Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington) to better track and address chronic absenteeism at New Jersey public schools was advanced today by the Senate Education Committee.
A recent study of New Jersey schools by the non-profit Advocates for Children of New Jersey revealed that about 125,000 kindergarten to 12th grade students, approximately 10 percent of the state’s total public school student population, were chronically absent in the 2013-2014 school year. Chronic absenteeism is defined as having missed 10 percent of the school year, equal to 18 days of a traditional school year, due to excused and unexcused absences not including absences due to chronic medical conditions.
“Far too many students are repeatedly missing days of school and they are falling behind their classmates as a result,” said Allen. “We can’t expect students to succeed if they aren’t even in the classroom. This legislation adds emphasis to the importance of school attendance and it will help identify and address some of the issues that lead to chronic absenteeism.”
The Senate Education Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senators Christopher “Kip” Bateman and Joe Kyrillos establishing a school district regionalization task force that will study and make recommendations regarding the issues and benefits of consolidating school districts.
“We have to begin working in earnest to create a more efficient and sustainable school system and regionalization and consolidation of services needs to be a part of that discussion,” said Bateman (R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Mercer). “Regionalizing school districts is a complex issue that requires a lot of thought and planning but in the right scenarios it is one that carries great potential to enhance educational opportunities, streamline services and address a leading contributor to New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes.”
Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) released the following statement after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed the Port Ambrose LNG project, slated to sit 28 nautical miles off the coast of Long Branch:
“Today is a major victory in our efforts to protect the environment and our natural resources. I applaud Governor Cuomo for standing up and vetoing this project today just as Governor Christie did in 2011.
“Liberty Natural Gas has been sent a message loud and clear. The Governors of New York and New Jersey, elected officials, and residents from both states do not want this project, and I couldn’t be happier that it will not move forward.
The 8th Legislative District office is again partnering with Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey (OYRSJ) in a Holiday Cookie Drive for our troops.
This year, as you finalize plans for the busy holiday season, please take a moment to remember our military men and women who will not have the chance to be home for the holidays.
If your plans include some quality time baking goodies for loved ones and friends, we hope you will consider making an extra tray of cookies to share with our heroes serving abroad.
Cookies will be collected on ONE DAY ONLY, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, December 5, at the 8th District Office at 176 Route 70 East, Suite 13, Medford, NJ — behind the Dunkin Donuts at Jones Road.
Senator Steven Oroho, (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) expressed his support for sensible changes to state water quality management regulations that will no longer hinder reasonable economic growth yet maintain key environmental standards.
“The water quality management plan drafted by the previous administration forced municipalities to adopt extremely complex and overly broad regulations that put local planning agencies at odds with the DEP,” Senator Oroho said. “We cannot continue to enforce a ‘one-size-fits-all’ set of mandates. Our communities must have the flexibility to develop clear and consistent land-use plans that recognize zoning and environmental impacts that are unique to each municipality.”
The Senate Transportation Committee has passed legislation sponsored by Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic) to make bi-state transportation authorities more accountable and transparent.
The Senator’s legislation, S-2205, requires the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Delaware River and Bay Authority, Delaware River Port Authority, and Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission to make advance notification of certain projects or operations expected to impede traffic.
“This bill makes very clear that government agencies, at all levels, need to be transparent and accountable to the residents of New Jersey,” O’Toole said. “This should remove all confusion going forward. If projects and operations are important and in the interest of the people, then everyone should know about them.”
Bateman Bill to Upgrade Penalties for ‘Swatting,’ Protect Communities from Dangerous Hoaxes Signed Into Law
Governor Chris Christie has signed a bill sponsored by Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset) cracking down on an alarming trend that has put thousands of New Jerseyans at risk of serious harm. Sen. Bateman’s bill (S-3011, A4375) was introduced in response to a wave of swatting incidents where police were forced to respond to elaborate hoaxes instead of protecting residents from legitimate threats. The law establishes swatting as a second degree offense, increasing prison time and fines for committing this dangerous crime.
“We will not stand by as swatters waste tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars, risking the lives of innocent victims across the state,” Senator Bateman said.
“Children and teachers in Princeton have fallen victim to swatting nearly a dozen times this year, as police and K-9 units combed the halls. Robert Wood Johnson Hospital was forced to close their emergency room due to a false bomb threat that put patients at risk. These are just a handful of examples of the catastrophic consequences of swatting. Signing this bill into law sends a strong message that we will not tolerate these acts of terror. I thank the Governor and my colleagues in the Senate and Assembly for supporting this lifesaving effort to end swatting in New Jersey.”
Bipartisan Legislation sponsored Senator Jennifer Beck to allow sexual assault victims to seek protective orders against their offenders was signed into law.
The new law, S-2686, known as the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015, would permit victims of nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, lewdness, or attempts of such acts to apply for a temporary protective order with the Superior Court. This law will specifically apply to cases in which the victim does not have a domestic relationship with the perpetrator and if he or she decides not to file a criminal complaint.
“This new law ensures that all sexual assault survivors receive the same immediate, responsive protection from being re-victimized – regardless of the nature of their relationship with their attacker,” said Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth). “As a former rape crisis advocate, I know how important it is to help survivors restore a sense a safety and security following an attack. We have seen how effective restraining orders can be in protecting domestic violence victims. This law provides survivors with the same, life-saving protective orders. I commend my legislative colleagues and the governor for enacting this vital solution to help countless victims across our state.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) to raise awareness and combat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) was signed into law.
“We need to do more to help the hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents struggling with COPD – the third leading cause of death in the U.S.,” said Senator Singer. “By establishing a task force to evaluate how we can raise awareness and expand community resources, we are helping countless New Jerseyans with COPD live fuller, happier lives.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Robert Singer making it more affordable for patients to get the treatment they need by allowing pharmacists to substitute biologic medications for biosimilar, or generic, forms was signed into law.
Biologics are an increasingly relied on form of medication created from living cells and used to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, MS and other debilitating diseases. Within the industry, a generic version of a biologic is referred to as a biosimilar.
“Biologics are an important tool in treating severe diseases but they can be very costly as well,” said Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean). “By now allowing pharmacists to substitute for an approved biosimilar more patients will be able to afford to get the treatment they need.”