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August 19, 2014

Re: Weekly Summer Update
I. New Law Gives Municipalities Tool to Deal with Abandoned Properties
II. A-445/S-601- Exempts from OPRA Personal Identifying Information Provided for Emergency Notification
III. Governor Signs “The Opportunity to Compete Act”

Dear Mayor:

I.   New Law Gives Municipalities Tool to Deal with Abandoned Properties

On Monday, the Governor signed into law PL 2014, c. 35.   This legislation, S-1229, which the League supported, permits municipalities to adopt ordinances to regulate the care, maintenance, security, and upkeep of vacant residential properties on which a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose has been filed.   The new law will also requires out-of-State creditors, after being served a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a residential property, to designate an in-State person or entity to be responsible for the care, maintenance, security, and upkeep of the property.  This law took effect on August 11, 2014. Contact:  Mike Cerra at mcerra@njslom.com or 609-695-3481 x120.

II. OPRA Exemption for Personal Identifying Information Provided for Emergency Notification

A-445 and S-601, which the League supports, are companion bills that would exempt from disclosure as public record personal identifying information provided to a government agency for the sole purpose of receiving emergency notification purposes.  Personal identifying information includes, but is not limited to, the name, e-mail address and phone number. 

In a  March 2010 Law Division case, Geier v. Plumsted, the judge ruled that a list of e-mail addresses maintained by a municipality is subject to the Open Public Records Act.  Although the Judge in that case pointed out that a newsletter e-mail is different from an emergency notification e-mail, he did not carve an exemption for emergency only emails, nor has any other court.

Citizens provide information to the government, but expect their personal information to be used for legitimate governmental purposes, not to be made available to anyone who wants to target them for advertising or other purposes.

We all agree that government records should be readily accessible and transparent but there must be an appropriate balance between the need for openness and transparency in government and citizens’ reasonable expectation of privacy.  A-445/S-601 is a step in the right direction.  Without this legislation we are concerned that residents will be discouraged from signing up for emergency notifications, because their information would become open to the public.

In June, A-445 unanimously passed the Assembly.  It’s companion, S-601, awaits consideration by the full Senate.  Please contact your State Senate and urge them to vote yes on S-601.
Contact: Lori Buckelew at lbuckelew@njslom.com or 609-695-3481 x112.

III. Governor Signs “The Opportunity to Compete Act”

On Monday, the Governor signed into law PL 2014, c. 32.   The new law prohibits employers, including municipalities,  which over 20 calendar weeks employ at least 15 employees  from inquiring on applicants for employment criminal record during the “initial employment application process”.  The law defines “initial employment application process” as the period beginning when an applicant from employment first makes an inquiry to an employer about a prospective employment position/job vacancy and ending when an employer has conducted a first interview, whether in person or by other means, of an applicant for employment. 

The law also prohibits advertisement for employment that specifically provides that an employer will not consider any applicant who has been arrested or convicted for one or more crimes or offenses. 

The new law does not apply to applicants applying for a position in law enforcement, corrections, judiciary, homeland security, emergency management or any other employment position where a criminal history record background check is required by law or regulation as well as where an arrest or conviction of the applicant would or may preclude the person from holding such employment as required by law or regulation.

Finally, the law prohibits the adoption of an ordinance or resolution regarding criminal histories in the employment context, except for ordinances adopted to regulate municipal operations.  The new law preempts any ordinance or resolution adopted by municipality prior to the effective date of this law regarding criminal histories in the employment context, except for ordinances adopted to regulate municipal operations.

The new law takes effect March 1, 2015.  We strongly advise you to review this new law with you labor attorney.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

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