Bills Removing Offensive Language about Disabled From State Law, Require AG Study New Teen Driving Law & Ban Hazardous Tattoos Also on Tap
(TRENTON) – Legislation to override Gov. Chris Christie’s vetoes of senior citizen property tax relief, prohibit unsolicited advertising by text messaging, improve heart screening for student athletes and remove offensive language about persons with a disability from state law top Monday’s Assembly voting session.
Also on tap is legislation to prohibit temporary tattoos that can cause health problems, disqualify those convicted of certain crimes from serving on school boards, require the attorney general to study the state’s new teen driving laws and ensure laid-off workers get their benefits.
The session will be streamed live at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/live_audio.asp.
The bills (A-10 and A-20) providing senior and disabled citizens with up to $1,295 in property tax relief by restoring a surcharge on 16,000 millionaires passed the Assembly and the Senate on May 20, only to be immediately vetoed by Christie. Both bills passed the Assembly 46-32. Vetoes can be overridden with 54 votes.
“Nothing is more important to Democrats than protecting our most vulnerable senior citizens who are struggling to pay their property taxes and keep their homes,” said Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “Unfortunately, Republicans sided with millionaires over senior citizens, but it’s important to give them one more chance to correct their mistake. I’m hopeful they can show some independence from their governor and join what should be a shared value of protecting elderly New Jerseyans.”
“Gov. Christie’s heartless vetoes denied property tax relief to senior citizens struggling to make ends meet,” said Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan (D-Union). “That was unconscionable. Gov. Christie has made clear that he stands with millionaires, but Assembly Republicans now get a second chance to right their wrong. Hopefully they will make the moral decision and break ranks with a governor who has made clear he will keep just one campaign promise – providing a tax cut for the rich.”
Also on tap is legislation (A-633) sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty to ban sending unsolicited advertising by text messaging.
“Unwanted text messages not only tax consumers’ patience, but they are a drain on cell minutes and bank accounts,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “Just as telephone customers have been able to close their homes to unwanted telemarketing calls, cell customers should be able to be free of unwanted text ads.”
Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex) and Assemblywomen Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer) and Elease Evans (D-Passaic/Bergen) are sponsoring legislation (A-2744) to develop an information campaign about a specific type of heart disease – hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) – and improve school preparedness for responding to incidents of sudden cardiac arrest.
“HCM is widely recognized as one of the leading causes of sudden death in student athletes,” Diegnan said. “Our goal is to raise awareness in teachers, coaches parents and students of how this disease develops, the warning sings to look for and what to do if diagnosed.”
According to Diegnan, the need for legislation increasing the awareness of HCM became apparent after the abrupt collapse and death of Edison High School football star Kittim Sherrod more than a year ago. Sherrod had been on a training run when, at the corner of Mercury and Vineyard roads in Edison, he collapsed and died of HCM.
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Assemblymen Thomas P. Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic), Albert Coutinho (D-Essex), John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem) and Lou Greenwald (D-Camden) are sponsoring the bill to remove offensive and demeaning language about people with disabilities from state laws. The bill (A-2812) delete all references in the statutes to the terms “mental retardation,” “mentally retarded,” “idiot,” and “feeble-minded” and replace them with the term “intellectual disability,” using “person-first” language. “Person-first” language is language that refers to an individual as a “person with a disability,” rather than as a “disabled person.”
“Language used in reference to individuals with intellectual and other disabilities shapes and reflects the attitudes of society toward persons with disabilities,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Certain terms are demeaning and disrespectful, and create a barrier to the inclusion of people with intellectual and other disabilities as valued members of our community. It’s time we got rid of them for good.”
Also up is legislation (A-940) sponsored by Vainieri Huttle, Moriarty and Assemblywoman Nellie Pou to prohibit the application of temporary black or blue henna tattoos, which can cause serious health side effects.
“These tattoos are dangerous, yet very popular at boardwalk kiosks, carnivals, and other tourism attractions around the state,” said Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Unfortunately, the tattoos are cheaper and less painful than traditional, permanent needle-applied tattoos, so they’re also popular with children too young to be tattooed.”
Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green and Assemblymen Jack Conners and Herb Conaway, M.D. (both D-Burlington/Camden) are sponsoring legislation to tighten requirements for serving on boards of education.
“If we prohibit someone from teaching in a classroom because of past convictions, then they definitely should be prohibited from presiding over the education of an entire school district,” said Green (D-Union). “It’s a common sense change that is long overdue.”
Under the bill (A-444), any person elected or appointed to a board of education would be disqualified from serving if they currently or previously have been convicted of any crime that, under existing law, would disqualify them from being employed in a public school.
Also on tap is legislation sponsored by Vainieri Huttle, L. Grace Spencer, Evans, Burzichelli and Gilbert L. “Whip” Wilson (D-Camden) to examine the recent changes to New Jersey’s graduated license program – including the teen driver decal requirement. Under the bill (A-2740), the state Office of the Attorney General would be required to spend the next six months reviewing the changes made to New Jersey’s graduated license program – including the new license decal program for teen drivers and the curfew change for drivers from midnight to 11 p.m. – and then issue a report to the Legislature on the findings.
“The changes made to New Jersey’s made to New Jersey’s graduated driver’s license law were made with the best of intentions – keeping teens safe behind the wheel while making them better drivers,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “Any review or study of the law should be sure to keep that in mind.”
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