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Assembly Panel Advances Kennedy, McKnight & Murphy Bill Creating Handicap Parking Program for Caregivers of Individuals with Autism

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats James Kennedy, Angela McKnight and Carol Murphy that would allow parents and primary caregivers to utilize handicap parking to care for individuals with autism.

“Individuals with autism may experience varying degrees of physical and neurological issues that make routine activities all the more difficult when parking is not convenient,” said Kennedy (D-Middlesex/Somerset/ Union). “Providing them with ease of access to every day accommodations is a compassionate and common sense move that we should embrace.”

Under the bill (A-2775), parents and caregivers may be issued identification cards and corresponding windshield placards that entitle holders to handicapped parking privileges.

“These special identification cards and placards will provide access to residents who care for their patients with autism,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “Access to handicap parking spaces provides safety and convenience for patients who are on the autistic spectrum.”

“Depending on where a person falls on the spectrum, sensitivity to sound and crowds pose a problem for them,” said Murphy (D-Burlington). “Residents with Autism and their caregivers should be able to park closer if it helps her patient.”

The bill authorizes the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to issue, at the expense of the state, identification cards for the exclusive use of the person with autism and their parent or primary caregiver, as well as a windshield placard to be displayed on the motor vehicle used to transport the person with autism.

The bill also clarifies that a person who is the primary caregiver of a handicapped person, in addition to a person who is an immediate family member, would be entitled to park in a restricted parking zone in front of a residence occupied by a handicapped person, if such parking is permitted by the municipality.

The measure was approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee.