New Jersey's 11th Legislative District

Senator Jennifer Beck

Senator Jennifer Beck

Beck’s ‘Stephen Komninos Law’ Gains Final Senate Approval

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The New Jersey Senate on Thursday, October 5, concurred with Governor Christie’s conditional veto of “Stephen Komninos’ Law,’ bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) to protect people with developmental disabilities, by improving accountability and transparency at group homes and care facilities.

Sen. Jennifer Beck’s “Stephen Komninos Law,” to protect people with developmental disabilities, gained final legislative approval on Oct. 5, 2017. It now heads back to Governor Christie’s desk to be signed into law. (SenateNJ.com)

“This is the final step in a long journey to get lifesaving protections for people with disabilities signed into law.  Unfortunately, we are devastated that this came too late for Billy Cray, who lost his life in a group home less than two months ago,” Senator Jennifer Beck said. “Billy’s mother, Martha, was a tireless advocate for ‘Stephen Komninos Law.’ I am grateful to her, Tom Komninos, Aileen Rivera, Gus Egizi, and all those who worked so hard with us over the years.”

“Stephen Komninos Law” (S-516) is named for a 22-year-old man with intellectual disabilities who suffered 16 separate substantiated incidents of abuse between 2004 and 2007. Stephen passed when he was left unsupervised, against medical orders.

“I hope that this will bring some peace of mind to the countless loved ones of those who are being cared for in group homes around New Jersey,” Beck added. “We have a responsibility to do everything we can to keep our most vulnerable residents safe from abuse and exploitation. That is what we have fought to achieve with ‘Stephen Komninos’ Law.’ I look forward to seeing it enacted.”

As revised under the Governor Christie’s conditional veto, S-516 would require the Department of Human Services to conduct two unannounced site visits per year, to check if patients are at risk or are being subjected to abuse, neglect or exploitation by a caregivers.

S-516 also requires these facilities to notify families within two hours, unless there are serious extenuating circumstances. In that case, there would be an eight hour window, instead of two hours. The bill would also increase penalties for failing to report an incidence of abuse or neglect, and requires drug testing as a condition of employment. The penalties collected would be used for caregiver training and conducting the visits conducted as required under the bill.

The Assembly passed their concurrence on July 31, 2017. The legislation now heads back to Governor Christie’s desk to be signed into law.

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