#parents | #teensvaping | Here’s when N.J.’s new laws on vaping and severance pay take effect

From a ban on vaping to online voter registration to the latest place you can’t smoke, New Jersey recently got a bevy of new laws that could affect your life.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed dozens and dozens of bills over the last few weeks as the state Legislature closed out its two-year voting session.

In fact, the session was the most productive in decades. Murphy’s office said the Democratic governor has signed 687 bills that the Democratic-controlled Legislature has sent him in his first two years in office. That’s the most the Garden State has seen in a session since 1984-85, when Gov. Tom Kean signed 791 bills.

Here’s a look at some of the laws Murphy approved in recent days, and when they’ll take effect:

BAN ON FLAVORED E-CIGARETTES

New Jersey just banned flavored e-cigarettes.

New Jersey became the first state to permanently ban the sale and distribution of flavored vaping products amid a national health crisis that has killed 60 people.

The law (S3265) comes after Murphy established a task force on vaping last fall. It’s the flavors, some say, that get kids hooked on nicotine. But vape shop owners say their customers predominately buy those flavored products, and that they will go bankrupt.

Murphy also signed a law (S1647) that bans the use of coupons and rebates for vaping products, but he vetoed another (S4223) that would have increased penalties for shop owners caught selling products to people under 21. The governor said he did not sign the bill because it would have required an overhaul of the vapor shop licensing system and complicate taxes on products.

The law takes effect April 20.

MANDATORY SEVERANCE FOR LAID-OFF WORKERS

This landmark law makes New Jersey the first state in the nation that will require large employers pay severance to employees who lose their jobs during a mass layoff of 50 or more people.

The law (S3170) requires that employers in the state with at least 100 employees provide their workers 90 days notice — up from 60 — before a large layoff or a plant closing or transfer that will put at least 50 people out of work.

It also forces these businesses to pay their workers one week’s severance for every year of service. The payout increases by an additional four weeks if the employer doesn’t comply with the 90-day notification rules.

The law takes effect in mid-July.

NEW PARKING TAX IN BIG TOWNS

New Jersey’s six largest municipalities are now allowed to charge you a 3.5 percent tax to park there.

The hike isn’t mandatory under this law (A5070). It just gives towns with at least 100,000 residents the option to do so.

The money would go toward improving pedestrian access to mass transit stations, which Democratic sponsors said could include new walkways, bridges, and more.

The law took effect immediately.

ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION

You will soon be allowed to register to vote online in New Jersey thanks to this law (S589).

The measure requires the Garden State’s secretary of state to create and maintain a secure website to allow eligible voters to register to vote using an online form.

It’s the latest effort from Murphy and fellow Democrats to make voting easier in New Jersey, though Republicans warn it could lead to voter fraud.

The law takes effect in June.

ELECTRIC VEHICLE INCENTIVES

Shoppers can save up to $5,000 off electric vehicles in New Jersey, or $25 per mile of the vehicle’s range, under a new incentive.

The law (S2252) establishes goals to increase the number of electric vehicles on the Garden State’s roads and mandates an expansion of publicly available charging stations. It also provides up to a $500 rebate for those who purchase in-home charging equipment.

The state Board of Public Utilities will reimburse the purchaser or lessee of the vehicle.

The law took effect immediately.

BAN ON TOY GUNS

Realistic toy guns are now banned in New Jersey under this law (A4260).

The move comes after police in Ohio fatally shot two boys, ages 12 and 13, in separate incidents after mistaking toy guns they held for real weapons. It establishes certain physical criteria for the guns, such as color and an orange stripe, and levies penalties against sellers who do not meet the new standards.

The law took effect immediately.

NEWBORN SCREENING

Beginning this summer, every baby born in New Jersey will be screened for a potentially deadly genetic disease that is often compared to pediatric ALS under a new law.

Spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, is a rare, “muscular wasting” disease, occurring in 1 in 11,000 births. About nine babies are born with SMA each year in the state. The average life expectancy is about two years.

Under this law (S974), SMA will now be added to the 59 other disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia, that all hospitals test for within 48 hours following a baby’s birth. One heel prick provides enough blood for the test, according to the state Department of Health.

The law takes effect in July.

NO MORE SMOKING AT AIRPORT DROP-OFF AREAS

Smoking at outdoor drop-off and pickup locations at New Jersey airports will soon be illegal under this law (A5028).

It’s the latest update to the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act, which bans smoking at most indoor places, as well as beaches. Sponsors say the goal is to protect people from inhaling second-hand smoke that creeps into airports from outside.

The law will take effect in June.

LOTTERY WINNERS CAN STAY ANONYMOUS

Pick-6 Jackpot

Stanley McKelvin (center) shakes hands with the acting executive director of the New Jersey Lottery after receiving a check for $4.5 million. McKelvin drew the winning Pick-6 Jackpot ticket.

Keep your new Mega Millions and Powerball fortune hush with the help of this new law (S2267) that allows lottery winners to claim their prizes anonymously in New Jersey.

But anonymity — names and addresses would be exempt from the state’s open records laws — doesn’t mean complete secrecy. State agencies will be able to share the information internally to collect back child support, public assistance overpayments, delinquent or defaulted student loan payments and other debts.

The law took effect immediately.

SPEEDING UP PAROLE

The “Earn Your Way Out Act,” which aims to streamline New Jersey’s parole process, will soon allow some inmates to be paroled earlier.

The law (S761) creates “administrative parole,” which will allow certain inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes to forgo a full parole hearing and instead be released on parole after a review by a hearing officer and certification by a member of the State Parole Board.

The board expects the increase in the annual number of parolees in New Jersey to range from 1,749 to 1,923.

The law takes effect April 1.

ENDING ‘GAY PANIC’ DEFENSE

People accused of murder in New Jersey can no longer legally argue a victim’s sexuality or gender identity provoked them to commit the crime in exchange for a lesser charge.

New Jersey is just the ninth state to officially ban the “gay panic” defense thanks to this law (A1796). The defense allowed those charged with murder to seek a downgraded offense of manslaughter if they committed the act “in the heat of passion” upon provocation from a gay or transgender person.

The law took effect immediately.

PREVENTING POLICE SUICIDES

Under this law (A1028), New Jersey will soon track police suicides across the state and establish a training program to help prevent officers from taking their own lives.

The state currently doesn’t track how often those suicides happen. But this law will require departments to notify the state attorney general’s office, and include the officer’s race, gender, seniority and veteran status, among other information, although the name would be omitted. The date will then be public.

The law takes effect July 1.

CRACKING DOWN ON ILLEGAL DUMPING

This law (S1683/A4267) sets tough new regulations for the solid waste industry in response to the State Commission of Investigation’s “Dirty Dirt” reports detailing how loopholes allowed organized crime to profit.

It expands licensing and background check requirements, sets tougher penalties for those who violate the law and sets civil fines of up to $100,000 a day. The law took effect immediately.

FIXING THE VOTE-BY-MAIL OVERHAUL

This law (A6063) puts the controversial overhaul of New Jersey’s vote-by-mail system back on track after an obscure but powerful state board threw it out last year.

Murphy approved laws in 2018 and 2019 aiming to make voting by mail easier by ensuring that New Jerseyans who voted by mail in 2016 and beyond automatically are sent mail-in ballots for all subsequent elections.

But the New Jersey Council on Local Mandates invalidated the plans because it said they amounted to an unfunded mandate on the state’s 21 counties because the counties who had to send out the ballots did not have enough money to do so.

This new law, however, provides $3 million to refund the clerks for last year’s and sets aside annual money for the process.

The law took effect immediately.

BACKING UP OBAMACARE

A package of new laws will enshrine key tenets of the federal Affordable Care Act into state law, giving New Jersey the authority to operate its own insurance marketplace and protect people with pre-existing conditions from losing coverage.

The nine laws protect benefits, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions and adult children up to age 26, that may be at risk should the courts or Congress repeal or further weaken the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Murphy has said he expects the state will operate its own Healthcare.gov marketplace later this year.

MORE FILM TAX CREDITS

"Joker" movie

Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck gets jumped by some teenagers early in the film “Joker.” The production filmed on Newark’s Market Street near the marquee for the old Paramount Theatre.Niko Tavernise | Warner Bros.

This law (S3842) extends New Jersey’s business and income tax credits available for film, TV and digital productions through 2028.

The second generation of the tax credit program, signed into law by Murphy in 2018, is set to expire in 2023.

The new law also increases the annual cap on awards to film productions from $75 million to $100 million and allows any dollars not spent in one year to roll over to the next.

Existing law allows film productions to apply for savings of 30 percent on their expenses from 2019 to 2023 if they film in the upper half of the state. It allows them up to 35 percent if they choose to film in the counties of Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer or Salem.

Digital companies can apply for 20 percent, or 25 percent if they choose South Jersey. Productions are also eligible for diversity tax credits if they take steps to recruit and hire women and minorities.

The law took effect immediately.

EDUCATION AID FOR PRISONERS

People in New Jersey’s prisons are now eligible for state grants and scholarships to get an education behind bars under this law (S2055).

Inmates simply need to have been state residents for a year prior to their incarcerations. They are also subjected to the same process and regulations as anyone else who applies for such aid.

The law took effect immediately.

ALLOWING LIQUOR AT SMALL THEATERS

Small theaters in New Jersey can now sell you alcohol during a concert or show under this law (A1478).

Previously, only theaters with at least 1,000 seats were eligible for liquor licenses in the state. This permits some with 50 seats or more to apply.

The law took effect immediately.

ENDING ‘PRISON GERRYMANDERING’

This law (S758) aims to make political power in New Jersey more fair by ending a process that opponents call “prison gerrymandering.”

Previously, prisoners in the state were counted as residents of wherever they are incarcerated when it comes to drawing the state’s legislative districts. Under the new law, inmates will be counted as residents of their last known address.

The law took effect immediately.

JUDGES ON THE STATE INVESTMENT COUNCIL

Thanks to this law (S3871), a retired judge will be appointed to sit on the State Investment Council, the body that oversees management of the state’s $78 billion public worker pension fund.

Unlike other public retirement funds, the Judicial Retirement System is not represented on the investment council. The legislation brings the council’s total membership up to 16.

The law took effect immediately.

REFORMING ASSET FORFEITURE

This law (A4970) changes New Jersey’s rules for civil asset forfeiture, which is when authorities confiscate property and cash from people charged with a crime.

Previously, authorities need only a “preponderance of evidence” to seize something. But this law bans civil asset forfeiture if there are no criminal charges related to what has been seized or if the prosecution related to the assets ends without a conviction.

The law took effect immediately.

PROTECTING ‘GIG’ WORKERS

A package of new laws aim to protect the rights of self-employed — or “gig” — workers like truckers and freelance writers in New Jersey and require the companies that hire them pay their share of payroll taxes.

The measures address some of the problems associated with businesses misclassifying workers, detailed in a report last year by the state Department Labor and Workforce Development.

They will penalize employers in the state intentionally misclassifying employees (A5839), require employers to post notices describing misclassification (A5843) and allow stop-work orders to be issued against employers violating state wage, benefit or tax law (A5838).

THE OFFICIAL STATE DOG

New Jersey has added a dog to its list of state symbols Tuesday: the Seeing Eye dog.

The law (S2849) honors The Seeing Eye, a school in Morristown that has trained and paired some 17,000 dogs with visually impaired owners.

NJ Advance Media reporters Matt Arco, Susan K. Livio, Sophie Nieto-Munoz, Blake Nelson and Michael Sol Warren contributed to this report.

Samantha Marcus may be reached at smarcus@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @samanthamarcus.

Brent Johnson may be reached at bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01.

Amanda Hoover may be reached at ahoover@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandahoovernj.

Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

Get the latest updates right in your inbox. Subscribe to NJ.com’s newsletters.




Source link