Judge Orders Department of Education to Comply with Timeline for Special Education Hearings – U.S. District Court Judge Edward S. Kiel approved a settlement which will assign a federal monitor to ensure the NJ Department of Education complies with federal law regarding special education hearings. Under the law, if a family disagrees with the special education services offered by their district and submits a complaint, they are guaranteed a response within 45 days. A class action lawsuit brought by NJ families showed the state has failed to meet this timeline, putting federal funding at risk. The monitor will remain in place until 95% of cases are resolved within the required timeframe. 



Department of Health Plans for Integrated License for Holistic, Coordinated Care – The NJ Department of Health is working with the Department of Human Services to develop a plan for a single license for primary care and mental health services. Health Commissioner Kaitlan Baston announced the plans in an April 2 testimony to the Senate Budget Committee. The integrated license would enable healthcare practitioners to offer holistic, coordinated care to patients, addressing disparities in outcomes, treatment, and diagnosis. The plan will be released shortly for public comment, the first step in the process for regulatory change.


Public Administration

Bill Would Restrict Public Access to Police Body Cam Footage – A new bill would restrict sharing body camera footage of police encounters obtained through the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). A4140 would prohibit sharing without the written consent of all subjects in the video, except when there is a “legitimate public health or safety purpose or compelling public interest.” Sponsors wish to curb the phenomenon of social media creators exploiting young women by posting videos of their interactions with police officers for views. The proposal has received criticism from First Amendment advocates, who call it an overreach.



NJ Transit Board Approves Double-Digit Fare Hikes to Prevent ‘Death Spiral’ – The board of NJ Transit issued the final approval on April 10 for public transit fare hikes as high as 15% starting July 1, as well as 3% annual fare hikes going forward. Advocates have voiced opposition to the proposal since it was introduced in January, arguing it will harm the urban and minority communities who most rely on public transit. The revenue from the fare hikes will meet the $106.6 million budget shortfall anticipated for the 2025 fiscal year, and NJ Transit CEO Kevin Corbett stated the increased revenue would prevent service cuts which could further reduce revenue and would send the agency into a ‘death spiral.’ 



New Jersey Joins Fight to Legislate Against Deepfake Pornography – Legislation introduced to both NJ legislative bodies in January would criminalize pornographic deepfake (digitally altered) photos or videos. New Jersey joins other states and congressional representatives in efforts to combat the harm of this phenomenon through policy initiatives. Indiana, Texas, and Virginia have criminalized the sharing of deepfake pornography, while other states have updated their definition of child pornography to include deepfake pornography. The NJ bill remains pending in the Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees.