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February 17, 2012

Re: I.   Recap of Assembly Voting Session
II.  S-768, Changes to Marriage/Civil Union License Issuance and Fees
III. S-199, Protecting the Privacy of Accident Victims

Dear Mayor:

I.          Recap of Assembly Voting Session

At yesterday’s Assembly Session action was taken on the following bills of interest:

A-755, which revises notice requirements by CATV companies for changes to station channel positions to be consistent with federal law, passed the Assembly.  The bill, which the League supports, now waits consideration in the Senate.

A-1666, which allows property taxpayers an additional 90 days to file tax appeal after revaluation, passed the Assembly 71-2-1.  The League opposes A-1666.  The change from 45 days to 90 days to file a tax appeal after revaluation is unnecessary.  It would only exacerbate the appeal process with frivolous filings based on tax increases, not valuation concerns.  This bill also now awaits consideration in the Senate.

II.        S-768, Changes to Marriage/Civil Union License Issuance and Fees

S-768, which changes the requirements and increases fees for marriage licenses and civil union licenses and provides for annulments without cause, has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and was referred to the Senate Budget Appropriation committee.   The League of Municipalities supports the intention of S-768, which is to spur economic development by making New Jersey a wedding destination.  However, we have some implementation concerns with S-768.

Currently a marriage/civil union license costs $28.  The fee is shared between the municipality, which receives $3, and the Department of Human Services which receives $25.  A-4366 proposes to increase the fee to $60, with $30 to the Department of Human Services, $8 to the municipality and $22 to the State’s General Fund.  While we support the increase fee to the Department of Human Services we question why a new fee is being created for the State’s General Fund especially when the State’s involvement in issuing a license is very limited.  In fact the State has minimum involvement in the issuing of the license until after the marriage/civil union has taken place.

As a practical matter, we are also concerned that the license “shall be issued by a licensing officer at the time the application is made.”  Given the time needed to process the necessary paperwork to issue the license we have suggested that the language be changed to “….at the time the application is made, as soon as practical but no later than close of business day”.

IIII.     S-199, Protecting the Privacy of Accident Victims

S-199, which would protect the privacy of accident victims and other persons receiving emergency medical services from first responders, was released from the Senate Law and Public Safety committee with amendments.

S-199 provides that any first responder who takes one or more photographs or electronic images or makes a video recording of an accident victim or other person receiving emergency medical services and distributes, disseminates, or otherwise makes available through any means such photographs, images, or video recording to members of the public without the prior written consent of the accident victim or person receiving emergency medical services, or the victim’s or person’s next-of-kin if the victim or person cannot provide consent, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. A fourth degree crime is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, or a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months, or both.

The League of Municipalities supports passage of this bill.  We believe this is a simple matter of common sense and common decency.  The bill will still provide for the ability for our first responders to learn from accident and medical scenes but will protect the privacy of the victims.

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

 

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