Diegnan, Moriarty & Johnson Bill to Reverse Christie’s Anti-Retailer Law that Enhanced State Claims to Unclaimed Property Approved by Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democratic lawmakers Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., Paul Moriarty and Gordon Johnson to reverse the Christie administration’s anti-retailer law governing state treatment of unclaimed property was approved 48-27-4 Thursday by the Assembly.
The bill (A-1871) reverses changes to the laws governing the state’s treatment of unclaimed property made as part of the budget signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie in June 2010.
The state’s unclaimed property laws provide for a system whereby certain types of property that have gone unused for periods of time accrue to the state and are treated as state revenue.
“The governor’s changes aggressively shortened the abandonment periods for money orders and travelers checks and created a state claim on unused stored value cards,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “These changes have caused a significant amount of uncertainty for consumers and businesses alike.”
“The governor’s changes were decidedly anti-consumer and anti-business at a time when we should be protecting both,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “This bill restores sanity to the system and protects the public’s rights to unclaimed property.”
“The last thing businesses and consumers needs right now is laws targeting them,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “We should be promoting businesses and protecting consumers, not going after them, especially in this difficult economy.”
The bill would remove all references and the operative section for the state’s claim on certain unused stored value cards.
It would also re-enact the 15 year abandonment period for traveler’s checks and the seven year abandonment period for money orders, both of which were changed to 3 years.
The bill would restore the previous statutory standard of unconscionability for limiting service charges on traveler’s checks and limiting fees associated with a failure to redeem a credit balance, customer overpayment, security deposit, refund, credit memorandum, unused ticket and similar instruments.
Additionally, the bill re-enacts certain money order specific consumer protections that had been otherwise configured in statute by recent changes.
Lastly, the bill would grant the state treasurer emergency regulatory authority to implement this act and to reimburse issuers that reported unclaimed property under the recent 2010 changes, which would not have been due reportable otherwise.