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April 2020

Various Sectors Affected by Wave of COVID-19 Bills Signed into Law on April 14 by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy

Last updated April 17, 2020

Over a month into the state of emergency and public health emergency first declared by Governor Murphy on March 9, 2020, the law continues to evolve at a rapid pace. On April 14, 2020, Governor Murphy signed a wave of bills into law, all but one of which are designed to address issues caused by or related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The eight COVID-19-related laws affect a wide range of industries, including legal, health care, elections, tax, non-profit corporations, employment and education. A brief overview of the package of COVID-19-related laws enacted on April 14, 2020 is set forth below.

Legal

Allowing for Temporary Remote Notarization and Other Acts Executing and Verifying Certain Documents - A-3903/S-2336

  • This law, effective immediately, allows a notary public or an officer authorized to take oaths, affirmations and affidavits (e.g., attorneys), or an officer authorized to take acknowledgments, to perform notorial acts and other acts executing and verifying certain documents remotely, using communication technology for the duration of the Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency declared by the Governor in Executive Order 103 of 2020.

  • A notary public or officer seeking to perform a notorial act remotely must be able to confirm the identity of the remotely located person by one of the following means:

    • Personal knowledge of the identity of the remotely located person which is sufficient to provide reasonable certainty that the individual is who he or she claims;

    • Satisfactory evidence of the identity of the remotely located person by oath or affirmation from a credible witness appearing before the notary public or officer;

    • Satisfactory evidence of the remotely located person’s identity by using at least two different types of “identity proofing,” which includes a passport, driver’s license, or government issued non-driver identification card.

  • The notary public or officer must also be able to reasonably confirm that the record before the notary public or officer is the same record in which the remotely located individual made a statement or on which the remotely located individual executed a signature.

  • The performance of the notorial act must be recorded by audio-visual means, and the recording must be retained by the notary public or officer for ten years after the recording is made.

  • The documents will need to contain an annotation that the notarization was done remotely.

  • If the remotely located person is outside of the United States, the act of making the statement or signing the record must not be prohibited by the foreign state in which the remotely located person is located. Furthermore, the record must be one that is either to be filed or relates to a matter before a public official or court, governmental entity or other entity subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, or involves a transaction substantially connected with the United States.

  • Notorial acts may not be performed remotely with respect to records governed by the UCC (with the exception of certain specified provisions and sections), or any statute, regulation or other rule of law governing any aspect of family law (e.g., divorce, adoption).

  • The law expires upon the rescission of Executive Order No. 103 of 2020 by the Governor.

Healthcare

Expediting Temporary Reactivation of Professional and Occupational Licenses – A-3901/S-2334

  • Effective immediately, professional and occupational boards are granted authority to temporarily reactivate a license, certificate of registration or certification of certain individuals during the Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency declared by the Governor in Executive Order 103 of 2020.

  • The law applies to any professional or occupational licensing boards within the Division of Consumer Affairs or any industry regulated by the Division of Consumer Affairs, which includes, but is not limited to:

    • Physicians;

    • Pharmacists;

    • Psychologists;

    • Physician assistants;

    • Nurses;

    • Respiratory care;

    • Social Workers;

    • Alcohol and drug counselors.

  • To qualify for temporary re-activation, an individual must have, in the last five years, either:

    • held a license, certificate of registration or certification in good standing at the time he or she retired from active status or was placed on inactive status; or

    • allowed his or her license to lapse while in good standing, and the license was suspended as a result.

  • This law is the companion of another bill recently signed into law (A-3862) that expedites professional and occupational licensing process for out-of-state individuals when the Governor has declared a state of emergency.

Immunity for Medical Professionals – S-2333/A-3910

  • Effective immediately and retroactive to March 9, 2020 (i.e., the date Governor Murphy declared a state of emergency), health care professionals (e.g., physicians, physicians assistants, nurses, certified EMTs) and health care facilities are immune for civil damages for injury or death alleged to have been sustained as a result of an act or omission by the health care professional in the course of providing medical services in support of the State’s response to the outbreak of COVID-19 during the state of emergency declared by the Governor in Executive Order 103 of 2020.

  • Immunity granted under this law extends to diagnosing or treating patients outside the normal scope of the health care professional’s license or practice.

  • Immunity does not apply for:

    • acts or omissions constituting a crime, actual fraud, actual malice, gross negligence, recklessness or willful misconduct;

    • medical services, treatment and procedures unrelated to the COVID-19 emergency.

  • Health care facilities and health care systems are also granted immunity from any injury or death resulting from the allocation of ventilators or other scarce medical resources, so long as the health facility or health care system adopts and adheres to a “scarce critical resource allocation policy,” and the specific act or omission was pursuant to and consistent with that policy. On April 11, 2020, the Commissioner of Health issued an Executive Directive setting forth the principles that should be incorporated into any resource-allocation policy.

  • Other sections of this law facilitate issuance of certain temporary licenses and certifications during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Election

Postponing to Primary Election - S-2349/A-3922

  • This law postpones the primary election from June 2, 2020 to July 7, 2020.

  • Any other election scheduled to occur between May 13, 2020 and July 6, 2020, inclusive, is also rescheduled to July 7, 2020.

  • The law does not alter any deadlines prescribed for the nomination of candidates, filing of petitions, acceptance of nominations, certification of nominations, and any other deadline required to be met preceding the primary election, when that deadline occurs before April 11, 2020 – however, all other deadlines prescribed for meeting the statutory requirements for a primary election shall be calculated using the July 7, 2020 primary election date.

Tax

COVID-19 Fiscal Mitigation Act - S-2338/A-3918

  • Effective immediately, this law automatically extends the due date for Individual Gross Income Tax and Corporate Business Tax from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020 (i.e., the same deadline as the current federal tax deadline, which was also pushed back).

  • According to the Division of Taxation’s website, Individual Gross Income Tax, Partnership, and Corporation Business Tax calendar year filers now have until July 15th to file and pay these taxes, including first quarter estimated tax payments. All other returns and payments are due on their original due date (including second quarter estimated tax payments for calendar year filers).

  • Penalties and interest will not be imposed on the balance of 2019 income tax due between the original due date and July 15, 2020.

  • Provisions governing the payment of interest for overpayments are extended for six months after the conclusion of the State of Emergency declared by the Governor pursuant to Executive Order No. 103 of 2020, or any extension thereof, or within six months after the return is filed, whichever is later.

  • The statute of limitations to assess taxes is extended by 90 days following the conclusion of the State of Emergency declared pursuant to Executive Order No. 103 of 2020.

  • This law also extends State Fiscal Year 2020 from June 30, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2020, and requires the State Treasurer to prepare a report on the financial condition of the state budget, which must include, among other things, a detailed plan of spending during the remainder of State Fiscal Year 2020, and an assessment of the current economic conditions and the potential impact of the economy on the proposed budget for State Fiscal Year 2021. The law requires that this report be submitted to the Legislature by May 22, 2020.

Nonprofit Corporations

Permitting Meetings of Members of Non-Profit Corporations to be Conducted Remotely - S-2342/A-3915

  • This law amends N.J.S.A. 15A:5-1, which governs meetings of members of non-profit corporations, to provide that during a state of emergency declared by the Governor, a meeting of members may be held by means of remote communication to the extent the board authorizes and adopts guidelines and procedures governing such a meeting. Notably, this enactment is not limited to the COVID-19 state of emergency declared under Executive Order No. 103.

  • Meetings may be conducted remotely either in whole or in part.

  • Any member who participates remotely shall be deemed present in person and is entitled to vote at the meeting, regardless of whether the meeting is held at a designated place or solely by means of remote communication.

  • When any meeting is conducted remotely, either in whole or in part, the corporation must take reasonable measures to verify that the person participating remotely is a member, and provide each member participating remotely with a reasonable opportunity to participate in the meeting and read or hear the proceedings of the meeting concurrently with the proceedings.

  • If the board authorizes a meeting to be conducted in whole or in part by remote means, the notice given to members must state the means of remote communication to be used.

Employment

Postponement of Effective Date of Amendments to NJ WARN Act and Exclusion of COVID-19 Layoffs

  • The details of this law are set forth by our Employment Group here.

Education

Permitting Schools to Meet Minimum 180-Day School Year Requirement Using Remote Instruction - A-3904/S-2337

  • This law provides that, in the event a school district is required to close its schools for more than three consecutive days due to a declared state of emergency, declared public health emergency, or directive by a health agency or officer to institute a public health-related closure, the school district may satisfy its minimum 180-day school year requirement using virtual or remote instruction in accordance with criteria as may be set forth by the Commissioner of Education.

  • A district that wants to use virtual or remote instruction to meet the 180-day requirement must submit a proposed program of virtual or remote instruction to the Commissioner of Education within 30 days of the effective date of the law and annually thereafter.

  • In the event of the closure of the schools of a school district due to a declared state of emergency, declared public health emergency, or a directive by the appropriate health agency or officer to institute a public health-related closure for a period longer than three consecutive school days, school employees are entitled to compensation, benefits, and emoluments as if the school facilities remained open for any purpose.

  • Additionally, school districts must continue to make payments of benefits, compensation, and emoluments pursuant to the terms of a contract with a contracted service provider in effect on the date of the closure as if the services for such benefits, compensation, and emoluments had been provided, and as if the school facilities had remained open. Contracted service providers are required to reveal to the school district whether the entity has insurance coverage for business interruption covering work stoppages.

For additional information pertaining to the coronavirus outbreak, please visit CSG's COVID-19 Resource Center.


This publication contains general information on recent legal developments and is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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