Office of the Governor
Governor Signs Legislation Providing $159
Million for Port Dredging and Improvement Projects
Gov. Christie Whitman today signed the following pieces of legislation:
S-697, sponsored by Senator Robert W. Singer (R- Burlington/Monmouth/Ocean) and Assembly Members Melvin Cottrell (R- Burlington/Monmouth/Ocean) and Joseph R. Malone, 3d (R-Burlington/Monmouth/Ocean), allows municipalities, by ordinance, to designate speed limits on municipal streets under their jurisdiction that are not self-contained within the municipality. An ordinance designating such speed limits may only be adopted by the municipality if the municipal engineer first certifies that the new speed limit designation: (1) has been approved by the engineer after investigation; (2) appears to be in the interest of safety and expedition of traffic; and (3) conforms to the current standards prescribed by the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways. Within 30 days of adoption of the ordinance, the municipality would be required to send the ordinance and engineer's designation to the Department of Transportation. The Commissioner of the Transportation Department has the discretion to invalidate the ordinance within 90 days of its receipt if he finds that the ordinance is inconsistent with accepted engineering standards, places an undue traffic burden on adjoining municipalities or otherwise creates an unsafe or hazardous condition.
S-446, sponsored by Senators John A. Girgenti (D-Passaic) and William L. Gormley (R-Atlantic) and Assembly Members Nellie Pou (D- Passaic) and David C. Russo (R-Bergen/Passaic), clarifies the kidnapping statute by providing that the crime of kidnapping specifically includes the taking of a child in order to permanently deprive a parent, guardian or other lawful custodian of custody of that child. This offense, like other kidnapping offenses, is a first-degree crime that is punishable by a term of imprisonment between ten and 20 years, a $200,000 fine, or both.
S-1223, sponsored by Senator Joseph M. Kyrillos, Jr. (R- Middlesex/Monmouth) and Assembly Members Leonard Lance (R- Warren/Hunterdon/Mercer) and Francis J. Blee (R-Atlantic), requires moneys remaining in certain prepaid funeral agreements to be paid to the state. The bill amends current law regarding prepaid funeral arrangements to prevent those receiving certain state assistance from improperly sheltering assets. Many individuals who obtain state assistance, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), have either established prepaid funeral trusts or purchased funeral insurance policies which provide for that person's funeral expenses. These trusts and insurance policies are excluded from determining eligibility for state assistance.
A-1162, sponsored by Assembly Members Tom Smith, Sr. (R-Monmouth) and Jerry Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union) and Senator Joseph A. Palaia (R-Monmouth), requires that counties accept bonds in lieu of cash from an applicant for a road opening permit. The purpose of the legislation is to remove the burden of paying a large amount of cash which, the Utility and transportation Contractors Association indicates, often times has prevented smaller contractors from bidding for jobs involving road opening permits.
S-1436, sponsored by Senators Andrew R. Ciesla (R-Monmouth/Ocean) and John H. Adler (D-Camden) and Assembly Members James W. Holzapfel (R- Monmouth/Ocean), Louis D. Greenwald (D-Camden), Guy F. Talarico (R- Bergen) and Kevin J. O'Toole (R-Essex/Union), upgrades the degree of crime of initiating false alarms under certain circumstances. The bill upgrades from a third-degree crime to a second-degree crime the offense of knowingly initiating or circulating a false alarm that results in serious bodily injury to another. The offense of knowingly initiating or circulating a false alarm that is likely to cause evacuation of a place or facility, or to cause public inconvenience, was upgraded from a fourth-degree crime to a third-degree crime. The offense of knowingly causing a false alarm to be transmitted to any emergency personnel was upgraded from a fourth degree crime to a third-degree crime.
The legislation also makes a person who violates any of the three provisions liable for a civil penalty of not less than $1,000, or the actual costs incurred by law enforcement or emergency services personnel in responding to a false alarm, or whichever is higher. Another new penalty created by the bill provides that a court must suspend or postpone the right to operate a motor vehicle for any person under the age of 21 who is convicted or adjudicated delinquent for causing a false alarm.
S-1249, sponsored by Senators Robert E. Littell (R- Sussex/Hunterdon/Morris) and John O. Bennett (R-Monmouth) and Assembly Members Francis J. Blee (R-Atlantic) and John C. Gibson (R-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), permits the Department of the Treasury to distribute computers, computer equipment and software designed as surplus by any state department, institution, commission, board, body or other state agency to local units, boards of education, nonpublic schools, or nonprofit charitable organizations.
S-906, sponsored by Senator Raymond J. Zane (D- Salem/Cumberland/Gloucester) and Assembly Members Joseph Azzolina (R-Middlesex/Monmouth), Kenneth C. LeFevre (R-Atlantic and Gerald J. Luongo (R-Camden/Gloucester), allows an individual who leases a motor vehicle and obtains personalized courtesy or special license plates to transfer those license plates to another vehicle after the lease agreement ends. The standard $4.50 transfer fee would be charged for the transfer, which is the fee charged for the transfer of plates from an owned vehicle. Previously, a person who wanted to transfer plates from a leased vehicle was required to surrender the plates and then reapply for them by paying a standard application fee. Depending upon the type of license plates, application fees are in the range of $15 to $50.
S-397, sponsored by Senator John O. Bennett (R-Monmouth) and Assembly Members Clare M. Farragher (R-Monmouth) and Michael J. Arnone (R-Monmouth), allows a municipality to use the annual population estimates issued by the U. S. Bureau of the Census and reported by the New Jersey Department of Labor in determining how many liquor licenses to issue. Under previous law, municipalities used the decennial federal census reports for this purpose. A municipality may issue only one retail liquor license for every 3,000 residents, and one distributor's license for every 7,500 residents. This bill does not change those ratios, but instead allows a municipality to update its population annually instead of every ten years when determining how many liquor licenses to issue.
The Governor also has signed AJR-74, which permanently designates September as "New Jersey Cares about Children with Cancer Month." The purpose of the resolution is to promote the progress made in combating this disease in children, and to highlight the need to do more in New Jersey to help cancer treatment specialists, health care providers, health care planners and researchers provide children with the services necessary to prevent these cancers in the future. The joint resolution was sponsored by Assembly Members Carol J. Murphy (R- Essex/Morris/Passaic) and Gerald J. Luongo (R-Camden/Gloucester).