March 23, 2020
Legislature takes action to address economic impact of COVID-19
The Legislature voted last
week on a set of bills to combat the negative economic impact of the COVID-19
Some of the bills promise
to infuse cash-strapped small- and mid-sized business with stimulus money to
carry them through the toughest months. Others provide much-needed relief to
those left unemployed due to a COVID-19 diagnosis. Still others provide
accommodations to conduct business while the country faces unprecedented
curfews, lockdowns and prohibitions on travel that make business as usual a
difficult proposition. All of the bills were introduced last Monday and passed
the Assembly, and most passed in the Senate on Thursday. The ones that passed
now await Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature.
Here is a summary of some
of the bills that may affect the legal community:
• A-3845 (Freiman) would authorize the
state Economic Development Authority to make grants during periods of emergency
declared by the governor, such as the declaration regarding COVID-19. The bill
aims to help small- and mid-sized businesses and not-for-profit corporations
meet their financial obligations to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring
loan availability for working capital and to meet payroll requirements.
• A-3864 (Downey) authorizes notaries
public to perform certain notarial acts remotely by allowing an individual to
use communication technology to appear before a notarial officer as long as
certain elements are met. The bill would not become effective until 90 days
after the governor signs it.
• A-3844 (Freiman) would provide a mechanism
by which businesses that suffer losses due to interruption as a result of the
COVID-19 pandemic may recover losses if they had a business interruption
insurance policy as of March 9, 2020, the date on which the governor declared a
public health emergency and issued Executive Order 103. The bill would apply to
businesses covered by such a policy with less than 100 eligible employees in
New Jersey, defined as full-time employees who work 25 or more hours. At the
time of publication, this bill was not posted for a vote in the Senate.
Three additional bills
that aim to address lost wages and time off of work passed the Assembly and are
headed for the Senate.
• A-3846 (Sumter) creates the Temporary Lost
Wage Unemployment Program, allowing individuals to claim for lost wages due to
COVID-19 and requiring employers to pay wages to workers ordered under
quarantine by licensed healthcare providers.
• A-3847 (Tully) allows local government
employees to receive fully paid leave, without having to use any accumulated
leave time, so long as the absence is related to COVID-19. This would apply to
an employee suffering from COVID-19 or caring for a family member who is
diagnosed with COVID-19, who is directed by a medical professional or
government agency to self-isolate or quarantine due to a suspicion of, exposure
to or diagnosis with COVID-19, or undergoing a period of self-quarantine or
isolation pursuant to public health assessment recommendations. This bill is
still awaiting Senate action
• A-3849 (Lopez) would prohibit an
employer from terminating or refusing to reinstate an employee if, during the
public health emergency and state of emergency declared by the governor in
Executive Order 103, the employee requests or takes time off from work based on
a written or electronically transmitted recommendation from a medical
professional licensed in New Jersey that the employee take time off of work for
a period of time because of COVID-19.
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.