Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vincent Mazzeo, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Gabriela Mosquera and Dan Benson to allow students with disabilities to bring service animals onto school buses in New Jersey was signed into law on Monday.
“This will ensure that New Jersey aligns with what federal law prescribes,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “What’s more important, however, is our commitment to ensuring that students with disabilities can have the highest quality of life possible and access the same opportunities as their peers.”
The new law (A-3690) will expand state law to allow students with disabilities to board a school bus with a service animal. Previous law only permitted students with disabilities to enter classrooms and school grounds with service animals. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in services provided by state and local government entities.
“For certain students with disabilities, service animals are required for optimal learning and development,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “If a student needs a service animal in school and is allowed to have that, it is common sense to allow the student to bring the service animal onto the school bus as well.”
“When students have to be without the service animals that facilitate their everyday activity, they compromise their sense of independence and, in some cases, put their health at risk,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “This law acknowledges that just as we would never ask a student to leave behind a pair of eyeglasses or an EpiPen that he or she needs, we should never expect a child who needs a service animal to go without it.”
“The needs of these students do not magically disappear when they board the school bus,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “It seems silly to allow a service animal in the classroom, but not the school bus. These students depend on service animals to make everyday tasks easier. There is no reason why service animals should not be allowed to accompany these children on the bus.”
“These animals are not pets. They serve a specific purpose and that is to assist children with special needs,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “These children have it especially tough. There is no need to make life harder for them by denying them the support and protection that these service animals provide, especially when these animals are already allowed in the classroom.”
The law will permit a school official to inquire as to whether the service animal is required due to a disability and what task or work the animal has been trained to perform, unless the disability and the animal’s purpose are readily apparent. A school official may require: 1) certification from a veterinarian that the service animal is properly vaccinated and does not have a contagious disease that may harm students or staff and 2) documentation proving that the student has obtained any license the municipality in which he or she resides requires for the service animal.
The law will also require the animal to be under a handler’s control via a leash, tether or other suitable means at all times.
(TRENTON) – Legislation New Jersey Assembly Democrats Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Timothy Eustace, Paul Moriarty and Pamela Lampitt sponsored to permit certain zero emission vehicle manufacturers to directly sell motor vehicles to consumers and require them to operate service facilities has been signed into law.
The law (A-3216) keeps Tesla in operation in New Jersey. Under a Motor Vehicle Commission decision, automobiles had to be sold through franchises.
Under the law, Tesla will be allowed to sell directly to consumers at up to four licensed locations in New Jersey. Manufacturers engaging in direct sales will also be required to operate at least one retail facility in the state for vehicle service, thus addressing public safety and consumer protection concerns.
“Tesla is an innovative company that has produced a top-rated, environmentally conscious product,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “Their commitment to innovation, job-creation and customer satisfaction is precisely the kind of entrepreneurial spirit we should be encouraging in New Jersey. That’s why getting this bill signed into law was so important.”
“As an electric car driver, I’m honored to be part of this effort to find solutions to keep a state-of-the-art product and the future of the auto manufacturing industry right here in New Jersey,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This will incentivize entrepreneurship, create jobs, promote environmental protection and address the important concerns of consumers in our state.”
“We need New Jersey to be at forefront of advancing technology if we want to put ourselves into position for strong economic development and job creation, and we also need to promote clean energy and the health benefits it brings to our residents,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “This law ensures New Jersey will not be left behind.”
“It makes no sense to keep innovative companies out of New Jersey,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “New Jersey needs to promote innovation, economic development and job creation, not stand in the way. This reverses course and does the right thing for our state.”
“We need to support innovation and clean energy,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “New Jersey must be on the forefront of alternative energy industries or else we risk being left behind, and that would have been bad for our economy and our environment.”
The law allows any ZEV manufacturer to directly or indirectly buy from and directly sell, offer to sell, or deal to a consumer a ZEV if the manufacturer was licensed by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) on or prior to January 1, 2014.
This provides that ZEVs may be directly sold by certain manufacturers, like Tesla Motors, and preempts any rule or regulation that restricts sales exclusively to franchised dealerships.
The provisions do not prevent a licensed franchisor from operating under an existing license issued by the MVC.
The law additionally requires manufacturers and franchisees to annually report to the Division of Taxation the number of ZEVs sold in the State each calendar year. Under former law, these vehicles were exempt from the state’s sales and use tax.
“We have come together around a compromise solution–which will strengthen our auto industry, promote innovation and keep Tesla in our state,” Greenwald said. “This is a win-win for New Jersey’s consumers.”
This year, our office is participating in Dress Our Vets, a women’s professional clothing drive, to help the Suiting Warriors Foundation. Their goal is to support female veterans who are transitioning back into civilian life by providing them with professional or business attire. Starting on March 3rd, we will be collecting donations at both office locations and I hope that you will join us in giving back to the veterans who have given so much for us.
Here is some information that you may find helpful:
What is the Suiting Warriors Foundation?
Suiting Warriors Foundation is a non-profit, grass-roots organization that provides “Concierge Suiting Service” for honorably discharged male and female veterans to enter the civilian workforces who are in need of professional attire. The clothing – as well as fittings – are provided to veterans during job fairs and other events. Just last month, Suiting Warriors attended a Hiring Our Heroes job fair for military families held at Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst. For more information, please visit www.suitingwarriors.org.
What Can Be Donated?
Through this Dress Our Vets initiative, we are seeking gently used, clean or dry cleaned professional or business attire for females (e.g., suits, work pants, blazers, blouses). To the greatest extent possible, donations of clothing on hangers or in garment bags is preferred to avoid additional costs being incurred by the Suiting Warriors Foundation.
Can I Donate Men’s Suits?
Although the Dress Our Vets March campaign is geared towards female veterans, we will happily accept professional clothing for men as well.
If you would like any further information about this drive, please feel free to reach out to our district offices.
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Gabriela Mosquera, John McKeon, Daniel Benson and Shavonda Sumter to allow more victims of sexual assault to seek protective orders against their perpetrators was unanimously approved by the full Assembly on Monday.
“Simply seeing an abuser – whether he or she is a new acquaintance or an old friend – forces many sexual assault survivors to relive the trauma of having been violated, and current law says they have no option but to suffer in silence,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Every person in this state has a right to feel safe while going about his or her daily life. With this bill, we reaffirm our commitment to the notion that all residents of New Jersey should be able to seek the protection they need to live in peace.”
Under current law, in order to pursue a protective order, a victim must have had a previous or existing domestic relationship with the offender, such as a spousal or dating relationship, or must file a criminal complaint against the offender. The bill (A-4078), which is to be known as the “Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015,” would eliminate these preconditions.
Specifically, the bill would authorize protective orders for victims of non-consensual sexual contact, sexual penetration or lewdness or attempts at such conduct during cases in which the victim does not have a domestic relationship with the offender and does not wish to file a criminal complaint against him or her.
“Sexual violence knows no boundaries and neither should protective orders,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “These orders have saved lives in the past and should be available to all victims, regardless of their relationship, or lack thereof, with the perpetrator.”
“A protection order can be integral in helping a victim put their life back together again and move forward,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This type of legal support is key, not only in preventing a repeat in violence, but also in preventing harassment, stalking, intimidation and other serious disruptions to a victim’s life.”
“Often times victims fear that they will be blamed or face reprisal if they come forward, which is why sexual violence continues to be an underreported crime,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This measure will eliminate a major flaw in our judicial system and create a greater culture of support and protection for victims.”
While current statutes allow domestic violence victims to seek a protective order against offenders, individuals who are victims of sexual assault, but not domestic violence, do not have similar protections under the law, Vainieri Huttle said.
An order for emergency, ex parte relief pursuant to the bill would be granted when necessary to protect the safety and well-being of a victim – regardless of whether criminal charges were filed – and would remain in effect until a superior court judge issues a further order.
A violation of the bill’s provisions would be a crime of the fourth degree. A person convicted of a second or subsequent non-indictable offense be required to serve a minimum of 30 days of imprisonment.
A protective order may include, but would not be limited to, prohibiting the offender from: engaging in nonconsensual sexual contact with the victim; entering the victim’s home, school or place of employment and other places the victim regularly frequents; having contact or communication with the victim, which includes personal, written, telephone and electronic contact; stalking or following the victim or threatening to do so; and committing or attempting to commit an act of harassment, including cyber harassment, against the victim.
If the victim is under 18 years old, has a developmental disability or has a mental disease or defect that makes it impossible to provide consent, the bill would permit a parent or guardian to file the application on his or her behalf.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg introduced legislation on Thursday to strengthen New Jersey’s gun laws and protect victims of domestic violence from gun violence.
“For victims and their children, domestic violence turns a chance to live the American Dream into a horrific nightmare. I know, because I’ve lived that nightmare,” said Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden). “Too many victims are killed before they ever have a chance to get out, at the hands of abusers who have easy access to firearms. This legislation will change that – strengthening our gun violence laws in order to protect victims of domestic violence.”
“Study after study tells us that domestic violence and firearms are a deadly combination,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “But these numbers are not just statistics. They represent real lives that have been shattered. We’re taking this issue head-on and strengthening our gun laws to save those lives.”
“Gun violence perpetrated against women often stems from domestic violence incidents that escalate and turn tragic,” said Weinberg (D-Bergen). “We have to do more to protect the lives of women and children who find themselves in a dangerous family situation. By imposing stronger laws that limit abusers’ access to firearms we will better protect victims against preventable and, too often, fatal gun violence.”
The facts about domestic abuse and firearms access are sobering:
· A 2014 study from the Violence Policy Center examining 2012 homicide data reported that 52 percent of females who were murdered were killed with a gun;
· This study further found that, of those females who were killed with a gun, 61 percent were killed by their male intimate partners – and that most often, females were killed by males in the course of an argument; and
· The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence recently reported that for 2011, 53.6 percent of female homicide victims in New Jersey were killed in domestic violence incidents.
“New Jersey has strong gun laws, but all too often, these laws fail to sufficiently protect victims of domestic violence,” said Mosquera. “Today, we are saying enough is enough and taking action to change that.”
Among other provisions, the bill would:
· Require domestic abusers to surrender their firearms while a domestic violence restraining order is in effect, or when they are convicted of a domestic violence crime or offense;
· Require an abuser’s firearms purchaser identification cards and permits to purchase a handgun to be suspended during domestic violence restraining orders;
· Require an abuser’s firearms purchaser identification cards and permits to purchase a handgun to be revoked if the individual is convicted of a domestic violence crime or offense; and
· Require cross-referencing of records to assist in determining whether an alleged domestic abuser owns a firearm in order to assist law enforcement’s ability to ensure that an abuser does not have access to firearms.
“This bill is a step in the right direction for New Jersey’s victims of domestic violence,” said Mosquera. “Today is the beginning of the process, and I look forward to working closely with the victims’ advocates as we move forward.”
(TRENTON) – Assembly approved legislation Assemblymen Paul Moriarty and Daniel Benson sponsored to limit access to data from devices in automobiles that can capture information about the driver’s activity cleared a Senate panel on Thursday.
“The preservation of electronic data from any of these sources is becoming vital to the defense of litigation in accidents,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “These recordings may be the most reliable and objective source of information about the events that occurred just prior to a crash. This legislation is necessary to preserve the integrity of the recordings and protect what may be used as evidence in court.”
“Crash data retrieved from a vehicle’s black box can play a critical role in determining what exactly happened at the time of an accident, but it’s always essential that sensitive information doesn’t get into the wrong hands,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This legislation eliminates the ambiguity about whether this information is the property of the car’s owner, its manufacturer or someone else. Even more importantly, this bill promotes drivers’ safety while guarding their privacy.”
Under the bill (A-3579), persons other than the owner of the motor vehicle that contains the recording device, or the owner’s representative, are prohibited from retrieving, obtaining, or using data recorded, stored, or transmitted from the recording device, unless:
· the owner, or the owner’s representative, consents to the duration and scope of data retrieval, retention, and use, prior to or at the time the data is retrieved, obtained, or used;
· the recorded data is retrieved or obtained by a law enforcement officer pursuant to a search warrant issued by a Superior Court judge or upon order by a court of competent jurisdiction or, in the case of recorded data other than vehicle location, a grand jury subpoena;
· the recorded data is used for the purpose of improving motor vehicle safety, including security, performance, operation, compliance with traffic laws, traffic management, or medical research, provided that the identity of the owner, operator or other occupant of the vehicle is not disclosed;
· the recorded data is retrieved or obtained by a licensed new motor vehicle dealer, a motor vehicle repair or servicing facility and a technician or mechanic at such a facility, or the manufacturer of the motor vehicle, and used for the sole purpose of diagnosing, servicing, or repairing the motor vehicle;
· the recorded data is accessed by an emergency response provider and used for the sole purpose of determining the need for or facilitating an emergency medical response in the event of a motor vehicle crash; or
· the recorded data is retrieved or obtained pursuant to a legally proper discovery request or order in a civil action.
Also under the bill, recorded data may be retrieved, obtained, and used by a subscription service provider if the subscription service agreement discloses that the data may be recorded, stored, and transmitted.
The bill also prohibits the alteration or deletion of data on a recording device or the destruction of a recording device with the intent to prevent access to or destroy the recorded data after a crash resulting in bodily injury or death for a period of two years following the crash, and establishes a $5,000 civil penalty for a violation. The alteration or deletion of data by a recording device with an overwriting or rewriting program or function, which is activated during the vehicle’s normal operation, would not be considered a knowing alteration or deletion and therefore not subject to the civil penalty.
Finally, the bill establishes a rebuttable presumption that a vehicle recycler or scrap recycling facility has no knowledge of the involvement of a vehicle in a crash event that resulted in bodily injury or death.
The bill was advanced Thursday by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.