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Bills of Interest in NJ this week

On Thursday, June 22nd, both the NJ Senate and Assembly will hold Voting Sessions in Trenton. There are several pieces of legislation up for a vote this week that would impact Safety in our state:

A373 Joan’s Law This is a bill of particular interest for KNJS–we applaud the tireless efforts of Rosemarie D’Alessandro in working to enact stricter penalties–Life in Prison with No Parole–for adults who murder a child in the course of sex crime. A373 expands Joan’s Law, raising the age of victims affected by this bill to those under the age of 18 (current law covers victims under the age of 14). This is the last hurdle for the bill before it goes to Governor Christie for his signature.

There are several other bills that impact victims of sexual assault that will be voted on by the Senate, including
S3223, the Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights.

 

We’re also tracking A1114, sponsored by former Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, which requires school districts to “provide instruction on interacting with law enforcement in a manner marked by mutual cooperation and respect, and on the rights of individuals when interacting with a law enforcement official, as part of the implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Social Studies, beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. The instruction must provide students with information on: the role and responsibilities of a law enforcement official in providing for public safety; an individual’s responsibilities to comply with a directive from a law enforcement official; and an individual’s rights under law in interacting with a law enforcement official. The bill directs the Commissioner of Education to appoint an advisory committee to assist in the development of a curriculum for the implementation of the instructional requirement, and details the organizations that are to serve on the advisory committee. The bill specifies that the curriculum must consist of two parts, with one part that includes age-appropriate instruction for students enrolled in grades kindergarten through four, and one part designed for the more rigorous instruction of students enrolled in grades five through 12.”

 
Last but not least, A2320 seeks to raise the minimum age for purchase and sale of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices from 19 to 21.  The measure already passed in the Senate, but with opposition, and it’s likely this will face even more pushback in the Assembly on Thursday.  While restricting tobacco sales for teens would be a positive measure from a health and well-being point of view, the Office of Legislative Services estimated that if enacted, it will result in anywhere from $15.5 million to $42.9 million in state revenue losses over the next 3 years (mostly from cigarette taxes).

Video: On the Case with Paula Zahn – Episode Preview

Here’s another video from On the Case with Paula Zahn: this one is a preview of the episode itself. We’re very pleased with the level of sensitivity that was shown by Paula and everyone who worked on the show, and we thank them for helping us share Kim’s story with a wider audience.

When 20-year-old college student Kim Montelaro goes missing from a mall parking lot in Bergen County, New Jersey, police are convinced foul play is behind her disappearance. The following morning her lifeless body was found in a wooded ravine about five miles from the mall. Investigators slowly piece together the disturbing timeline of Kim's last moments alive, but the clue that finally cracks the case comes in a moment that veteran officers still credit to divine intervention.The case begins Sunday at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

Posted by On the Case with Paula Zahn on Friday, June 16, 2017

Montelaro Episode of On the Case with Paula Zahn airs this Sunday, 6/18!

Just a friendly reminder: the On the Case with Paula Zahn segment about Kim Montelaro will air this coming Sunday, June 18, 2017 at 10pm Eastern/Western, 9pm Central on the Investigation Discovery Channel.

Investigation Discovery can be found on the following Channels:

Provider HD SD
Dish Network 192 192
DirecTV 285 285
Fios TV 623 123
Comcast 889 111
Optimum (Cablevision) 171 171

If you haven’t already, please add it your calendar now!

2017-06-18 22:00:00 2017-06-18 23:00:00 America/New_York On the Case with Paula Zahn TV Segment about Kim Montelaro and Keep NJ Safe Investigation Discovery Channel Keep NJ Safe info@keepnjsafe.org

 

Bills of Interest to Watch This Week

There’s been a flurry of legislative activity leading up to the Budget Vote at the end of this month. Here are two bills we’re keeping an eye on:

S3223  Establishes the Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights, and will be heard in the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee on June 15.

A1272 Student Digital Privacy Parental Rights Act will be heard on June 15 in the Assembly Education Committee. The bill calls for clearer regulations on the information that may be gathered on a student via software or apps used their school computer, and restricts how that information can be used.

Expanded Joan’s Law Clears Senate Committee

After passing the NJ Assembly in February, the expanded version of Joan’s Law awaited further action in the Senate. It cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 1, 2017, which means it just needs to go for a vote the full Senate before heading to Governor Christie’s desk for passage. We hope to see this measure posted for a vote before the end of the current Legislative Session.

On the Case with Paula Zahn – Air Date Announced!

This just in!

Keep NJ Safe received confirmation today that the On the Case with Paula Zahn segment about Kim Montelaro will air on Sunday, June 18, 2017 at 10pm Eastern/Western, 9pm Central on the Investigation Discovery Channel.

Investigation Discovery can be found on the following Channels:

Provider HD SD
Dish Network 192 192
DirecTV 285 285
Fios TV 623 123
Comcast 889 111
Optimum (Cablevision) 171 171

A reminder will be posted a few days beforehand, but add it your calendar now!

2017-06-18 22:00:00 2017-06-18 23:00:00 America/New_York On the Case with Paula Zahn TV Segment about Kim Montelaro and Keep NJ Safe Investigation Discovery Channel Keep NJ Safe info@keepnjsafe.org

 

 

Dusty’s Law: Three Years Later

On January 17, 2014, Dusty’s Law was signed and enacted, ensuring that seeing eye dogs and seeing eye dogs in training will have additional safety protections under the laws of New Jersey.  This was a measure that Keep NJ Safe worked on and advocated for, along with the man who inspired the bill and worked tirelessly for its passage: Roger Woodhour, the volunteer seeing eye puppy raiser who was with Dusty when the dog was attacked. [Read more about their story HERE]

Today, Roger and his wife Sheila are leaving New Jersey to enjoy their well-earned retirement years.  Together, they have raised 31 seeing eye puppies for The Seeing Eye school in Morristown, NJ, and will continue to do so once settled into their new home.  Keep NJ Safe Executive Director Lisa Yakomin recently presented Roger with a Certificate of Appreciation, in recognition of his efforts and advocacy.  We wish Roger and Sheila all the best as they begin this new chapter.

NJ Considers Tougher Penalties for Distracted Driving – A4062

On Thursday, January 19, 2017, the Assembly Transportation Committee will hear Assembly bill A4062, sponsored by Assemblyman John Wisniewski and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight. According to the bill description, this legislation “would allow prosecutors to more easily obtain conviction for vehicular homicide against a person who failed to maintain lane due to distracted driving.”  If passed, the law would allow prosecutors who are seeking to convict someone of vehicular homicide to cite distracted driving as proof of recklessness. Using a hand-held wireless telephone has already been added to the definition of distracted driving under currently law, and this bill would expand the definition further to include inattentive driving that results in the unsafe operation of a motor vehicle due to the driver engaging in any of the following: reading, writing, performing personal grooming, eating, drinking, interacting with passengers, pets or unsecured cargo, or engaging in any other activity that causes distractions.

Eileen Marmino, a 34-year-old married mother of 17-month-old twins, was struck and killed by a distracted driver while riding her bicycle in July, 2015. She was killed on her wedding anniversary.

Both of the Prime Sponsors for A4062 are Democrats, but with Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg and Assemblyman Joe Howarth–both Republicans–signed on as co-sponsors, the Assembly bill now has bi-partisan support.  The Senate version, S2342 (also known as “Eileen’s Law”, for accident victim Eileen Marmino, killed in July 2015), already boasts strong bi-partisan support, as it is prime sponsored by Republican Senator Dawn Addiego and Democratic Senator Patrick Diegnan. S2342 was released unanimously from the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee on September 29, 2016, and referred to the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee, where it awaits further action.

Assemblyman Wisniewski, who is also the Chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, took quite a bit of flack back in August, 2016 for a bill he filed (A1908) that called for steep fines to be assessed on distracted drivers. A local news organization ran headlines that motorists could soon be ticketed for drinking coffee, and a pile-on of derision ensued, with affronted motorists crying “Nanny State” and extolling on their right to eat a hoagie while flying down the NJ Turnpike.  The Transportation Committee put both A4062 and A1908 up for public discussion only on September 22, 2016, along with two other bills relating to distracted driving (A854, which calls for the creation of a Distracted Driving Task Force, and A4005 which would add questions about Distracted Driving to the NJ Driver’s Licensing exam). On Thursday,  A4062 will be heard for potential release from Committee, a necessary step in getting the bill put before the full legislature for a vote.  To hear the discussion on these bills, you can listen to the archived recording HERE. Discussion on the bills begins at the 33:07 mark. (Playback works best with Internet Explorer.)

While KEEP NJ SAFE supports the protection of an individual’s personal freedoms, without unnecessary or intrusive intervention by the government, we believe that a strengthening of the distracted driving laws are long overdue. On a recent drive to the Statehouse in Trenton, we spotted several motorists swerving dangerously over into the adjacent travel lane. In each case, the drivers were reading and/or looking down intently at their phones while texting. This behavior has to stop, and it is becoming more and more obvious that motorists are not doing enough to regulate themselves. There must be accountability when a driver allows unnecessary tasks to impede their ability to safely operate a car to the point where they are taking the life of another human being. Yes, folks, you CAN wait until you get to the office to have that cup of coffee, or wake up a few minutes sooner and have it at home. Isn’t 10 extra minutes worth saving a life?

The 2016 year-end statistics recently released by the NJ State Police Fatal Accident Investigation Unit are frightening, and cannot be ignored  Fatalities for 2016 were up 8% over the previous year (a 12% increase in the number of deaths reported in 2013). A total of 607 people lost their lives in fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2016–and 166 of those deaths were pedestrians struck by a car.

Eileen Marmino’s infant twins, who are now forced to grow up without her in their lives.

One of the things that many people seem to forget when they read statistics like these, is that as bad as the numbers seem on the surface, the actual number of “victims” is far, far greater.  Not only did 607 people lose their lives last year, but thousands of family members, friends, neighbors and community members were also deeply hurt and forever affected by the tragic loss of a loved one. Eileen Marmino left behind her devastated husband Paul, and 1-year-old twins, Joey & Ellie. Her parents, Bruce and Eileen, testified before the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee last September, and I expect they will do so again this week when the Assembly hears A4062.  The pain they have endured is one that every parent fears most: losing a child. And yet, they are once again revisiting the tragic circumstances that took their daughter’s life, in an effort to save other parents from experiencing the same suffering.

If you would like to express your support for A4062, please email the Assembly Transportation Committee members as soon as possible, and ask them to release the bill after it is heard on Thursday.   Their email addresses are as follows:

asmwisniewski@njleg.org, aswhuttle@njleg.org, asmbenson@njleg.org, aswchaparro@njleg.org, asmchiaravalloti@njleg.org, asmclifton@njleg.org, aswdecroce@njleg.org, asmgiblin@njleg.org, asmkennedy@njleg.org, asmmcguckin@njleg.org, asmmoriarty@njleg.org, aswoliver@njleg.org