Legislative Advocacy Archive
Advocacy Town Hall Meeting
The NJSBA Government Affairs Department hosted an Advocacy Town Hall Meeting at The War Memorial, George Washington Ballroom in Trenton, NJ from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday – October 18, 2010.
The purpose of this event is to educate NJSBA members on the legislative process and to hear from key lawmakers and legislative staff about how to increase NJSBA’s legislative effectiveness on prominent issues affecting the legal community and the Association, in particular. Panelist included key legislative leadership in both Houses and key staffers. This event was sponsored by the NJSBA and NJICLE.
Advocacy Town Hall Meeting
On March 4, 2009, President Peggy Sheahan Knee gave opening remarks at the NJSBA’s Advocacy Town Hall Meeting at the War Memorial in Trenton, NJ. This event included four panels of key legislators and staff, AND THE Chief Counsel to the Governor, all of whom addressed an audience of over seventy people on various issues.
Gerald H. Baker, Chair of NJSBA’s Legislative Committee, moderated each panel and facilitated an ongoing conversation between the audience and invited speakers.
The first panel of key staffers provided an inside view on the legislative process and the background activity that is required to support advocacy in the State Legislature.:
Miriam Bavati – Office of Legislative Services (Judiciary Section), Principal Counsel
Mary C. Beaumont – Assembly Republican Office, Chief Counsel
Frank Dominguez – Senate Republican Office, Chief Counsel
Rafaela Garcia – Office of Legislative Services (Judiciary Section), Lead Counsel
Patricia K. Nagle – Office of Legislative Services (Judiciary Section), Section Chief
Robert C. Rothberg – Office of Legislative Services (Local Government Section), Lead Counsel
Tiffany Williams – Assembly Majority Office, Chief Counsel
A second panel of legislators discussed the committee review process and key issues in the State Legislature including wrongful death legislation, peremptory challenges, and legal malpractice among other issues:
Assemblyman Jon M. Bramnick – Republican Whip
Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson – Chair Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee
Assemblywoman Sheila Y. Oliver – Deputy Speaker Pro Tempore
William J. Castner, Jr., the Governor’s Chief Counsel addressed the audience on issues in the Executive Branch including budgetary concerns and working with the NJSBA and NJ Senate on judicial appointments.
Finally, the program ended with a discussion with Senator Paul. A. Sarlo, Chair Senate Judiciary Committee and Assemblywoman Linda R. Greenstein, Chair Assembly Judiciary Committee on their important role in identifying and helping to move important bills through the State Legislature.
On May 15, S-1815 (Lesniak) was introduced in the Senate and on May 22, the Assembly counterpart, A-2858 (Cryan) was introduced, to reduce the statute of limitations for legal malpractice from six years to two years and reverse the New Jersey Supreme Court decision in Saffer v. Willoughby, 143 N.J. 256 (1996), which requires attorneys to pay counsel fees to a prevailing party in legal malpractice cases.
NJSBA strongly supports these bills and thanks the bill sponsors, Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) and Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union), for their leadership on this issue of vital importance to New Jersey State Bar Association members.
NJSBA Position in support of S-1815/A-2858 (Lesniak/Cryan)
Sample Letter to Bill Sponsors
Sample Letter to Members of the General Assembly
Governor Signs Bill Package to Reform Workers' Compensation
On October 1, a comprehensive legislative package aimed at reforming the State's $1.8 billion workers' compensation insurance system was signed into law by Governor Jon S. Corzine. These bills were part of a six-bill package that arose as a result of hearings held in June by the Senate and Assembly Labor Committees in response to a series of articles in the Star Ledger about the New Jersey workers’ compensation system. One of the bills, S-1918 was conditionally vetoed.
Summary of Workers' Compensation Bill Package
S-1913 (Sarlo) Increases the power of judges of compensation to enforce workers' compensation law. On Oct. 1, the bill was signed by the Governor.
S-1914 (Sarlo) Strengthens enforcement against employers for failure to provide workers' compensation coverage. On Oct. 1, the bill was signed by the Governor.
S-1915 (Sarlo) Concerns workers' compensation coverage and certain licenses, certificates, permits and registrations. On Oct. 1, the bill was signed by the Governor.
S-1916 (Sarlo) Concerns emergent medical care under workers' compensation. On Oct. 1, the bill was signed by the Governor.
S-1917 (Sarlo) Expands the membership of the Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau. On Oct. 1, the bill was signed by the Governor.
S-1918 (Sarlo) Makes failure to provide workers' compensation coverage a violation of the New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prevention Act, and a crime of insurance fraud. On Oct. 1, the Governor conditionally vetoed S-1918.
NJSBA Position on the Bill Package
The New Jersey State Bar Association supports this package of bills to reform New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws. Click here to read the NJSBA Position.
The bills were reviewed by the Association’s Board of Trustees, Executive Committee, Legislative Committee, and Workers’ Compensation Section, which is evenly divided among petitioner and respondent attorneys, large and small firms, representatives of the Division of Workers’ Compensation and Insurance Counsel representing some of New Jersey’s largest insurance carriers. We share the Legislature’s goal of ensuring the strength and vibrancy of New Jersey’s workers’ compensation system.
Earlier this year, the NJSBA was an active participant in making recommendations during the Senate Labor Committee hearings on the bill package.
The Association made the following recommendations to improve the system:
While we recognize that the State faces challenging fiscal times, we support an increase in the number of Deputy Attorneys General assigned to the Second Injury Fund to handle complex cases.
We recommend an amendment to statute and regulation to ensure that an injured worker receives treatment and wage replacement benefits in a timely manner under the Uninsured Employers’ Fund.
We recommend better enforcement of the Fund to reduce the number of non-compliant uninsured employers and those who misclassify workers as independent contractors or into low risk job titles to evade paying proper calculated premiums.
Workers’ compensation judges should be given jurisdiction to decide whether a lien with the Division of Temporary Disability Insurance is appropriate and should be re-paid to the Division. We believe these judges have the necessary expertise to resolve these matters fairly.
We support efforts to modernize and improve the Division of Workers’ Compensation computer system to enhance appropriate tracking and record-keeping, which is vitally important to the system.
Finally, we echo the support of virtually every speaker at the Senate Labor Committee hearing, beginning with Justice James Coleman, calling for improvement in the vetting of workers’ compensation judges. In 2000, the NJSBA Workers’ Compensation Section established a committee to confidentially screen judicial candidates and report directly to the NJSBA President. We renew our commitment to serve the Governor and the Legislature in this important role, akin to the process of the NJSBA Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee to review judges of the NJ Superior Court.
With respect to S-1913 and S-1916, we support regulatory clarification and will be submitting comments directly to Commissioner David Socolow.
Major Business Law Reforms Advance in State Legislature
On Sept. 25, the General Assembly passed a seven-bill package designed to reform various aspects of corporate and business law:
S-2050/A-2879 (Adler/Diegnan) Allows certain corporate notices to be provided via electronic transmission. On Sept. 25, A-2879 passed in the Assembly (79-0).
A-2880 (Diegnan) Eliminates 10 day advance notification of proposed effective date of certain shareholder action. On Sept. 25, A-2880 passed in the Assembly (79-0).
A-2881 (Vas) Allows director of corporation to provide notice of resignation, which resignation is only effective upon occurrence of certain event. On Sept. 25, the bill passed in the Assembly (79-0).
S-2049/A-2882 (Adler/Diegnan) Provides one hour and two hour service options for expedited over the counter corporate service requests. On Sept. 25, A-2882 passed in the Assembly (79-0).
A-2883 (DeAngelo) Provides that corporate by-laws may allow corporation to eliminate plurality voting for corporate directors. On Sept. 25, the bill passed in the Assembly (79-0).
A-2884 (Albano) Expands scope of unincorporated entities permitted to merge or consolidate with domestic corporations. On Sept. 25, the bill passed in the Assembly (79-0).
A-2885 (Milam) Allows officers of corporation to grant employees and officers of corporation shares of stock, rights or options.
The NJSBA Business Law Section supports all of these bills.
NJSBA ended the 212th Legislative Section with several significant achievements:
Defeat of legislation to extend the $75 attorney assessment
Elec regulations substantially narrowed th exempt attorneys from the coverage of lobbying laws.
NJSBA's legislative committee refined criteria for review of legislation
NJSBA Day in Trenton conceived and launched for 2008
Participated in ABA Lobby Day to build NJSBA's visibility with New Jersey's Congressional delegation and with the American Bar Association
Legislative Training Program launched to educate SBA members of legislative procedures and protocol.
On June 9, S-1939 (Vitale), which extends Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance Premium Assistance Fund (the Fund) and collection of annual surcharges for five years, was introduced in the State Legislature and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. The NJSBA strongly opposes any effort to impose an annual attorney assessment.
NJSBA Background and Position on S-1939 (Vitale)
Sample Letter to Legislators
On May 12, S-1981/A-2715 (Adler/Roberts ), which provides that the New Jersey Supreme Court shall have the authority to establish the number of juror challenges through its rulemaking process, was introduced and released by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, and is moving quickly through the State Legislature.
NJSBA strongly opposes the bill, and we urge you to write to the bill sponsors and your local legislator to express your opposition.
NJSBA Background and PositionS-1981/A-2715 (Adler/Roberts)
New Legislation Introduced to Increase Court Filing Fees, Create Eight New Judgeships and Fund Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ)
S-1784/A-2789 (Sweeney/Burzichelli) was recently introduced and is pending in the State Legislature and is pending before the Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees.
The bill would:
Create eight additional Supreme Court judgeships statewide
The new judges would be funded by an across-the-board increase in court fees.
95% of the fee increases would annually be appropriated by the Department of Treasury for LSNJ.
5% of the fee increase would annually be appropriated to the Department of State, Higher Education Services to be allocated equally among Rutgers Law School, Newark and Camden and Seton Hall Law School for clinical programs which provide free legal representation to the poor.
On May 5, the Senate Labor Committee held a public meeting to discuss ways to improve New Jersey’s worker’s compensation system, driven ostensibly by a series of articles in the Star Ledger about the system. NJSBA was among a select group of invited organizations which presented testimony. Arthur H. Kravitz, Chair and Marcia S. Freedman, Chair-Elect of NJSBA’s Workers’ Compensation Section, provided the NJSBA’s policy position.
NJSBA has worked to address issues facing the workers’ compensation system and recommend improvements, and we enjoy a lengthy history of working cooperatively with the Legislature and the Administration with the mutual goal of achieving the best and fairest workers’ compensation system in the nation.
NJSBA Recommendations to Improve the Workers' Compensation System