Passed in Senate: Credit card surcharge prohibitions, release of sex offender info, more

TRENTON – The Senate passed numerous bills Thursday, including measures dealing with dropout prevention, command structures in fire department mutual aid pacts, release of sex offender information, and credit card surcharges. 

S109: Passed 36-0. Requires drug test specimens from treatment clinics to be analyzed by independent clinical laboratory.

The intent  is to ensure impartial, independent test results for specimens from patients in methadone and other drug treatment programs.

The bill will restore the original purpose of drug testing, to provide an objective measure of treatment efficiency and to monitor patient compliance, and will deter the kind of overcharges for drug testing by treatment programs that were identified by the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General in 2009 in connection with seven opiate treatment clinics that fraudulently billed the Medicaid program for some $3.5 million.

S134: Passed 34-1. Establishes the Office of Dropout Prevention and Re-engagement of Out-of-School Youth in the Department of Education, and the Student Dropout Prevention Task Force.

The Office would collaborate with school districts in the development of a statewide strategic plan to address the problem of student dropouts.

S1034: Passed 37-0 This bill requires the Division of Developmental Disabilities to study how to enable persons to create placement trusts, possibly with pre-tax funds, for the benefit of individuals with developmental disabilities.

S1397/A2593: Passed 36-0 This bill clarifies that each town’s local fire mutual aid plan must include a proposed command structure that would afford appropriate command support for the designated battalion chief or incident commander.  The bill specifically requires that battalion and deputy chiefs be included as part of the county fire mutual aid plan.

The idea is to have a clear chain of command in place when different companies respond to a fire.

S1415: Passed 36-0 This establishes a Helmets to Hardhats pilot program in the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to help returning armed services veterans find work in construction industries.

Gov. Chris Christie had vetoed an earlier version, and urged in part that the bill go further by requiring the Authority to have benchmarks for veteran hiring by contractors who work with the Authority.

S1645: Passed 35-0 This permits former members and employees of the N.J. Racing Commission to work for a Commission licensee if the State Ethics Commission finds no conflict of interest.

The amended bill permits a Commission member  to hold a direct or indirect interest in any applicant for  a permit or license issued within two years after ending employment with the commission.

S1681/A2555: Passed 37-0 This permits the Motor Vehicle Commission to waive certain skills tests for applicants with military experience operating commercial motor vehicles.

S1912: Passed 36-0 Under this bill, public and nonpublic schools would require any student in grades six to 12 have a medical examination prior to participation on a school-sponsored interscholastic or intramural athletic team or squad. 

S1946/A2131: Passed 37-0 This authorizes the release of sex offender registration information to the Department of Human Services and county welfare agencies. This would expand some of the parameters of Megan’s Law under which such information is available to law enforcement agencies.

S2034/A2882: Passed 36-0 Requires professional boards to provide waivers from requirements for licensure for veterans with substantially equivalent training.

S2042: Passed 37-0 Authorizes the state Treasurer to sell as surplus property the 11.7-acre Eagle Manor in Fairfield in Cumberland County.

Eagle Manor is a residential estate surrounded by the Dix Wildlife Management Area.  Additional state land surrounding the property is agricultural and used  for asparagus production. 

Eagle Manor LLC will pay the state $612,001 for the subject property as a result of a public auction.

S2057: Passed 36-0 This bill, “The Anti-Big Brother Act,” requires a school district that furnishes a student with a laptop computer to provide the student with written notice that it may record information on the student’s activity.

A school district that fails to provide the written notification required by this bill would be subject to a fine of $250 per student. Fines would go into a fund to help provide laptops for at-risk students.

S2082: Passed 36-0 This bill establishes the “Opioid Antidote and Overdose Prevention Act.” It provides immunity, both civil and criminal for health care professionals and other persons involved in prescribing, dispensing, or administering naloxone or any similarly acting drug approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of an opioid overdose. 

S2092: Passed 35-0 Creates certain new criminal offenses aimed at theft from carriers. The bill declares such thefts a growing crime throughout the nation, and states the FBI has estimated $6 billion a year is lost in such thefts.

The bill is dubbed the Lt. Scott Jenkins Law. Jenkins, who passed away in 2003, was a founding member of the State Police Cargo Theft and Robbery Unit.

S2326/A3123: Passed 34-1 Revises law concerning derivative proceedings and shareholder class actions.

Under the bill, the regulations governing such proceedings are applicable only if the certificate of incorporation makes it applicable. 

The bill raises the value of plaintiffs’ shareholdings required to avoid the need to post security for a fee award, which had not been increased since 1968, to $250,000. 

 Current law provides that a shareholder cannot commence a derivative proceeding unless the shareholder was a shareholder of the corporation at the time of the act or omission complained of or became a shareholder through transfer by operation of law from one who was a shareholder at that time.

The bill retains this requirement and adds to it the requirement that the shareholder remain a shareholder throughout the derivative proceeding.

The bill also provides that a shareholder may not maintain a derivative proceeding unless the suit fairly and adequately represents the interests of the corporation in enforcing the right of the corporation.

S2327/A3050: Passed 34-1 Allows corporate shareholder meeting participation by remote communication and clarifies remedies for dissenting shareholders.

S2328/A3049: Passed 35-1 Allows certain business combinations between resident domestic corporations and interested stockholders.

S2366: Passed 35-0 This bill establishes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training Provider Demonstration Project in the Department of Human Services (DHS).

DHS would form partnerships with non-profits and other agencies to expand job-placement efforts.  Sponsor Sen. Ray Lesniak said in a committee hearing that New Jersey is losing out on millions of dollars in federal job training money.  

Fifty percent of an agency’s project expenditures could be reimbursed.

According to the bill, introduced last December, the number of SNAP recipients in New Jersey has doubled since 2007, to over 825,000 children and adults, as a result of the recession.

S2399: Passed 24-8. This bill provides for the immediate issuance of marriage and civil union licenses at the time an  application is made, except for those under the age of 18. The bill seeks to abolish the 72-hour waiting period as being outdated.

S2413/A3270: 36-0 Requires the Commissioner of Education to develop a career exploration report for students in grades 8 through 12.

S2483: Passed 37-0 This bill establishes a New Jersey Workforce Development and Education Commission.  The commission will develop a report identifying policies that will improve the ability of the state’s schools and public institutions of higher education to meet the demands of tomorrow’s employers. The commission will submit its report to the Governor, the Senate Higher Education Committee, and the Assembly Higher Education Committee. 

S2533: Passed 31-4. This bill prohibits retailers from imposing a surcharge on consumers for the use of a credit card.

SCR134: Passed 22-15 Expresses the Legislature’s objection to certain recommendations included in the Governor’s Educational Adequacy Report, in particular changing funding regulations that would reduce “weights’’ given to help funding for at-risk students.

SR21: Passed on voice vote Urges Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the N.J Marine Fisheries Council to establish new artificial reefs for commercial fishing.

Passed in Senate: Credit card surcharge prohibitions, release of sex offender info, more