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(4th LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT) – Assemblyman Paul Moriarty on Wednesday hailed a federal judge’s decision to put a halt to Gov. Chris Christie’s bid to grab $79.5 million in unused gift card funds from New Jersey consumers.
According to a report in the New Jersey Law Journal, Judge Freda Wolfson in Trenton has issued a preliminary injunction against parts of the Christie law, which has been challenged by merchants and trade groups as unconstitutional.
The law was to have taken effect last Monday, Nov. 15.
“This is a great victory for New Jersey consumers,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester), who chairs the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee. “Still, it’s just a start. This case isn’t over yet. Consumers need to continue to be wary of Christie administration policies that target consumers, businesses and working class New Jerseyans.”
The law gives the Christie administration authority to claim funds from gift cards and other stored-value cards after two years. After three years of inactivity, the state can claim funds from travelers’ checks and money orders.
The law was challenged by the American Express Travel Related Services Co., the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, the New Jersey Food Council and American Express Prepaid Card Management Corp.
“This is quite simply yet another Christie tax increase on hard-working New Jerseyans and businesses,” Moriarty said. “The sole reason for this law is to generate revenue for the state’s coffers at the direct expense of consumers and businesses in New Jersey. This is a tax increase plain and simple and I’m glad to see the judge agreed it was an affront to consumers.”
The Assembly is set to vote Monday on legislation (A-3159) sponsored by Moriarty, Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex) and Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) to exempt telephone calls from Christie’s escheatment law.
Republicans, including Assemblyman Domenick DiCicco (R-Gloucester/Camden), refused to take a stand in favor of the bill – and thus consumers – during recent committee hearings. Instead, they abstained from voting.
The bill exempts gift cards or gift certificates usable solely for telephone services from the escheatment processes signed into law by Christie in June..
“This law is bad enough to businesses and consumers,” said Moriarty. “Combined with this ruling, this bill is another step to ensure this horrendous law doesn’t adversely affect those who rely on telephone cards, such soldiers on active military duty, for instance.”