The New Jersey Senate has approved a pair of transportation-related bills sponsored by Senator Steven Oroho (R-24) that are designed to reduced the burden on property taxpayers and improve road, bridge and rail safety.
The first bill, S-3076, appropriates $400 million from the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), including $260 million for immediate road and bridge repairs across the state and $140 million for technology and safety improvements at New Jersey Transit.
“We’re now able to shift much more of the burden of paying for local transportation improvements from property taxpayers to the State,” said Oroho. “That’s the direct result of our successful efforts last year that coupled targeted tax cuts with a plan to take the TTF out of bankruptcy. Local officials can now undertake critical road and bridge repair projects without burdening property taxpayers with the full cost.”
Senate Democrats Block Three Attempts by Kyrillos, Doherty & Beck to Move Bills Limiting Local Sick Leave Payouts to Protect Property Taxpayers
Measures Would Stop Six-Figure Payouts for Unused Sick Time to Retiring Local Government Employees
Three separate efforts by Senate Republicans to protect property taxpayers by moving bills they sponsor addressing the absurd six-figure sick leave payouts that some local government employees receive when they retire were blocked by Senate Democrats during today’s session of the New Jersey Senate.
Motions were made by Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-13) on S-194, Senator Mike Doherty (R-23) on S-572, and Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11) on S-2140 to bring the bills to the floor of the Senate for consideration. Senate Democrats blocked each of those efforts.
The New Jersey Senate has passed legislation sponsored by Senate Republicans Diane Allen and Dawn Addiego to correct a flawed statute that prohibits the Department of Children and Families (DCF) from informing a religious institution that substantiated allegations of child abuse have been made against an employee or volunteer.
S-2637 stems from a New Jersey Superior Court Appellate decision regarding a man who was able to apply for a job as a youth pastor, despite having been found by DCF to have sexually abused and neglected his two children, as well as their 10-year-old cousin.
“Right now, a person who is fired from a day care center because of a failed child abuse record check can turn right back around and volunteer to teach Sunday school, and there’s nothing DCF or the courts can do about it. Their hands are tied by the law,” Senator Allen said. “The children in that church classroom are no less deserving of the law’s protection. One example is too many. We have to correct this injustice now.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Holzapfel (R-Ocean) and Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) to protect pets against cruel treatment by their owners was passed by the New Jersey Senate.
“You would hope that pet owners would treat their animals with decency and provide them with a safe and healthy home environment, but sadly, that isn’t always the case,” Senator Holzapfel said. “We must protect these animals and show that this kind of treatment will not be tolerated.”
The New Jersey Senate has passed two bills sponsored by Senator Robert Singer to support incoming New Jersey college students.
The first bill, S-991, would replace the NJ STARS and NJ STARS II State-funded scholarship programs with the New Jersey Scholarship Honors Program. Currently, NJ STARS II scholarships are only available to students who graduate from a county college with at least a 3.25 GPA. The new program created by S-991 would extend the scholarship award to high school students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class who wish to attend a four-year in-state college. The bill was amended to include students who attend private colleges. Eligible students would receive an award of $4,000 per year.
“Our goal with this legislation is to encourage New Jersey’s best and brightest to pursue a high-quality college education,” Senator Singer Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) said. “A high school student who graduates in the top 10 percent of their class has demonstrated that they can succeed at any college of their choice – public or private; four-year or two-year. They should be able to take advantage of that hard-earned opportunity.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) to fight hunger by providing a tax credit to farmers that donate produce to food banks was passed by the New Jersey Senate.
“Every year, tons of food coming from New Jersey’s farms is discarded because it’s ugly or not worth it for farmers to bring it to market,” Senator Oroho said. “That food could be going to the countless number of families that are sadly struggling with food insecurity.”
Legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean to transfer governance of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) from the New Jersey Division of Pension and Benefits to a newly empowered PFRS Board of Trustees has been approved by the New Jersey Senate.
Kean sponsors the bipartisan measure, S-3040, with Senate President Stephen Sweeney.
“The police and fire unions covered by PFRS spent two years researching this proposal, including meetings across the country with representatives of other states’ pension systems to learn what works and what doesn’t,” said Kean. “This proposal represents the culmination of that diligent effort. I have no doubt that they have the best interests of all their members at heart, and was glad to work on this innovative approach to help strengthen the pensions earned by our first responders.”
Bill expands “Joan’s Law” to mandate life without parole for murder of a child under age 18 during a sex crime.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has passed legislation sponsored by Senate Republicans Dawn Addiego and Anthony Bucco to eliminate the possibility of parole for anyone convicted of the murder of a minor in the course of a sex crime.
Since 1997, “Joan’s Law” has mandated “no release” in cases involving a minor under age 14. S-607 extends Joan’s Law to protect victims between the ages of 14 and 18.
“The monster who brutally raped and murdered little Joan D’Alessandro has been up for parole four times,” Senator Addiego (R-Burlington) said. “Anyone who is evil enough to commit such a heinous crime once will have no qualms about victimizing another child, no matter how long they have been in jail. No parent should have to stand up in front of a judge over, and over again trying to convince them of this fact. We will keep fighting on their behalf until every minor receives equal protections under the law.”
Senator Addiego and Joan’s mother, Rosemarie D’Alessandro, both testified in support of the bill at the March 13 Judiciary Committee hearing in Trenton.
“My sons Michael, John and I are filled with joy today,” Rosemarie D’Alessandro said. “This shows how the unity of all those involved through their actions and voices makes a huge difference in the fight for more justice for young, vulnerable victims and their families. Now families will not be burdened by the thought of when the next parole date will be, or having to testify. Joan’s legacy is filled with positive energy. The vote today truly brings hope to New Jersey.”
Veterans’ legislation sponsored by Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove that will expand housing opportunities for veterans has been signed into law by Governor Chris Christie.
The 9th District Delegation’s veterans’ initiative, S-260/A-452/A-984, will require that a portion of the tenant-based rental assistance vouchers under the State rental assistance program (SRAP) for grants be reserved for veterans. The provisions of the new law will take effect immediately.
Following the signing of their legislation, Connors, Rumpf and Gove issued the following joint statement:
“For those veterans falling on hard times and in need of housing that they can afford, we are elated that the State’s rental assistance program will now prioritize their needs. From the outset, we sought to build upon the state’s existing veterans’ housing programs, such as ‘Veterans Haven,’ to provide additional housing opportunities for those who have served our nation.
A trio of bills sponsored by Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington), Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon) and Senator Sam Thompson (R-Burlington, Middlesex, Ocean, Monmouth) aimed at reducing waste by encouraging more donation and recycling of food were advanced by the Senate Environment Committee.
“Unfortunately, there are still many in New Jersey that struggle to find the next meal for their families,” Senator Allen said. “We hope that by cutting back on waste at our schools and other institutions we can get more food to people who need it.”