2014 – 2015 Session

Below is a summary of bills in the 2014-2015 session of the New Jersey Legislature that include provisions relating to public records or meetings. The list may not include all pertinent legislation. LAST UPDATE: Dec. 15, 2015.

 

S1236 – Edison pilot, NJ Attorney General handles police internal affairs function
A841 – Makes address private on law enforcement incident reports
S2183 – Port Authority of NY & NJ subject to NJ OPRA and NY FOIL
S2181 – Port Authority of NY & NJ broad reform, includes public meetings provisions
S2013 – Delaware River Port Authority reform, includes public records provision
S781 / A2900 – OPMA reform amendment
S782 / A2763 – OPRA reform amendment

Other New Jersey bills introduced

New Jersey bills signed into law

——

S1236 – Edison pilot, NJ Attorney General handles police internal affairs function

Bill number S1236 (no Assembly bill)
Bill subject from Legislature’s website Establishes pilot program in Edison Township requiring Attorney General to perform police internal affairs functions.
Status 2/25/2014 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Law and Public Safety Committee
Support/Oppose NJFOG supports S1236 with a proposed amendment providing for records access.
Summary S1236, sponsored by Senator Peter Barnes, addresses the need for greater transparency in police internal affairs investigations. S1236 would establish a 2-year pilot program in Edison Township whereby the New Jersey Attorney General’s office would assume the police internal affairs function for the township. NJFOG supports S1236 with an amendment that provides for public disclosure of certain internal affairs records at the end of the 2-year pilot.
Press release
Other resources NJFOG officer John Paff testified on S1236 at a hearing on January 15 before the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

 

A841 – Makes address private on law enforcement incident reports

 

Bill number A841 (no Senate bill)
Bill subject from Legislature’s website Provides that certain personal identifying information may be redacted from certain public records in certain circumstances. (SEE SUMMARY)
Status 2/12/2015 Passed by the Assembly Judiciary Committee
Support/Oppose NJFOG opposes this legislation.
Summary A841 provides that, for law enforcement incident reports, a person’s address would be considered confidential in addition to other information that already is, such as name and phone number. NJFOG opposes A841 for the simple reason that there is often a need by journalists, researchers and other citizens to contact persons who have been involved in a particular incident. Redaction of address from incident reports would prevent necessary communication that may benefit the general public or the person involved. Examples are / will be provided in our press release.
Press release
Other resources

 

S2183 – Port Authority of New York & New Jersey subject to NJ OPRA and NY FOIL

Bill number S2183 (A3350) (New York has companion legislation.)
Bill subject from Legislature’s website Requires PANYNJ be subject to NY Freedom of Information Law and NJ Open Public Records Act.
Status This legislation passed both the NY and NJ legislatures, was conditionally vetoed in Dec. 2014 by both governors and requires amendment. In NY, the amendment was passed and signed by NY’s governor. In NJ, the Senate adopted the general recommendation on 5/18/2015, with a vote on the final amended bill scheduled for 6/25/2015. S2183 passed through both houses of the Legislature on June 25, 2015. It now heads back to the Governor, who has until July 5 or 6 to sign. If he takes no action, the bill passes into law. The governor signed the bill on June 29, 2015. It became law upon signing.
Support/Oppose NJFOG supports this legislation.
Summary S2183 was conditionally vetoed and is awaiting a chapter amendment for a technical reference to an existing freedom of information requirement. The change is considered non-controversial, thus it is anticipated that the amendment will pass both legislatures. The chapter amendment was passed in New York and signed by the governor on March 13, 2015. Here’s a link showing the record of NY activity: http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S1698A-2015. See Status block for New Jersey activity.
Press release
Other resources http://njfog.org/2015/05/21/n-j-senate-approves-changes-to-port-authority-public-records-bill/

http://njfog.org/2014/11/14/joint-statement-todays-passage-port-authority-reform-bills/

 

S2181 – Port Authority of New York & New Jersey broad reform, includes public meetings provisions

Bill number S2181 (A3417) (New York has companion legislation.)
Bill subject from Legislature’s website Increases transparency and accountability at PANYNJ.
Status This legislation passed both the NY and NJ legislatures and was vetoed (absolute veto) in Dec. 2014 by both governors. A New Jersey Senate override vote on 3/16/2015 was unsuccessful (25-14-1). NY is in a new legislative session (2015-2016), so must reintroduce their bill rather than override; no introduction yet in the NY Senate.
Support/Oppose NJFOG supports this legislation. It requires an enforcement mechanism that NJFOG agrees is best handled through follow-up legislation.
Summary Weaker legislation has been or is expected to be introduced in both states to appease some lawmakers. Senator Kean introduced a weaker bill in NJ in March 2015. Forward movement on reform may have stalled due to the need to have both states pass substantially similar legislation.
Press release
Other resources http://njfog.org/2015/03/10/senate-leaders-call-gop-reaffirm-support-strong-port-authority-reforms/

http//njfog.org/2014/11/14/joint-statement-todays-passage-port-authority-reform-bills/

http://njfog.org/2014/09/19/new-port-authority-bill-needs-enforcement-mechanism/

 

S2013 – Delaware River Port Authority reform, includes public records provision

Bill number S2013 (no Assembly bill) (Pennsylvania bill SB1358 in 2013-2014 session)
Bill subject from Legislature’s website Eliminates power of DRPA to finance economic development; changes composition of board; imposes restrictions regarding financing, contract procedures, conflicts of interest, and review audits; creates commuter’s council.
Status 5/5/2014 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Transportation Committee
Support/Oppose NJFOG supports this legislation.
Summary The legislation contains public records provisions. There is a need for both NJ and PA to pass similar DRPA reform bills. This bill was not taken up in the 2013-2014 Pennsylvania legislative session and has been re-introduced in the 2015-2016 session of the PA Senate as bill number SB286. There has been little activity on the DRPA reform legislation.
Press release
Other resources http://njfog.org/2014/09/30/pennsylvania-senate-passes-drpa-reform-bill-new-jersey-lags-behind/

http://njfog.org/2014/09/24/drpa-watchdog-resigns-alleges-board-meddling/

http://njfog.org/2014/09/05/drpa-emails-lost/

 

S781 / A2900 – OPMA reform amendment

Bill number S781 / A2900

Amendments to Bills S781 and S782 continue to be revised. The revised amendments, current as of 6-08-2015, can be viewed at the links below along with the original bills as introduced.

Bill S781 – OPMA reform bill – as introduced
S781 Amendment – 6-08-2015
Bill S782 – OPRA reform bill – as introduced
S782 Amendment – 6-08-2015

Bill subject from Legislature’s website Makes various changes to law addressing meetings of public bodies to provide public with greater access to meetings and information about meetings.
Status 1/14/2014 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee. 10/27/2014 Transferred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The bill was on the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee agenda for 6/23/2015 at 10:00 AM, Committee Room 4, 1st Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ. UPDATE: The bills were pulled from the agenda.
Support/Oppose NJFOG supports strong OPMA reform (SEE SUMMARY)
Summary Amendments to OPMA and OPRA are intended to modernize and reform the existing laws. Proposed reforms include, but are not limited to, specifically allowing OPRA requests to be emailed or faxed, stronger public notice requirements, a requirement that minutes be approved timely, stronger language with regard to sub-committees, application of the laws to many quasi-governmental entities that are substantially controlled by a governmental agency, “fee-shifting” for lawsuits brought under OPMA (fee shifting – mandatory reimbursement of costs to successful plaintiffs – is now only under OPRA). A new distinction between individual and commercial requests is proposed, including a fee for commercial requests.There is also a need for clarification as to who has a right to sue under OPRA and OPMA. Intuitively, that right belongs to a person who has been denied records or meeting access (or a party on that person’s behalf) rather than to a public agency. The courts may be addressing this issue: http://njfog.org/2015/06/04/appellate-court-to-rule-on-who-can-file-an-opra-lawsuit/
Press release
Other resources http://njfog.org/2015/06/24/league-of-municipalities-a-bad-partner-to-blame-for-halting-opma-and-opra-reform-says-sen-weinberg/

http://njfog.org/2015/06/21/tuesday-june-23-opma-opra-reform-bills-s781-s782-on-legislative-agenda/

http://njfog.org/2015/01/07/njfog-sues-trenton-board-education/

http://njfog.org/2014/09/01/judge-rules-island-heights-school-board-violated-public-meetings-law/

http://njfog.org/2014/08/07/open-public-meetings-act-counts-decided-affirmative-litigation-suit/

http://njfog.org/2014/04/22/njfog-vs-island-heights-board-education/

 

S782 / A2763 – OPRA reform amendment

Bill number S782/A2763

Amendments to Bills S781 and S782 continue to be revised. The revised amendments, current as of 6-08-2015, can be viewed at the links below along with the original bills as introduced.

Bill S781 – OPMA reform bill – as introduced
S781 Amendment – 6-08-2015
Bill S782 – OPRA reform bill – as introduced
S782 Amendment – 6-08-2015

Bill subject from Legislature’s website Makes certain access changes to open public records act; establishes State public finance website and creates program for development of local websites; makes appropriation.
Status 1/14/2014 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee. 10/27/2014 Transferred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The bill is on the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee agenda for 6/23/2015 at 10:00 AM, Committee Room 4, 1st Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ. UPDATE: The bills were pulled from the agenda.
Support/Oppose NJFOG supports strong OPRA reform (SEE SUMMARY)
Summary Amendments to OPMA and OPRA are intended to modernize and reform the existing laws. Proposed reforms include, but are not limited to, specifically allowing OPRA requests to be emailed or faxed, stronger public notice requirements, a requirement that minutes be approved timely, stronger language with regard to sub-committees, application of the laws to many quasi-governmental entities that are substantially controlled by a governmental agency, “fee-shifting” for lawsuits brought under OPMA (fee shifting – mandatory reimbursement of costs to successful plaintiffs – is now only under OPRA). A new distinction between individual and commercial requests is proposed, including a fee for commercial requests.There is also a need for clarification as to who has a right to sue under OPRA and OPMA. Intuitively, that right belongs to a person who has been denied records or meeting access (or a party on that person’s behalf) rather than to a public agency. The courts may be addressing this issue: http://njfog.org/2015/06/04/appellate-court-to-rule-on-who-can-file-an-opra-lawsuit/
Press release
Other resources http://njfog.org/2015/06/24/league-of-municipalities-a-bad-partner-to-blame-for-halting-opma-and-opra-reform-says-sen-weinberg/

http://njfog.org/2015/06/21/tuesday-june-23-opma-opra-reform-bills-s781-s782-on-legislative-agenda/

http://njfog.org/2014/11/29/municipal-website-problem/

 

OTHER NEW JERSEY BILLS

The following additional bills have been introduced in the 2014-2015 session of the New Jersey Legislature. Revised Dec. 15, 2015.

A487 (no Senate bill) Exempts municipal clerk from penalties for Open Public Records Act violations under certain circumstances.
A487 – 1/16/2014 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee

A523 (no Senate bill) Requires municipal governing bodies and boards of education to provide sufficient time for all requested public comment at open public meetings.
A523 – 1/16/2014 Introduced, Referred to Assembly State and Local Government Committee

A1095 / S312 Subjects Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to New York’s Freedom of Information Law and New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act.
A1095 – 1/16/2014 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee
S312 – 1/14/2014 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Transportation Committee
S312 – 6/23/2014 Transferred to Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee

A1375/ S388 Exempts traffic summons records from public access under State’s open public records law.
A1375 – 1/16/2014 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee
S388 – 1/14/2014 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee

A2064 (no Senate bill) Exempts mugshots of arrestees who have not been convicted of the underlying offense from State’s open public records law.
1/16/2014 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee

A2177 (no Senate bill) Requires public release of photographs of arrestees under State’s open public records law.
1/16/2014 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee

A2373 (no Senate bill) Omits State Police detectives from Open Public Records Act.
2/6/2014 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee

A2397 / S1398 Makes homeowners’ association in which developer’s control of executive board has not been surrendered a public body under “Senator Byron M. Baer Open Public Meetings Act.”
A2397 – 2/6/2014 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee
S1398 – 2/27/2014 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee
A2397 passed out of Assembly Committee on June 1, 2015.

A155 (no Senate bill) Requires access to law enforcement guidelines for processing firearms permit applications upon public records request.
1/16/2014 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee

A838 (no Senate bill) Provides that certain personal identifying information may be redacted from certain public records in certain circumstances.
1/16/2014 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee

A1645 / S825 Includes e-mail addresses in list of confidential items to be redacted from public records under OPRA.
A1645 – 1/16/2014 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee
S825 – 1/14/2014 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee

A1544 / S100 Protects home addresses of law enforcement officers from being released by governmental entities.
A1544 – 1/16/2014 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee
S100 – 1/14/2014 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Law and Public Safety Committee

A153 / S996 Concerns procedures for public comment about matters before municipal planning and zoning boards.
A153 – 1/16/2014 Introduced, Referred to Assembly State and Local Government Committee
S996 – 1/27/2014 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee

A4435 (no Senate bill) Requires non-binding mediation for disputes regarding access to public records.
5/11/2015 Introduced, Referred to Assembly State and Local Government Committee (ASL).
6/22/2015 On the agenda for the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
6/22/2015 Passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
http://njopengovt.blogspot.com/2015/09/nj-assembly-bill-seeks-to-require-grcs.html

S729 / A1195 Transfers responsibility for establishment and enforcement of ethical standards for local officials and school officials to the State Ethics Commission.
1/14/2014 Referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
6/25/2015 Passed by full Senate with amendments
http://njfog.org/2015/06/27/nj-legislature-mulls-ethics-code-overhaul-bill-s729/

S729 is on the full Senate agenda for Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, 1:00 PM. The vote appears to be for the purpose of adopting a revision made on 10/22/2015, following which the bill will have cleared the Senate, assuming no other revisions. There has been no activity on the Assembly side since bill introduction in Jan. 2014 (A1195).

The 10/22/15 Senate amendment, upon quick review:
• Exempts school officials from the proposed law.
• Establishes that annual financial statements will need to be filed by officials only with the State Ethics Commission (SEC), not with the municipal or county clerk.
• Transfers the responsibility for issuing advisory opinions from the State Local Finance Board (LFB) to the SEC.
• Spells out additional duties of new local ethics ombudsmen.
• Eliminates reference in the law to referring complaints to local ethics boards since these boards would be eliminated, but allows for local adoption of phase-in rules for new SEC procedures.

12/7/2015 Passed Senate (35-0)
12/10/2015 Received In Assembly Referred To Assembly Judiciary Committee

S167 / A3685 Requires government records to be made available on the Internet.
1/14/2014 Referred to Senate Committee.
9/18/2014 Referred to Assembly Committee.
11/16/2015 On Senate State Government (SSG) Committee agenda for 11/16/2015. S1840 was combined with/under S167. The combined bill (S167) was passed out of SSG Committee and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. NJFOG testified at the SSG Committee meeting. See NJFOG’s statement on S167 (prior to incorporation of S1840) HERE.

S1840 (No Assembly bill) Authorizes public access to government records through government website.
3/24/2014 Referred to Senate Committee.
11/16/2015 On Senate State Government (SSG) Committee agenda for 11/16/2015. Combined under S167. The combined bill (S167) was passed out of SSG Committee and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. NJFOG testified at the SSG Committee meeting. See NJFOG’s statement on S1840 HERE.

S3137 / A2071 “New Jersey Open Data Initiative”; requires certain information be made available on Internet by State departments and agencies.
8/10/2015 Referred to Senate Committee.
1/16/2014 Referred to Assembly Committee.
11/16/2015 On Senate State Government (SSG) Committee agenda for 11/16/2015. Held. NJFOG testified. See NJFOG’s statement HERE.

 

NEW JERSEY BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW

A1676 (S1524) Provides that crime victims do not have to pay fees to obtain records relating to the crime and that requests for such records are not public information.
7/30/2014 Approved P.L.2014, c.19., effective on 11/1/2014
See:
http://njfog.org/2014/10/30/crime-victims-records-free-november-1st/
http://njfog.org/2014/08/07/888/

S2183 Port Authority of New York & New Jersey subject to NJ OPRA and NY FOIL
6/29/2015 Signed by the Governor. Effective upon signing.
The corresponding Chapter Law is P.L.2015, c.64.

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