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Legislation signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie yesterday will reduce the time it takes to get a commercial driver license in New Jersey by allowing third-party vendors to administer the knowledge and skills test. Also yesterday, the Senate passed expansion of insurance coverage for drug addiction treatment and Christie signed legislation preventing price gouging after a natural disaster.

Here is a roundup of action on legislation NJBIA is working on.

Commercial Driver License, S-2364

Signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie Feb. 6

NJBIA position: support.

The process of getting a commercial driver license (CDL) should move a lot faster under a pilot program allowing third-party vendors to administer the knowledge and skills tests. Drivers in New Jersey have some of the longest waits to get their CDL, with some people waiting three months or longer. In the 39 other states that already allow private third-party testing, the wait time is as short as one week.

Price Gouging after Natural Disaster, S-2321

Signed into law by Gov. Christie Feb. 6

NJBIA position: support

The new law will protect consumers from price gouging during a natural disaster and support small businesses following a state of emergency declaration. Specifically, it allows the Governor to extend the existing 30-day prohibition against excessive prices. The law will ensure business won’t be put at a disadvantage because of the inflexibility of the previous limit, while still protecting consumers from price gouging tactics that threaten their welfare and safety.

Expansion of Drug Treatment Coverage, S-3

Approved by the Senate Feb. 6

The bill would expand insurance coverage for opioid drug addiction, extending the length of in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation programs that insurance must pay for. Clearly, drug addiction is a major problem in New Jersey, but so is the cost of health insurance. NJBIA has raised concerns about the cost of the expanded coverage, particularly the impact it will have on premiums and the ability of business owners to provide health benefits to their employees. To better understand the overall cost impact of the bill, NJBIA had requested that it be reviewed by the legislative budget committees.

The Association places a strong and consistent focus on the quality and affordability of health insurance because it is consistently ranked the number one concern facing our members in our annual NJBIA Business Outlook Survey.

Behavioral Health Parity, A-4498

Released by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee on Jan. 30

NJBIA Position: oppose

The legislation would expand mental health parity requirements to require insurance to provide coverage for behavioral health treatment at the same level as for other covered services. It would amend statutes that provided parity for biologically based mental illnesses to require it for behavioral health care services as well. NJBIA opposes the bill because of the potential impact on the cost of health insurance and the ability of businesses to be able to afford insurance coverage for their employees.