Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean stated the following about the tragic news of a Wednesday night church shooting in Charleston, S.C., which police have deemed a hate crime against religious black people by a white gunman.
“I must echo the calls for justice and peace from the black community: This type of terrorism, too, must be stopped.
“By now, our society should have evolved into one in which all people are equally treated and respected. Yet, tragedies like this prove that we indeed have not. This is not cause to give up, rather, it is a reason for more people to come together to prevent such unthinkable acts of violence and hatred.
A Senate resolution sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean and Senator Richard J. Codey opposing the proposed route of an oil pipeline that would run from Albany, New York to Linden, New Jersey passed the Senate Environment and Energy Committee today.
This resolution, SR-106, urges the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council, and any other federal, state, or local entity engaged in review of the Pilgrim Pipeline project to reject it as currently proposed.
“I am very concerned as to the safety risks that the construction and operation of these pipelines might pose to the neighborhoods in my district and to the integrity of the natural resources throughout the region,” said Senator Kean (R-Morris, Somerset, Union).
The Senate Transportation Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) to ensure more affordable fuel during a State of Emergency.
“This legislation allows gas stations to provide motor fuel at the price per gallon or liter of their lowest grade when they only have higher grades left to offer,” Beck said. “We shouldn’t have to pay extra when we are vulnerable in the aftermath of disasters, just because there are supply shortages that are out of our control.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington) creating a council to study and identify solutions for issues surrounding pedestrian and bicycle safety in New Jersey was advanced today by the Senate Transportation Committee.
“In Burlington County, Route 130 has unfortunately held the title of being the state’s most dangerous road for pedestrians for several years in a row,” said Allen. “We have to take a close look at all the factors contributing to tragic crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists on this and other roads in communities across the state. If there are feasible infrastructure, design or traffic law changes we can make to improve safety we need to identify what those items are and implement them as soon as possible.”
The Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee passed legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean and Deputy Conference Leader Jennifer Beck to strengthen local government ethics and accountability, in part, by transferring oversight at the municipal and school board level to the State Ethics Commission.
“I’m proud to say that this essential ethics reform is now one step closer to ensuring more accountable and less wasteful government at all levels,” said Kean (R-Union, Somerset, Morris). “Each year, New Jersey’s public school districts collectively manage around $27 billion taxpayer dollars, while municipalities and counties collectively control approximately $15 billion taxpayer dollars. They must be held to the highest and most efficient ethics and accountability standards. Without this legislation, fragmented ethics oversight, which subjects a variety of government officials to different standards, will continue to be a recipe for the violation of public trust.”
The senators introduced this bill, S-729, in June 2012. Shortly thereafter, then-New Jersey Comptroller Matthew Boxer published a case-in-point investigative report about a Chesterfield Township Committeeman exploiting his position to reap a $200,000 windfall on the sale of development rights on his property.
Panel Advances Oroho Measure Supporting Establishment of First Outpatient Clinic for Veterans in Sussex County
Legislation sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho supporting the establishment of the first Sussex County-based outpatient medical clinic for veterans was advanced today by the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.
“Sussex and Warren counties are the only two counties in the state without a veterans’ outpatient clinic and for many veterans living in this area the closest in-state clinic is more than 40 miles away in Morris Plains,” said Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris). “The lack of a local outpatient clinic is a major obstacle for veterans in this part of the state as it restricts their access to needed medical care. Establishing a local clinic in Sussex County will make it far easier for the tens of thousands of veterans living here to get the care that they need and deserve.”
Bipartisan Singer Bill to Protect Developmentally Disabled From Dangerous Acts Gains Committee Approval
Legislation sponsored by Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) that would upgrade current law to better protect those with developmental disabilities from being victimized by the acts of others that are dangerous and potentially deadly gained committee approval today.
The bill, S-2940, would better define reckless endangerment laws and increase punishment and penalties for putting others at risk, with the strongest penalties for those with cognitive impairments.
“Today’s committee vote is an important step in making sure we as a state send a clear message that bullying or taking advantage of anyone, especially those who are less able to protect themselves, is wrong and won’t be tolerated,” said Singer. “These updates to current law will enhance protections for those with developmental disabilities and will make sure anyone callous enough to commit these types of troubling acts is held accountable.”
The Senate Higher Education Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Anthony Bucco (R-Morris) to require campus security guards at higher education associations which do not employ police officers to immediately report crimes committed on campus to the local police department.
The legislation, S-121, follows troubling crime reports on area college campuses, where campus authorities have been accused of mishandling investigations, revealing victim’s identities or exonerating alleged offenders without reviewing certain evidence provided by the victim.
“We need to do everything we can to keep our college campuses safe,” said Bucco (R-Morris). “Campus police often don’t have the training, experience or resources necessary to handle all criminal investigations. Many victims stay silent for fear of their case being mishandled by college security guards and disciplinary panels. Complex testimony and evidence should only be analyzed by the proper authorities.”
Kyrillos Bill to Make College More Affordable, Increase Transparency of Student Fees Clears Senate Committee
The Senate Higher Education Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Kyrillos to decrease costs and increase transparency at higher education institutions by requiring colleges to publish an online breakdown of student fees and allow students to decline certain expenses.
The legislation, S-703, was originally introduced in 2011 after public outrage over the use of Rutgers University student activities funds to give Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi $32,000 to advise students: “Study hard, but party harder.”
“The growing cost of pursuing higher education is staggering, with many New Jersey students struggling to foot the bill and finish their degrees,” said Senator Kyrillos (R-Monmouth). “College students and their families should know exactly what they’re paying for, before their money is taken. By offering them the chance to opt-out, we are giving students the opportunity to create and pay for the college experience they want, instead of forcing them to pay for frivolous events that do not contribute to the quality education that they deserve.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Sam Thompson (R-12) requiring new school buses to be equipped with three-point lap and should seat belts was approved by the Senate Education Committee.
“This legislation is a common-sense measure to ensure that children have the same protections on school buses that parents provide in their own family cars,” said Thompson. “Kids deserve to be safely secured in age- and size appropriate seats and restraints regardless of whether they are riding in a car or school bus.”