A bill pending in the New Jersey Senate could impact the Administrative Procedures Act, providing administrative law judges with greater power to handle contested cases involving state agencies. The Assembly unanimously approved bill A2722 last month.
Current Procedure: Agencies Can Reject Finding
Under New Jersey's current laws, a contested case involving state agencies is forwarded to the Department of the Office of Administrative Law and assigned to a judge. After the hearing, a report is issued, and the department head of the agency in question is given 45 days in which he or she can adopt or reject the report. If the agency head approves, the report becomes final.
Proposed Change: Judge’s Ruling is Final
However, if the Senate approves Bill A2722, the recommendations of the Administrative Law Judge would be final, and no department head would have the power to contest the recommendations.
The bill would allow the director and chief administrative law judge of the Office of Administrative Law and administrative law judges to issue decisions about contested cases. The bill would also provide for the recommended report of the administrative law judge to be considered as the final report of the agency.
Who Is Affected?
Under the legislation, the following agencies would have their current power to modify or reject the report of an administrative law judge restricted:
- The Department of Community Affairs;
- The Department of Education;
- The Department of Environmental Protection;
- The Division of Family Development in the Department of Human Services;
- The Division of Civil Rights in the Department of Law and Public Safety; and
- Other state agencies.
The New Jersey family lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman represent persons in cases relating to divorce, child custody, child support, visitation rights, domestic violence, and other family law-related matters.