLY ILL ACT 

In the wake of the revived national debate surrounding physician assistance to terminally ill patients who choose to end their life, a bill addressing the issue, sponsored by Assemblyman Jon J. Burzichelli, narrowly passed the Assembly. A-2270 would create a comprehensive course to allow terminally ill patients, with a prognosis of six months or less to live, a right to choose their end-of-life option. Similar measures have been enacted in Oregon, Washington and Vermont. The New Jersey bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. 

ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY CHILDREN STAY IN SCHOOL DISTRICT

Legislation permitting children with parents on active military duty to remain in the same school district, even after their parents are deployed, unanimously passed in the Assembly. A-1667, sponsored by Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, allows for the child of a parent or guardian who is a member of the New Jersey National Guard or U.S. Armed Forces Reserve to remain enrolled in the school district where the family lived prior to the parent/guardian being called into active military service and being stationed elsewhere.

ELECTRONICALLY COMING OF AGE

Municipal Land Use Law

With more and more New Jersey practitioners and businesses utilizing electronic means of communication effectively and on a regular basis, it’s no surprise that the Assembly State and Local Government Committee reported favorably on Assemblyman Craig J. Coughlin’s sponsored bill, and the Assembly followed in passing the measure. As amended, A-3390 would permit notice by email as an acceptable method of transmittal of some documents required to be transmitted under the Municipal Land Use Law, but only if there is confirmation that the email was delivered. This bill would allow email notice for hearings on adoptions, revisions or amendments to any development regulations, municipal capital improvement programs or municipal official maps. The measure is seen as a way to streamline these processes. It has been referred to the Senate for further consideration.   

Unsolicited Text Messages

A measure sponsored by Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty, prohibiting advertisers from sending unwanted advertisements to consumers via text messages, is in the Assembly pending a vote to concur with the governor’s recommendation after a conditional veto was received last week. A-617 would require companies who offer text messaging services to provide customers with an option to block any and all incoming and outgoing text messages that result in telecommunication charges or usage allocation deductions. Any person or company who violates this act may be subject to certain civil penalties. The governor’s recommendations eliminate the need for additional regulations to implement the act.

Readers Privacy Act

Legislation expanding New Jersey’s reader privacy law was amended in the Assembly after the governor’s conditional veto was received. A-1396, sponsored by Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly, extends certain reader privacy protections to include electronic book purchases. Currently, library records are confidential and protected from disclosure except in certain circumstances, but merchants and retailers still retain access to a variety of personal information through online purchases and/or electronic readers. This measure, similar to measures enacted in California and Arizona, extends privacy protections to those online purchases and electronic readers. The governor’s recommendations seek to clarify the circumstances under which such information may be disclosed.

SPOTLIGHT ON LEGISLATIVE LEADERS – ASSEMBLY SPEAKER VINCENT PRIETO

 Democrat Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, a construction code official for Secaucus, became the 170th speaker of the Assembly in 2014. Prieto has served in the General Assembly since 2004, representing the 32nd Legislative District, consisting of both Bergen and Hudson counties. As speaker, Prieto generally directs the business of the Assembly, including establishing the meeting schedules and the daily calendar of bills to be considered, presiding over voting sessions, appointing committee chairs and members, and referring bills to committees for consideration. 

Prieto has sponsored a number of bills in the Assembly on a wide range of topics, and many of his bills have moved through the legislative process. Last week, his 10th bill of the year was enacted into law, as noted above. Other measures Prieto has championed that have become law have focused on access to adoptees’ birth certificates and related records, punishing false advertising by notaries public, providing students with disabilities an opportunity to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities, ensuring neighborhoods remain intact by requiring foreclosed properties to be adequately maintained, appropriating funds to finance infrastructure projects, and helping drug offenders with substance abuse problems transition back into society through programs offered in correctional facilities. For more information on Assembly Speaker Prieto and other legislators, visit njleg.state.nj.us.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Oral Argument – State v. Adkins

Oral argument has been scheduled for Dec. 3 at 10 a.m. in the matter of State v. Adkins, currently pending in the Supreme Court. The Court will decide whether the defendant's blood test results, obtained as a result of a warrantless blood draw following a driving under the influence stop, should be suppressed in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Missouri v. McNeely, which held that there is no per se rule of exigency in drunk driving cases. The NJSBA is participating in the matter as amicus curiae, having submitted a brief drafted by Jeffrey Evan Gold, of Gold and Associates, and Thomas Cannavo, of the Law Offices of Steven W. Hernandez. Gold will present argument for the NJSBA.

Upcoming Voting Sessions in Trenton

The Senate will hold a voting session on Monday, Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. at the State House in Trenton.

The Assembly will hold a voting session on Thursday, Dec. 4 at 10 a.m. at the State House in Trenton.

Board lists for both sessions can be found at njleg.state.nj.us.

Past issues of the Capitol Report