Capitol Report

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November 18, 2019

Lame duck kicks in with onslaught of legislation

For lawmakers, the lame duck period (when an elected official or group continues to hold office during the period between the election and the inauguration of a successor) means trying to conduct the business of the Legislature in the condensed period of time in the last year of a two-year session. This year, bills reviewed by the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) that are up for consideration range from fraudulent deed disclosures to representation of indigent plaintiffs in license suspension hearings for failure to pay child support. Here is a summary of last week’s bills:

A Matter of Deeds
S-1245(Rice)/A-4138 (Jones)

This bill requires that an affidavit of title be recorded with the deed and that the county recording officer notify the transferor any time a deed transfer is being recorded for his or her property. The NJSBA was concerned about the enforceability of an affidavit of title, which is not a standard form, and requested an amendment to remove this mandate, but to afford the opportunity to alert anyone who requests it a notification of any activity of the particular property. The bill was held. The NJSBA continues to monitor its progress.

Right to Vote
A-5823 (Sumter)

The NJSBA supports this bill as a good first step towards expanding the right to vote to individuals who were previously unable to vote as a result of convictions and penalty status. It testified to the Assembly Appropriations Committee in support of this bill, along with several organizations, including the Garden State Bar Association and New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

Arbitration Matters
A-4972 (Moriarty)/S-1490 (Beach)

The NJSBA supported this bill with amendments that were made to expand the covered parties to include officers, directors, and controlling shareholders and/or partners, and to ensure that an indigent consumer who does not prevail is not on the hook for attorney’s fees and costs in an arbitration. The bill was passed in the Senate Commerce Committee.

Annual Report Filing
S-2938 (Turner)/A-4699 (Moriarty)

The NJSBA is generally supportive of this bill, which requires non-governmental entities providing annual report filing services to make certain disclosures when soliciting clients. The NJSBA asked for a friendly amendment to include in the definitions “non-profit corporations” so they are also protected from organizations that prey on business entities to charge more than the cost to file fees directly through the Department of Treasury. The bill requires certain disclosures and prohibits false representations that a recipient of an email is legally required to use its services in order to file an annual report. The bill passed the Senate Commerce Committee with the amendment.