New Jersey Coronavirus Legislation Update

Rev. March 25, 2020

Below are summaries and links to many of the bills included in the New Jersey “COVID-19” Bill Package considered by the New Jersey State Legislature. Governor Murphy signed the first group into law (3 bills). The Legislature adopted the others, but Governor Murphy has not yet signed them into law. Most observers in Trenton believe that the Governor will sign many of these bills in the next few days.

Bills Signed Into Law

A-3843 Required insurance coverage for COVID-19 testing and telehealth service

Effective immediately and will remain in effect during the current Public Health Emergency and the State of Emergency.

Requires health insurance carriers, State Employees’ Health Benefits Programs and State Medicaid program to provide coverage for expenses incurred: (1) to test for coronavirus if subject to a medical order from a licensed medical practitioner; (2) for telemedicine and telehealth services.

A-3845 Expanding NJEDA grant authority

Effective immediately.

Amends N.J.S.A. 34:1B-5, -7.13, and -247

Authorizes the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (“EDA”) to provide grants during periods of emergency declared by the Governor and for the duration of economic disruptions due to the emergency. EDA is authorized during those times to offer “grants for the planning, designing, acquiring, constructing, reconstructing, improving, equipping, and furnishing of a project, including, but not limited to, grants for working capital and meeting payroll requirements.” The grants are to be at terms the EDA deems to be reasonable.

The law also permits EDA to extend business document submission deadlines for projects that were approved pursuant to the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program that began in 2013 to help rebuild after Superstorm Sandy. The deadlines are extended automatically until the duration of the declared emergency with options for two additional six-month extensions beyond that date.

A-3848 Employment protection for time off due to documented infectious disease concern

Effective immediately.

Supplements Title 34.

Prohibits an employer from terminating or refusing to reinstate an employee if the employee requests or takes time off from work based on a documented recommendation from a medical professional because the employee has or likely has an infectious disease that may infect others at the workplace.

A-3849 Open Public Records Act – Relaxing custodian’s response deadline

Effective immediately.

Amends N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5 (Open Public Records Act).

During a declared state of emergency, public health emergency, or state of local disaster emergency, the mandatory seven-day deadline for a custodian of records to respond to a request for public records is relaxed. During such times, custodians are required to make a reasonable effort to respond to a request within seven business days or as soon as practicable thereafter.

A-3850 Open Public Meetings Act – Authorizing electronic meetings

Effective immediately.

Supplements N.J.S.A. 10:4-6, et seq. (Open Public Meetings Act)

During a period of declared state of emergency, public health emergency, or state of local disaster emergency, a public body may conduct meetings, public business, public comment periods, and votes by means of communication or other electronic equipment. Also authorizes a public body to provide electronic notice of meetings, but if it does so, it must, to the extent practicable, limit the public business conducted to matters that are necessary for continued operation of government and that relate to the applicable emergency declaration.

A-3851 Potential extension for local governments to adopt annual budget.

Would be effective immediately.

Amends N.J.S.A. 40A:4-5.1 (Local Budget Law).

During times of declared public health emergency or state of emergency, authorizes the Director of the Department of Community Affairs to extend unilaterally the statutory deadlines for municipalities and counties to introduce, approve, and adopt annual budgets.

A-3854 Expanding sites capable of testing COVID-19 samples.

Effective immediately.

Amends P.L.2005, c.222.

For the duration of the public health emergency declared in connection with COVID-19, authorizes all licensed health care facilities and clinical laboratories to collect and test COVID-19 specimens. Also authorizes the Commissioner of Health to waive mandatory staffing ratio requirements for health care facilities during public health emergencies.

A-3859 Residential eviction and foreclosure restraints

Effective immediately.

Supplements Title 2A.

Authorizes the Governor to issue an executive order during a declared public health emergency or state of emergency to declare that a lessee, tenant, or homeowner cannot be removed from a residential property by eviction or foreclosure proceeding for a period of time ending no later than two months following the end of the declared emergency. Foreclosure and eviction proceedings may be commenced or continued during the term of the executive order, but all judgments for possession, warrants for removal, and writs of possession would be stayed unless a court orders that enforcement in a specific case is necessary in the interests of justice.

NOTE: Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 106, which imposes the contemplated moratorium.

A-3860 Health care providers authorized to provide telehealth services

Effective immediately.

During the declared state of emergency related to COVID-19, authorizes health care providers to provide and bill for services using telemedicine and telehealth. Health care providers not licensed to practice in New Jersey may provide those services under certain specified conditions.

A-3862 Expedited process for professional and occupational licensing

Effective immediately.

Supplements N.J.S.A. 45:1-7.1 et seq.

During a declared state of emergency or public health emergency, the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, with the approval of the Attorney General, may expedite professional and occupational licensing processes for out-of-state individuals if that individual has a corresponding license or certificate in another jurisdiction.

Bills Adopted by Both Houses – not yet signed by Governor Murphy

A-3841 Extension to file State tax returns or payments

Would be effective immediately.

If the Internal Revenue Service extends the filing or payment due date for federal taxpayers to file annual or quarterly return, taxpayers required to make similar state payments pursuant to the New Jersey Gross Income Tax Act or the Corporation Business Tax Act will automatically receive an extension to file those state returns. The state extension is to coincide with the extended federal date unless that date is after June 30, 2020. State filings subject to the extension shall be filed no later than June 30, 2020 regardless of federal deadline.

NOTE: The Federal Government extended the 2019 tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020. New Jersey deadline extended only until June 30, 2020.

A-3846 Temporary lost wage payments due to COVID-19 pandemic

Would be effective immediately and expire the next July 1 following one year after the State makes the last reimbursement payment to a qualified individual or employer.

Supplements Title 34.

Creates the “Temporary Lost Wage Unemployment Program” to allow individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic to recoup lost wages and to assist employers who pay wages to such workers.

Individuals can apply to the Department of Labor and Workforce for actual lost wages in the amount equivalent to the individual’s average weekly compensation from the past calendar year if the individual does not have fully paid leave. An individual can apply for such funds if the individual’s absence from work is due to:

  • the need to care for a family member;
  • the illness of the individual;
  • school or childcare facility being closed; and
  • other such purposes as determined by the commissioner.

Money is also set aside to reimburse employers who pay lost wages to a worker when a licensed healthcare practitioner orders the worker under quarantine.

A-3856 Appropriation to health care facilities for sanitation demands.

Would be effective immediately.

Supplements P.L.2019, c. 150.

Appropriates $10 million to provide financial assistance to certain health care and residential facilities to meet sanitation demands imposed by COVID-19. Requires the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting to determine the methodology for allocating the funds across the applicable facilities in collaboration with the Commissioners of Health, Human Services, Children and Families, and Community Affairs.

A-3857 Appropriation to food banks.

Would be effective immediately.

Supplements P.L.2019, c. 150.

Appropriates $15 million to provide grants to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, the Food Bank of South Jersey, and Fulfill Monmouth & Ocean to assist households in need.

A-3858 Cash assistance to Work First NJ program recipients.

Would be effective immediately.

Supplements Title 44.

Directs the Commissioner of Human Services to issue additional cash assistance to eligible recipients of the Work First New Jersey program during a declared public health emergency when the Commissioner determines that the standard benefits are insufficient. Amount of additional assistance sums to be equal to the recipient’s most recent monthly benefit amount.

If you have any questions, please contact John N. Visconi at 201.857.6762, or contact the Stevens & Lee attorney with whom you regularly work.

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