In Our Community

Assemblyman Moriarty Bill to Strengthen Foreclosure Protections for Homeowners Clears Assembly Panels

(TRENTON) – To ensure homeowners facing foreclosure are given a fair chance to get back on track with their mortgage payments, a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrat Paul Moriarty  to require lenders to send a notice of intent to foreclose no more than 180 days before action was approved Wednesday by the Assembly Housing and Community Development and Financial Institutions and Insurance Committees.

The measure (A-5003) revises the Fair Foreclosure Act to require that a notice of intention to foreclose would not be sent more than 180 days in advance of taking that action. This includes a notice of the right to cure the default, which currently must be sent at least 30 days, but not more than 180 days, in advance of a residential mortgage lender commencing foreclosure or other legal action to take possession of a residential property.

Under the bill, if more than 180 days had elapsed since the date of the notice of intent was sent, and any foreclosure or legal action had not begun, a new notice would be sent at least 30 days, but not more than 180, in advance of that action.

“Unfortunately, New Jersey leads the nation in foreclosures, with 70,000 properties going through the process in 2017,” said Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester). “We must do all we can to get that number down and keep families in their homes. This bill will give homeowners the time and notice they need to take action.”

The bill would provide if a plaintiff’s action to foreclose a residential mortgage has been dismissed without prejudice pursuant to the Rules Governing the Courts of New Jersey of the State of New Jersey, reinstatement of the plaintiff’s action could be permitted only on motion for good cause shown and reinstatements would be limited to three for any action. The fee would be twice the amount set by the Administrative Office of the Courts for filing a foreclosure complaint. The plaintiff would not charge or otherwise pass a reinstatement fee onto the debtor or any other person.

Additionally, the measure would provide that the amounts paid by plaintiffs for reinstating a mortgage, that are over and above the amounts set by the Administrative Office of the Courts for filing a foreclosure complaint, would be aggregated and divided equally on an annual basis, with one-half dedicated to the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency for funding for counseling provided by the agency for the New Jersey Judiciary’s Foreclosure Mediation Program, and one-half dedicated to the Administrative Office of the Courts for the general operations provided by the office for the New Jersey Judiciary’s Foreclosure Mediation Program.

This bill would take effect four months from enactment.

The measure now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.

Assemblywoman Mosquera Bill Requiring Baby Diaper-Changing Stations in All Newly Constructed Public Restrooms Clears Assembly Committee

A-3383 would require baby diaper-changing stations in any newly constructed men’s or women’s public restrooms cleared the Assembly Women and Children’s Committee. Bill A-3383 requires places of public accommodation to install changing stations during restroom renovations costing $5,000 or more.

This bill also mandates that the owner or operator install a changing station in the men’s restroom if there is already one in the women’s restroom. The legislation would apply to public places that accommodate more than 25 people and permitting children over three years old. Violators would be subject to a petty disorderly person’s offense with a maximum fine of $500. The Department of Health and local boards of health would be authorized to enforce the bill which would take effect on the first day of the seventh month following enactment. The Commissioner of Health could take anticipatory administrative action prior to enactment should it be necessary to implement the act.

Men are becoming more involved in the daily care of children. As such, our public facilities should reflect this changing dynamic and give them the same accommodations that women have. There is currently no state statute requiring places of public accommodations to equip public restrooms with changing stations, and the ones that do so voluntarily typically only offer the accommodation in women’s restrooms.

The disparity gained national attention four years ago celebrity dad Ashton Kutcher complained on Facebook about the lack of baby-changing stations in men’s public restrooms. Since then, a Florida father has created a website called “Dads Who Change Diapers” which allows users to enter a zip code and find the nearest dad-friendly diaper changing station.

Looking to address growing concerns, President Barack Obama signed the “Bathroom Accessible in Every Situation Act (BABIES) in 2016 which requires both men’s and women’s restrooms in publicly accessible federal buildings to contain baby changing stations. In October 2018, the U.S. Senate passed a measure mandating changing tables in both men’s and women’s restrooms.

The Assembly bill was introduced in January 2018. It now awaits further review by the Assembly.

Assemblyman Moriarty’s Sponsored Legislation to Raise The Minimum Wage to $15 is Now Law

New Jersey Legislators are concerned with affordability in our state. According to the United Way Alice (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) project, the number of NJ households that cannot afford basic needs increased by fifteen percent between 2010 and 2016. To combat this issue, New Jersey became the fourth state to establish a path to $15 minimum wage by 2024 for most workers. On February 4th, Assembly Bill 15, sponsored by Assemblyman Moriarty, was signed into law by Governor Murphy.

Today in New Jersey a person working a minimum wage job for 40 hours each week will make less than $18,500 a year. Meanwhile, United Way estimates that the annual cost of basic household necessities is now $26,640 for a single adult and $74,748 for a family of four. Assemblyman Moriarty believes that this disparity demonstrates the need to raise the minimum wage to a livable one.

In this spirit, the law will raise the minimum wage for most workers to $10 an hour on July 1st. Then the minimum wage will increase by $1 per hour every January 1st until it reaches $15 per hour in 2024. At that point, full-time minimum wage workers in New Jersey will earn $ 31,200 a year, about $12,700 more than they do now.

Due to concerns for several businesses, the minimum wage will increase at a different rate for some workers. Small business employees and seasonal workers will reach $15 an hour in 2026. Meanwhile, farmworkers’ wages will increase to $12.50 in 2024. Then, pending approval by state officials, farmworkers could reach $15 by 2027.

Additionally, the law establishes a training wage in 2020, that must be at least 90 percent of the minimum wage, which employers may pay new employees for the first 120 hours of work. The law also raises the tipped wage from $2.13 to $5.13 per hour by 2022. The tipped wage combined with the employee’s tips must equal the minimum wage.

Assemblyman Moriarty has backed legislation to make our state more affordable throughout his tenure in the General Assembly. Previously, the Assemblyman sponsored bills to freeze property tax rates for seniors and limit unexplained rent increases. Raising the minimum wage is another way Assemblyman Moriarty is making New Jersey a more affordable state for everyone.

Senator Madden Sponsors Bills to Inspect for and Treat Mold Hazards in School Buildings

Senator Madden is the sponsor of a pair of bills pertaining to the inspection and abatement of mold in school buildings.

The first bill, S2896, would require within 18 months of passage and every 5 years thereafter, the superintendent of each school district in the State, and the chief administrator of each private school and charter school within the State, to inspect and evaluate all buildings under their supervision for the presence of mold. The inspections would be conducted consistent with procedures established by the Department of Health for mold hazard evaluation, assessment, and abatement of building interiors.

If mold is detected, within two months the superintendent or chief administrator would be required to develop a plan and implementation schedule for mold hazard abatement. This mold hazard abatement must be implemented within six months of the development of the plan. Inspection results and mold hazard abatement schedules would be made available to parents or guardians of students in contaminated schools as appropriate.

The second bill, S2897, would require the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) in consultation with the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to develop procedures for the inspection, identification, evaluation, and abatement of mold hazards in residential buildings and schools. These procedures are to be consistent with standards and guidelines developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Additionally, the bill provides for the establishment of programs to certify mold inspectors and mold hazard abatement workers. The rules and regulations for the establishment of these certification programs are to be adopted within twelve months of the effective date of the bill. This will give DCA oversight of people who represent themselves to the public as experts in mold hazard inspection and abatement.

This pair of bills working in concert will serve to make schools safer for children by helping to ensure a mold-free learning environment.

Madden, Mosquera, Moriarty Issue Statement on Re-Opening Atlantic City Rail Line

Trenton – Senator Fred Madden, Assemblywoman Gabriella Mosquera and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty issued the following statement expressing their support for the re-opening of the Atlantic City Rail Line.

“The absence of the Atlantic City Rail Line has unjustifiably disrupted the lives of thousands of South Jersey residents and has suppressed economic prosperity in the region. Since last September, the Atlantic City Rail Line has been out of commission for the installation of federally mandated safety equipment. As we now head into March, well beyond the scheduled January 2019 re-opening, the residents of South Jersey deserve to see this shutdown come to an immediate end. 

“The execution of the positive train control installations by NJ Transit has been unacceptable, and their lack of transparency to the public regarding the status of the line’s upgrades has been even worse. Lives are being affected every passing day. Displaced riders dependent on public transportation are forced to endure bus routes that, in many cases, more than double their commute times.

“Residents are being deprived of valuable time, strains are being placed on families and jobs are being affected. It is in the best interest of the residents of South Jersey and our local economy to reopen the Atlantic City Rail Line immediately. The time of our residents is valuable and we cannot afford to see any more of their time wasted.”

Assemblyman Moriarty Bill Eliminating Discrimination against Cash-Paying Consumers Clears Legislature

Prohibiting discrimination against consumers paying for goods or services with cash, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Paul Moriarty was given final legislative passage in the Assembly on Thursday, 71-2.

The bill (A-591) specifically makes it an unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act for a person to sell or offer for sale any goods or services at retail if the person requires the buyer to pay with credit or prohibits the buyer from paying with cash. The bill is applicable to any retail transaction conducted in-person, and excludes telephone, mail, or internet based transactions.

“Many people do not have access to consumer credit and any effort by retail establishments to ban the use of cash would be discriminatory towards those people,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “The U.S. dollar is legal tender and should be accepted at any retail establishment in New Jersey.”

The sponsor also referred to an article written last year regarding how Visa had pushed for more small businesses to participate in a program that would offer up to $10,000 each to 50 U.S. based small businesses if they were to make their payment technology completely digital.
Any person in violation of this bill would be subject to a civil penalty up to $2,500 for a first offense, $5,000 for a second offense, and a third or subsequent offense would be an unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud Act.

Companies in the business of renting motor vehicles will be exempted from this bill. Motor vehicle companies would not be required to accept cash, provided they accept cashier’s checks or certified checks.

The Senate passed the measure 39-0 also on Thursday.