March 30, 2020
First electronic voting session advances key bills
the COVID-19-imposed state-wide lockdown of non-essential businesses, the
Assembly acted last Thursday in the first remote voting session authorized by
the newly passed law permitting public bodies to meet remotely during a public
health emergency or state of emergency. Key bills were advanced that would
greatly impact the lives of New Jersey residents and access to justice in the
Remote Notary Bill
passed the Assembly with overwhelming support. It would supplant a bill,
presently sitting on the governor’s desk, to permit notaries to perform
services remotely using communication technology to record the act both
visually and audibly. The new bill limits the duration of remote notary
services to the duration of the public health emergency and state of emergency
declared under Executive Order 103. The bill on the governor’s desk, A-3864,
had a 90-day effective date, which would significantly delay any usefulness
during the COVID-19 time period. A-3903 removes the waiting period, becoming
effective immediately upon the governor’s signature. However, in its current
form the bill only permits notaries public to notarize documents remotely, and
still excludes wills and codicils; certain Uniform Construction Code (UCC) documents
and records governed by a statute, regulation or other rule of law governing
adoptions, divorces or other matters of family law.
New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) urged the bill’s sponsors and Assembly
leadership to consider amendments expanding the legislation to include any
officials authorized to perform oaths and affidavits by statute, and to include
wills and codicils.
Property Tax Relief
(Wimberly/Coughlin/Armato) permits the extension of certain deadlines
applicable to local government units under emergency circumstances. The NJSBA
supports this measure as part of its overall efforts to extend the deadlines of
property tax appeals because it resolves lingering procedural questions about
deadlines before the county boards of taxation. The bill empowers the
Department of Community Affairs, in consultation with the director of the
Division of Taxation, to legally extend the tax deadlines in connection with
the county boards. Earlier, the Supreme Court issued an order extending
deadlines for property tax appeals before the county boards.
Both bills head to the
Senate, which has not yet scheduled a voting session.
Other bills considered by
the Assembly include:
(Sweeney/Scutari/Sumter) expands the scope of the state’s temporary disability
insurance (TDI) so workers may obtain TDI or family leave insurance (FLI)
benefits by expanding the definition of “serious health condition” to include
an illness caused by an epidemic of a communicable disease, a known or
suspected exposure to a communicable disease, or efforts to prevent the spread
of a communicable disease, and eliminates the current one-week waiting period
for disability benefits. The bill heads to the governor for his signature.
permits professional and occupational licensing boards to reactivate the
licensure of certain people to practice the profession or occupation in New
Jersey, as deemed necessary to protect public health, safety and welfare. The
bill heads to the Senate.
• A-3904 (Burzichelli/Schepisi/Lampitt)
permits the use of virtual or remote instruction to meet the minimum 180-day
school year requirement in order to qualify for state aid. The bill heads to
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.