This is a status report provided by the New Jersey State Bar Association on recently passed and pending legislation, regulations, gubernatorial nominations and/or appointments of interest to lawyers, as well as the involvement of the NJSBA as amicus in appellate court matters. To learn more, visit njsba.com.

On and Off the Governor’s Desk

In the next few weeks, the Legislature will be a flurry of activity, considering long-awaited legislation that has languished under a Republican administration, wrestling the last bit of budget dollars for pet programs and posturing for the last few bragging rights moving into the summer break. Here is a snapshot of legislation being monitored by the New Jersey State Bar Association:

Judicial Salary Increases

Governor Phil Murphy signed S-1229 (Sweeney) earlier this month, which increases the salaries of judges and senior public servants. The New Jersey State Bar Association has long supported an increase in judicial salaries, which have remained stagnant for over 10 years. The association pointed out that, in fact, judges take home even less than they did 10 years ago as a result of legislation requiring them to contribute more toward their benefits package.

Under the newly signed law, judges will receive an increase of $8,000 in 2018, and again on Jan. 1 for the next two years. In 2021, and for four years thereafter, judges will receive an automatic annual salary adjustment based on the change in the Consumer Price Index, but not greater than two percent.

Gestational Carrier Bill

S-482 (Vitale)/A-1704 (Huttle) was sent to the governor in April. The bill was twice vetoed by Governor Chris Christie. The NJSBA testified in favor of the bill and worked with the sponsors to strengthen the language to codify surrogacy agreements. Recent litigation may have slowed consideration of this bill. Harold Cassidy, an outspoken opponent of the bill and former attorney in the Baby M case, held a press conference to announce petitions filed with the United States Supreme Court earlier this month challenging the nature of surrogacy contracts as against a child’s best interest. One of the three mothers he represents is Gail Robinson, a New Jersey mother who has also testified before the Legislature against the bill. Robinson carried twin girls from her brother’s husband’s sperm and later sought custody of the children, claiming she was coerced into the agreement. Under the bill awaiting the governor’s signature, Robinson would likely not have qualified as a surrogate. The association is monitoring the bill and awaits its approval by the governor.