Capitol Report

Capitol Report


January 17, 2022

Flurry of bills await governor’s signature

On the final day of the lame duck session that ended last week, the Legislature moved a number of bills that will change the practice of law in certain areas.

Refunds as property tax credits

The New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) initially opposed A-862 (Chiaravalloti)/S-926 (Pennacchio), which permits municipalities to refund excess property taxes paid by a ­taxpayer who wins an assessment appeal as a tax credit. As written, the bill also applied to residential properties. The governor conditionally vetoed the bill to remove residential properties and to make the refund by way of property tax credits refundable only to nonresidential real property over a three-year period. This would apply to refunds exceeding $100,000. The NJSBA worked with the sponsors on amended language. The bill will take effect immediately upon the governor’s signature.

Domestic violence training

A series of bills were introduced to mandate domestic violence training for certain municipal prosecutors and for judges, law enforcement and assistant county prosecutors. The NJSBA supported these measures as an extension of recommendations of the 2016 report from the Supreme Court Ad Hoc Committee on Domestic Violence. The NJSBA supports S-396 (Weinberg)/A-1763 (Munoz) and S-384 (Weinberg)/A-1964 (Stanley). These bills await the governor’s signature.

Personal injury/wrongful death calculations of earnings capacity

The NJSBA supports the amended S-3594 (Singleton)/A-5509 (Zwicker), which provides that in personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits, any estimations, measures, or calculations of damages for lost earnings or impaired earning capacity shall not be reduced because of certain characteristics. The NJSBA recommended amendments to include race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, or affectional or sexual orientation, as those terms are defined or interpreted under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

Standing in wrongful death/survivorship actions

The Legislature voted favorably on a bill that would allow certain persons to pursue a lawsuit for damages for wrongful death on behalf of the deceased’s survivors. S-4251 (Scutari)/ A-6133 (Bramnick) was drafted to address the holding in Chandler v. Kasper, Docket No. A-2143-20, decided on Oct. 7, 2021, in which the Appellate Division invalidated a lawsuit under the Survivor’s Act because the decedent’s daughter did not have standing. The bill allows the court to appoint an individual as an administrator or administrator ad prosequendum, even if the person was not yet appointed as such at the time the person filed the lawsuit. The NJSBA supports the bill with a caution that the probate process be followed to ensure that the appropriate person has been appointed. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

Daniel’s Law—Office of Information Privacy

As a follow up to Daniel’s Law, which protects from publication on the internet the personal information of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement, the Legislature voted favorably on S-4219 (Cryan)/A-6171 (Quijano). The bill requires, upon request, redaction and nondisclosure of home address of those individuals and their family members living in the same household. The NJSBA worked with stakeholders on a similar bill and supports this measure as an effort to implement Daniel’s Law. The Association pledges to work with the newly created Office of Information Privacy within the Department of Community Affairs to ensure that the program is workable and addresses concerns of judges, including a reporting mechanism to let the person know if their information has been compromised. The governor signed this bill last week.

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.