Legislation sponsored by Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) and Senator Tom Kean (R-Union, Morris, Somerset) to make more students aware of their possible eligibility for the New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Program Scholarship (NJ STARS) passed the New Jersey Senate.
“The cost of college is only getting higher, and NJ STARS offers students a chance to attend college without weighing them down with debt for years to come,” Senator Singer said. “If we can connect more students with the money available to them, we’ll make college more affordable and keep more of our brightest students in the state.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington) requiring the NJ Department of Education to maintain an online database detailing legal decisions concerning special education cases in New Jersey has passed the New Jersey Senate.
“Current law ties the hands of advocates who are working tirelessly to secure resources for the more than 230,000 children enrolled in special education programs statewide,” Senator Allen opined. “Providing web access to legal decisions on all special education court cases, including those that are settled, is the best way to empower parents and school officials to fight for every child’s right to learn and thrive in the least restrictive environment possible.”
The New Jersey Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph Pennacchio to prevent New Jersey Transit from denying a person with a service dog access to any vehicle.
“Service dogs are not just pets,” Senator Pennacchio said. “They are highly trained assistants that help people with special needs to get where they need to go safely. This legislation clears up any confusion in our laws and protects access to public transportation for all who need it.”
The Department of Education would be required to encourage school boards to offer instruction on media literacy, with a particular emphasis on how to demystify violence in the media, under legislation sponsored by Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington). The bill, S-436, was passed by the New Jersey Senate.
“Media literacy education teaches students to apply critical thinking skills to evaluate how messages in the media shape our culture and society,” Senator Allen said. “The school curriculum should evolve to meet the needs of millennials everywhere. We already teach New Jersey students 21st century skills, such as cyber safety and responsible use of social media. The additional instruction proposed under this legislation is the next logical step to ensuring all students are prepared for the future.”
The New Jersey Senate advanced a bill by Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) upping standards for school nurse certification. New requirements include clinical experience in a school nurse office and completion of a college-supervised school nurse practicum.
“School nurses are charged with protecting the health and welfare of every kid that walks through a classroom door,” Senator Bateman said. “The needs of our children are certainly not “one-size-fits-all.” Ensuring candidates for certification complete hands-on training in a school nurse’s office will ensure all are fully equipped to identify the early signs of serious health problems and provide the highest level of care for kids with complex needs.”
With great sorrow, Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman announced the passing of his father, Raymond H. Bateman, this morning.
Raymond Bateman was born in Somerville on October 29, 1927. He served for two decades in the New Jersey Legislature, including stints as Assistant Majority Leader and Majority Leader in the General Assembly, and as Assistant Majority Leader, Majority Leader and President of the Senate.
“My father embodied everything that a public servant should be,” said Sen. Bateman. “He was always interested in helping others, and he instilled in me the belief that public service matters. He set an extremely high standard for all of us who follow.”
“He also was dedicated to his family, and we always came first. His loss will be immense, but we couldn’t be prouder of the life he lived and happier about the time we had with him. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us.”
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean’s statement on the passing of former Senate President Raymond Bateman this morning:
“When it came to public service, Senator Ray Bateman was a giant. He was one of the people that I admired most growing up in a family that followed a similar path. He’s someone that many of us who serve now try to emulate.
“I would like to offer my deepest condolences to his family, and to his son, my friend Senator Kip Bateman, with whom I have the honor to serve.”
The Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation sponsored by Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove which would grant priority in registering for courses at a public institution of higher education to military service members and veterans living in the state.
Connors, Rumpf and Gove have joined with the 1st Legislative District in this bipartisan veterans’ legislative initiative (S-1672 and A-2950) entitled the “Combat to College Act.” The 9th District delegation issued the following statement following the Senate passage of the veterans’ legislative initiative.
“Veterans’ deserve every opportunity to pursue their higher education goals. Higher education policies should be in place to provide special accommodations for veterans’ due to the significant demands associated with military service, including long-term deployments.
“Under the ‘Combat to College Act,’ priority registration would apply to both current military service members serving on active duty and to veterans who were honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active service.
“Certainly, we recognize that there are higher education institutions in New Jersey that voluntarily establish extensive services to assist veteran students. Consistent with those efforts, we believe that State law should require priority registration benefits for veterans.”
Members of the 9th District delegation serve on both the Senate and Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committees. Assemblywoman Gove serves on the Assembly Higher Education Committee.
The delegation proudly sponsored the VeTeach law, enacted in 2012, that established a pilot teacher preparation program at Stockton University for veterans who served in the Armed Forces on or after September 11, 2001.
Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth), a member of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee, voted in committee against legislation (S-2411) that would result in a $1.3 billion gas tax increase.
“You can’t raise taxes to cut taxes. This will be devastating to our economy and back breaking to our residents. It will drive up the cost of virtually everything in our state.
“It’s undeniable that the gas tax is a regressive tax that hits low- and middle-income families the hardest. Those who already struggle with our state’s high tax burden can ill-afford to pay even more. Paying hundreds more at the pump isn’t even an option for many of the state’s nearly 7 million drivers, especially when we also have some of the highest tolls in the nation.
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean said that the approval of legislation increasing New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15/hour would almost surely lead to job losses for those who are unskilled or lack prior experience, especially when those positions can be replaced by technological alternatives.
The legislation, A-15/S-15, would increase the minimum wage from the current rate of $8.38/hour to $10.10/hour on January 1, 2017, followed by annual increases reaching $15/hour on January 1, 2021.
“It’s undeniable that increasing the minimum wage by nearly 80% will result in substantial job losses for people already struggling,” said Kean. “Taking away opportunities to get a foothold in the workforce will harm the same young and inexperienced people that the sponsors of this legislation are trying to help.”