Governor Murphy Takes the Oath of Office, Executive Action on Pay Equity

Phil Murphy was sworn in as New Jersey’s 56th Governor on January 16, 2018. Also assuming office was New Jersey’s second Lt. Governor, Sheila Oliver. In his Inaugural Address, Governor Murphy’s theme was one of inclusiveness and making New Jersey fairer and stronger for all residents. He spoke of restoring confidence in state government, leading through progressive policies based on common sense, and enacting a State Budget that was both fiscally and morally responsible. He specifically challenged the Legislature to send him legislation to restore funding for women’s healthcare and Planned Parenthood; raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour; provide equal pay for women; require employers to provide earned sick leave; expand voting rights; and enact new gun safety laws. The Governor noted that each of these bills would be met with a signing ceremony upon its passage. The Governor also took action and signed an Executive Order barring state workers from asking job applicants seeking positions with the state about their previous salaries. At the signing ceremony, the Governor publicly stated he would sign a bill that extended these same provisions to private sector employers. As Governor Murphy takes office, he has already nominated most of his Cabinet and...

Committee Assignments for State Senate and General Assembly Announced

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin announced the committee chairpersons and committee members for the 218th Legislative Session. While most committee chairs remained the same, several important committees will see new leaders in both the Assembly and Senate. Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-28) became Chairwoman of the Assembly Budget Committee, succeeding Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-36) who had chaired the committee for the past several sessions. Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-37) returned to his chairmanship of the Assembly Commerce Committee after having relinquished that role last session, and Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27) assumed the Chairmanship of the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. A new committee, the Assembly Science and Technology Committee, was formed and will be chaired by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16). Lastly, Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin (D-18) will chair the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee. Senator Bob Gordon (D-38) took over the chairmanship of the Senate Transportation Committee, a position previously held by Senator Nick Sacco (D-32). By becoming Chair of Senate Transportation, Senator Gordon relinquished his Chairmanship of the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee, which will now be led by Senator Brian Stack (D-33). Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D-5) is the new Chairwoman of the Senate Economic Growth...

21st Century Cures Act Lands in Federal Budget Blueprint

President Trump’s proposed FY 2018 Budget (a/k/a the “skinny budget”) presented a departure from his predecessor’s proposed annual budgets – namely a $54 billion increase in defense and military spending paired with corresponding cuts to virtually every other federal department. But one area President Trump did not cut was the implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act (the “Cures Act”), which also happens to be one of the last bills signed into law by then-President Obama. The FY 2018 budget blueprint proposes to appropriate $1.1 billion towards the Cures Act’s implementation in the upcoming fiscal year. The Cures Act strives to expedite the discovery, development, and delivery of new treatments and cures. Those in the medical, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industry should look to the Cures Act as the potential game-changer that the bipartisan sponsors of the law hoped it would be. Not only does the Cures Act provide the National Institute of Health with significant new funds to speed up research into diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, but it also attempts to speed up the process by which new treatments are reviewed and approved by the FDA. The Cures Act also focuses on changes to the treatment of mental health and...

What You Need to Know About Federal Regulatory Reform

President Trump and the newly-elected Congress have made regulatory reform a main focus of their policy agenda. With Republicans controlling both the White House and Capitol Hill for the first time in over a decade, significant actions were taken within the first several weeks of coming into power that regulated industries should be aware of. Implementation of a Regulatory Freeze – The Trump Administration froze all federal rulemaking by issuing a policy memorandum to the Executive Branch departments and agencies. The memorandum declared that no regulations should be submitted “until a department or agency head appointed or designated by the President … reviews and approves the regulation.” The memorandum also required the Executive Branch agencies to either withdraw or postpone all agency regulations submitted to the Office of the Federal Register. The only exceptions to the regulatory freeze are for “emergency situations or other urgent circumstances relating to health, safety, financial, or national security matters” or “regulations subject to statutory or judicial deadlines.” Reducing Regulations for Domestic Manufacturing – President Trump directed the Executive Branch departments and agencies to support the expansion of manufacturing in the United States through “expedited reviews of and approvals for proposals to construct or expand...

Attorney-Client Protections Do Not Extend to Lawyers Providing Government Affairs Counseling in Non-Law Firm Settings

A December 10, 2015, joint decision from the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics and the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law (‘Committees’) provides clarity to lawyer-lobbyists working in non-law firm settings. Both Committees examined this issue after receiving an inquiry whether an attorney representing clients at a lobbying and government affairs services company that is not a law firm may use the designation “Esq.” after her name on company letterhead. The decision concludes that a lawyer may “associate with non-lawyers in lobbying and government affairs services companies, outside a law firm, provided the company communicates to their customers that they do not provide legal services or offer the protections of a lawyer-client relationship and the lawyers do not hold themselves out as acting in the capacity of lawyers.” The decision also directs attorneys, working in a non-legal setting, to not use the “Esquire” or “Esq.” designation. As part of its analysis, the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law determined that many of the activities associated with lobbying are the practice of law, but also determined that it is in the public interest to allow registered non-lawyers to provide these services as well. They felt that “potential harm was...