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

Capitol Report

 

April 21, 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

NJSBA RECENT ACTION

At the April 11 board meeting, the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Board of Trustees considered a number of section and committee recommendations regarding amendments to the court rules proposed by various Supreme Court committees. The board discussed the reports of the Supreme Court Committees on Civil Practice, Special Civil Part Practice and Professional Responsibility rules. The recommendations of the New Jersey State Bar Association have been submitted to Administrative Director Judge Glenn Grant. The Supreme Court is expected to hold a public hearing on all of the court rule proposals sometime next month. To obtain more information on the proposed amendments and hearing, visit the Judiciary’s website at judiciary.state.nj.us.

ON THE GOVERNOR’S DESK:

The following legislation is waiting for action by the governor: 

Civil Trial Bar

S-1306 (Sweeney) Establishes the Superstorm Sandy Bill of Rights. On March 27, the bill passed in the Assembly (72-0-0) and was sent to the governor. 

A-869 (Sumter) Requires the Division on Civil Rights and Department of Community Affairs to post information regarding disability accommodation rights for owners and occupants of condominiums, cooperatives, and other common interest communities. On March 27, the bill passed in the Senate (37-0) and was sent to the governor. 

Consumer Protection Law

A-347 (Caputo) Authorizes municipalities to impose penalties on creditors that fail to timely remedy code violations of certain properties in foreclosure. On March 27, the bill passed in the Senate (35-0) and was sent to the governor. 

Criminal Law

A-892 (Munoz, N.) Enacts the Jessica Lunsford Act; imposes a mandatory term of imprisonment; provides for negotiated reduction of a mandatory term under certain circumstances. On March 27, the bill passed in the Senate (34-0) and was sent to the governor. 

Family Law

S-873 (Vitale) Permits adoptees and certain others to obtain an adoptee's original birth certificate and other related information. On Feb. 27, the bill passed in the Assembly (44-27-3) and was sent to the governor. 

The New Jersey State Bar Association has concerns with this legislation, believing the bill amends the law to allow adult adopted persons access to their birth certificate through a rather administratively convoluted process. It fails to allow the birth parent who places the child for adoption prior to the date of enactment, adequate opportunity to prevent disclosure of the name(s) of the birth parent.

The New Jersey State Bar Association has previously reviewed this and prior versions of the bill over many years, and historically has supported mutual consent adoption registries and adult adoptee access to the original birth certificate, if made prospective in its application. Given the provisions in this latest bill, the association believes the following: The bill disregards the psychology of adoption, which allows a woman to give up a child for adoption with anonymity and without further contact. The bill conflicts with the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act in not preserving anonymity provided by law in that statute for the birth mother. Although the bill continuously refers to birth "parents" its requirements impact birth mothers much more so than birth fathers. The bill may inadvertently encourage abortions. The bill may encourage women to keep babies that may be best cared for by an adoptive family. The bill's requirements are difficult to follow, would invade the birth mother's privacy, and establish inadequate notice requirements. The obligation to report an address change to the state registrar's office is unreasonable. There is no sunset clause. It is not realistic that a birth parent who lives outside the state of New Jersey will comply with the state's laws in order to avoid such invasion of privacy. It is almost impossible for every person to whom this bill applies, particularly those who have already placed their babies up for adoption, to learn about the details of the new law in time to protect their privacy. The bill provides no funding to inform birth parents of the change in the law despite a mandate to do so. 

The NJSBA believes a more balanced approach is to create a confidential intermediary who can protect the interests of the birth parent and the adoptee as they work toward building a relationship on mutually agreed-upon terms. 

Health Law

A-2295 (Prieto) Requires the Division of Addiction Services to grant residential drug treatment program licenses to certain programs operating in state correctional facilities and county jails. On March 27, the bill passed in the Senate (33-0) and was sent to the governor. 

Individual Rights

S-837 (Norcross) Extends ‘right to farm’ protection to certain agricultural tourism activities and events; requires adoption of agricultural management practices therefor; permits special occasion events that promote agricultural tourism conducted at wineries. On March 27, the bill passed in the Assembly (70-1-0) and was sent to the governor.

A-2456 (Prieto) Exempts certain persons from the heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) licensing requirement; clarifies the definition of heating and ventilating. On March 27, the bill passed the Senate (33-0) and was sent to the governor. 

School Law

S-322 (Gordon) Provides that nonpublic school nursing services may include nursing services for a preschool pupil in the event of an emergency. On March 20, the bill passed in the Assembly (77-0-0) and was sent to the governor. 

S-441 (Ruiz) Requires school districts to adopt policies concerning electronic communications between employees and students. On Feb. 27, the bill passed in the Assembly (74-0-0) and was sent to the governor. 

Taxation Law

A-126 (McHose) Provides for voluntary contributions by taxpayers on gross income tax returns for development of Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery. On March 27, the bill passed in the Senate (34-0) and was sent to the governor. 

EXECUTIVE ORDERS:

Below are executive orders issued by the governor for 2014:

Executive Orders 146-150 declared a state of emergency, authorizing the state director of emergency management to activate and coordinate the preparations, response and recovery efforts for severe winter weather with all county and municipal emergency operations and governmental agencies.

Executive Order 151 ordered and directed for the calendar year 2014, the date on which seasonal alcoholic beverage consumption licensees shall be permitted to commence serving alcoholic beverages shall be advanced from May 1 to March 1 and shall end on Nov. 14, inclusive. This executive order was issued by the governor on Feb. 20. 

Executive Order 152 orders and directs the Department of Community Affairs commissioner to oversee the state’s efforts to demolish storm-affected structures that jeopardize the fire, health and community safety. This executive order was issued by the governor on Feb. 28. 

Executive Order 153 declared a state of emergency in preparation for morning severe winter weather. This executive order was issued by the governor on March 2. 

Executive Order 154 ordered the expansion of the membership for the New Jersey Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force by one member, from its current five members to six members. This executive order was issued on April 6. 

For more information on an individual executive order, visit the state’s website at nj.gov.

Past issues of the Capitol Report