LEGISLATIVE FISCAL ESTIMATE

[Third Reprint]

SENATE COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR

SENATE COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR

SENATE, Nos. 2723, 657, 2456, 2465,

2474, 2476, 2525 and 2659

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

DATED: JULY 5, 2013

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Synopsis:

Revises statutes concerning firearms purchaser identification cards and handgun permits; makes handgun purchase permit valid for four years.

Type of Impact:

State expenditure increase; State and local revenue increase.

Agencies Affected:

Office of the Attorney General; Division of State Police; Motor Vehicles Commission; Administrative Office of the Courts; Department of Human Services; municipalities.

 

 

Office of Legislative Services Estimate

Fiscal Impact

Year 1 

Year 2 

Year 3 

 

State Cost

Indeterminate Increase – See comments below

 

State Revenue

Indeterminate Increase – See comments below

 

Local Revenue

Indeterminate Increase – See comments below

 

 

 

 

 

·       The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) concludes that this bill will result in an indeterminate annual increase in State expenditures in order to digitalize firearms purchase identifiers, through either driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) or identification cards issued by the Superintendent of the State Police. Both the amount of these additional costs and the year in which they are first incurred depend upon the Attorney General’s choice between the two alternatives, which must be made about six months after the bill’s enactment.

·       The OLS further concludes that this bill will result in an indeterminate annual increase in State expenditures in order for the Superintendent of State Police to develop and maintain an information management system to implement the requirement for embedded firearms purchase identifiers, and to provide systems to retail firearms dealers for instant identification of eligible firearms purchasers and to record dealers’ Internet sales and transfers of ammunition on a real-time basis.

·       The OLS estimates an indeterminate but potentially significant additional cost to prepare and disseminate information on the new requirements for firearms purchasers and dealers that result from enactment of this legislation.

·       The OLS estimates an indeterminate but potentially significant additional cost to provide signage for public buildings promoting safe storage of firearms under the “KeepSafe” program.

·       The OLS estimates an indeterminate increase in State and local revenue from firearms purchaser identification card application fees, due to requirements for more frequent renewal of identification cards than under current law.

 

BILL DESCRIPTION

 

      The Third Reprint to the Senate Committee Substitute for Senate Committee Substitute for Senate Bill Nos. 2723/657/2456/2465/2474/2476/2525/2659 of 2013 revises statutes concerning the sale of firearms in New Jersey.  The bill provides that as of the first day of the 73rd month after its effective date, no retail dealer may sell any rifle, shotgun or handgun to a New Jersey resident who does not present an identification card embedded with information that the resident is qualified and eligible to make the purchase.

     

The bill’s provisions that result in fiscal impact include:

 

·       Replacing the current paper firearms purchaser identification cards (FPIC) and permits to purchase a handgun (PPH) with digitalized cards, either by embedding that information in the individual’s New Jersey photo driver’s license or State-issued photo identification card issued by the MVC, or by the issuance of cards by the Superintendent of State Police.  On or before the first day of the seventh month after the substitute’s enactment, the Attorney General must determine whether this information would be embedded in the driver’s license or in a separate, independent card.  The provisions of the bill would not affect the way firearms purchaser identification cards are issued to nonresidents.

 

·       The firearms permit database and the motor vehicle database must be maintained as distinct and separate entities, the firearms database by the Superintendent of State Police (hereafter, superintendent) and the motor vehicles database by the chief administrator.  The transition from the current paper card to having this information embedded in a firearms identifier would take place over a two to five year phase-in period, depending upon which system is selected.  Residents who do not have a driver’s license would have their FPIC information embedded on the identification cards that are issued by the MVC under the “Identification Cards for Nondrivers’ Act,” P.L.1980, c.47 (C.39:3-29.2).  Firearms purchaser identification cards issued under this system would expire and require renewal on the same cycle as the holder’s driver’s license or identification card.  Similar requirements would apply if the Attorney General selects a separate, independent card with a digitalized photograph to serve as the State’s firearms purchaser identifier.  The superintendent would be able to operationally disable the identifier for purposes of purchasing or receiving a firearm if the holder becomes subject to any of the statutory disabilities.  Firearms purchaser identification cards issued under this alternative would expire and require renewal after four years.

 

·       Requiring the Attorney General to develop and implement the system that will allow retail firearms dealers to use the embedded firearms purchaser identifier to instantly determine whether that buyer is qualified to purchase a firearm.  Between the first day of the 25th month and the first day of the 73rd month following the substitute’s effective date, the superintendent is to test and evaluate the system.  The superintendent also is to select and, over time, expand the number of dealers to participate in the test.  If the superintendent determines after 36 months of testing that the system is seriously flawed, the superintendent is to report to the Governor and the Legislature recommending that implementation be postponed until the Attorney General and the superintendent determine that the system is fully operational. 

 

·       Requires the superintendent to establish an electronic reporting program for dealers to record their Internet sales and transfers of ammunition on a real-time basis.  The superintendent is to establish an electronic data base containing all dealer-reported information, which is to be available to all law enforcement officers on a real time basis.  The reporting system would include the name, address, age, type of documentation used to establish eligibility to purchase, caliber or gauge of the ammunition sold, numerical amount of ammunition transferred in the sale, and any other information deemed necessary by the superintendent.

 

·       Requires the superintendent to approve, or in the absence of approval by a firearms safety panel, develop curriculum for a firearms safety class or course that must be completed by future applicants for the firearms purchaser identifier.

 

·       Requires the superintendent to develop and implement a public education program to notify current and prospective FPIC and PPH holders of the provisions of the substitute.

 

·       Requires the superintendent to provide signage concerning the safe storage of firearms, as provided under the “KeepSafe” program, to be placed in certain buildings owned by government agencies or used by the general public.

 

FISCAL ANALYSIS

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

 

      None received.

 

OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE SERVICES

 

      The OLS concludes that the bill will result in an indeterminate increase in State expenditures.  Because the implementation of the bill’s provisions involve a decision to be made by the Attorney General after enactment, no precise estimate of total costs can be developed, and no specific timeframe over which those costs will be incurred can be forecast.  The OLS notes that implementation costs are likely to be significant, and ongoing operational costs will also result. 

 

The significant cost drivers are:

 

·       Digitalization of the firearms purchaser identifier:  the cost to implement this requirement depends on the number of current and prospective firearms purchaser identification card holders and the choice by the Attorney General of whether the future digitalized identifiers are driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by the MVC or new cards issued by the superintendent.  The OLS has obtained no information on either the number of current card holders or the recent annual changes in the number of such holders.  It is reasonable to conclude that the costs of embedding firearms purchase eligibility information in MVC-issued documents would be less than issuing digitalized cards exclusively for that purpose.  If the former is chosen, redesign of the existing driver’s license and identification card in order to embed information and development of related software would be necessary.  The MVC has previously made changes to the driver’s license, but not of an embedded nature, so OLS does not have relevant cost information upon which to base an estimate of this cost factor.   No information is available upon which to base an estimate of additional costs if a single-purpose digitalized card is chosen.  The OLS notes that, based on budget and other information, it may have cost the MVC about $8 million in upfront costs over a three year period to establish a digital driver’s license in 2004, which suggests that the cost of establishing a single-purpose digitalized card would be significant.

 

·       Retail firearms dealers’ embedded firearms purchaser identifier system:  regardless of the form chosen for the firearms purchaser identifier, the Division of State Police would be required to develop and maintain a separate database to implement this system.  The OLS estimates that the number of licensed firearms dealers is approximately 330, but has insufficient information on the number of current and prospective purchasers upon which to base an estimate of the initial and ongoing costs of this system.

 

·       Electronic reporting program for dealers to record their Internet sales and transfers of ammunition on a real-time basis: this could be a component of the system required to be developed for dealers’ use in identifying qualified firearms purchasers, or could be a separate system.  No information is available upon which to base an estimate of this cost.

 

·       Public education program: the OLS estimates an indeterminate but potentially significant additional cost to prepare and disseminate information on new requirements for firearms purchasers and dealers.  The magnitude of costs will be determined largely by the media chosen by the superintendent for delivering the program, over which the superintendent has substantial discretion. 

 

·       Safe storage of firearms (“KeepSafe” program) signage:  the OLS estimates an indeterminate but potentially significant additional cost to provide signage for public buildings, which as defined are potentially numerous.  The magnitude of costs will be determined largely by the designation of specific public facilities where signage is to be provided and the type of signage required, over which the superintendent has substantial discretion.

 

·       Curriculum for a firearms safety class or course: the OLS estimates that the cost of this requirement, if any, will be minimal, since equivalent courses exist for law enforcement officers and trainees.

 

·       Firearms purchaser identification card expiration dates: under current law cards are valid until some condition or circumstance arises that renders the card holder ineligible.  Under the bill, identification cards would require renewal either on the same timetable as the holder’s driver’s license or MVC-issued identification card, or every four years.  More frequent renewal of firearms purchaser identification cards will thus likely result in increased State and local revenue from application fees.  This revenue impact will not occur until the new form of firearm purchaser identifier is chosen and implemented, and cannot be estimated due to both the lack of information on the number of potential applicants and the uncertainties over implementation.

 

Section:

Law and Public Safety

Analyst:

Kristin Brunner Santos

Senior Fiscal Analyst

Approved:

David J. Rosen

Legislative Budget and Finance Officer

 

This legislative fiscal estimate has been produced by the Office of Legislative Services due to the failure of the Executive Branch to respond to our request for a fiscal note.

 

 

This fiscal estimate has been prepared pursuant to P.L. 1980, c.67 (C. 52:13B-6 et seq.).