Updates on Executive Action in Trenton: Residential Evictions; Telemedicine and Telehealth; Local Voting; and Legislative Business, March 19, 2020

Updates on Executive Action in Trenton: Residential Evictions; Telemedicine and Telehealth; Local Voting; and Legislative Business, March 19, 2020

March 20, 2020

On March 19, 2020, Governor Murphy took legislative action, effective immediately, affecting residential evictions; telemedicine and telehealth; local elections and legislative business. A summary of such action is set forth below.

  • A3852/S2296 – Authorizing the Legislature to Conduct Business through Technological or Electronic Means During Emergencies
    • The statute allows the Legislature to “use any technology or electronic means to conduct its business or otherwise carry out its purpose” during a period of emergency. Prior law authorized the Legislature to conduct business outside of Trenton under certain circumstances, but did not expressly provide for legislative business to be conducting by electronic means. Notwithstanding this new statute, the Legislature will need to enact procedures to satisfy the requirement contained in Article IV, Section IV, paragraph 6 of the New Jersey Constitution that requires members of the Legislature to be “personally present” to vote on the final passage of bills.
  • A3859/S2276 – Authorizing the Governor to Prohibit Residential Tenant Eviction and Foreclosures During Certain Emergencies
    • The statute authorizes the Governor, during periods of emergency, to issue an executive order declaring that “a lessee, tenant, homeowner or any other person shall not be removed from a residential property as the result of an eviction or foreclosure proceeding.” However, no such executive order may remain in effect for longer than two months. The statute does not authorize the Governor to prohibit eviction and foreclosure proceedings from being initiated or continued during the period of emergency, and expressly allows for the filing and continuance of such proceedings during the period of emergency.
    • The statute defines “residential property” as “any property rented or owned for residential purposes, including, but not limited to, any house, building, mobile home or land in a mobile home park, or tenement leased for residential purposes, but shall not include any hotel, motel, or other guest house, or part thereof, rented to a transient guest or seasonal tenant, or a residential health care facility.”
  • A3860/S2289 – Authorizing the Expanded Use of “Telemedicine” and “Telehealth” During the COVID-19 Health Emergency
    • The statute provides that, for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, all health care practitioners are authorized to provide and bill for services using “telemedicine” and “telehealth.” Health care practitioners can deliver all forms of health care services to existing patients via telehealth and telemedicine means while the emergency is in effect. However, in the absence of a pre-existing provider-patient relationship, the health care services are limited to services related to screening for, diagnosing, or treating COVID-19. Under existing law, “telehealth” and “telemedicine” are defined as follows:
      • Telehealth” means the use of information and communications technologies, including telephones, remote patient monitoring devices, or other electronic means, to support clinical health care, provider consultation, patient and professional health-related education, public health, health administration, and other services in accordance with the provisions of [N.J.S.A. 45:1-61 et seq.].
      • “Telemedicine” means the delivery of a health care service using electronic communications, information technology, or other electronic or technological means to bridge the gap between a health care provider who is located at a distant site and a patient who is located at an originating site, either with or without the assistance of an intervening health care provider, and in accordance with the provisions of [N.J.S.A. 45:1-61 et seq.]. “Telemedicine” does not include the use, in isolation, of audio-only telephone conversation, electronic mail, instant messaging, phone text, or facsimile transmission.
      • The statute also authorizes certain health care providers who are not licensed or certified practice in New Jersey to provide telehealth and telemedicine services to New Jersey residents.

In addition to signing the laws discussed above, Governor Murphy also issued two executive orders:

  • Executive Order 105 postpones all local elections scheduled for March 21, 2020 and April 21, 2020 until May 12, 2020 and requires all elections scheduled for May 12, 2020 to be conducted solely via vote-by-mail ballots.
  • Executive Order 106 imposes a 60-day moratorium on removing individuals from their homes pursuant to a residential eviction and foreclosure proceeding, as expressly authorized by A3859/S2276.