SENATE, No. 1275

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 8, 2016

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JOSEPH F. VITALE

District 19 (Middlesex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Clarifies DHS authority to regulate sober living homes and halfway houses as residential substance abuse aftercare facilities; requires background checks and other protections for residents of residential substance abuse facilities.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning the regulation of certain facilities by the Department of Human Services and amending and supplementing P.L.1975, c.305 and P.L.1970, c.334, amending P.L.1982, c.149, and supplementing Titles 26 and 53 of the Revised Statues.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Section 2 of P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-8) is amended to read as follows:

     2.    The following words as used in this act shall, unless the context requires otherwise, have the following meanings:

     "Administrator" means the person in charge of the operation of a facility, or his designee.

     "Admitted" means accepted for treatment at a facility.

     "Alcoholic" means any person who chronically, habitually or periodically consumes alcoholic beverages to the extent that:  a. such use substantially injures his health or substantially interferes with his social or economic functioning in the community on a continuing basis, or b. he has lost the power of self-control with respect to the use of such beverages.

     "Authorized persons" means persons who serve as volunteer first aid or ambulance squad members, para-professional medical personnel and rehabilitated alcoholics.

     "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of [Health] Human Services.

     "Department" means the [State] Department of [Health] Human Services.

     "Director" means the Director of the Division of [Alcoholism] Mental Health and Addiction Services.

     "Division" means the Division of [Alcoholism] Mental Health and Addiction Services in the Department of Human Services.

     "Facility" means any public, private place, or portion thereof providing services especially designed for the treatment of intoxicated persons or alcoholics; including, but not limited to intoxication treatment centers, inpatient treatment facilities, outpatient facilities, and residential aftercare facilities.

     "Incapacitated" means the condition of a person who is:  a. as a result of  the use of alcohol, unconscious or has his judgment so impaired that he is incapable of realizing and making a rational decision with respect to his need for treatment, b. in need of substantial medical attention, or c. likely to suffer substantial physical harm.

     "Independent physician" means a physician other than one holding an office or appointment in any department, board or agency of the State of New Jersey or in any public facility.

     "Intoxicated person" means a person whose mental or physical functioning is substantially impaired as a result of the use of alcoholic beverages.

     "Patient" means any person admitted to a facility.

     "Private facility" means a facility other than one operated by the Federal Government, the State of New Jersey or any political subdivision thereof.

     "Public facility" means a facility operated by the State of New Jersey or any political subdivision thereof.

     "Treatment" means services and programs for the care or rehabilitation of intoxicated persons and alcoholics, including, but not limited to, medical, psychiatric, psychological, vocational, educational, recreational, and social services and programs.

(cf:  P.L.1975, c.305, s.2)

 

     2.    Section 6 of P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-12) is amended to read as follows:

     6.    The department shall take cognizance of all matters affecting alcoholism in the State and shall establish and conduct a program for the treatment of intoxicated persons and alcoholics.

     The program may encourage regionalization of services and, if not otherwise available, provide for the following facilities, which need not be separately located:

     a.     Intoxication treatment centers, which centers shall render emergency medical care, including detoxification, shall be open 24 hours every day, and shall be located conveniently near population centers.  Services shall be provided for the immediate physical and social needs, including the needs for medication and shelter, of intoxicated persons, and shall also provide for initial examination, diagnosis and referral.  To the extent possible, such treatment centers shall be affiliated with a general or other hospital.

     b.    Inpatient facilities, for treatment of alcoholics, which shall, to the extent possible, be affiliated with the medical service of a general hospital, mental hospital, community mental health center, or other hospital.

     c.     Outpatient facilities.

     d.    Residential aftercare facilities, such as halfway houses or transitional sober living homes .

     The department shall maintain, supervise and control all facilities operated by it pursuant to [this act] P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-7 et seq.) and all such facilities shall be staffed with an adequate number of qualified and trained personnel.  The administrator of each [such] facility shall make an annual report of its activities to the director in such manner and form as the director may deem appropriate.  All appropriate resources, particularly community mental health centers, shall whenever possible be utilized in and coordinated with the program.

     Services delivered by the department pursuant to [this act] P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-7 et seq.) may be administered on the premises of institutions operated in whole or in part by the department of institutions and agencies.  Such services shall be administered as such services are administered in the other facilities of the department and shall in all respects be therapeutic in nature rather than penal or correctional.

     The department shall annually prepare and publish [annually] a list of all [services] facilities and service-providing entities operating in accordance with [this act and] P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-7 et seq.), shall make the list available , upon request , to members of the public, and shall include the information on its website in accordance with the registry established pursuant to section 17 of P.L.    , c.    (C.       )(pending before the Legislature as this bill).  The department shall notify all law enforcement agencies and judges in the State of the location and capacity of intoxication treatment centers and other [services] service-providing entities operating in accordance with [this act] P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-7 et seq.), which are situated in or near their jurisdictions.

(cf:  P.L.1975, c.305, s.6)

 

     3.    Section 2 of P.L.1970, c.334 (C.26:2G-22) is amended to read as follows:

     2.    As used in this act:

     [(a)]  “Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Human Services.

     “Department” means the Department of Human Services.

     “Narcotic drug” means any narcotic, drug, or dangerous controlled substance, as defined in any law of the State of New Jersey or of the United States.

     "Narcotic and drug abuse treatment center" means any establishment, facility or institution, public or private, whether operated for profit or not, which primarily offers, or purports to offer, maintain, or operate facilities  for the residential or outpatient diagnosis, care, treatment, [or] rehabilitation , or transitional sober living of two or more nonrelated individuals, who are patients as defined herein, excluding, however, any hospital or mental hospital otherwise licensed by Title 30 of the Revised Statutes.

     [(b)]  "Patient" means a person who is addicted to, or otherwise suffering physically or mentally from the use, or abuse of, narcotic drugs , or who is in the process of recovering from such addiction or physical or mental suffering, and who requires the continuing care of a narcotic and drug abuse treatment center.

     [(c)  "Narcotic drug" means any narcotic, drug, or dangerous controlled substance, as defined in any law of the State of New Jersey or of the United States.

     (d)   "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of the State Department of Health of New Jersey.]

(cf:  P.L.1970, c.334, s.2)

 

     4.    Section 5 of P.L.1970, c.334 (C.26:2G-25) is amended to read as follows:

     5.    The commissioner shall adopt, amend, promulgate and enforce such rules, regulations and minimum standards [of] for the treatment of patients of narcotic and drug abuse treatment centers as may be reasonably necessary to accomplish the purposes of [this act] P.L.1970, c.334 (C.26:2G-21 et seq.).  Such narcotic and drug abuse treatment centers may be classified into two or more classes with appropriate rules, regulations and minimum standards for each such class.  The department’s classification system shall account for all types of narcotic and drug abuse treatment centers, including, but not limited to: (1) facilities that provide patients with detoxification, medication-assisted treatment, or other intensive or emergency-level drug abuse treatment on an inpatient basis; (2) facilities that provide patients with detoxification, medication-assisted treatment, or other drug abuse treatment, on an outpatient basis; and (3) residential aftercare facilities, such as halfway houses and transitional sober living homes, which help recovering drug addicts and abusers make a successful and sober transition back into the community-at-large.

 

     5.    Section 1 of P.L.1982, c.149 (C.26:2H-11.1) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    In the case of an application for a certificate of need or initial licensure, as applicable, for a narcotic and drug abuse treatment center to be located within 500 feet from any building in this State used for the instruction of children between the ages of five and 18 years, the applicant shall notify the governing body of the municipality within which the applicant proposes to locate the treatment center of the applicant's intention to apply for the certificate of need or licensure and the proposed location of the center. Documentation of the notice shall be filed with the certificate of need or license application.  The Commissioner of Health is hereby authorized to adopt reasonable rules and regulations, in accordance with the provisions of the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), to effectuate the purposes of this act.  For the purposes of this act, the definition of "narcotic and drug abuse treatment center" shall be identical to the definition in [subsection (a) of] section 2 of P.L.1970, c.334 (C.26:2G-22).  This act shall not apply to any narcotic and drug abuse treatment center for which an application was filed prior to the effective date of this act.

(cf:  P.L.2012, c.17, s.177)

 

     6.    (New section)  a.  Except as provided in subsection b. of this section, a facility regulated by the department pursuant to P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-7 et seq.) shall not remove a resident from the facility until at least one week following the date of delivery by the facility to the resident of a written notice that advises the resident that the resident shall be removed from the facility no less than one week from the date of delivery of the notice.

     b.    The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not apply if the resident of the facility poses an immediate and serious threat to other residents of the facility or to the facility.

     c.     As used in this section, "immediate and serious threat" means that the resident causes or will imminently cause a serious injury, harm, impairment, or death to a resident of the facility, or causes or will imminently cause an incident affecting the safety of the facility.

 

     7.    (New section)  In addition to any other inspection of a facility regulated by the department pursuant to P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-7 et seq.), the department shall conduct a biweekly inspection of a facility if the facility is under investigation for a violation of P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-7 et seq.) or any rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto, or under any other authority.  The biweekly inspection shall continue until such time as the investigation is concluded.

 

     8.    (New section)  a.  Except as provided in subsection b. of this section, a narcotic and drug abuse treatment center regulated by the department pursuant to P.L.1970, c.334 (C.26:2G-21 et seq.) shall not remove a resident from the center until at least one week following the date of delivery by the center to the resident of a written notice that advises the resident that the resident shall be removed from the center no less than one week from the date of delivery of the notice.

     b.    The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not apply if the resident of the center poses an immediate and serious threat to other residents of the center or to the center.

     c.     As used in this section, "immediate and serious threat" means that the resident causes or will imminently cause a serious injury, harm, impairment, or death to a resident of the center, or causes or will imminently cause an incident affecting the safety of the center.

 

     9.    (New section)  In addition to any other inspection of a narcotic and drug abuse treatment center regulated by the department pursuant to P.L.1970, c.334 (C.26:2G-21 et seq.), the department shall conduct a biweekly inspection of a center if the center is under investigation for a violation of P.L.1970, c.334 (C.26:2G-21 et seq.) or any rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto, or under any other authority.  The biweekly inspection shall continue until such time as the investigation is concluded.

 

     10.  (New section)  As used in sections 10 through 14 of P.L.     , c.    (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill):

     "Administrator" means the person in charge of the operation of a facility.

     "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Human Services.

     "Department" means the Department of Human Services.

     "Facility" means a facility as defined in section 2 of P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-8) or a narcotic and drug abuse treatment center as defined in section 2 of P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2G-22), and includes a residential aftercare facility, such as a halfway house or transitional sober living home.

     "Owner of the physical plant"  or "owner" means the person who owns the property on which the facility is located.

     "Representative payee" means a person who is employed by a facility and receives government benefits on behalf of an individual residing in the facility.

 

     11.  (New section)  a.  The commissioner shall not issue a license or certificate of approval, as applicable, to a facility pursuant to P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-7 et seq.) or P.L.1970, c.334 (C.26:2G-21 et seq.), unless the Commissioner of Human Services determines, consistent with the requirements of sections 10 through 14 of P.L.    , c.    (C.       )(pending before the Legislature as this bill), that no criminal history record information exists on file in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Identification Division, or in the State Bureau of Identification in the Division of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety, which would: disqualify a person from employment as an administrator or representative payee at the facility; or reveal that an owner of the physical plant of a facility has been convicted of crimes or offenses that would disqualify a person from securing or maintaining a license or certificate of approval for a facility.

     b.    If an administrator, representative payee, or owner of the physical plant of a facility refuses to consent to, or cooperate in, the securing of a criminal history record background check pursuant to P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the department shall suspend, deny, revoke, or refuse to renew the license or certificate of approval of a facility, as applicable.

     12.  (New section)  In the case of a facility established prior to the effective date of P.L.    , c.    (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the commissioner shall require each administrator, representative payee, or owner of the physical plant of a facility to submit to the department a request for a criminal history record background check within 60 days of the effective date of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) for processing by the Division of State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

 

     13.  (New section)  a.  A person shall be disqualified from securing or maintaining a license or certificate of approval, as applicable, of a facility if the criminal history record background check of the person who is the owner of the physical plant of the facility or a person who seeks and is subsequently employed or is currently employed as an administrator or representative payee reveals a record of conviction of any of the following crimes and offenses:

     (1)   In New Jersey, any crime or disorderly persons offense:

     (a)   involving danger to the person, meaning those crimes and disorderly persons offenses set forth in N.J.S.2C:11-1 et seq., N.J.S.2C:12-1 et seq., N.J.S.2C:13-1 et seq., N.J.S.2C:14-1 et seq. or N.J.S.2C:15-1 et seq.; or

     (b)   against the family, children or incompetents, meaning those crimes and disorderly persons offenses set forth in N.J.S.2C:24-1 et seq.; or

     (c)   involving theft as set forth in chapter 20 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes; or

     (d)   involving any controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog as set forth in chapter 35 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes except paragraph (4) of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:35-10.

     (2)   In any other state or jurisdiction, of conduct which, if committed in New Jersey, would constitute any of the crimes or disorderly persons offenses described in paragraph (1) of this subsection.

     b.    Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of this section, no person shall be disqualified pursuant to this section on the basis of any conviction disclosed by a criminal history record background check performed pursuant to P.L.  , c.   (C.     )(pending before the Legislature as this bill) if the person has affirmatively demonstrated to the commissioner clear and convincing evidence of the person's rehabilitation.  In determining whether a person has affirmatively demonstrated rehabilitation, the following factors shall be considered:

     (1)   the nature and responsibility of the position which the convicted person would hold, has held or currently holds, as the case may be;

     (2)   the nature and seriousness of the offense;

     (3)   the circumstances under which the offense occurred;

     (4)   the date of the offense;

     (5)   the age of the person when the offense was committed;

     (6)   whether the offense was an isolated or repeated incident;

     (7)   any social conditions which may have contributed to the offense; and

     (8)   any evidence of rehabilitation, including good conduct in prison or in the community, counseling or psychiatric treatment received, acquisition of additional academic or vocational schooling, successful participation in correctional work-release programs, or the recommendation of those who have had the person under their supervision.

 

     14.  (New section)  a.  A person who is required to undergo a criminal history record background check pursuant to sections 10 through 13 of P.L.    , c.    (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall submit to the commissioner that person's name, address, and fingerprints.  The commissioner is authorized to exchange fingerprint data with and receive criminal history record information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Division of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety for use in making the determinations required by P.L.    , c.     (C.        ) (pending before the legislature as this bill).

     b.    Upon receipt of the criminal history record information for a person from the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Division of State Police, the commissioner shall immediately notify, in writing:

     (1)   the person and the person's employer, as applicable, or the person's prospective employer, if known, of the person's qualification or disqualification for employment as an administrator or payee representative.  If the person is disqualified, the conviction or convictions which constitute the basis for the disqualification shall be identified in the notice to the person, but shall not be identified in the notice to the person's employer or prospective employer; or, as applicable,

     (2)   the person who is the owner of the physical plant and the facility which is located on the property of the owner, of a person's qualification or disqualification for securing or maintaining a license pursuant to P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-7 et seq.) or certificate of approval pursuant to P.L.1970, c.334 (C.26:2G-21 et seq.).  The owner shall be notified of the conviction or convictions which constitute the results of the owner's criminal history record background check.  If the results reveal that a person would be disqualified from securing or maintaining a license or certificate of approval, the crimes and offenses shall be identified in the notice to the owner, but shall not be identified in the notice to the facility which is located on the property of the owner.

     c.     The person who is the subject of the background check shall have 30 days from the date of the written notice of disqualification to petition the commissioner for a hearing on the accuracy of the person's criminal history record information or to establish the person's rehabilitation under subsection b. of section 13 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  The commissioner shall notify the person's employer or prospective employer or the person securing or maintaining a license or certificate of approval, as applicable, of the person's petition for a hearing within five days following the receipt of the petition from the person.  Upon the issuance of a final decision upon a petition to the commissioner pursuant to this subsection, the commissioner shall notify the person and the person's employer or prospective employer or the owner of the physical plant and the person securing or maintaining a license or certificate of approval, as applicable, as to whether the person remains disqualified for employment or whether a person securing or maintaining a license or certificate of approval remains disqualified under P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     d.    (1)  A facility that has received an employment application from a person who is seeking employment as an administrator or representative payee or that currently employs an administrator or representative payee, and:

     (a)   receives notice from the commissioner that the prospective or current administrator or representative payee has been determined by the commissioner to be disqualified to be an administrator or representative payee; or

     (b)   terminates its employment of an administrator or representative payee because the person was disqualified from employment as an administrator or representative payee on the basis of a conviction of a crime or offense as described in section 13 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill);

shall be immune from liability for disclosing that disqualification or termination in good faith to another facility that may employ that person as an administrator or representative payee.

 

     15.  (New section)  A person who undergoes a criminal history record background check pursuant to sections 10 through 14 of P.L.     , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall assume the cost of the criminal history record background check conducted pursuant to P.L.    , c.    (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     16.  (New section)  a.  The Commissioner of Human Services is authorized to exchange fingerprint data with, and to receive information from, the Division of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in accordance with the provisions of sections 10 through 14 of P.L.     , c.    (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     b.    The Division of State Police shall promptly notify the Department of Human Services in the event a person who was the subject of a criminal history record background check conducted pursuant to subsection a. of this section, is convicted of a crime or offense in this State after the date the background check was performed.  Upon receipt of such notification, the department shall make a determination regarding the employment of the administrator or representative payee, or the maintenance of a license or certificate of approval, as applicable, of a facility pursuant to sections 10 through 14 of P.L.    , c.    (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     17.  (New section)  a.  The Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the Department of Human Services shall oversee the development and maintenance of a registry, which shall collect and track the information received pursuant to subsection e. of this section about the number of openings available for persons seeking residency in each facility licensed pursuant to P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-7 et seq.) and each narcotic and drug abuse treatment center issued a certificate of approval pursuant to P.L.1970, c.334 (C.26:2G-21 et seq.) in the State.

     b.    The information maintained in the registry shall include, by county:

     (1)   the name, address and telephone number of the facility or center;

     (2)   the type of services provided by the facility or center;

     (3)   the maximum occupancy of the facility or center; and

     (4)   the number of openings available for persons seeking residency, based on the information received pursuant to subsection e. of this section.

     c.     The information described in subsection b. of this section shall be:

     (1)   prominently displayed on the website of the department and provide for a search by county or the name of the facility or center;

     (2)   made available to the public, upon request, through the addictions telephone hotline and the Statewide 2-1-1 telephone system; and

     (3)   made available using any other means that the Commissioner of Human Services deems appropriate.

     d.    The commissioner is authorized to solicit, receive, and accept grants, funds, or anything of value from any public or private entity and receive and accept contributions of money, property, labor, or any other thing of value from any legitimate source for the purpose of the development and maintenance of a registry pursuant to this section.

     e.     Each facility licensed pursuant to P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-7 et seq.) and each narcotic and drug abuse treatment center issued a certificate of approval pursuant to P.L.1970, c.334 (C.26:2G-21 et seq.) shall submit to the registry developed and maintained pursuant to this section, no less than once a day, information advising of the number of openings that are available in the facility or center on that day.

 

     18.  The Commissioner of Human Services shall, in accordance with the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), adopt any rules and regulations as the commissioner deems necessary to carry out the provisions of this act.

 

     19.  This act shall take effect on the first day of the seventh month next following the date of enactment, except the Commissioner of Human Services may take any anticipatory administrative action in advance as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

 

     This bill would amend the State’s substance abuse treatment laws in relation to the regulation of sober living homes and halfway houses.  In particular, the bill would expressly clarify that the existing statutory authority of the Department of Human Services (DHS) to license and regulate residential substance abuse facilities, pursuant to the provisions of P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-7 et seq.) which concerns alcohol and P.L.1970, c.334 (C.26:2G-21 et seq.) which concerns narcotic drugs, includes the authority to license and regulate residential substance abuse aftercare facilities such as transitional sober living homes and halfway houses.

     The bill also provides for criminal history record background checks of a person employed or seeking employment as an administrator of these residential substance abuse facilities, or as a representative payee who receives government benefits on behalf of an individual residing in a facility.  The background checks are also to be conducted on a person who is the owner of the physical plant on which a facility is located.  A person would be disqualified from securing or maintaining a license pursuant to P.L.1975, c.305 (C.26:2B-7 et seq.) or certificate of approval pursuant to P.L.1970, c.334 (C.26:2G-21 et seq.), if the criminal history record background check of the person who is the owner of the physical plant of the facility or a person employed as an administrator or representative payee at the facility reveals a record of conviction of the crimes or offenses enumerated in the bill.

     If a person refuses to consent to, or cooperate in, securing a criminal history record background check, DHS is to suspend, deny, revoke, or refuse to renew the license or certificate of approval of the facility.  The criminal history record background checks are to be processed by the Division of State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the person who undergoes the background check is to assume the cost of the background check.

     The bill also provides that the facilities are not to remove a resident from a facility until at least one week following the date of delivery by the facility to the resident of a written notice advising  that the resident is to be removed.  However, this provision would not apply if the resident poses an immediate and serious threat to other residents or the facility.  DHS is also required to conduct inspections every two weeks if there is an investigation for a violation of the laws and regulations governing these facilities or under any other authority.

     Additionally, the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in DHS is to oversee the development and maintenance of a registry to collect and track information about the number of openings available for persons seeking residency in these facilities.  The facilities are required to submit to the registry, no less than once a day, information as to the number of openings that are available on that day.  The registry would contain, by county, the following information:  the name, address and telephone number of the facility; the type of services provided; the maximum occupancy; and the number of openings available.  The registry would: be prominently displayed on the DHS website; provide for a search by county or name; be made available to the public, upon request, through the addictions telephone hotline and the Statewide 2-1-1 telephone system; and also be made available using any other means that the Commissioner of Human Services deems appropriate.

     Lastly, the bill would update the language used in this area of law, in order to ensure grammatical correctness, maintain consistency with current rules of statutory drafting, and correctly reference the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in DHS, which is the agency and division currently responsible for the regulation of substance abuse treatment facilities.