Senate committee releases bill prohibiting credit card surcharges at retail stores

TRENTON – Retail merchants could be prohibited from imposing surcharges on credit card purchases.

Senate lawmakers released legislation from committee Monday that would prohibit surcharges on consumer credit purchases. The proposal, S2533, cleared the Senate Commerce Committee following a vote split along party lines.

Retail lobbying groups – including the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association – largely referred to the legislation as a solution to a problem that does not exist, explaining lawmakers would be hard-pressed to find a retailer willing to place surcharges on credit card purchases.

The groups argued the larger issue of ever-increasing “hidden charges” by credit card companies and banks on retailers is the area in which lawmakers should push for real reform.

The bill was opposed by Senate Republicans, who argued they could not support the bill in its present form because of the restrictions it could place on small businesses.

Public adjusters

The committee also released a proposal, S2472, that would establish compensation caps for public adjusters.

The bill would cap compensation at 10 percent of the amount of insurance claim payments made by the insurer for claims based on events that are the result of certain emergencies, according to the bill.

The bill defines special emergencies, referred to as a “catastrophic loss occurrence,” as an occurrence designated by the president of the U.S., the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the governor of New Jersey or the State Office of Emergency Management in the Division of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety.

The bill was opposed by public adjuster advocates, who argued the proposal would ultimately harm consumers because it would limit incentives for public adjusters to take certain jobs. They argued the industry self regulates itself because of the “law of competition” among public adjusters.

The bill cleared the committee with bipartisan support.

Additional items

The Senate Commerce Committee also took action on several other proposals:

S2363 would require home improvement contractors to display state-issued identification badges.

The bill cleared the committee following a unanimous vote.

S2034/A2882 would require professional boards to provide waivers or exemptions from requirements for licensure for veterans with substantially equivalent training.

The bill cleared the committee with unanimous support.

S2502/A3642 would require homeowner insurance consumer information brochures to contain one-page summaries of policies. Senate committee releases bill prohibiting credit card surcharges at retail stores