In Our Community

Assemblyman Moriarty Bill Protecting Minimum Wage Workers Clears Labor Committee

Bill sponsored by Assembly Democrat Paul Moriarty revising part of the Prevailing Wage Act was approved by the Assembly Labor Committee on Monday.

The bill (A-1852) provides that an employer who violates any provisions of the Prevailing Wage Act is, upon conviction of a first or second violation, guilty of a disorderly persons offense. In addition, upon conviction of a third or subsequent offense, an employer would be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

This measure would increase the fine amounts as well as imprisonment time if wage theft occurs. A first violation would be no less than $500 but would maintain the maximum fine of no more than $1,000. For a second violation, the fine would be increased to no less than $1,000 and no more than $2,000. Finally, upon constituting a crime of the fourth degree, the employer would be fined no less than $2,000 and no more than $10,000; subject to imprisonment for up to 18 months, or both.

“This piece of legislation goes hand in hand with the discussion of increasing the minimum wage for our workers,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Simply put, New Jersey employees have the fundamental right to their hard-earned money, and this bill would ease the worry of whether they will be short-changed or taken advantage of in terms of what they are owed.”

Common forms of wage theft include non-payment of overtime, not giving workers their last paycheck after leaving a job, not paying for all the hours worked, and not paying minimum wage.

Assemblyman Moriarty Bill Banning Ghost Guns, 3-D Plastic Firearms in NJ Advances in Assembly

No Ghost Guns. No 3-D Firearms. And no purchasing any component used in making either of these weapons. Legislation banning the manufacturing of any untraceable or covert firearm was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee Monday.

The bill (A-3129)- sponsored by Assembly Democrat Paul Moriarty would make it illegal to purchase firearm parts for the purpose of unlawfully manufacturing firearms without a serial number and to manufacture or possess covert or undetectable firearms and 3-D printed firearms.

“Instead of making it harder for criminals to obtain weapons, new technology and mail-order kits are only making it easier for criminals to manufacture firearms at home,” said Moriarty (D- Camden and Gloucester). “Our only recourse is to arm our court system with additional penalties for those who choose to skirt the law, avoid licensure and manufacture these types of firearms to keep or even to sell. We’re saying no to ghost guns, and no to 3-D firearms. Not in New Jersey. ”

The bill makes it a 3rd degree crime to: (1) manufacture, cause to be manufactured, transport, ship, sell, or dispose of any covert or undetectable firearm; (2) possess any covert or undetectable firearm; or (3) possess a firearm enclosed in a container or covering that is designed or modified to allow the firearm to be fired while so enclosed and that disguises or obscures the shape of the firearm such that it does not resemble a handgun, rifle, shotgun or machine gun.

A covert firearm is a gun that resembles, but not limited to, a key-chain, pen, cigarette package, cellphone, smart phone, wallet, or cane. An undetectable firearm is constructed entirely of non-metal substances, or one that does not include one major component.

A violation of this bill’s provisions is not to merge with any other criminal conviction. The court is to impose separate sentences for each criminal offense.
A crime of the third degree is punishable by a term of incarceration of three years to five years, a fine up to $15,000.

The bill will now be considered for a floor vote by the Assembly Speaker.

Bills Granting Priority College Course Registration to Military Service Members and Veterans, Academic Credit to Certain Veterans Clears Assembly Committee

Making the path to higher education easier for New Jersey service members and veterans, two bills sponsored by Assembly Democrats assisting with college course registration and earning credit for their skills were advanced by the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Monday.

The first bill (A-790), known as the “Combat to College Act,” and sponsored by legislator Gabriela Mosquera provides military service members and veterans living in New Jersey and attending a public institution of higher education with priority status when registering for courses. The priority registration benefit would apply to current military service members serving on active duty and to veterans honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances. This registration procedure would occur using the same methods as those used by other segments of the student population, if any, for priority registration purposes at the institution.

The second bill (A-791), sponsored by legislator Gabriela Mosquera requires public institutions of higher education to adopt policies that award academic credit to honorably discharged veterans who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, or a Reserve component thereof, and the National Guard. The policy must grant a veteran accepted to the institution a minimum of six credits upon enrollment.

“This bill will help ensure that our veterans do not face unnecessary roadblocks when mapping out their college credits and monitoring their progress,” said Mosquera (D-Camden and Gloucester). “Upon enrollment, they will already know where they stand in terms of credits.”

The bills were introduced on January 9 and now await further consideration from the Assembly.

Senator Madden Introduces Legislation to Protect Children From Retaliation For School Lunch Arrears

Senator Madden introduced legislation this summer that would prohibit a school district from retaliating against a child for school breakfast or lunch arrears. As it stands, schools can prevent children from participating in school events and extracurricular activities due to money owed for school meals. These actions serve only to harm children and to ostracize them from their classmates.

Children should not be targets in a school district’s efforts to collect owed debts. When students are singled out by prohibiting participation in school functions and activities, they are then vulnerable to internal and external distress. This distress could be in the form of bullying, anxiety, or missed opportunities. This can take an immeasurable toll on a child’s social and mental development. Using a child as a tool to collect arrears is simply wrong.

Additionally, the bill, S2886, would further prohibit schools from requiring students to wear a wristband or hand stamp that would identify them as being in arrears, and schools would also not be permitted to require a student to do chores or other work to pay for arrearages.

This bill would require schools to communicate directly with parents to collect money owed. Schools would be permitted to send a student home with a letter addressed to his or her parent(s) regarding the matter, but no additional action could be taken to stigmatize a student.

Assemblyman Moriarty’s Bill Banning Smoking in Public Parks & Beaches Becomes Law

New Jersey beaches and parks will soon be smoke-free thanks to Assemblyman Moriarty’s bill, A-3798. Earlier this summer Governor Murphy signed the legislation to expand The New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act of 2006 to prohibit smoking on beaches and in parks.

The public has known about the harmful effects of smoking for decades. The dangers of second & third-hand smoke are well documented and are a major concern to Assemblyman Moriarty. We have come to expect clean air at home, at work and at restaurants. However, until now smoking has remained commonplace in our parks and on our beaches.

In this spirit, the Assemblyman sponsored this legislation so families can enjoy a walk in the park or a trip to the beach without worrying about the dangers of tobacco smoke. Under this law, individuals who choose to smoke after being warned against it will receive a fine. Fines will range from at least $250 for a first offense to $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for all subsequent offenses.

Some public smoking areas will remain open. The law will allow counties and municipalities to create limited smoking areas on beaches. Individuals will also be able to smoke in parking lots adjacent to parks and beaches.

This law will take effect no later than January 2019. In other words, by next summer beach trips and visits to local and State parks will be smoke-free.

Since joining the General Assembly, Assemblyman Moriarty has pursued the expansion of the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act. In 2009, the Assemblyman pushed to expand the Act to include restrictions on the use of electronic smoking devices. This new law is the latest example of the Assemblyman’s progress in the fight for the clean air New Jerseyans deserve.

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

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 signed into law Thursday.

The new law (formerly bill A-2187) would require the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), in consultation with the Department of Education, to create rules and regulations for completely inclusive playgrounds that generally exceed current state and federal standards required by the “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

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 law now requires the Department of Community Affairs, in consultation with the Department of Education, to promulgate:

    • Rules and regulations for the design, installation, inspection, and maintenance of completely inclusive playgrounds. The regulations would be required to: (1) meet any standard of care imposed by law on playground operators; (2) be those guidelines and criteria which are contained in the Handbook for Public Playground Safety produced by the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission or any successor; and (3) include special provisions for completely inclusive playgrounds appropriate for children within the range of ages in day care settings.
    • Rules and regulations for completely inclusive playgrounds designed with standards that generally exceed those required by the federal “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990” (U.S.C. s.12101 et seq.) and which result in allowing the inclusion of people with disabilities, irrespective of medical condition.
      The bill was approved by the Assembly 73-0 in June.