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Mar 18

Senate to Consider COVID-19 Bill Package

Posted on March 18, 2020 at 1:22 PM by Legislative Staff

On Thursday the Senate will consider the COVID-19 bill package passed by the Assembly earlier this week. Below is a summary of the bill package.

Municipal Concerns:

A-3095/S-1982 - Provides county clerks with additional week to mail ballots for 2020 primary election.

  • County clerks provided with an additional week to proof, print, prepare, and mail vote by mail ballots.
  • Military and overseas ballots must still be mailed by April 18, 2020.
  • The additional week provided by this bill will only apply to the 2020 primary election.

A-3849/S-2302 - Modifies deadline by which public agency is required to respond to request for government record during period of emergency.

  • Only applicable during a period of a declared State of Emergency, Public Health Emergency, or State of Local Disaster Emergency.
  • The seven business day or soon as possible deadline to respond to Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests does not apply.
  • The records custodian must make reasonable effort, as the circumstance permit, to respond to an OPRA request within the seven business day or soon as possible deadline.

A-3850/S-2294 - Allows public bodies to conduct meetings by electronic means during periods of emergency.

  • Permissible only during a declared State of Emergency, Public Health Emergency or State of Local Disaster Emergency.
  • Permits a public body to perform any of the following by electronic means:
    • conduct a meeting and any public business,
    • cause a meeting to be open to the public,
    • vote, or
    • receive public comment.
    • Will not violate the Open Public Meetings Act.
    • Adequate notice of meeting can be by electronic notice
      • When using this option, to the extent practicable, the public business should be limited to matters necessary for the continuing operation of government related to the emergency.
      • Department of Community Affairs and State Board of Education, for boards of education, must adopt regulations.
      • Does not rescind N.J.S.A. 10:4-10(b), emergency meeting provision.

A-3851/S-2295- Extends deadlines for adoption of county and municipal budgets under certain circumstances.

  • Current law allows the Director of Local Government Services to extend the deadlines for approval and adoption of county and municipal budgets, only with approval of the Local Finance Board.
  • This bill would permit, during a declared State of Emergency or Public Health Emergency, the Director of the Division of Local Government Services to unilaterally extend the statutory dates for introduction and approval of county and municipal budget without needing approval by Local Finance Board.

A-3847/S-2285 - Provides paid leave without utilizing accumulated leave for local government employees under certain circumstances.

  • Local government employees will not be required to use accumulated leave time and receive full pay if within three days of an initial absence that the employee is
    • diagnosed or caring for an immediate family member diagnosed with COVID-19;
    • directed by a medical professional or government agency to self-isolate or quarantine due to a suspicion of exposure to or diagnosis with COVID-19;
    • undergoing a period of self-quarantine or isolation pursuant to public health assessment recommendations or caring for an immediate family member;
    • staying home with a child due to a COVID-19 closure of
      • a preschool program,
      • elementary or secondary school, or
      • child care center .
      • Must provide documentation.
      • If documentation is not provided the employee must use their accumulated leave.
      • An employee that was previously subject to documentation requirements due to excessive absenteeism or abuse of sick leave shall not be disciplined for future absences that occur as a result of this legislation.
      • Retroactive to March 9, 2020. 

A-3863 – Extends petition filing deadline by two weeks for all candidates, and waives signature requirements for candidates for party office, for 2020 primary election.

  • Extends petition filing deadline by two weeks for all candidates.
  • Waives signature requirements for candidates for party office.
  • Applies to only the 2020 primary election.
  • Under current law, candidates for county committee are required to comply with the number of signatures required under current law, and in the by-laws of the party.
    • This bill would waive the signature requirements for candidates for party office, but would require their nominating petitions to have at least one signature.
    •  Under current law, candidates are required to submit their petitions to the municipal clerk, county clerk, or Secretary of State, as the case may be, before 4:00 PM of the 64th day next preceding the primary election (March 30, 2020).
      • This bill provides that, for the 2020 primary election, such petitions may contain fewer than the number of voter signatures required by law, provided the candidate filing such petition submits the remaining number of required signatures not later than 8:00 AM on the 50th day preceding the 2020 primary election (April 13, 2020).
      • The municipal clerk, county clerk, and Secretary of State, as the case may be, would certify such petitions by the close of business on that same day.
      • Normally, certifications by the municipal clerks and the Secretary of State occur not later than the 54th day before the primary election (April 9, 2020), or by the county clerk on the 53rd day (April 10, 2020).

School Concerns:

A-3813/S-2027 - Permits use of virtual or remote instruction to meet minimum 180-day school year requirement under certain circumstances

  • Applies to a school district, county vocational school district, county special services school district or approved private school for students with disabilities.
  • Required to close for more than three consecutive school days due to declared State of Emergency
  • Commissioner of Education must allow the district to apply to one or more virtual or remote instruction to 180 day requirement.
  • The virtual or remote instruction must meet the criteria established by the Commissioner of Education.
  • The district must annually submit their proposed program to the Commissioner of Education, however, to meet the current COVID-19 the Commissioner may retroactively approve the program.
  • A day of virtual or remote instruction is equivalent to a full day of school attendance. Commissioner of Education must define virtual and remote instruction and establish guidelines.
  • The guideline must include
    • providing instruction to students who may not have access to a computer, technology, or sufficient broadband and
    • the impact of virtual or remote instruction on the school breakfast and lunch programs.

A-3839 – Makes supplemental appropriation of up to $20 million from General Fund to DOE to support school facility cleaning and sanitization.

  • $20 million from General Fund to Department of Education to school districts, charter schools, and nonpublic schools.
  • To support increasing the frequency and intensity of the cleaning and sanitizing of school facilities.
  • Written directive by either the New Jersey Department of Health or the health officer of the jurisdiction due to suspected exposure to the COVID-19 epidemic.
  • Funds will be used for the purchase of disinfectants and other cleaning supplies, and for any increase in personnel costs associated with the enhanced cleaning schedule.
  • Allocation of funds will be in proportion to the number of students enrolled compared to the total number of students enrolled in all school districts, and charter schools and nonpublic schools that have reported their enrollment to the commissioner.

A-3840/S-2281 - Requires school districts to provide school meals or meal vouchers to students eligible for free and reduced price school meals during school closures due to COVID-19 epidemic.

  • In event the school is closed due to the recent COVID-19 epidemic the school district must implement a program during the school closure to provide school meals to all students enrolled in the district who are eligible for free and reduced price school lunch and breakfast programs.
  • The district must identify one or more school meal distribution sites that are walkable and easily accessible to the students in the district.
  • In collaboration with the county and municipal government, a school meal distribution site may include, but is not limited to,
    • faith based locations,
    • community centers and
    • locations where summer meals are available.
    • In high density housing locations the district must make every effort to identify a school meal distribution site in that housing area.
    • If students are not in walking distance to a school meal distribution site the school district must distribute the school meals to the student’s residence or bus stop up to a total of three school days’ worth of food per delivery.
    • School district can use their own buses or as an exemption to the Public School Contracts law contract out buses for the distribution of school meals.
    • In the event the school district is unable to provide school means they must establish a food voucher system to provide funds to enable students’ access to nutritious food at retail food stores.
    • The state is responsible for any cost not reimbursed by the federal government incurred by the school district.

A-3842/S-2282 – Establishes Bridging the Digital Divide in Schools Grant Program in DOE to provide and expand access to technology and equipment for students in certain school districts.

  • Establishes Grant Program in Department of Education.
  • Provides and expand access to technology and equipment, such as laptops, tablets, hot spot access devices, and other electronic mobile devices.
  • For students who do not have the means to purchase such items or who do not have access to the Internet at home.
  • A grant received by a school district, charter school, renaissance school, or nonpublic school must be specifically used for the purchase of, or for reimbursement of the school district’s or school’s purchase of, technology and technological equipment.

Individual Citizen and Business Concerns:

A-3841/S-2300 - Extends time to file gross income tax or corporation business tax return by one month.

  • Following an IRS determination to extend the filing or payment due date, or both.
  • Applies to taxpayers required to make and file an annual or quarterly return under the New Jersey Gross Income Tax Act or Corporation Business Tax Act.
  • Automatic extension to coincide with the federal extension date, however, the extended date will be no later than June 30, 2020.
  • A taxpayer will not be subject to penalties or interest if the return is filed by the end of the extension.

A-3844 - Concerns business interruption insurance during coronavirus disease 2019 state of emergency.

  • Every insurance policy insuring against loss or damage of property, which includes the loss of use and occupancy and business interruption in force in effect on March 9, 2020 is construed to include among the covered perils under that policy, coverage for business interruption due to COVID-19.
  • This coverage shall indemnify the insured, subject to policy limits, for any loss of business or business interruption during the declared state of emergency.
  • Applies to businesses covered by such a policy with less than 100 eligible employees in the State of New Jersey.
  • An "eligible employee" is defined as a full-time employee who works a normal work week of 25 or more hours.
  • Provides that an insurer which indemnifies an insured who has filed a claim pursuant to its provisions may apply to the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance for relief and reimbursement.
  • Establishes a special purpose assessment impose upon, distribute among, and collect from insurance companies, other than life and health insurance companies, the additional amounts as may be necessary to recover the amounts paid under this legislation.
  • The additional special purpose apportionment authorized by the legislation must be distributed according to essentially the same procedures and calculations as are provided currently for the existing special purpose apportionment.

A-3845/S-2284 - Expands EDA small business loan program to include small businesses negatively affected by certain epidemics

  • Authorizes the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to provide grants during periods of emergency declared by the Governor, for the duration of economic disruptions due to the emergency.
  • Extends the uses for funds in the Economic Recovery Fund and provides that EDA may extend NJ Grow Projects, if project delay is a result of economic hardship as a result of the state of emergency.

A-3865/S-2291 – Limits return of items purchased from retail food stores under certain circumstances.

  • To inhibit the further spread of COVID-19 and protect public health
  • Makes it unlawful for any retail food store to accept the return of groceries and other foodstuff purchased during and 30 days following the COVID-19 State of Emergency
  • At their discretion a retail food store may accept the return of groceries and other foodstuff if it determines they are unsafe for use or defective. Such returned goods cannot be offered for resale.
  • Defines “groceries and other foodstuff” as dairy products, meats and delicatessen products, produce products, seafood products, carbonated beverages, coffee and other beverages, snack foods, candy products, baked products, paper products, household cleaning items, health and beauty products, frozen foods, pet foods and supplies, and any other edible product not previously listed.
  • Defines “retail food store” as any retail establishment where groceries and other foodstuffs are regularly and customarily sold in a bona fide manner for off-premise consumptions

A-3846/S-2293 – Creates “Temporary Lost Wage Unemployment Program;” allows persons to claim for lost wages due to coronavirus disease 2019, and employers to pay wages to workers ordered under quarantine by licensed healthcare practitioner; appropriates $20,000,000.

  • Creates a temporary program within the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to be known as the “Temporary Lost Wage Unemployment Program.” 
  • The purpose of the program is to provide relief to individuals who have lost wages as a result of COVID-19 outbreak and to employers who pay wages to workers who are ordered under quarantine by a licensed healthcare provider.
  • To qualify for payment from this fund employees must have lost wages as a result of missing work to care for a family member; the employee’s own sickness; the employer being closed; or missing work to care for a child after their school or childcare facility was closed, all related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • No individual shall receive benefits from the Program for any period or wages for which the individual receives unemployment compensation. 

A-3848/S-2301 – Concerns time off from work in connections with infectious disease.

  • Prohibits an employer, during the Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency declared by the Governor in Executive Order 103 of 2020, from terminating or refusing to reinstate an employee if the employee requests or takes time off from work based on a recommendation from a licensed medical professional to do so as a result of COVID-19.
  • This would seemingly apply to all employers, including municipal employers.
  • There is a $2,500 penalty for an employer that violates the provisions of this bill.

A-3864/S-2299 – Authorizes Notaries Public to perform certain notarial acts remotely.

  • Permits notaries to perform certain notarial acts remotely, using communication technology, provided certain requirements are met.
  • Requirements include increased verification of identification for the individual and maintaining a record of the communication between the notary and the individual.
  • Notary acts being performed using communication technology must be so noted on the record to be notarized.
  • The notary must maintain the record for a period of 10 years.

A-3861/S-2290 – Permits corporations to hold shareholders’ meeting in part or solely by means of remote communication during state of emergency.

  • Permits corporations to hold shareholders' meetings in part or solely by means of remote communication. 
  • During a State of Emergency declared by the Governor, a meeting of shareholders may be held by means of remote communication to the extent the board authorizes and adopts guidelines and procedures governing such a meeting.
  • Shareholders participating in a meeting of shareholders by means of remote communication are deemed to be present in person and are entitled to vote at the meeting, regardless of whether the meeting is held at a designated place or solely by means of remote communication.

A-3862/S-2298 – Permits professional and occupational licensing boards to expedite licensure of certain individuals during state of emergency or public health emergency.

  • Allows the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety, with the approval of the Attorney General, to expedite the professional and occupational licensing process for out-of-state individuals when the Governor has declared a state of emergency.
  • To qualify for the expedited process the individual applicant must have a corresponding license, certificate of registration or certification in good standing from another jurisdiction. 
  • The ability to expedite applications means the Division of Consumer Affairs has the authority to waive certain requirements such as criminal history record background check and payment of certain fees. 

Health Issues:

A-3843/S-2283 - Requires health insurance and Medicaid coverage for testing and treatment of coronavirus disease 2019.

  • Requires health insurance carriers (health, hospital and medical service corporations, health maintenance organizations and insurance companies), the State and School Employees’ Health Benefits Programs (SEHBP)  and the State Medicaid program, to provide coverage for expenses incurred in:
    • the testing for COVID-19, provided that a licensed medical practitioner has issued a medical order for that testing; and
    • the delivery of health care services through telemedicine or telehealth in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 45:1-61 et seq.
    • The requirements remain in effect during the Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency declared by the Governor in Executive Order 103 of 2020.
    • Requires the coverage to be provided to the same extent as for any other services under the health benefits plan, except that no cost-sharing may be imposed on the coverage provided pursuant to the bill.

A-3860/S-2289 - Facilitates use of telemedicine and telehealth to respond to health emergencies.

  • Provides that, for the duration of the public health emergency declared in response to the COVID-19, any health care practitioner will be authorized to provide and bill for services using telemedicine and telehealth, regardless of whether rules and regulations concerning the practice of telemedicine and telehealth have been adopted.
  • The services authorized under the bill will include the full range of services set forth in the definitions of telemedicine and telehealth pursuant to N.J.S.A. 45:1-61 that are appropriate under the standard of care. 

A-3854/S-2286 - Authorizes licensed health care facilities and laboratories to develop and administer coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tests.

  • Provides that, for the duration of the public health emergency declared in connection with the COVID-19, all licensed health care facilities and clinical laboratories will be authorized to collect specimens for the purposes of testing for COVID-19.
  • Commissioner of Health is expressly authorized, during a public health emergency, to waive mandatory staffing ratio requirements for health care facilities.

A-3856/S-2297 – Makes FY 2020 supplemental appropriations of $10 million for residential facility due to coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak.

  • Provides financial assistance to health care and residential facilities in meeting the sanitation demands imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The appropriation is being made out of the General Fund.
  • Facilities eligible for funds include:
    • Nursing homes; long-term care facilities’ Programs of All-inclusive Case for the Elderly, or PACE facilities; retirement centers; senior centers; intermediate care facilities; State developmental centers; group homes for individuals with medical needs; State psychiatric hospitals; post-acute rehabilitation centers; medical day care centers; residential school for children with complex medical needs; group homes for individuals with mental health, substance use, or behavioral conditions; and homeless shelters.
    • The Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting, in collaboration with Commissioners of Health, Human Services, Children and Families, and Community Affairs shall determine the methodology for allocation of the funds to applicable facilities.

A-3855/S-2287 – Requires food access information be displayed on websites of 2-1-1 system and executive branch departments during public health emergencies to the extent practicable.

  • Requires the statewide 2-1-1 system and all executive branch departments, to the extent practicable, to prominently display information concerning food access programs and resources through their main websites and social media throughout the duration of any declared public health emergency.

A-3857/S-2275 – Makes FY 2020 supplemental appropriations of $15 million for grants to food banks

  • Supplements the FY 2020 appropriations act by appropriating $15 million for grants to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, the Food Bank of South Jersey, and Fulfil Monmouth & Ocean to provide food assistance to households in need.
  • This appropriation comes out of the General Fund.

A-3858/S-2288 – Requires Commissioner of Human Services to issue supplemental cash assistance payments to Work First New Jersey recipients under certain circumstances; makes appropriation.

  • Directs the Commissioner of Human Services in collaboration with county welfare agencies, to issue supplemental cash assistance payments to eligible recipients of the Work First New Jersey program, in addition to the standard benefits already issued under the program.
  • Such supplemental cash assistance would only be available during a public health emergency declared by the Governor, in which the Commissioner determines that the standard benefits issued under the Work First NJ program are not sufficient to support the needs of recipients in the State.
  • Payments shall be equal to the recipient’s monthly benefit amount for the most recent complete month.
  • An unspecified appropriation from the General Fund will be made to implement the bill.

A-3859/S-2276 – Concerns prohibition of residential tenant eviction and eviction due to residential foreclosure during certain emergency circumstances

  • Provides the Governor with the authority, if a public health emergency or state of emergency or both have been declared, to issue an Executive Order that would prohibit the lessee, tenant, homeowner, or any other person from being removed from a residential property.
  • Evictions and foreclosure proceedings may be initiated or continued but the enforcement of judgements for possessions, warrants of removal, and writs of possessions shall be stayed during the Governor’s Executive Order.
  • Residential property for these purposes does not include any hotel, motel, or other guest house, or part thereof rented to a transient guest or seasonal tenant, or a residential health care facility.

ACR-165/SCR-109 – Urges DHS to apply for federal waivers to facilitate and increase access to SNAP benefits during coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak. 

  • The Legislature strongly urges the Department of Human Services to apply for any available federal waivers, pursuant to the Governor’s declaration of a State of Emergency and Public Health Emergency, or any Presidential disaster declaration, to facilitate beneficiary access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and to ease any administrative barriers to accessing SNAP benefits.

AJR-158/SJR-77 – Urges FCC to take temporary measures to secure broadband access for those affected by COVID-19.

  • The Governor and the Legislature of the State of New Jersey urge the Federal Communications Commission to take temporary measures to secure broadband access for those affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

  • Michael F. Cerra, Assistant Executive Director, or 609-695-3481 x120
  • Lori Buckelew, Senior Legislative Analyst,, 609-695-3481 x112.
  • Frank Marshall, Esq., League Staff Attorney, or 609-695-3481 x.137.
  • Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst,, 609-695-3481 x121.