Assembly approves bills dealing with human trafficking, animal cruelty, more

TRENTON – The Assembly approved legislation that would put restrictions on people convicted of animal cruelty.

A3303, was passed following a 72-3 vote with two abstentions.

The bill prohibits animal cruelty violators from owning pets and from working at animal-related enterprises.

Amendments state that the court will determine the length of time a violator cannot own a pet. This bill was drafted in response to an incident that took place in July 2012, when a dog named Moose jumped a fence at his Delran home and was missing for over a month before a woman – a self-proclaimed dog trainer – returned his dead body to the owners, claiming she had found him dead along the road.

It has been alleged, however, that the woman actually found the dog alive and kidnapped it, giving it to another set of owners in Pennsylvania and contracting with the new owners to train the dog.  The woman then allegedly left the dog in a hot car, causing his death.

Canceling residential mortgages

A3053, passed 48-26-3.

The bill provides an alternative to the current methods of canceling residential mortgages of record upon satisfaction, in order to provide relief to an entitled person, without requiring the expense of a court proceeding. 

The bill allows someone to use this alternative method in situations in which a mortgage has been paid in full, and the mortgagee has not submitted the mortgage to be canceled of record as required.

Fishing licenses for disabled persons

A2953, passed 76-0.

The bill provides totally disabled persons with discount on fishing license fees.

The general fee is $21.50, but persons above the age of 70, blind persons, active members of the National Guard, and disabled veterans are exempted from this fee. 

In addition, a discounted fee of $11.50 is provided to persons between the ages of 65 and 70.  This bill would extend the discounted fee of $11.50 to totally disabled persons as well.

Identity theft victims

A3005, passed 75-0.

The bill requires debt collectors to cease debt collections against victims of identity theft.

Among amendments is a change of the number of days, from 30 to 45, within which a consumer needs to send a written statement to a debt collector informing them that the consumer claims to be the victim of identity theft.

Also, the bill removed a provision that would subject a consumer to penalties for instituting a legal proceeding alleging a violation of the bill that is found to be without merit.

Neighborhood revitalization state tax credit

A3206, passed 70-5.

This bill expands the availability of the neighborhood revitalization state tax credit to include gross income taxpayers and increases the annual total amount of tax credits allowable from $10 million to $15 million.

It passed the Assembly and Senate but was conditionally vetoed last month.

Gov. Chris Christie said in his veto message that the bill was “passed outside of the annual budget process and would create a $5 million negative impact on state revenues,” adding it “represents a return to the ill-advised fiscal practices of the past.”

Scrap metal businesses

A3222, passed 48-21-7.

This bill requires scrap metal businesses to maintain, for at least five years, a record of all receipts or purchases, instead of only for those purchases in excess of 100 pounds or $50. 

This bill also requires that scrap metal businesses pay by check, not cash.

An amendment removed a provision that the business had to send copies of all records to the appropriate law enforcement agency at the close of each business day. 

Another amendment provides an exception allowing scrap metal businesses to pay for scrap metal in cash to the person delivering the scrap metal only if a photograph and an ink or digital impression of the thumb of the person delivering the scrap metal are recorded and maintained for five years.

New Jersey Social Impact Bond Act

A3289, passed 58-17-1.

This bill, known as the “New Jersey Social Impact Bond Act,” directs the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to administer a five-year social impact bond pilot program and study commission. 

Social impact bonds raise funds from non-government investors to pay for the provision of a service, and if the service improves financial and social outcomes, investors receive payments from the state.

Under amendments, loan amounts are not to exceed $3 million per year or $15 million in the aggregate over the five-year pilot program period.

Human trafficking

A3352, passed 75-0.

The bill revises and expands the state’s human trafficking law by creating a new human trafficking commission, criminalizing additional activities related to human trafficking as well as upgrading certain penalties on existing human trafficking.

The Assembly passed it once, and the Senate passed an amended version this week.

Gestating sow

A3250/S1921, passed 59-5-11.

The bill makes cruel confinement of a gestating sow a disorderly persons offense. 

The bill defines cruel confinement as crating, confining, or tethering a sow in a manner that prevents the gestating sow from being able to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, or fully extend its limbs.

Amendments provide exceptions for veterinary and medical care or transportation.

Other amendments extend the animal husbandry confinement exemption from six hours to no more than eight hours in any 24-hour period; and extend the proper care exemption from seven to 10 days prior to the expected date of the animal giving birth.

The Opioid Antidote and Overdoes Prevention Act

A3095/S2082, passed 68-8.

The “Opioid Antidote and Overdose Prevention Act” provides immunity for health care professionals in prescribing naloxone or any similar drug approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of an opioid overdose. For persons other than health care professionals, the bill’s immunity would only apply if the action was taken during an emergency, and the person believed in good faith that another person was experiencing an opioid overdose.

Physician workforce data

A2905/S1336, passed 64-11-2

The bill establishes in the Department of Health and Senior Services a central repository for data relevant to current and future physician workforce needs in the state. 

It requires that physicians complete a survey developed by the Department of Health, in collaboration with the State Board of Medical Examiners, as a condition of retaining their license to practice in New Jersey.

Library fees

A2971/S1358, passed 75-0.

This bill provides a mechanism for the dissolution of municipal free public libraries due to budget issues or reduced usage. 

This addresses a judicial decision of the Passaic County Superior Court which held that there was no such mechanism in New Jersey.

Under the bill, the governing body could adopt an ordinance requiring the submission of a public question that would then be placed on the ballot.

New Jersey Racing Commission

A3326/S1645, passed 66-8-2

This eliminates post-employment restrictions for members and employees of New Jersey Racing Commission.

Under current law, members and employees of the New Jersey Racing Commission are prohibited from holding any direct or indirect interest in a permit or license issued by the commission for a period of two years immediately following termination of employment. 

Assembly approves bills dealing with human trafficking, animal cruelty, more