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 The Governor’s Desk Part 2: Sports Betting, Marriage Ban, Birth Certificate Amendments, Government Shutdown 

As the Legislature closes in on the last few weeks before they break for summer, the State House is a flurry of activity, as are all of the state offices, ahead of the threat of a government shutdown. The warning came a few weeks ago from the governor’s counsel in case there is a standoff on the budget. In the meantime, bills are moving at a rapid pace. Here are some of the highlights.

Sports Betting Becomes Law

Sports betting is legal in New Jersey following the United States Supreme Court’s ruling that did away with a federal ban imposed by Congress almost 30 years ago. The bill is expected to provide a boost to the state’s casino and horseracing industries and bring in state tax revenues ranging from $12 to 17 million in the first full year of operation.

Marriage Ban Bill

A bill that bans all marriages for anyone under age 18 awaits the governor’s signature. It passed the Assembly earlier this month after being unexpectedly pulled from a vote the first time up in the Assembly. Assemblyman Gary Schaer raised a concern by the Orthodox Jewish community regarding the right to marry under age 18, and recommended amendments to permit judicial review for marriages under age 18. The NJSBA supported the bill with amendments to lower the absolute ban to marriages under age 16, and for marriages between 16 and 18 to be presumptively against the best interest of the child and only permissible subject to judicial review.

Babs Siperstein Law

Also awaiting the governor’s signature is the Babs Siperstein Law, named for Jersey City native and transgender rights activist Babs Siperstein. Supported by the NJSBA, the bill revises the process for obtaining an amended birth certificate due to a person’s change in gender without requiring the person to undergo a surgical procedure prior to making such a change.

“With advancements in modern medicine, we know that gender reassignment surgery is no longer the only option for transitioning, yet the current law does not reflect this. It does not account for nonsurgical transitioning, which usually includes physical, psychological, social and emotional changes,” said sponsor Senator Joseph Vitale. “This bill removes the barriers that transgender New Jerseyans face when requesting changes to such an important identification document as their birth certificate to reflect who they are, and will help to expand anti-discrimination protections.”

Judiciary Offers Guidance on Veterans Diversion Program

The Administrative Office of the Courts issued a directive to provide information on the newly implemented Veterans Diversion Program, which diverts eligible military service members into appropriate case management and mental health treatment services and out of the criminal system. The NJSBA actively worked to create a program that would permit prosecutors to expand the program to include more service members and make the program more accessible. Directive #05-18 includes an overview of the requirements of the program and case processing, and also provides resources for service members. For more information, go to judiciary.state.nj.us and select “Notices to the Bar.”