Newsroom

12/18/18: Pou Bill to Protect Consumers From Unnecessary Fees was Signed by Governor

posted Dec 19, 2018, 1:11 PM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Dec 19, 2018, 1:11 PM ]

TRENTON –Legislation sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chair Nellie Pou, which will prohibit consumer reporting agencies from charging certain fees related to security freezes on consumer reports, was signed by the governor yesterday. 

“Freezing a consumer’s credit file is an essential security step. Charging people a fee to unlock it, however, is unacceptable and I am glad that it is now illegal,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic).  “This is a big win for the consumer, especially in light of the recent security issues at some of the major credit reporting bureaus.”   

The bill, S-2786, will amend theNew Jersey "Identity Theft Prevention Act" to prohibit a consumer reporting agency from charging a consumer any fee to remove or temporarily lift a security freeze on that consumer’s consumer report.

Current law prohibits consumer reporting agencies from charging fees to place a security freeze on a consumer's consumer report, but allows a reasonable fee, not to exceed five dollars, to be charged to a consumer who elects to remove or temporarily lift a security freeze on that consumer's consumer report or if the consumer fails to retain the original personal identification number provided by the consumer reporting agency and must be reissued the same or a new personal identification number. The bill will remove the provisions allowing a fee to be charged in these situations.

12/18/18: Pou Joint Resolution to Establish Commission to Review Life Without Parole Sentences for Juvenile Offenders was Signed by Governor

posted Dec 19, 2018, 1:06 PM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Dec 19, 2018, 1:06 PM ]

TRENTON –A joint resolution sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Nellie Pou, that establishes a commission to review life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders, was signed by the governor yesterday.

“We cannot give up on young people who have committed serious crimes,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Juveniles, in particular, deserve avenues for rehabilitation. This resolution will establish a commission to study later review of juvenile sentences with lengthy periods of parole ineligibility, and to consider whether defendants should be entitled to appointed counsel at that hearing.”

The joint resolution, SJR-18, will establish the “Commission to Review Constructive Sentences of Life Imprisonment on Juvenile Offenders.” The commission will examine issues concerning sentencing and parole of juvenile offenders who are tried as adults for serious, violent crime which may result in a constructive life term of imprisonment without a reasonable opportunity for parole.

The Commission will be required to:

  • Evaluate the impact of recent United States and New Jersey Supreme Court rulings on juvenile offenders who are sentenced to constructive life terms of imprisonment without a reasonable opportunity for parole and should consider whether State criminal sentencing laws should be revised to take into account certain sentencing factors set forth in these cases.
  • Assess whether the age of majority in New Jersey is the appropriate age threshold under which the court would determine if the “mitigating qualities of youth” and these sentencing factors should be considered at sentencing or whether another approach is more appropriate.
  • Identify and evaluate possible methods for providing persons currently serving constructive terms of imprisonment for crimes committed as a juvenile a reasonable opportunity for release when appropriate, such as resentencing by the court or establishing statutory limits on parole ineligibility with retroactive applicability.
  • Determine whether these juvenile defendants should have the right to legal counsel at court or parole hearings.
  • Consider the impact that juvenile resentencing or parole alternatives may have on the victims to ensure that any recommended reform satisfies the constitutional mandate to treat crime victims with fairness, compassion and respect. 

The commission will consist of 15 members: two from the Senate, two from the Assembly, six ex-officio members (including  the Administrative Director of the Courts, the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Corrections, the Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Commission, the Public Defender and the Chairman of the State Parole Board),  and five public members appointed by the Governor (including a retired Superior Court judge, a county prosecutor, a victims’ rights advocate, a representative of a civil rights or social justice organization, and a State law school faculty member with expertise in juvenile justice issues). Members of the commission will serve without compensation.

The commission will report within six months of its organizational meeting and expire upon submission of that report.

10/16/18: Pou’s Bill to Clarify Definition of Health Care Service Firms and Homemaker-Home Health Aides Clears Committee

posted Oct 17, 2018, 2:16 PM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Oct 17, 2018, 2:17 PM ]

Trenton- A bill sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou that would revise the current law to clarify the definition of health care service firms and homemaker-home health aides advanced yesterday in the Senate Commerce Committee.

The bill, S-2773, would clarify that any firm that employs, places or arranges the placement of an individual to provide companion, personal or health care services in the personal residence of a person with a disability or who is 60 years old or older,  must register as a health care service firm.  

“This bill will ensure that all firms acting as health care agencies for our elderly, including the ones using the Internet to arrange and provide companions or health care services are properly registered.” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “We need to ensure that adequate care is provided with registered and qualified caregivers at all times.”

The bill would authorize the Division of Consumer Affairs to enforce the health care service firm registration, a prerequisite upon any person who operates a firm that is subject to the registration requirement, whether the operations include the direct employment of individuals, the use of an Internet website or application, or any other process or business model.

Currently there are more than 1,000 health care service firms registered in the state of New Jersey.

In addition to any other penalty provided by law, the bill would provide that a person is liable for a penalty of $500 per each day that the person continues to operate a firm without being registered as a health care service firm as required.

The bill would also clarify that certified homemaker-home health aides must work under the supervision of a duly licensed registered professional nurse, which is provided by the home care services agency that directly employs the homemaker-home health aide when following a delegated nursing regimen.

The bill was released from the Senate Commerce Committee by a vote of 4-0 and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

09/06/18: Pou, Ruiz Resolution Designating September 20th as Hispanic Journalist Pride Day Signed into Law

posted Sep 6, 2018, 12:07 PM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Sep 6, 2018, 12:09 PM ]

TRENTON - A joint resolution sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Nellie Pou and Senate Education Committee Chairwoman M. Teresa Ruiz designating September 20th of each year as the Hispanic American Journalist Pride Day was signed into law by Governor Murphy.

 

“I’m pleased Governor Murphy has joined us in recognizing the hard work of our Hispanic journalists from the Garden State,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Hispanic journalists are not only committed to the truth, but to the deep perspective on the idiosyncrasy of our Hispanic community that is rich and diverse. They also tell us about the struggles, needs and hopes of our striving Hispanic community that contributes to our economy, society and the diverse culture of this nation”.

 

Hispanic Americans represent 17.4 percent of the U.S. population. Hispanic journalists make significant contributions in the news industry, developing careers in print, broadcast and online journalism in English and Spanish-language media.

 

The mission of the National Association of Hispanic journalists (NAHJ) is to increase the percentage of Hispanics working in the nation’s newsrooms and to improve news coverage of the Hispanic community. NAHJ is the nation’s largest professional organization for Hispanic Journalists with more than 1,400 members working in English and Spanish.

08/10/18: Pou Bill Concerning Reciprocity for Out-of-State Professional Licenses Signed into Law

posted Aug 14, 2018, 6:32 AM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Aug 14, 2018, 6:33 AM ]

TRENTON –Senator Nellie Pou applauds Governor Phil Murphy for singing legislation that gives additional time to an individual holding an out-of-state professional or occupational license to produce proper documentation to a state official if the individual is coming from a state that has experienced a natural disaster or catastrophic event into law today.

 

“The people of Puerto Rico were devastated by Hurricane Maria,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “The restoration of services is still continuing on the island and many residents have left Puerto Rico to come to the mainland. Amending our state law allows them to rebuild their careers in our state. We are richer because of their presence and we should be proud that they see New Jersey as a welcoming place. This law will provide relief to people affected beyond Puerto Rico, including residents of Texas and Florida.”

 

Individuals impacted by a storm after August 1, 2017 will be given one year from today to provide required documentation.  This includes those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Maria.

 

The law also provides clarification of the term “state” to include state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or any other territory or possession of the United States.

06/25/18: Pou Bill Concerning Reciprocity for Out-of-State Professional Licenses Approved

posted Jul 3, 2018, 6:26 AM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Jul 3, 2018, 6:29 AM ]

TRENTON - A bill sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Nellie Pou that would give additional time to an individual holding an out-of-state professional or occupational license to produce proper documentation to a state official if the individual is coming from a state that has experienced a natural disaster or catastrophic event was approved by the full Senate today.
 
"The people of Puerto Rico were devastated by Hurricane Maria," said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). "The restoration of services is still continuing on the island and many residents have left Puerto Rico to come to the mainland. We need to amend our state law to allow them to rebuild their careers in our state. We are richer because of their presence and we should be proud that they see New Jersey as a welcoming place. But it is important to also note that this bill will provide relief to people affected beyond Puerto Rico, including residents of Texas and Florida."
 
The bill, S-522Sca, would revise current law to allow these individuals to produce documentation, but if they met all other provisions of current law they would be able to practice in New Jersey immediately. Additionally, the bill would allow individuals impacted by a storm after August 1, 2017 - which would include Hurricanes Harvey and Maria - one year from the date of the bill's enactment to provide the required documentation.
 
If enacted, the bill would also clarify the term "state" to include state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or any other territory or possession of the United States.
 
The bill was approved by a vote of 39-0.

06/28/18: Pou Bill to Aid Economic Development in Paterson Signed by Governor Murphy

posted Jun 28, 2018, 4:33 PM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Jun 28, 2018, 4:33 PM ]

TRENTON –Governor Phil Murphy today signed into law S-1968, a bill sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Nellie Pou that enables the City of Paterson to take full advantage of Economic Redevelopment and Growth (ERG) tax credits.

 

“I am grateful to Governor Murphy for recognizing the economic potential of the great city of Paterson,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “This law gives the city an additional year to use $130 million in ERG tax credits. These funds will help spur economic development in the city.

 

“In recent years, we have seen the benefits of fighting for National Park status of the Great Falls. The area near the Great Falls, as well as other sections of Paterson, are prime for development and investment. These ERG tax credits make that investment more possible and more attractive to investors. This is a good day for the city.”

06/25/18: Pou Bill to Protect Consumers from Misleading Websites Selling Event Tickets Approved

posted Jun 27, 2018, 4:38 PM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Jun 27, 2018, 4:38 PM ]

TRENTON –A bill sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Nellie Pou that would prohibit website operators from offering tickets to events using a domain name that is intentionally misleading was passed by the full Senate today.

 

“We have to put a stop to these websites created to take advantage of consumers looking for tickets to concerts or sporting events,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “These unscrupulous website operators create a site that deliberately mimics an authentic website to trick consumers into believing they are on the ‘official’ site of the event, charging them inflated prices. These are not legitimate secondary market websites that clearly state what they are about. Consumers need this protection.”

 

The bill, S-2665, would prohibit website operators from intentionally using an Internet domain names that contains the name of the place or entertainment, or a name that is substantially similar. It would also prohibit the website operating from using the name of the event or any name that is substantially similar. That would include the name of the person or entity scheduled to perform or appear at the place of entertainment.

 

Failure to comply with the law would result in a fine of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offenses. However, violations could also result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.

 

While the Federal Trade Commission in 2014 began requiring these websites to carry disclaimers that the site was not official, often these disclaimers are in text that is hard to find.

 

The bill was approved by a vote of 35-1.

06/25/18: Pou Bill to Revise ‘New Jersey Residential Mortgage Lending Act’ Approved

posted Jun 27, 2018, 4:37 PM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Jun 27, 2018, 4:37 PM ]

TRENTON –A bill sponsored by Senate Commerce Chairwoman Nellie Pou that would revise the “New Jersey Residential Mortgage Lending Act” was approved by the Senate today.

 

“It is our job in the Legislature to continually review past legislative and regulatory actions,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “This is particularly important with regard to mortgage lending. Homeownership is the cornerstone of the American Dream and consumers expect the lending process to be transparent, honest and fair. These revisions make common-sense adjustments that reflect those values while also ensuring that the regulations placed on lenders and on the persons working within that financial sector are also fair.”

 

The bill, S-709, would revise the fees lenders and brokers can charge and update standards for licensing the businesses and individuals that originate loans. 

 

The bill would also establish requirements for exempt companies: an individual must be in the business of mortgage loan origination solely by virtue of its performance of loan processing or underwriting functions. An exempt company would be required to:

 

·        register with the commissioner of the Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) and with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry

 

·        respond in a timely manner to any request from the commissioner for the production of and access to books, records, accounts and documents relative to its operation

 

·        submit to the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry a mortgage call report of conditions when required

·        provide in writing notice to the commissioner with 10 days of an occurrence that would cause the exempt company to no longer qualify for such status

 

·        employ at least one person who is licensed as a mortgage loan originator who would not engage in the origination of mortgage loans and would be assigned supervision and assignment duties with respect to loan processors or loan underwriters

 

The bill would establish additional requirements for business licensees for lenders and brokers and provide additional authority to DOBI with respect to certain aspects of business licensees.

 

Additionally, the bill would allow mortgage loan originators to hold a transitional license, which would allow them to practice for a period of no more than 90 days pending the completion of the loan requirements for licensure as a New Jersey mortgage loan originator. It would also provide that a felony conviction that is expunged would not be considered disqualifying information for obtaining an individual license.

 

A person seeking an individual license who has unresolved credit issues but demonstrates to the satisfaction of the commissioner a good faith effort to achieve the level of financial responsibility required, could obtain “approved conditional status” and act as a loan originator, broker or lender.

 

Continuing education requirements would be revised to include fair lending issues and two hours of instruction related to New Jersey laws and regulations on residential mortgage lending.

 

The bill would also revise the types of fees that a residential mortgage lender has the right to charge. The lender would no longer be allowed to expressly charge a credit report fee and an appraisal fee.

 

The bill was approved by a vote of 37-0.

06/21/18: Pou, Ruiz Resolution Designating Sept. 20 as Hispanic Journalist Pride Day Approved

posted Jun 25, 2018, 5:48 AM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Jun 25, 2018, 5:48 AM ]

TRENTON – A joint resolution sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Nellie Pou and Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Teresa Ruiz designating September 20thof each year as Hispanic American Journalist Pride Day was approved by the full Senate today.

 

“Journalists are under fire today by so many people, including our president,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “So it’s important to recognize what all journalists do. But it is even more important that the press in America represents the vibrant and diverse cultures that comprise America. Besides covering national and international news, Hispanic journalists also bring a unique perspective to their reporting by writing about the concerns of the Hispanic community as well as its pride and joy. We need that perspective to better understand the context of what is happening in so many of our communities. This is particularly true of what we have seen happening to immigrant families crossing our southern border. Hispanic journalists highlight the culture and diversity in the media and in journalism.”

 

“Designating a day to honor Hispanic journalists is fitting during Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex) “Hispanic journalists have deep connections to the continually growing Hispanic communities in New Jersey. We need journalists who not only see the vibrant stories that come out of our Hispanic communities, but understand the context of them in a way that only people who are of part of those communities can. These journalists can bring an added dimension to the reporting on the horrific immigration policies that have been carried out on our southern border with Mexico. Hispanic journalists should be honored for what they do every day of the year.”

 

Hispanic Americans represent 17.4 percent of the U.S. population. Hispanic journalists make significant contributions in the news industry, developing careers in print, broadcast and online journalism in English and Spanish-language media.

 

The mission of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) is to increase the percentage of Hispanics working in the nation’s newsrooms and to improve news coverage of the Hispanic community. NAHJ is the nation’s largest professional organization for Hispanic journalists with more than 1,400 members working in English and Spanish.

 

The joint resolution, SJR-14, was approved by a vote of 40-0.

1-10 of 184