In Our Community

Assemblywoman Mosquera Bills Requiring Sexual Assault Reporting, Training for Airline Industry Approved by Assembly

A three-bill legislative package sponsored by Assembly Democrat Gabriela Mosquera to require sexual assault reporting and training in the airline industry was approved 77-0 Monday by the full Assembly.

One bill (A-4175) would require the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ) to require airlines, vendors and contractors to adopt and maintain sexual assault policies and require the agency to collaborate with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute sexual assaults. While it is difficult to determine how frequently assaults occur on commercial flights in the United States–since no federal regulatory agency tracks such data nationwide–FBI investigations into midair sexual assaults increased 66 percent from fiscal years 2014-2017.

Another measure (AR-167) urges the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to require air carriers to submit annual sexual assault reports.

“Although not commonly known, sexual assaults occur on U.S. airlines,” said Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Nearly a year ago, one such assault occurred against a minor aboard a flight to Newark Liberty International Airport. Unfortunately, without federal reporting standards, there is no systematic way to address this issue.”

The last measure (AR-172) requires airlines to adopt policies as well as mandated-training regarding sexual assaults on airplanes.

Each measure was released by the Assembly Women and Children Committee. The three-bill legislative package will now go to the Senate for further consideration.

Moriarty Bill to Create New Jersey Civic Information Consortium Approved by Assembly

Legislation that Assembly Democrat Paul Moriarty sponsored to establish a New Jersey Civic Information Consortium was approved 54-22 Thursday by the full Assembly.

The bill (A-3628) would establish the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium to advance research and innovation in media and technology to benefit the state’s civic life and evolving information needs. The consortium – which would comprise Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University and Rutgers University – would be established as an educational, charitable 501©(3) nonprofit corporation and would provide grants that support news and information in New Jersey.

“Sometimes all it takes for someone to become an active participant in improving his or her community is a news package that identifies a problem and sparks a passion for finding the solution, but if people don’t know what’s wrong, they can’t make it right,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Bolstering public-interest journalism, civic information and media innovation is about giving New Jersey residents the tools they need to get involved and change their communities for the better.”

The bill would require the consortium to report annually to the governor and the legislature on its activities and make the report available on its website. The report is to include, but not be limited to:

a list of all grant applicants and approved grant applicants; the grant amounts of approved grant applicants

the amount of matching funds and types of in-kind contributions provided to approved grant applicants; and

a status report on the activities funded by an approved grant applicant.

The bill also would require the board to hold one public hearing annually in the northern, central and southern regions of the state to provide a forum for the board to report on how public funds are spent and gather public input on the consortium’s mission.

The consortium’s 13-member board would consist of the following members: two gubernatorial appointees; one member each appointed by the Senate president and the Assembly speaker; one appointment each by the president of each member university with a background in journalism, media or technology; and five members, appointed by a majority vote of the other eight appointed board members, of which one member is to represent the media sector, one member to represent the technology sector, one member to represent the nonprofit sector, and two members, not employed by the state or a member university at the time of their appointment, having demonstrated a record of commitment to public service and understanding the importance of media and technology to New Jersey’s future.

The bill now awaits further consideration by the Senate.

Moriarty Bill Eliminating Discrimination against Cash Paying Consumers Clears Assembly

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, prohibiting discrimination against consumers paying for goods or services with cash was advanced by the Assembly on Thursday with a vote of 71-4.

The bill (A-591) is applicable to any retail transaction conducted in-person, and excludes telephone, mail, or internet based transactions.

“Many people do not have access to consumer credit and any effort by retail establishments to ban the use of cash would be discriminatory towards those people,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “The U.S. dollar is legal tender and should be accepted at any retail establishment in New Jersey.”

The sponsor also referred to an article written last year regarding how Visa had pushed for more small businesses to participate in a program that would offer up to $10,000 each to 50 U.S. based small businesses if they were to make their payment technology completely digital.

Any person in violation of this bill would be subject to a civil penalty up to $2,500 for a first offense, $5,000 for a second offense, and a third or subsequent offense would be an unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud Act.

Assembly Bill Tackling Mortgage Discrimination and Foreclosure Practices in New Jersey Advances in Assembly

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Gabriela Mosquera that would address concerns of mortgage discrimination and foreclosure practices by prohibiting discrimination based on familial status advanced in the Assembly Monday.

The bill (A-401) prohibits depository institutions that make mortgage loans in this state from discriminating against any person that is making an available mortgage loan, or in the terms or conditions of a mortgage loan, because of the person’s familial status. It also would allow anyone discriminated against in violation of the bill to bring action in a New Jersey court of competent jurisdiction. Upon finding that a depository institution is in violation, the court would be permitted to award actual damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and court costs.

The bill defines “familial status” as being the natural parent of a child, the adoptive parent of a child, the resource family parent of a child, having a “parent and child relationship” with a child as defined by state law, or having sole or joint legal or physical custody, care, guardianship, or visitation with a child, or any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any individual who has not attained the age of 18.

No one should be denied or delayed loans because of their familial status. As long as the candidate is qualified for the loan, whether or not they have children or are on maternity leave or expanding their families, should not be considered as part of the loan application process.

The bill was advanced by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. It will now go to the full Assembly for further consideration.

Assemblywoman Mosquera “Jake’s Law” Bill to Create Inclusive Playgrounds to Better Serve NJ Families with Disabilities Clears Senate Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Gabriela Mosquera to make playgrounds in New Jersey inclusive and capable of catering to children and parents with different types of disabilities was approved Thursday by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee.

These parks provide a fun and safe place for children with special needs to play and engage socially. Building more of these parks not only provides these children with this wonderful opportunity, but can also help educate other children about acceptance and inclusion.

The bill would also clarify that the DCA commissioner would have to invite and receive recommendations for the adoption of rules and regulations from nonprofit organizations with a demonstrated expertise in the design and construction of inclusive playgrounds. At a minimum, the rules and regulations would require fully accessible playground surfacing, access ramps leading up to and within play structures, and play structures designed to facilitate access for adults and children with disabilities.

The bill would require DCA to propose rules and regulations within 180 days of the effective date of the bill and adopt rules and regulations within one year of the effective date of the bill. The rules and regulations would address various issues related to inclusive playgrounds, including, but not limited to, parking, adaptive restroom facilities, shade areas, fencing, and quiet play areas.

The bill would also require that the DEP prioritize any application submitted by a county seeking to acquire or develop lands for recreational and conservation purposes using Green Acres funds, provided that the Green Acres funds requested by the county are to be used for the design and construction of an inclusive playground. Under the bill, additional prioritization would be given to applications submitted by counties that do not currently operate and maintain an inclusive playground, to ensure at least one such playground is operated and maintained by each county.

The bill would take effect immediately and now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

Assemblywoman Mosquera Two-Bill Package to Strengthen Protection for Victims of Sexual Assault Approved By Panel

A two-bill legislative package sponsored by Gabriela Mosquera to establish “stealthing” as a crime, and to amend certain provisions of a sexual assault statute by clarifying the necessary elements for conviction advanced in the Assembly Thursday.

The first bill (A-2766), would make stealthing, a term used to describe intentional removal or damage to a sexually protective device before or during a sexual act without the consent of a sexual partner, a third-degree crime–an offense generally punishable by 3 to 5 years imprisonment, a fine up to $15,000 or both.

The bill stems from a report by Yale law student Alexandra Brodsky suggesting that “nonconsensual intentional condom removal during sexual intercourse exposes victims to physical risks of pregnancy and disease.” While statistics on the prevalence of stealthing are limited, a 2014 study by Kelly Cue Davis and colleagues reported that 9.0 percent of participants in their sample of young men reported engaging in condom sabotage, which included non-consensual condom removal.

The second bill (A-2767) would amend certain provisions of a sexual assault statute, making it consistent with current law as established by relevant case law.

Now more than ever, in the age of the ‘me too movement,’ it is crucial that we strengthen the law to empower sexual assault victims to speak up and speak out. This is a devious act that puts women and men at risk for sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancies in some cases. No should always mean no.

Specifically, this bill would replace the term “physical force” in accordance with the New Jersey Supreme Court’s holding in State in Interest of M.T.S., 129 N.J. 422 (1992), which holds that the only requirement for a conviction under the sexual assault statute is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that there was sexual penetration and that it was accomplished without the victim’s consent.

Moreover, it would amend the statute to mirror the New Jersey Supreme Court’s determination, as determined in State v. Olivio, 123 N.J. 550 (1991), that a person is “mentally defective”, if at the time of the sexual penetration, that person does not understand the sexual nature of the conduct and is incapable of understanding their right to refuse the sexual act.

The bill also would amend paragraph (3) of subsection a. of the statute to clarify that the phrase “aggravated assault on another” refers to a person other than the victim, and adds the crime of carjacking as an aggravating offense.

The bill also would replace gender-specific language with gender-neutral terms.

Both bills were introduced on February 1 and were released by the Assembly Women and Children Committee.