CSG Committee on Suggested State Legislation

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This Act establishes a process to enable crime victims or their advocates to recover property held by law enforcement agencies. 

This Act generally authorizes licensed skilled nursing facilities and hospice facilities to use remote automated medication systems when such facilities do not have pharmacies on-site. 

This Act limits employers from requesting or requiring employees or applicants disclose any user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account or service through specified electronic communications devices. It also limits employers from taking, or threatening to take, disciplinary action against employees who refuse to disclose specified password and related information. 

This Act generally requires a court, when admonishing a jury against conversation, research,  or dissemination of information pursuant to the trial, to clearly explain, as part of the admonishment, that the prohibition applies to all forms of electronic and wireless communication. It requires the officer in charge of a jury to prevent any form of electronic or wireless communication. The Act makes violating such admonishment punishable as civil or criminal contempt of court.

The Research Division of the North Carolina General Assembly reports North Carolina Session Law 2011-192, as amended by S.L. 2011-412 (HB 335), revises state criminal laws, criminal procedure laws, and probation statutes. The Act is based upon recommendations of The Council of State Governments Justice Center, working in conjunction with state agencies and officials. Known as the Justice Reinvestment Project, the working group received input from criminal justice practitioners and stakeholders from around the state, including superior and district court judges, district attorneys, defense attorneys, behavioral health treatment providers, family members, consumers, law enforcement officials, victim advocates, and probation officers. The goal of their work was to develop a statewide policy framework to reduce spending on corrections and reinvest in strategies to increase public safety. 

Increasingly, state governments are publishing laws, statutes, agency rules, and court rules  and decisions online. In some states, important state-level legal material is no longer published in books, but is only available online. While electronic publication of legal material has facilitated public access to the material, it has also raised concerns. Is the legal material official, authentic, government data that has not been altered? For the long term, how will this electronic legal material be preserved? How will the public access the material 10, 50, or 100 years from now? The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) provides states with an outcomes-based approach to the authentication and preservation of electronic legal material. The goals of the authentication and preservation program outlined in the Act are to enable end-users to verify the trustworthiness of the legal material they are using and to provide a framework for states to preserve legal material in perpetuity in a manner that allows for permanent access.

This uniform law has made the tenancy in common, a common ownership structure under which two or more cotenants own undivided interests in a parcel of property, the default ownership structure for two or more family members who inherit real property. In addition, the law presumes that two or more people who acquire undivided interests in real property by conveyance or devise take ownership to the property as tenants in common and not as joint tenants unless the intention to create a joint tenancy is very clear. However, certain key features of tenancy-in-common ownership can create serious problems for those seeking to maintain ownership of the property for themselves and their relatives. For example, any cotenant may sell his or her interest or convey it by gift during his or her lifetime without the consent of his or her cotenants, making it easy for non-family members – including real estate speculators – to acquire interests in family real estate. Or at a cotenant’s death, his or her interest in the property may be transferred by will or pursuant to intestacy laws. Once someone acquires even a small interest in tenancy-in-common property, this new cotenant can initiate a partition action and request the court to order a forced sale of the entire property, called a partition by sale, even if all of the other cotenants do not consent and wish to retain ownership of the property. 

This Act defines a “Retained Asset Account” as “any mechanism whereby the settlement of proceeds payable under a life insurance policy, including but not limited to the payment of cash surrender value, is accomplished by the insurer or an entity acting on behalf of the insurer depositing the proceeds into an account where those proceeds are retained by the insurer, pursuant to a supplementary contract not involving annuity benefits.” The legislation precludes insurers from using a retained asset account as the mode of settlement of payment to a life insurance beneficiary unless the insurer discloses the use of a retained asset account to the beneficiary or the beneficiary's legal representative prior to the transfer of life insurance proceeds to a retained asset account.The Act requires insurers to inform a beneficiary about the right to receive a lump-sum payment of life insurance proceeds in the form of a bank check or similar other immediate full payment of benefits. It requires insurers to disclose all payment options available to beneficiaries, in written or electronic format, upon the distribution of anything other than a lump-sum payment of life insurance proceeds. The bill sets forth specific disclosure requirements upon the use of a retained asset account rather than a lump-sum payment. It establishes annual insurer reporting requirements to the department of insurance about retained asset accounts. The legislation requires all marketing materials, disclosure statements, and supplemental contract forms used in connection with retained asset accounts to be filed with the department of insurance prior to their use. The Act authorizes the commissioner to disapprove any materials, statements, or forms that are inconsistent with the provisions of the section or are otherwise untrue, unfair, deceptive, false, or misleading. The legislation requires insurers to return any balance held in a retained asset account to the beneficiary if no funds are withdrawn from the account, or if no affirmative directive has been  provided to the insurer by the beneficiary, during any continuous three-year period.

Hawaii Act 48 of 2011 (SB651, SD2 HD2, CD1) amended the foreclosure processes under state law to provide greater protection for homeowners. The Act requires certain large mortgage servicers to maintain an office in the state that is staffed by at least one agent to address consumer inquiries or complaints and to accept service of process. The Act voids future foreclosure actions taken by unlicensed, nonexempt mortgage servicers.

This Act defines “veterans benefits appeal services” as services which a veteran might reasonably require in order to appeal a denial of federal or state veterans benefits, including but not limited to denials of disability, limited-income, home loan, insurance, education and training, burial and memorial, and dependent and survivor benefits. It directs that such services put in their advertising a notice that similar appeals services are offered at no cost by counties or veterans affairs offices operated by the state. 

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