In Our Community

Moriarty & Mosquera Bill to Extend Use of Stored Driver’s License Photos for Chemotherapy Patients Clears Assembly

Affects Residents Who Are Undergoing Medical Treatment that Can Alter Their Appearance

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Gabriela Mosquera, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Wayne DeAngelo and Patrick Diegnan to extend use of stored driver’s license photo for persons undergoing chemotherapy or other treatment for medical illnesses cleared the Assembly on Thursday.

The bill (A-4719) extends the use of the person’s stored driver’s license photo if the person is undergoing medical treatment for an illness and that treatment results in temporary changes to the person’s physical characteristics. An example of such treatment would be chemotherapy.

“A patient undergoing major medical treatments with temporary side effects should not have to change their driver’s license photo if it’s not necessary,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “These residents are fighting for their lives. They should have more time to decide if they have to change their license photo. Matter of fact, they deserve it.”

“Not all of the identifying characteristics listed on the driver’s license change when undergoing certain medical treatments. Eye color, height and skin color may stay relatively the same throughout,” said Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden). “Enduring treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation takes great emotional, physical and mental strength. This legislation provides piece of mind to residents who have more to think about than changing a driver’s license photo.”

The sponsors were moved to draft the bill after hearing the story of Neptune City resident Joanne Jodry, who was told she would have to take a new picture when she went to renew her license at the Motor Vehicles Commission office in Freehold. Jodry, who is battling breast cancer and has lost her hair to chemotherapy, asked if they could use her old photo, but according to a media report, her request was denied. Ultimately, Jodry was allowed to wear a scarf over her bald head after speaking with a manager.

“Patients should be allowed to focus on their health in times like these,” Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “When there are medical reasons for the physical changes they experience, these cases should be treated differently when it comes to driver’s license photos.”

“We’ve all had a friend, family or neighbor endure serious medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation,” DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “Patients often heal and return to the way they looked prior to treatment. However, this takes time. Changing the driver’s license photo can and should wait until after treatment.”

“Medical treatments for cancer and other major diseases are arduous and intense for a patient,” Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Taking a new photo for a driver’s license is insignificant at a time when a resident is focused on healing and getting through the next treatment. If a resident needs more time to get to DMV to take a new photo due to major medical treatments then they should have it.”

The bill requires the Chief Administer of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to allow a person to use a stored picture to renew a license for one year if person is ill and undergoing medical treatment that temporarily changes the person’s appearance. The person is required to present documentation by a licensed physician.

The fee would be $18 and the person would not be required to pay the digitized picture fee (currently $6) at the time. A picture of a person undergoing treatment for an illness that results in physical changes is unrepresentative of that person and could serve as an ineffective identifier.

The committee amended the bill to include the statutory citation to a law referenced in the bill, remove a provision of existing law concerning “valid without picture” licenses that is no longer in effect, and to make other technical changes.

The Assembly approved the bill 69-0. It was released by the Assembly Transportation Committee the bill earlier this week.

Find the original press release at the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office website.

Moriarty Bill to Permit Overseas & Military Voters to Vote Using Internet Advances

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Wayne DeAngelo, Joseph Lagana and Joe Danielsen to permit overseas and military voters to vote using the Internet was released Thursday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

“Every vote counts, but they especially must count for those protecting our freedom in the military,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “This is a common sense, 21st century bill.”

“Military deployment or temporarily living overseas should not continue to preclude an individual from participating in elections,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This bill will help us test the possibility of voting over the internet in a safe and responsible way.”

“The internet has expanded the way we view participation in the electoral process,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “In this case, it may allow us to include a segment of the population that has been left out until now. Every resident who can vote and wants to vote should be able to cast a ballot, especially those in our military.”

“Online voting is largely unexplored terrain,” said Danielsen (D-Somerset/Middlesex). “However, it is a concept that deserves exploring if it means every New Jerseyan has the opportunity to participate in elections.”

The bill (A-633) establishes a pilot project to permit overseas voters to vote in elections using the Internet.

The pilot project would be for the primary election and general election occurring in the calendar year in which the bill takes effect. Under the bill, the term “overseas voter” includes any person in military service who, by reason of active duty or service, is absent on the date of the election from the place of residence in New Jersey where the person is or would be qualified to vote.

Specifically, the bill, as amended, requires the Secretary of State to:

  • Create an Internet-based voting system for the pilot project that: (a) uses such technology as may be available to ensure the authentication of the voter, the security of the ballot being voted, the privacy of the voter casting the ballot, the ability to audit or verify the voting process by the voter and third party entities, the control of the voting process by the appropriate election officials, the integrity of the voting process for the elections at which Internet voting is to be available and the compatibility of that process with the voting system currently used by an overseas voter; (b) employs to the extent possible any guidelines for an Internet voting pilot project that assists overseas voters that are proposed or promulgated by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission or any other agency of the federal government; and (c) adopts, where possible, the best practices used in similar projects in other states and countries;
  • Consult with representatives of the clerks of the counties, the superintendents of elections and the county boards of election with regard to the development and implementation of the pilot project; (3) provide sufficient and accessible notice and information to the public and overseas voters with respect to the pilot project and the requirements for such voters to participate in the elections at which Internet voting is to be available; and (4) promulgate such temporary rules and regulations as the secretary deems necessary to effectuate the purpose of this bill.

The secretary must submit to the Governor and the Legislature no later than the 120th day following the day of the general election at which the pilot project is operative a written report with recommendations as to whether: (1) Internet voting for overseas voters should not be adopted at present; or (2) the pilot project should be expanded and a further assessment of its feasibility should be conducted; or (3) Internet voting for overseas voters should be adopted permanently by law.

The bill provides that there would be appropriated from the General Fund such sums as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Department of the Treasury deems necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act.

Find the original press release at the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office website.

Assembly Panel OKs Moriarty Bill to Establish Hiring Preference for Veterans in Non-Civil Service Jurisdictions

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, John Burzichelli, Cleopatra Tucker, Wayne DeAngelo and Joe Danielsen to ensure consideration of former members of the military for non-civil service jobs in New Jersey.

“The enormous sacrifice and unyielding commitment required of New Jersey’s military families is reason enough to do what we can to help veterans get back to work sooner than later after their service has ended,” said Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester). “The valuable skills gained while working to preserve freedom and democracy can be an asset in non-civil service positions. Our veterans need more opportunities for employment and that is just what this legislation does.”

The bill (A-631) would provide counties and municipalities whose hiring preferences are not regulated by the civil service rules with the ability to provide hiring preferences to veterans.

“Too many of our veterans are out of work,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem). “This legislation opens doors for veterans that may not have been open to them before.”

“We must encourage employers to look to veterans which searching for a candidate to fill positions,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “Establishing a hiring preference does just that.”

In order to be eligible for preferential treatment when applying for employment with a county or municipality, the veteran must be at least equally qualified with all other candidates for the position.

“New Jersey’s military men and women are returning home to a tough economic climate and a dismal unemployment rate,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “This legislation will give them access to the opportunity they deserve when they come back home.”

“This legislation honors the sacrifice and invaluable service made by each and every New Jersey veteran,” said Danielson (D-Middlesex, Somerset). “Veterans have selflessly served this country here and overseas to protect our freedoms. It is our duty to ensure they have every opportunity to find work when they return to civilian life.”

The bill does not modify any provision of chapter 14 of Title 40A of the New Jersey statutes concerning preference given to veterans with regard to employment in police and fire departments.

The measure was approved by the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Find the original press release at the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office website.

Moriarty & Mosquera Swatting Bill Now Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, Gabriela Mosquera and Annette Quijano to crack down on the dangerous trend known as “swatting” was signed into law on Monday.

The FBI describes “swatting” as making a hoax call to 9-1-1 to draw a response from law enforcement, usually a SWAT team. The individuals who engage in this activity, many of whom are teens and twenty-somethings with ties to the online gaming community, use technology to make it appear that the emergency call is coming from the victim’s phone. The FBI notes that sometimes swatting is done for revenge, sometimes as a prank, but either way, it is a serious crime that has potentially dangerous consequences.

The legislation was prompted by a string of recent hoax incidents in New Jersey that have drawn large-scale law enforcement responses.
“To say swatting is troublesome is a severe understatement,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “We’re talking about elaborate hoaxes that have drawn teams of specially trained officers, sometimes resulting in the closure of whole city blocks or roads, and occasionally even causing serious harm, like heart attacks, to the unsuspecting and innocent people who have these teams show up at their door. It’s time to send a message that this is not going to be treated lightly.”

Moriarty first introduced a bill in November of last year in response to a swatting incident in Millville where a law enforcement team swarmed an innocent family’s house believing a violent altercation was taking place inside. After recent news reports drew attention to his efforts to crack down on the trend, he then became the victim of a swatting incident himself.

Since then, a string of more recent swatting incidents in New Jersey — including a gaming shop in Clifton, a home in Upper Freehold and an elementary School in Homdel — have underscored the urgency of enacting swifter penalties for hoaxes and false alarms.

“A lot of swatters are young and tech-savvy,” said Andrzejczak (Cape May/Atlantic/ Cumberland). “I’m sure they can have a bright career ahead of them if they want it. So hopefully the idea of serious jail time and fines will help deter them from throwing their futures away over a stupid prank.”
The new law (A-4375) upgrades the crime of false public alarm to a crime of the second degree whenever such an alarm presents a report or warning of an especially dangerous scenario or targets certain places. The bill would also require statewide law enforcement reporting on all incidents of false public alarms.

“These are not innocent prank calls like many kids did growing up,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “The whole goal of the hoax is to draw a large scale law enforcement response. Not only does this put innocent people in harm’s way, but it wastes taxpayer dollars and diverts valuable resources from dealing with other legitimate crimes.”

Under current law, such an act is ordinarily a crime of the third degree, punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. Under the bill approved today, the crime, as upgraded, would be punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to 10 years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both.

“Clearly this a trend that is not going away right now, but rather gathering steam,” said Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Without any real way to stop it, we have to send a message that the hoax is not worth the risk of getting caught if it carries serious jail time and monetary penalties.”

The primary intent of the sponsor is to address an increasingly troublesome form of false public alarm sometimes referred to as “swatting,” which results in the immediate and often aggressive deployment or use of law enforcement and other first responders against unsuspecting persons who are unaware that a false report or warning was made.

“Authorities estimate that the dangerous hoax costs New Jersey law enforcement agencies tens of thousands of dollars every year while diverting resources from other real crimes and putting innocent residents in the crossfire,” said Quijano (D-Union). “This demands a concerted effort to both crack down on this practice and underscore the severity of it so parents can talk to their kids about it and stay on top of their activities.”

Specifically, the law would upgrade the crime of false public alarm to a crime of the second degree whenever the act:
1) involved a report or warning of an impending bombing, hostage situation, or person armed with a deadly weapon; or
2) involved a report or warning about any critical infrastructure located in this state, defined as “any building, place of assembly, or facility that is indispensably necessary for national security, economic stability, or public safety.”

The responsible party would also be liable, based on existing law, for a civil penalty of $2,000 or the actual costs incurred by or resulting from the law enforcement and emergency services response to the false alarm.

Under the law’s reporting requirement, all local and county law enforcement authorities would have to submit an annual report, on a form prescribed by the Attorney General, to the Uniform Crime Reporting Unit of the Division of State Police, or to another designated recipient determined by the Attorney General, containing the number and nature of false public alarm offenses committed within their respective jurisdictions and the disposition of these offenses.

Every two years, a summary of all reports received during the preceding two-year period, along with a summary of offenses investigated by the Division of State Police for the same period, would be forwarded to the state’s Office of Emergency Management.

The full Assembly approved the measure,74-0, on June 11 and by the Senate on June 26, 40-0.

Find the original press release at the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office website.

Moriarty Bill to Prohibit Sale of Powdered Alcohol Now Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Craig Coughlin, Charles Mainor, Nancy Pinkin and Joseph Danielsen sponsored to prohibit the sale of powdered alcohol in New Jersey was signed into law on Monday.

Powdered alcohol is ethyl alcohol which is designed to be dissolved in liquid to produce alcoholic beverages. Moriarty first introduced the measure in November of last year. However, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau finally approved the sale of powdered alcohol on the market in March, prompting renewed concerns about the dangers the product poses.

“The lure of this product to underage people and the potential for dangerous misuse among people of any age is ripe. Not only can it be inhaled, it can also be added to another person’s food or drink unbeknownst to them,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Because of its composition, powdered alcohol can also be easily concealed and brought into venues where alcoholic beverages from other sources may not be permitted or places where there is a total ban on alcoholic beverages.”

The new law (A-3580) stipulates that no person shall sell, offer for sale, or deliver, receive or purchase for resale, in this state, any product consisting of or containing powdered alcohol. The law defines “powdered alcohol” as a powder or crystalline substance containing alcohol which is produced for human consumption.

“This product can be easily hidden and allows people to drink pretty much anywhere as long as they have water. That’s trouble waiting to happen,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Many people have a hard time limiting themselves with the liquid form. The potential for misuse is worrisome, especially among young people who may be experimenting with alcohol for the first time.”

“The makers of this product say people would be foolish to try to snort this product. I guess they never heard of the cinnamon challenge or the fire challenge,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “Young people are impressionable; even more so in our social media age. The last thing we need is another potentially dangerous fad for young people to get into and promote on the Internet.”

“This product, with its powdery form, trivializes the effects of alcohol, which can be especially dangerous for young people who often binge drink,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “From alcohol-poisonings on college campuses to alcohol-fueled accidents, youth and alcohol are a bad mix. We don’t need a product that makes it even easier for them to drink irresponsibly.”

“There are so many untold risks with this product that far outweigh any benefits,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “Clearly most states are in agreement given all the action being taken to prevent this product from flooding the market. New Jersey needed to do the same before we opened a Pandora’s Box of potential misuse and abuse.”

Federal approval of the product prompted fierce opposition from health experts, public health officials and media outlets. New Jersey is now one of six states to ban the product and at least 23 other states are considering legislative bans.

The measure was approved 69-5-4 by the Assembly on June 25 and in the Senate, 39-1 on June 29.

Find the original press release at the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office website.

Moriarty Bill to Establish Scholarship Fund for Families of Soldiers Lost, Missing & Disabled in Action Becomes Law

Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Vincent Mazzeo, Tim Eustace, Gordon Johnson, Whip Wilson and Paul Moriarty to provide scholarships to the children of military personnel who have died, become permanently disabled or are missing in action has been signed into law.

“Military families are our nation’s real unsung heroes,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “We know that freedom isn’t free and it’s only fitting that we honor the sacrifices of those who have worn the uniform by helping their children and spouses attain their highest educational goals.”

“These men and women are the most honorable among us, as they have dedicated their lives in the name of freedom and democracy,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “We preserve their legacy by helping their families ‘Be all they can be.'”

The new law (A-2849) establishes the Military Dependent Scholarship Fund in the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. The fund will be used to provide scholarships to the spouse, child or other eligible dependent of a New Jersey resident who is killed, missing in action or totally and permanently disabled as a consequence of Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation New Dawn. The scholarships will be provided to pay for the costs of undergraduate study at a public or independent institution of higher education.

“Our men and women in uniform place their lives on the line everyday to preserve American values,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “When we encourage and enable their families to pursue their goals we pay homage to their parent or spouse self-less service to our country.”

“Members of our military are deployed around the world to protect the freedoms and democracy we take pride in,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester). “It is important we continue to honor the service and sacrifice of our military families in ways that help them to strive. A scholarship program is one of those ways.”

“The hardships of those who serve in defense of our nation impact their families in ways most of us – because of their selflessness – will never know,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This law is about making sure that the family members of the brave men and women who made the greatest of sacrifices for this country can pursue an education in their honor.”

The law also establishes a board of trustees of the fund which is authorized to award scholarships from the Military Dependents Scholarship Fund. The board will have the following duties: determine eligibility for a scholarship from the fund; determine the amount of each scholarship award; report annually to the governor and the legislature on the performance of its duties; solicit and raise private funds to finance the Military Dependents Scholarship Program; and receive and disburse such contributions to the fund as may be forthcoming from private and public sources.

Under the law’s provisions, to be eligible for the scholarship they will have to demonstrate that the applicant will be or is enrolled in a full-time undergraduate program of study leading to a degree at an institution for the award, regulation and administration of scholarships from the fund. Eligibility for the scholarship program, in the case of a spouse, will be limited to a period of 15 years form the date of death of the person, the date the person is officially listed as “Missing in Action” or the date upon which the person is certified to have been totally and permanently disabled for initial receipt of the benefits. In the case of a dependent child, eligibility will be limited to period of eight years following graduation from high school.

Find the original press release at the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office website.