MORIARTY, DIEGNAN & VAINIERI HUTTLE BILL TO SHIELD PHONE CARDS FROM NEW ANTI-CONSUMER LAW PASSES ASSEMBLY

(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assembly members Paul D. Moriarty, Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to exempt telephone cards from Governor Christie’s newly implemented escheatment law passed the Assembly Monday.

The bill (A-3159), which passed by a vote of 54-23-2, exempts gift cards or gift certificates usable solely for telephone services from the escheatment processes imposed by the budget signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie in June.

Last week, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction, preventing the law from being implemented pending a hearing on the constitutionality of the escheatment process.

“This law is bad enough to businesses and consumers,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden), chairman of the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee. “The least we can do it try to ensure it doesn’t begin adversely affecting those who rely on telephone cards, such soldiers on active military duty, for instance.”

“The ultimate goal is to repeal this law, but since we still have many unanswered questions from the administration, we know we can at least move forward on this aspect to better protect consumers,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Soldiers, for example, rely on telephone cards to keep in touch with their families, yet under this law could find their telephone cards taken out from underneath them while they’re busy defending our nation overseas.”

“The impact this anti-business and anti-consumer law has on telephone cards is perhaps the most glaring example of how this law is unfair,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “It would be wrong on so many levels to allow the state to seize telephone cards typically used by people such as low-income residents, students and soldiers.”

Several states exempt pre-paid telephone services cards from their definition of gift card, or stored value card, and the federal Credit CARD Act of 2009 which, in part, regulates the use of stored value cards, also excludes stored value cards usable solely for telephone services.

The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.