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Senate & Assembly Vote To Create Joint Committee on Oversight
TRENTON - Both houses of the Legislature voted on Monday to approve concurrent resolutions authorizing the creation of the "New Jersey Legislative Select Oversight Commitee" to examine public sector hiring practices and to review the procedures by government in response to allegations of sexual assault, abuse and harassment.
The identical resolutions, SCR-148, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Kristin Corrado, and ACR-203, sponsored by Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, will establish the 15-member, bipartisan oversight committee.
The committee will review public sector screening practices of potential employees with a history of alleged criminal misconduct with a focus on how allegations of sexual assault, abuse, or harassment are handled by the government. The panel will use its findings to make recommendations on how laws can be improved to better respond to allegations of abuse and to prevent sexual assaults and harassment.
"This is a fact-finding committee that will work to get a full and fair accounting of what happened and what failed to happen with the hiring practices that allowed government employees accused of sexual assault and other alleged misconduct to evade accountability," said Senator Weinberg. "Our goal is to work together to make the system better so that sexual assault survivors are heard, their allegations are treated seriously and to take whatever actions are needed to prevent abuse and harassment. We will use the work of the committee to issue recommendations that will make government more responsive, more effective and proactive in cases of sexual misconduct."
"Katie Brennan wasn't heard and didn't get the justice and respect she deserved," said Assemblywoman Pintor Marin. "We want to address that. The goal of the Select Oversight Committee is to determine if public sector hiring practices are appropriate and relevant to the times. We will also review procedures by government currently in place that set guidelines for responding to accusations of sexual harassment, assault and abuse. The hearings will be bipartisan, transparent and fair while also being respectful of the sensitive topics that will be discussed."
Senator Weinberg and Assemblywoman Pintor Marin will serve as co-chairs, with Senator Corrado and Assemblywoman Munoz serving as co-vicechairs. The committee chairs will work together to determine as quickly as possible when the hearings will begin and provide a schedule of dates for the proceedings.
The resolutions include the authorization for subpoena power in case of non-compliance, but each subpoena would have to be approved by both of the committee's co-chairs, both co-vicechairs, the Senate President and the Assembly Speaker. Senator Weinberg and Assemblywoman Pintor-Marin said that they expect the cooperation and compliance of everyone called to testify so there should be no need to issue subpeonas.
The resolution was amended today to include a provision that will delay the committee's review of the actions of the Hudson County prosecutor until completion of the review by the Attorney General's Office unless the AG's review is not completed by January 5, 2019, in which case the legislative committee will initiate its review.
The Senate vote was 37-0. The Assembly vote was 74-0-1
The other members will be Senator Sandra Cunningham, Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, Senator Fred Madden, Senator Steve Oroho, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds Jackson, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce and Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi. The committee co-counsels will be Michael Critchley and Joseph A. Hayden..
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