Friday, September 28, 2012
Green, Chivukula, Lampitt Bill Increasing Fines for Failure to Secure Children in Car, Booster Seats While Driving Released from Committee
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green and Assembly Democrats Upendra J. Chivukula and Pamela R. Lampitt to increase the fines associated with failure to properly secure a child in a car or booster seat was released Thursday from an Assembly panel.
“Car accidents are the single biggest killer of children under 12 in our country,” said Green (D-Union). “That is an awful statistic, made all the more terrible by the fact that almost half of the deaths could be prevented with proper car seat use. Significantly increasing the penalties associated with failure to use car seats will help drive this point home and prevent needless deaths.”
“By steeply increasing the penalties associated with not using a child safety seat, parents will hopefully think twice before heading off on a car trip without one,” said Chivukula (D-Somerset) a member of the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee. “If the increased penalties translate to an increase in child safety seat use, then they will have done their job.”
“As kids get older, it’s tempting to skip the hassle of securing them in a safety seat, especially on short trips,” said Lampitt (D-Camden). “But, by making the penalties associated with skipping the seat more of a hassle than using it is, we can get parents in the habit of properly securing their children every trip, every time, which will ultimately help save lives.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are the number one killer of children between one and 12 years of age in the U.S. In 2010, NHTSA data showed an average of two children killed and 325 injured each day in car accidents. Properly securing infants and toddlers reduces their chance of fatal injury by 71 percent and 54 percent, respectively.
The Green/Chivukula/Lampitt measure (A-1711) would increase the penalties for motor vehicle operators who fail to secure a child under the age of eight and weighing less than 80 pounds in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat.
The current penalty is between $10 and $25 per incident. Under the bill, these penalties would be increased to $100 for a first offense and between $250 to $500 for a second and subsequent offenses. A judge would have the option to waive the penalty for a first offense if the driver is able to demonstrate that he or she is in possession of a proper child passenger restraint system.
The bill also would establish a “Division of Highway Traffic Safety Child Passenger Restraint System Assistance Fund,” administered by the state Treasury Department, that would receive $25 from each fine, to be used to purchase child safety seats for individuals and organizations that need them.
The measure was released by the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee by a vote of 10-1. It now heads to the Assembly Speaker, who decides if and when to post it for a floor vote.
Assembly Panel Approves Singleton, Watson Coleman, Wagner Bill to Strengthen New Jersey Families by Increasing Parental Involvement
Legislation Would Establish “Responsible Fatherhood Initiative”
(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Bonnie Watson Coleman and Connie Wagner to develop a Responsible Fatherhood Initiative in New Jersey geared towards strengthening the development of children throughout the state by promoting the positive involvement of both parents in the lives of their children.
“There are many different factors that might inhibit a father’s involvement in their children’s life,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Whether it’s a strain in the relationship with a child’s mother, somebody who never had a positive male role model in their life as a child, or simply somebody who hasn’t learned to take responsibility, the goal of this initiative is to promote positive interactions between fathers and their children and identify obstacles that impede or prevent their involvement in the lives of their children.
The bill (A-2410) would establish a 21-member New Jersey Council on Responsible Fatherhood in the Department of Children and Families in order to promote the participation of both parents in the lives of their children, identify needs and priorities relating to fatherhood programs in the state, and support the contributions each parent brings to the family unit.
“This measure would capitalize on our existing resources to increase public awareness of how children are impacted when they’re raised without the presence of responsible fathers,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Our goal is to create strategies and initiatives to encourage the responsible participation of fathers in their children's lives to help eliminate some of the obstacles in their development.”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about half of all children spend some part of their life apart from one or both of their parents, and most often the parent who does not live with the child is the father. The laws governing parental relationships are the responsibility of the state, but the federal government does provide funding for, among other things, responsible fatherhood grants for activities such as counseling, mentoring, marriage education, enhancing relationship skills, parenting, and fostering economic stability.
“There are countless factors that may affect a father’s ability or willingness to participate in their child’s life,” said Wagner (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Some, admittedly, may never change no matter how much support is offered. But for others, especially those who grew up without a positive male role model in their life, things like counseling and mentoring can make all the difference and hopefully produce happier, more well-adjusted children.”
To that end, the bill directs the council to apply for available grant money from the federal government, private foundations, or other sources, which may be available for programs related to responsible fatherhood and, in turn, provide grants to community-based organizations within New Jersey to establish, expand, or improve fatherhood programs This would be done through the establishment of the "Responsible Fatherhood Fund" in the Department of the Treasury as a non-lapsing, revolving fund, which would be supported by these grants and allocated to the council to carry out the purposes of the bill.
The bill requires the council to: direct the development and implementation of a Responsible Fatherhood Initiative; develop a comprehensive plan that identifies the needs and priorities relating to fatherhood programs in the state and promotes the positive involvement of fathers in their children's lives; serve as an information and resource center for data and information on fatherhood programs; review the programs, policies, and initiatives of various state departments and community-based organizations that concern responsible fatherhood, and make recommendations to the departments and organizations on ways to better coordinate and improve the effectiveness of their programs, policies and initiatives.
Under the bill, the council would also be required to convene an annual statewide symposium to discuss issues relating to fatherhood and the importance of the participation of both parents in the lives of children, and to develop strategies to encourage fathers to become more responsible parents.
The initiative would be geared toward children whose families have or are receiving public assistance but shall not exclude any other population of children who may benefit from the programs or services offered by the initiative. The initiative shall be responsible for the development of: a public awareness campaign; an information and support network for fathers trying to foster relationships with their children; and plans to identify and promote methods that reduce the negative outcomes experienced by children affected by divorce, legal separation, and custody and visitation disputes.
The membership of the council would consist of: two members each from the Senate and the General Assembly, including one member from each political party; the Commissioners of Children and Families, Corrections, Education, Human Services, Labor and Workforce Development, and the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, or their designees, who shall serve ex officio; seven public members appointed by the Governor, and four public members, two with experience in working with fatherhood programs who shall be appointed by the President of the Senate and two of whom are fathers who have graduated from fatherhood programs who shall be appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly.
Finally, the bill requires the council to report to the Governor and the Legislature, annually, on the activities of the council and its findings and recommendations regarding the coordination and effectiveness of State programs, policies, and initiatives concerning responsible fatherhood.
The bill was unanimously approved by the Assembly Women and Children Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.
Greenwald Bill to Waive or Reimburse College Application and Transcript Fees for Veterans and Armed Forces Members Advanced by Assembly Panel
(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald sponsored to make it easier for veterans and Armed Forces members to apply for college was released Thursday by an Assembly committee.
The bill (A-2626) requires a public institution of higher education in the state to waive or reimburse application and transcript fees for each veteran, member of the Armed Forces of the United States or member of the New Jersey National Guard who resides in New Jersey.
“These are real-life heroes who too often come home to face financial troubles despite their great sacrifice to our nation,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “A college education is the gateway to a better future, so this simple step is the right thing to do for our veterans and members of the Armed Forces. These men and women have defended our freedom with bravery and courage, so let’s do what we can to help them better their own lives.”
The bill was released 5-0 by the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Fuentes, Wilson & Conaway Bill to Boost Veteran-Owned Businesses or Businesses that Employ Veterans Advances
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Angel Fuentes, Gilbert L. “Whip” Wilson and Herb Conaway, M.D. to authorize a local public contract set-aside program for business enterprises that are owned by or that employ veterans was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The measure (A-1133) provides that the governing body of a county or municipality may establish a qualified veteran business enterprise set-aside program. In authorizing such a program, the governing body of a county or municipality shall establish a goal for its contracting agencies of setting aside a certain percentage of the dollar value of total procurements to be awarded as set-aside contracts to qualified veteran business enterprises.
“Let’s do what we can to help our veterans stay in business and keep their jobs,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). “We’ve seen shocking levels of unemployment among our veterans, so this is a simple and sensible step toward ensuring we do what we can to honor the sacrifices they’ve made to us.”
“Veterans deserve our best,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester), an Air Force Vietnam veteran. “Anything we can do to help them keep their businesses open or help them keep their jobs is the right thing to do.”
“Giving county and local governments the flexibility to help veterans during this tough economy is the right call,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “If this can help them keep their doors open or keep them on the job, then let’s do it.”
The bill was released 5-0 by the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Riley, Mosquera, Moriarty & Fuentes Bill to Help Domestic Violence Victims Seek Justice Against their Abusers OK’d by Assembly Panel
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Celeste M. Riley, Gabriela M. Mosquera, Paul D. Moriarty and Angel Fuentes to allow domestic violence victims to testify against their abusers via closed circuit television under certain circumstances was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
“Many victims struggle with reporting their abusers out of fear for their safety. The same fear extends to testifying against them in court,” said Riley (D- Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “This bill ensures a victim can have her day in court without being intimidated by her abuser.”
“Having to recount an abusive relationship in front of your abuser can be unnerving for an individual who’s been battered,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Allowing victims to testify via close-circuit television allows them to confront their abusers without fear.”
“Domestic abuse is traumatic. Some victims are so frightful of their abusers that they would rather not press charges or even testify in court for fear of retribution,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This bill makes it easier for victims to come forward and get justice.”
“It takes a lot of courage and strength for victims of domestic abuse to face their perpetrators. We should be able to accommodate these victims who want to hold their abusers accountable, but are too afraid to do so under their glare,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester).
The bill (A-3219) would allow a domestic violence victim to testify against an alleged abuser via closed circuit television in prosecutions for a crime or offense involving domestic violence.
Under the bill, the court may, following a hearing, order the taking of the testimony out of the presence of the jury, defendant, or spectators. Closed circuit testimony would be allowed if the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial likelihood that the witness would suffer severe emotional or mental distress if required to testify in open court.
The bill was released by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Assembly Committee OK’s Green Bill to Toughen Penalties for Child Sex Abusers
(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday advanced legislation sponsored by Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green (D- Middlesex/Somerset/Union) that would impose a mandatory prison time of 25 years to life for those convicted of sexually abusing children under the age of 13.
“Right now, an individual convicted of abusing a child younger than 13 could face anywhere from 10 to 20 years in prison. This bill would upgrade the punishment to a mandatory 25 years before parole could even be considered. Given the heinous nature of the crime, they deserve nothing less,” said Green. “The fate that these children endured is an affront to human decency and a fate that no one deserves. We must do everything in our power to protect our children from sexual predators.”
The bill is modeled after Florida’s “Jessica Lunsford Act,” named after a nine-year-old Florida resident who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a registered sex offender in 2005.
The bill (A-2027) would impose mandatory terms of imprisonment for individuals convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a child under the age of 13. Under the bill, the individual would be sentenced to a specific term of years fixed by the court. The term would be between 25 years and life imprisonment. The person must serve 25 years before being eligible for parole. However, if there is a longer term of parole ineligibility provided by law, the person would be sentenced to the longer term.
Under current law, aggravated sexual assault is a crime of the first degree, if the perpetrator commits an act of sexual penetration with a victim under the age of 13. A crime of the first degree is ordinarily punishable by a term of imprisonment of 10 to 20 years, a fine of up to $200,000 or both.
The bill would take effect immediately.
The bill was released XX-XX by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
On Women's Health Day, Lampitt Calls on Christie to Reverse Anti-Women Policies
Women and Children Committee Chair Says Christie Must Do More Than Pay "Lip Service" to Women's Health Issues
(TRENTON)--Assembly Women and Children Committee Chairwoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington) called on Governor Christie Wednesday to reverse his policies that have hurt New Jersey's women, in honor of National Women's Health and Fitness Day:
“As we celebrate National Women's Health and Fitness Day today, it is important for our elected leaders to be true advocates for women's health. Unfortunately in New Jersey, Governor Christie seems content to just pay lip service to women's health issues, as he panders to the extreme-right wing in service of his national political ambitions.
“When it comes to women's access to critical preventive health services--like breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV/STI testing, and family planning-- Chris Christie has rejected common-sense, fiscally-responsible investments in New Jersey. Yet unbelievably, he has found millions of dollars for reckless tax cuts for millionaires.
“It's time for the Governor to stop courting the support of the Tea Party and start standing up for the women of New Jersey.”
Milam, Albano, Benson, Tucker & DeAngelo Bill to Provide Veterans Free or Reduced Admission to NJ’s Beaches Cleared by Assembly Panel
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Matthew Milam, Nelson Albano, Daniel Benson, Cleopatra Tucker and Wayne DeAngelo that would allow municipalities to provide veterans free or reduced cost access to beaches was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.
“Veterans have some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. A trip to the beach with the whole family may be more of a hardship for them then we think,” said Milam (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “This is one way to ease the financial burden on our veterans. I think we can all agree they deserve it.”
“Many of our veterans have been hit hard by the economy. The cost of entry may not seem like much, but when you consider the cost of gas and food, it can add up,” said Albano (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “Allowing them to enjoy our beaches for free or at a reduced price seems like a small courtesy considering their service.”
The bill (A-2042) would allow shore municipalities to adopt an ordinance to provide free or reduced fee beach access to veterans who have served in any of the Armed Forces, and who were discharged or released from there under conditions other than dishonorable and who either have served at least 90 days in active duty or have been discharged or released from active duty by reason of an actual service-incurred injury or disability. The bill would require any municipality providing for free or reduced fee beach access to track the number of veterans who qualify for this benefit.
“While our military men and women risk their lives protecting our shores, providing them with free or low cost beach access when they come home is just one small token of gratitude we can offer them,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex).
“There is no way to adequately thank our service members and their families for the sacrifices they make day in and day out, but this is one small way to show our appreciation and allow them to enjoy the best that Jersey has to offer,” said Tucker (D-Essex).
“We can never truly repay our service men and women for their many sacrifices, but we can do everything in our power to make their lives a little easier and more enjoyable, especially when they come home to such a difficult economy,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex).
Current state law permits municipalities to provide free or reduced fee beach access – via ordinance – to persons 65 or older, to persons who meet the disability criteria for disability benefits under Title II of the federal Social Security Act, and to persons in active military service in any of the Armed Forces or who are active members of the New Jersey National Guard who have completed Initial Active Duty Training and their spouses or dependent children over the age of 12 years.
The bill passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.
Coughlin, Lampitt & Tucker Bill to Provide Tax Credits to Employers Who Hire Students for Internships Released by Panel
(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Craig J. Coughlin, Pamela R. Lampitt and Cleopatra Tucker sponsored to help college students find jobs by providing tax credits to employers who hire post-secondary students for internships continues advancing.
“This is an innovative and creative job creation bill geared toward young workers struggling in this economy,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “This bill is designed to encourage businesses to hire post-secondary students to learn firsthand about their chosen field of study and help them get their foot in the door to eventually secure full-time employment.”
“No single piece of legislation will pull us out of this sluggish economy, but a measure such as this one will certainly help.” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “It is our obligation to provide New Jersey’s students with the best possible educational experience and internships are one of the best ways to prepare our young people for the workforce and beyond.”
Under the bill (A-1271), corporation business tax credits and gross income tax credits would be granted to qualified enterprises for wages paid to qualified interns. A qualified intern would be any individual enrolled and in good standing at a New Jersey four-year institution of higher education, a New Jersey county college or a New Jersey accredited post-secondary business, technical, trade or vocational school.
“Creating jobs, no matter how many, must be our number one priority,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “In a market as tight as this one, young people need every advantage possible to help break into their chosen field.”
The credits are allowed in amounts equal to 40 percent of compensation paid to qualified interns or $600 of that compensation, whichever is less. Additional credits would be given to employers hiring three or more qualified interns.
The program will be limited to the first 5,250 qualified interns or 700 taxpayers. Employers will be required to pay interns no less than $8.00 per hour for a term of employment that lasted at least 12 weeks and included a minimum of 14 hours of service per week. All employers must certify that interns are working in New Jersey.
This program would be administered through the Division of Taxation and a report will conclude the effectiveness of the program following its termination. This bill is modeled after the recently enacted Philadelphia Internship Tax Credit program.
The bill was released Monday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
*** THURSDAY ADVISORY ***
Enhanced Domestic Violence Protections,
Responsible Fatherhood, Farmland Assessment Reform & Ensuring the Disabled Can Receive Organ Transplants Top Thursday Assembly Agendas
Delaware River Dredging Study, Improved Child Safety Seat Protections, Help for Vets Seeking to Get into College, Yellow Dot Safety Program Also on Tap
(TRENTON) – Enhanced domestic violence protections, promoting responsible fatherhood, banning discrimination against potential organ transplant recipient on basis of mental or physical disability and farmland assessment reform top Thursday’s Assembly committee agendas.
A Delaware River dredging study, tougher penalties for violating child safety seat laws, help for veterans seeking to enroll in college and creating the Yellow Dot safety program are also on tap.
Hearings are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and will be streamed live at:
· A bill (A-938) to expand the domestic violence statutes to encompass minors aged 16 and older. It’s sponsored by Celeste Riley (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Gabriela Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden) and will be heard at 10 a.m. by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
· Legislation (A-3219) to permit a domestic violence victim witness to testify via closed circuit television under certain circumstances. It’s sponsored by Celeste Riley (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland), Gabriela Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden), Paul Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden) and Angel Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester) and will be heard at 10 a.m. by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
· A bill (A-1822) sponsored by Herb Conaway, M.D. and Troy Singleton (both D-Burlington) to require the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct vibration analysis along routes for disposal of dredged material from Delaware River. It’s to be heard at 2 p.m. by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.
· A bill (A-2410) sponsored by Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) and Connie Wagner (D-Bergen/Passaic) to establish the New Jersey Council on Responsible Fatherhood and Responsible Fatherhood Fund. It will be heard at 10 a.m. by the Assembly Women and Children Committee.
· A bill (A-2390) to prohibit the discrimination against potential organ transplant recipient on basis of mental or physical disability. It will be heard at 2 p.m. by the Assembly Human Services Committee and is sponsored by Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland) and Troy Singleton (D-Burlington). The bill stems from questions being raised earlier this year about whether a Philadelphia hospital was denying a kidney transplant for a disabled girl.
· A bill (A-1711) to increase penalties for failing to secure a child in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat while operating a motor vehicle. It’s sponsored by Jerry Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset), Upendra Chivukula (D-Middlesex/Somerset) and Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington) and will be heard at 10 a.m. by the Assembly transportation panel.
· Legislation (A-2037) to create the New Jersey Yellow Dot Program to provide emergency responders with critical health information about citizens who are 62 years of age or older or citizens with chronic illnesses who participate in the program so that emergency responders may aid or assist those program participants involved in motor vehicle emergencies or accidents who are unable to communicate. It’s sponsored by Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).
· A bill (A-2626) sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington) to require public institutions of higher education to waive application fees and transcript fees for veterans and members of the military. It will be heard at 10 a.m. by the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
· A bill (A-3090) sponsored by Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland), Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) to revise the state’s farmland assessment program to better ensure only actual farmers receive its benefits. It will be heard at 2 p.m. by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
Green & Schaer Announce Hearing on
Christie’s Failure to Help More Families Facing Foreclosure
Christie on Monday Refused to Answer WABC-TV Questions on His Failure
(TRENTON) – The chairman of two key Assembly committees on Tuesday announced they plan to call a joint hearing to examine the Christie administration’s failure to help more families facing foreclosure.
Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset) and Assembly Deputy Speaker Gary Schaer made the announcement after Gov. Christie refused to answer questions from a WABC-TV reporter on why his administration has helped few homeowners facing foreclosure.
New Jersey has the nation’s second highest foreclosure rate, but Gov. Christie has delivered only $4 million out of $300 million in federal foreclosure aid. About 500 families have been helped, but nearly 2,000 have been denied assistance by the Christie administration.
Green chairs the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee. Schaer chairs the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. Both have sponsored bills to help combat the foreclosure crisis in New Jersey.
“Gov. Christie may not want to be held accountable for failing to help New Jersey families facing foreclosure, but he cannot hide from his failure to help New Jersey families at risk of losing their homes, no matter how loudly he yells and bullies,” said Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset). “The administration’s approach is not working. While Gov. Christie may want to avoid the subject, New Jersey’s middle-class and poor deserve answers and help.”
“We need to get answers and get this program moving for the benefit of struggling New Jersey families,” said Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Helping families affected by the Great Recession must be among the highest priorities of the General Assembly. I remain concerned about Gov. Christie’s refusal to answer questions about his administration’s slow action in helping as many affected homeowners as possible.”
Green and Schaer said details about the hearing will be announced soon.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Diegnan, Burzichelli Corporate Business Reform Bill Package
Released from Assembly Commerce Committee
Three-Bill Package Stems from Recommendations of Corporate and Business Law Study Commission; Would Help NJ Businesses Stay Competitive in Global Marketplace
(TRENTON) – A three-bill package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., and John J. Burzichelli that would make changes to the state’s corporate business laws in order to keep New Jersey companies competitive in the global marketplace was released Monday by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.
“Simplifying and streamlining outdated and confusing portions of New Jersey’s corporate business laws will help make it easier for the companies that are already here to continue conducting business,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “These changes will make New Jersey even more attractive for businesses looking to set up shop or expand their presence in the state.”
“These are technical changes that are easy to make that will hopefully have a big, positive impact on the businesses operating here,” said Burzichelli. “Making it easier to do business in New Jersey is just one more way we can work to stimulate our sluggish economy.”
The first bill (A-3049) would amend the “New Jersey Shareholder’s Protection Act,” which was designed to help protect New Jersey corporations from hostile takeovers.
Specifically, it would amend the definition of “resident domestic corporation” to clarify that all public corporations incorporated under New Jersey law would be subject to the protections of the act, regardless of whether their principal executive offices or significant business operations are located in the state. Under current law, there is confusion about what level of business operations a corporation must have in the state to be subject to the act.
The bill contains a 90-day opt-out window to allow those public corporations not currently subject to the act to continue operating without it.
The bill also would allow a corporation to engage in a business combination with an interested stockholder – generally an individual who owns 10 percent or more of the outstanding voting stock of a corporation – provided that the transaction in question was approved by the corporation’s board of directors prior to the stock acquisition date.
Additionally, the bill would allow subsequent business combinations between a corporation and an interested stockholder, provided the combination is approved by the board of directors or a committee of the board that is not affiliated or associated with the interested stockholder and by an affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of the voting stock not owned by the interested stockholder in question. This change brings the law more in line with current business practices, in which all subsequent transactions are approved at the time that the first business combination is approved.
Finally, the bill would exempt any stockholder from the provisions of the act who owns five percent or more of the outstanding voting stock of the corporation, provided that the corporation in question did not have its principal executive offices or significant business operations in New Jersey at the time of the bill’s enactment.
The second bill (A-3050) makes changes to the “New Jersey Business Corporation Act” as it concerns participation by shareholders in shareholder meetings, taking into account advances in technology that allow for cheap, reliable teleconferencing.
Under the bill, a shareholder would be allowed to participate in a shareholder meeting via remote communication, provided that the corporation’s board of directors authorizes this type of communication. Shareholders participating in this way would be deemed present and entitled to vote only if the corporation has implemented reasonable measures to verify that each person participating remotely is a shareholder and that each shareholder participating via teleconference is able to access the same materials and information provided to individuals at the actual meeting.
The bill also would streamline the methods by which shareholders are able to contest corporate actions they disagree with. Under the bill, dissenter’s rights would be the exclusive remedy for shareholders dissatisfied with the corporation’s actions, except when the corporation files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection or is engaged in fraudulent or otherwise illegal activity. These changes were based largely on the American Bar Association’s Model Business Corporation Act, similar portions of which have been adopted by several other states.
The third bill (A-3123) would revise the law concerning shareholder derivative proceedings in the state.
A derivative proceeding is a lawsuit brought by a minority or small shareholder against the directors, management or other larger shareholders of a corporation that argues a failure by management. In such a proceeding, the minority shareholder claims to be acting on behalf of the corporation because, from his or her point of view, the management and directors are failing to use their authority to the benefit of the entire company and all its shareholders.
Under the bill, the regulations governing derivative proceedings and shareholder class actions would be applicable only if the corporation’s certificate of incorporation makes it applicable. A New Jersey corporation would be allowed to amend its certificate of incorporation to supersede judicial case law developments regarding written demand requirements and adopt the statutory standards laid out in this measure, allowing corporations to avoid derivative suits that would otherwise impose unnecessary costs. The statutory standards would require a written demand in every derivative proceeding and would allow disinterested directors, shareholders or court appointed professionals to deem, after a good faith investigation into the demand, that the derivative proceeding is not in the best interest of the corporation.
Additionally, the measure would raise to $250,000 the value of the minority shareholdings required to avoid the need to post security for a fee award, which has not been increased since 1968 and would require that shareholder plaintiffs continue to hold their shares throughout the derivative proceeding.
“With fierce competition on all sides from our neighboring states, we must seize any advantage that will help make New Jersey an even more attractive place in which to do business,” said Burzichelli.
“Making these common-sense updates to our corporate business laws is just one more way to show companies that New Jersey is truly ‘open for business,’” said Diegnan.
All three bills were unanimously released by the committee. The bill package now heads to the Assembly Speaker, who decides if and when to post it for a floor vote.
Mosquera, Eustace, Milam, Benson, DeAngelo & Wisniewski Bill to Allow Online Voter Registration Advanced by Assembly Panel
(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Monday advanced legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gabriela Mosquera, Tim Eustace, Matthew M. Milam, Daniel Benson, Wayne P. DeAngelo and John S. Wisniewski that would allow New Jersey residents to register online to vote.
The bill (A-2870) allows New Jersey voters to securely register to vote online and authorizes the use of a voter’s digitized signature from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission database to approve the online registration form.
“People today conduct most of their business online. Whether it’s shopping or maintaining our bank accounts online, the Internet has become integral in our daily routines,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Allowing people to register to vote online seems like an obvious transition.”
“People are busier than ever. Registering to vote may not be a priority when you’re juggling work, school and family life,” said Eustace (D-Bergen). “This bill gives folks with tight schedules the convenience of registering to vote from home or any place with a laptop and an Internet connection.”
“We are inundated with so much information on a daily basis that it can be easy to forget to register to vote until Election Day comes and it’s too late,” said Milam (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “Making the voting registration process more practical makes sense.”
The bill requires the Secretary of State to create an online voter registration form on the Department of State website that would allow a person qualified to vote in New Jersey to complete the form online and submit it to the appropriate county commissioner of registration for approval.
The bill requires the online voter registration form to include the same information contained on paper voter registration forms, and that the person completing the form provide all information and identification required by law in order to register to vote. The bill allows the use of the digitized signatures of drivers who authorize the use of that signature for voter registration purposes.
“Young people who just reached the voting age have grown up online,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “By making voter registration just a click away, we will better fit the needs of the next generation of voters.”
“If people can vote for their favorite contestant on a singing competition online, then they should at the very least be able to register to vote online,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Anything we can do to encourage residents to exercise their right to vote is a win in my book.”
“The average American spends 30 plus hours online a month. Surely a fraction of that can be used to register to vote online,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “People already depend on the Internet to manage most of their affairs, so it’s sensible to add voter registration to the list.”
Under existing law, a person who is a citizen of the United States, is or will be 18 years of age at the time of the election, and has resided in the county where the person wishes to vote for at least 30 days prior to the election, may register to vote by completing a voter registration form at least 21 days before the election. The form requires the person who is registering to vote for the first time to provide either his or her driver’s license number, or the last four digits of his or her social security number, or any one of several approved identifying documents. The person must also sign the form.
Current law also authorizes the Secretary of State and the county commissioners of registration to match the information on completed voter registration forms, including social security numbers, to the information contained in the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s database, prior to entering the information from voter registration forms into the statewide voter registration database.
Under the bill, a person who provides a driver’s license number on the online voter registration form would be prompted to authorize the county commissioner of registration to utilize the person’s digitized signature currently available from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s database.
If the signature can be located in the database, the bill authorizes the commissioner to accept the signature and approve the online voter registration record in the same manner as currently provided under existing law. If the signature cannot be located, the bill requires the commissioner to notify the person by mail of the steps necessary for completion of the online voter registration form, including the manner in which the person must provide a signature in order for the form to be completed.
Under the bill, when a person completing an online voter registration form does not provide a driver’s license number, or does not authorize the use of the digitized signature, he or she must print, sign and mail a one-page version of the completed form to the county commissioner of registration, and enclose any indentifying documents that must be submitted under current law.
Whether the online voter registration form is approved through the use of the person’s digitized signature, or through the use of the one-page printed form signed by the person and submitted by regular mail, the bill requires that the online voter registration form must be designed in such a way that enables the county commissioner of registration, after reviewing and approving each form and any hard-copy documents received by mail in connection with each online form, to transfer the information on each approved online voter registration form into the statewide voter registration system in a manner that eliminates or significantly reduces the manual entry of that information into the system.
The bill was released by the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.
Johnson Bill to Better Assist Victims of Sexual Violence Released by Assembly Panel
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Majority Conference Leader Gordon Johnson to require mandatory sexual violence training for law enforcement, judicial and prosecutorial personnel was released Monday by an Assembly committee.
“Acts of sexual violence are serious and prevalent crimes but likely continue to remain the most under reported crimes,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Sadly, many victims choose not to report these crimes due to their fears of the criminal justice system, so let’s be sure all law enforcement, judicial and prosecutorial personnel are trained in and educated about the dynamics of sexual violence and victim treatment. This will create an environment that encourages victims to report crimes of sexual violence to law enforcement and participate in the criminal justice process.”
The bill (A-1657) requires the Division of Criminal Justice to develop and approve for all law enforcement officers and prosecutors a training course and curriculum on the handling, investigation and response procedures concerning reports of sexual offenses. The bill also requires the Administrative Office of the Courts to develop and approve such a program for all judges and judicial personnel.
Johnson said the training would include information concerning the impact of sexual violence on society, dynamics of sexual violence and victim impact, victims' right to rape care advocacy before and during any investigatory process, statutory and case law concerning sexual violence, medical and forensic exam procedures, policies and procedures as promulgated or ordered by the Attorney General or the Supreme Court and use of available community resources, support services, available sanctions and treatment options.
The training course would be reviewed at least every two years and modified as needed.
All law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges and judicial personnel would be required to attend initial training within 90 days of appointment or transfer. They also would be required to attend in service training on an annual basis.
The bill was released 10-1 by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.
Mainor Bill to Boost Penalties for Driving Drunk with a Minor as a Passenger Released by Assembly Committee
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Law and Public Safety Chairman Charles Mainor to increase the penalties for driving drunk with a minor as a passenger in the motor vehicle was released Monday by an Assembly panel.
“Driving drunk is irresponsible in any circumstance, but it’s even more offensive to do so with a child in the vehicle,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “A disorderly persons offense is not enough for driving drunk with a minor. We need to send a stronger message that we find such dangerous behavior completely unacceptable.”
Under current law, a parent or guardian who is convicted of drunk driving is guilty of a disorderly persons offense if, at the time of the violation, the parent or guardian has a minor as a passenger in the motor vehicle. A disorderly persons offense is punishable by imprisonment of up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
Under the bill (A-1015), a parent or guardian who is convicted of drunk driving with a minor as a passenger would still be guilty of a disorderly persons offense, but the parent or guardian would be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree under the bill if the violation results in bodily injury to the minor. Fourth degree crimes are punishable by imprisonment of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
The parent or guardian would be guilty of a third degree crime under the bill if the violation results in serious bodily injury to the minor. Third degree crimes are punishable by imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
The bill defines “bodily injury” as physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition, while “serious bodily injury” is defined as bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
“Parents or guardians have a responsibility to protect the children under their watch,” Mainor said. “It’s incredibly irresponsible to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. If they choose to operate a vehicle under the influence and their irresponsibility causes serious injury to the passenger, then they should be ready to face the consequences.”
The bill was released by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee chaired by Mainor.
Chivukula and Prieto Bill to Improve Access to Affordable Housing for Veterans Advanced by Assembly Panel
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Upendra J. Chivukula (D-Middlesex/Somerset) and Vincent Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson) that would make affordable housing more accessible to veterans was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.
“Finding reasonably priced housing can be challenging. For veterans, who are returning home to a poor job market and high housing costs, who may be dealing with mental and physical disabilities, it can be even more difficult,” said Chivukula. “This bill helps makes the transition to civilian life a bit smoother for our veterans by ensuring that they have affordable housing options when they get back.” “The homelessness rate among veterans in this country is alarming. This bill can help put a dent on this problem by targeting affordable housing for veterans,” said Prieto. “No soldier should have to come back home after fighting a war to end up on the streets. This not only helps veterans currently struggling with homelessness, but those returning home. They deserve nothing less.”
The bill (A-2490) allows municipalities to meet their fair share housing obligation under the Fair Housing Act by providing affordable housing preference to veterans who served in time of war or any another emergency. Current New Jersey law does not provide for a preference for affordable housing to low to moderate income veterans. The bill requires the Council on Affordable Housing to develop rules similar to those of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, which extend the housing benefit to New Jersey veterans.
The bill also forgives military personnel from any affordable housing application deadlines which may have lapsed during their period of deployment in active military service.
As of December 2011, nearly one in seven homeless adults are veterans, according to the Center for American Progress. More than 67,000 homeless veterans were counted on a given January night in America last year, and more than 4 in 10 homeless veterans were found unsheltered. According to the think tank, 1.5 million veterans are at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks and dismal living conditions in overcrowd or substandard housing.
The bill was released by the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.
Burzichelli & Quijano Bill to Grant Lottery Winners Anonymity to Protect Them from Potential Scams Advanced by Assembly Panel
) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem) and Annette Quijano (D-Union) that would allow lottery winners in TRENTON to stay out of the public eye for a year was released Monday by an Assembly committee. New Jersey
“Winning the lottery can be a blessing and a curse. Once their identities become public, lottery winners can become targets for unscrupulous individuals and scam artists looking to get a piece of their winnings. In worst case scenarios, lottery winners have been kidnapped and killed,” said Burzichelli. “Unless the individual wants his or her identity revealed, residents who are lucky enough to win the lottery should have the option to remain private for the sake of their own safety.”
“Many people dream of one day winning the lottery, but the consequences of becoming an instant millionaire, coupled with overnight fame, can be disastrous, and at its worst deadly,” said Quijano. “Not every lottery-winning story ends badly, but there have been enough cases to warrant better safeguards for lottery winners. Lottery winners should have the choice to remain anonymous, and enjoy their lucky streak without worry that their lives and finances will be threatened.”
The bill (A-2982) directs the State Lottery Commission to establish by regulation that lottery winners may remain anonymous for one year, and that the identity of a lottery winner who chooses to remain anonymous not be included in materials available for public inspection during that time.
Current regulations allow the State Lottery to use the names, addresses, prize amount and photographs of winners. The address used does not include a street or house number. In addition, a winner’s name, town, and county are available under the Open Public Records Act.
There are numerous stories across the country of lottery winners whose overnight-millionaire stories ended in tragedy.
Illinois resident Jeffrey Dampier, who won $20 million in ' lottery in 1996, was kidnapped and killed by his sister-in-law and her boyfriend who targeted him for money. Abraham Shakespeare won the $31 million jackpot in Illinois in 2006. He disappeared in 2009 and his body was found in early 2010 under a concrete slab. A woman who had befriended him and then seized control of his remaining fortune was charged in connection with his murder. Florida
The bill was released 5-0 by the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Lampitt: Governor Fails to see Big Picture When It Comes to Bridging Gender Wage Gap
Christie’s Actions on Measures to Help Empower Employees to Fight Wage Discrimination Fall Short
(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt on Friday said that Governor Christie’s actions on a four-bill package she sponsored aimed at bridging the gender pay equity gap demonstrates that he fails to see the big picture and the impact pay discrimination has on women and other minorities in today’s workforce.
“While it’s encouraging that he signed one measure (A-2647) that will require employers to inform workers of their rights to be free of gender inequity or bias in pay, unfortunately the Governor is telling them that they’re on their own in trying to do so because he’s not going to hold businesses accountable for sharing their workforce data.”
Lampitt noted that the legislation Christie vetoed (A-2649) would have required state contractors to file information with the state on the gender, race, job title, occupational category, and rate of compensation for every employee they employ in New Jersey in connection with state contracts, information that the state Division of Civil Rights or any employee of the contractor could request in order to prove wage discrimination.
“The Governor is sending a mixed message. At the end of the day, he left something very, very important unsigned while trying to gloss over it as irrelevant,” added Lampitt. “Transparency is the best way to fight discrimination. Employees have little way of fighting wage discrimination, whether it is based on gender, race or age, unless they know what their counterparts are making. To say this legislation does nothing tangible is completely disingenuous. While we can’t regulate private corporations, we can, in fact, regulate contractors doing business with the state and that is a great starting point.”
Lampitt said she will take a closer look at the two other bills in the package that Christie conditionally vetoed to see if they are common sense measures that would still achieve the initial goals of the bills, which were to (A-2650) lengthen the statute of limitations for employees to take action against unlawful compensation practices and recoup back pay and (A-2648) prohibit employer retaliation if an employee divulges certain job information
“Unfortunately, we know all too well from our hearings that gender wage discrimination is alive and well in the 21st century,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington), Chair of the Assembly Women and Children Committee. “My fear is that the Governor does not understand the impact pay discrimination can have on working families, especially when a woman is the co- or primary bread winner in the family. It was our intention to empower employees with knowledge of their rights and hold employers more accountable, so that we can chip away the remaining fragments of the glass ceiling.”
Lampitt noted that, according to 2009 U.S. Census Bureau data, women still earn roughly 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn, with the gender income gap highest in higher paying occupations. Furthermore, minority women fare significantly worse with median earnings for African American and Hispanic women working full-time, year-round far less compared to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.
Greenwald, Green, Milam & Moriarty Bill
Promoting Job Creation by Helping Stalled Development Projects Signed Into Law
(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Lou Greenwald, Jerry Green, Matthew Milam and Paul Moriarty sponsored to promote job creation and economic development by extending the life of development has been signed into law.
The law (A-1338) extends permit approvals for development projects until
Dec. 31, 2014. Former law extended the permits until Dec. 31, 2012.
Projects have stalled due to the inability of the banking, real estate and construction industries to obtain financing in the current economic downturn. The lapse of the permit approvals could have caused a decline in the value of real estate involved in the projects, job losses and require a reclassification of loans.
“We want New Jersey businesses struggling to survive this economy to use their vital resources on job creation, not on applying over and over again for new permits," said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington), the Assembly majority leader. "Businesses and workers need to know New Jersey is doing everything it can to help them through this difficult time and keep us competitive with neighboring states."
“Making it easier for already approved projects to move forward once the economy turns around sends a clear message to workers and businesses that we are positioning
New Jersey for economic success,” said Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset), the Assembly speaker pro tempore. “We shouldn’t let bureacracy get in the way of job creation and economic development.”
"The economic downturn has had a devastating impact on our building and construction industries and the many, many jobs they support," Milam said. "Without this help, business may have to pay untold dollars for re-permitting, taking away from their ability to create jobs and move our economy forward.”
“Our focus is on job creation, and that takes many avenues, whether it’s helping avoid layoffs, promoting job training or helping ensure development projects stalled by this economy can stay alive,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “These projects create jobs both during and after construction, so a law like this is common sense.”
The law extends the extension period until Dec. 31, 2014, rather than Dec. 31, 2012 as provided under previous law. Thus, approvals as defined by the Permit Extension Act of 2008 and in effect on Jan. 1, 2007, will continue to be valid at least until Dec. 31, 2014
New Jersey State AFL-CIO Statement on Veterans’ Jobs BillBlocked in the U.S. SenateTRENTON – There is no justification for those Senators who voted to block a veterans’ jobs bill in the U.S. Senate yesterday. This was a commonsense piece of legislation, based on our shared values that would have helped approximately 20,000 American veterans, who have courageously defended our nation, find work in their communities.
Despite an unemployment rate of nearly 11 percent for returning service men and women, only five Republican Senators voted to advance this jobs bill. This sort of blatant partisanship is always inexcusable, but it is reprehensible when it blocks a program to create jobs for our military veterans.
It is hypocritical and contrived for politicians to complain about the lack of jobs in our country and at the same time vote against bills that would remedy the problem. When members of Congress vote on a bill and their only concern is whether it will help or hurt the President, they are violating their responsibility as elected officials, and doing our entire country a disservice as we see from the outcome of this bill.
The labor movement believes strongly that providing job opportunities for veterans is the least we can do to recognize them for their bravery and sacrifice. That is why unions support the ‘Helmets to Hardhats’ program, which allows our returning troops to acquire the skills needed to obtain a quality career in the building and construction trades industry, transitioning them from defending our nation to building our nation.
Charles Wowkanech, President
Laurel Brennan, Secretary-Treasurer
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Milam, Albano & Greenwald Bill to Strip Licenses from Doctors Who Illegally Dump Medical Waste Advanced by Senate Panel
Lawmakers Spurred to Action by Illegal Dumping That Closed Beaches Over 2008 Labor Day Weekend
(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Matthew Milam, Nelson Albano and Lou Greenwald sponsored to strip licenses from medical professionals and medical waste handling companies found guilty of violating the state’s medical waste anti-dumping laws was advanced Thursday by a Senate panel.
The bill was approved 79-0 by the Assembly in June and released Thursday by the Senate Commerce Committee.
“Knowingly and purposefully dumping medical waste off our beaches is irresponsible and just plain stupid,” said Milam (D-Cumberland/Atlantic/Cape May). “Any doctor that would be so cavalier with the public’s health and safety should automatically forfeit their right to practice in New Jersey.”
“You don’t need a medical degree to know that used needles do not belong in our waterways or on our beaches,” said Albano (D-Cumberland/Atlantic/Cape May). “Anyone who fails that simple test of common sense shouldn’t be allowed to practice medicine in our state.”
“If you fine a doctor making a lot of money for beach dumping, he or she can do a mental cost-benefit analysis to see if the fine is enough of an incentive to stop,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington), the Assembly Majority Leader. “However, if you take away their license for dumping, you take away their ability to make money, which is a much more effective deterrent.”
The sponsors said they introduced the measure after several South Jersey beaches were forced to close before 2008 Labor Day weekend after illegally dumped medical waste washed ashore. As many as 225 syringes and other medical waste were found in Avalon – leading borough officials to close beaches four times. Syringes also washed ashore in Berkeley, Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Brigantine and Upper Township.
Thomas McFarland, a Philadelphia dentist who owns a Jersey Shore summer home, was charged with intentionally dumping the waste that caused the Avalon closings. He received probation and was ordered to pay restitution.
The measure (A-1888) would suspend the license of any health care professional, medical waste facility, generator or transporter found in violation of New Jersey’s medical waste anti-dumping laws for three years. If a medical professional or waste handler continued to operate while under suspension, the appropriate state authority would permanently revoke their license. Otherwise, at the end of the three year suspension period they would be allowed to apply for reinstatement.
Medical professionals and waste handlers with suspended licenses would be placed on a newly created “Illegal Medical Waste Disposal License and Registration Revocation List” and would remain on the list until they were reinstated. Additionally, if the professional or handler found to be illegally dumping is not a New Jersey-based company, the state Office of the Attorney General would contact its appropriate sister agency to ensure the offender faces the appropriate penalties in his or her state of operation.
This penalty would be in addition to existing penalties in place under the state’s “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999,” “Comprehensive Regulated Medical Waste Management Act,” “Water Pollution Control Act” and “Ocean Dumping Enforcement Act,” which can carry penalties of up to $200,000 in fines and 20 years imprisonment for the most serious offenses.